If a traditional wedding cake isn't exciting enough for you, take your wedding to the next level with a custom-designed sugar sculpture. While the artistic attention the sculpting process demands does get expensive, the end result is well worth it. If you want a wedding reception with a truly remarkable focal point, look for sugar sculptures to embrace and enhance your chosen theme.

Sugar Sculpting Techniques

There are several methods of creating sugar sculptures. One traditional Chinese method involves painting molten sugar onto a cold slab and lifting the entire sculpture once it cools. Pulled sugar sculptures involve folding the sugar onto itself so many times that the end result takes on a shiny, almost metallic sheen. Casting sugar involves pouring it into molds, and can be done as a DIY project fairly easily.

Different techniques are often employed to make different parts of the same sculpture. Sugar can be moistened and pressed into a shape for the base of the sculpture, for example, which gives it a rougher, matte surface. Balloons, animals, and flowers on the other hand, are frequently made from blown sugar, which is inflated via pump and shaped into decorations for the cake. Pastillage, on the other hand, involved hardened sugar paste which is sanded and carved into the desired shape for your cake.

In addition to the different shapes and textures that can be achieved by different methods of sugar sculpting, the sweet-tasting artwork takes on a variety of colors from edible dyes. In short, nearly any design is possible. Whether you want a series of interlocked hearts to represent your love, or you want to design an edible zombie invasion scene for your counterculture Halloween wedding, sugar sculptures are more than up to the task.

Sugar Printed by a Robot

It's true: you're finally living in the future. Believe it or not, the 3D printing craze extends past plastic to edible sculpture, too! Companies like The Sugar Lab in Los Angeles actually print layers of sugar, water, and alcohol to physically assemble intricate sculptures tailored to a predetermined design.

If you're interested in robotics, technology, or any variety of nerdy wedding themes, 3D printed sugar sculptures are the way to go. The sculpting process involves programming a robotic arm, after all. Unlike leaving your vision to a human artist, with a printed sculpture you have the full guarantee that the end result will perfectly mimic the 3D model you envisioned.

Sugar sculptures aren't just something you mold into being, like clay statutes. The art takes years to master and a lot of patience. Edible sugar sculpture began in the medieval period when they were created by artists, mostly for entertainment and gifts. While there are instructions several pages long for how to make a sugar sculpture, some unique, yet very simple, sugar art can be made with sugar cubes.

Design Your Sculpture Carefully

No matter which sculpting approach you follow, it's important to design your sculpture carefully. Before you devote a lot of time to sketches, find a sugar-sculpting artist you trust so you can discuss what techniques work best. This will help you tailor your sketches to your medium to ensure that your edible centerpiece looks the way you want–and is structurally sound, too.

If budget is a concern, discuss which sculpting techniques are the most expensive. It's possible to design a sculpture that doesn't take an inordinate amount of effort to create, as long as you avoid designs that require many intricate details. Sometimes, you can achieve detail through color rather than shape, which requires less time to construct and is therefore more affordable.

Bring your sketches and ideas to your initial meeting with the sculpture artist, but be prepared to change your vision. The more flexible you are initially, the better you can create a design that perfectly conveys your wedding theme. Sugar sculptures are the ultimate wedding centerpieces, after all. Like the flower arrangements, they are a visual focal point and conversation piece. Like the cake, they are able to be savored and enjoyed by yourselves and your guests. However tempting it is to consume the whole, delicious sculpture at your wedding, remember to save a piece for a sweet anniversary, too!

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