Two years ago, she couldn't bake — now this Vancouver artist is making a life of pie
Feast your eyes on these ins-pie-ring desserts by Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin
Two years ago, Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin didn't know how to bake.
"I was not a kitchen person by any stretch of the imagination," she tells CBC Arts. "I've literally burned ichiban."
Now, the Vancouver artist is practically an ins-pie-ration.
She can bake a cherry pie, but she can also bake an Oprah pie and a Bowie pie and a Thor pie — none of which are stuffed with actual minced celebrities, so we're clear.
She paints pies and sculpts pies. She even makes them glow in the dark.
In short, she does things with shortening that few, if any, have attempted before, and according to Clark-Bojin, it's her mission to change that.
"Even though everybody loves pies, nobody does anything fancy with them," she says.
Fancy, for Clark-Bojin, usually involves a pop culture twist. She bakes tributes to her favourite TV shows, video games, comic strips. "I started out making the things that I love, like pixel art and Star Trek things and bands that I like from the '80s," she says.
Exhibit A: her Gowan pie. CanCon tastes like apple and nutmeg, by the way.
Even though everybody loves pies, nobody does anything fancy with them.- Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin , artist
Through her blog, Pies Are Awesome, Clark-Bojin tells the internet all her self-taught tricks. It's one kraken-like tentacle of a business the former film producer and production designer is building online. So far, it includes video tutorials and baking supplies and a cookbook about pie décor — or "pie-modding," to use her term — so you can serve up slices of cherry Cthulu at home.
Plus, there's an extra helping of pie art on Instagram, where she focuses on different themes every month.
January, for example, is dedicated to celebrity "pie-traits," and on National Pie Day — an actual thing that is actually happening today — she'll serve one lucky contest winner a pie of their own face (or, should they prefer, another face of their choosing).
"I want it to be something that encourages other people," she says of the business, which is now her full-time focus.
"I suppose it's pie art in the sense that it's using pie as an artistic medium, but really what I want to do is encourage other people to be creative and think outside the box with how they approach any of the food that they love."
When Clark-Bojin was attempting her very first pie, the challenge, apparently, wasn't big enough. "I like to fancy up whatever I do," she says.
Several hours later, an apple and cheddar dragon popped out of the oven. After posting a few photos online, a bit of media attention followed, including a mention on Bored Panda.
"I thought, 'This is strange. Surely other people have done things like this before.'"
Google told her otherwise.
If your research takes you back far enough, say a few hundred years, elaborate pies were a thing, but they were more like Joffrey's pigeon pie from that episode of Game of Thrones, not Clark-Bojin's take on a GOT pastry — Instagram-friendly and filled with chocolate mousse, not live animals.
What the "cake bosses" of the world do with buttercream and fondant, she can now do with Crisco. But pastry, as anyone who's attempted a pie will tell you, is way less forgiving. Spend too long handling it, and a crust becomes inedible. Plus, it's unpredictable. A pastry princess might look pretty when it's dough, but 20 minutes in the oven changes a bitch.
Clark-Bojin says she dedicated six months to developing her baking skills. She's entirely self-taught, though her art and design background (she studied at Emily Carr) helps her troubleshoot the sculptural elements.
Says Clark-Bojin: "I realized a couple months ago that I'm getting paid to make art now — which is really neat."