Sugar as Art

I have long said that the sugar arts are the only arts that involve ALL the senses. You can admire a painting; you can touch a sculpture; you can hear music. But how do they taste? How do they smell?

ma maison lace

Cake touches all the senses. You are thrilled with the appearance, pleasing the eye. You take a deep breath & smell the wonderful aromas of icing & cake. You touch it, feeling the silkiness of the buttercream & the sensation of the cake melting away on your tongue. You taste the explosion of flavor. You hear….well…….OK, OK, so cake doesn’t have much of a sound. Don’t disturb my groove here. We can MAKE a cake have sound, so there! ***sticks tongue out in a sassy manner*** And then there are of course the ‘oohs & aaahs’ over the cake & the ‘mmmms’ when it is devoured, so yes there are sounds.

What other art form literally activates all 5 senses at once?

Jazz topsy 1

One of the complaints about the cost of custom cakes is that it will be eaten & it’s a lot of money for something that will be ‘destroyed’.  OK, let’s examine that. How much is a custom portrait? An amazing mural? A beautiful sculpture commissioned for the client alone? I daresay WAAAAYYYY more than an amazing cake. But what can you do with those? You can admire them, of course! The painting livens up your walls. The sculpture brings joy to your garden. But how tasty are they? Do the smells bring back wonderful memories of childhood celebrations, special occasions, & loved ones long gone?

The BEST part about cake is that it gets eaten! Take a picture of it & hang it right beside that portrait! Both are gorgeous subjects. Both can be admired for many years to come. But only one left an impression on your taste buds. It’s not destroyed. The visuals & the memories live on forever. Both are art.

manatee face

Art is Art is Art

In cake, we use many of the exact same techniques & tools as master artists in other mediums such as clay & paint. Fondant, gumpaste, & modeling chocolate have many of the same properties as working with clay. We use a lot of the same tools that a sculptor uses to create a clay or bronze sculpture when we are sculpting our cakes. We use the exact same brushes to paint on our cakes as talented muralists & painters do when they transform a canvas into a work of art. The quality of the brush MATTERS. Tools MATTER. That’s why professional plumbers & electricians buy different tools than homeowners do. Many years ago when I owned a landscaping company (Yes I did! Didn’t know that, did ya?), I learned quickly there was a MASSIVE difference in commercial & residential equipment. There’s a very good reason that my mowers cost upwards of $8000 even in the ’90’s whereas residential mowers were a few hundred bucks. Worth it. In spades.

When you buy paint, you know what you’re getting. Acrylics & oils are pretty stable. Clay is fairly predictable in its properties.

But Sugar………

But Sugar is a different animal. She is fickle. She can be evil. She looks at Mr. Murphy who created the infamous Murphy’s Law, & she tells him to “Hold My Beer.”  She is a delicious temptress that seduces you with her incredible shapeshifting, morphing into myriads of delicious forms that amaze the eye & delight the taste buds. And then suddenly she turns on you in heartless cruelty, refusing to behave, breaking your heart, separating you from your family for extended periods, keeping you from important personal things that you wanted so much to do. Your husband’s company Christmas party that he insisted you attend but they so foolishly held on a Friday night because they are normal people who actually enjoy Fridays? Forget about it. Sugar is NOT going to let you go. She is going to somehow, someway find a means to cause problems & take soooooo much longer than planned. She is going to leave you crying your eyes out as you drive home late, alone, still in your cornstarch-covered clothes while your party dress hangs sadly in the back seat where it never left.

Sugar is going to melt, fade, fall, slide, distort, crack, break. She’s going to suck up every molecule of moisture in the air & use it against you. She’s going to fight you every step of the way. Most likely, nothing will come easy. Oh, but when it does come together, triumphant, in all its glory! Victory! A masterpiece: amazing the eyes, delighting the senses, and creating memories that will truly last a lifetime.

The most important life occasions usually have a cake right smack dab in the middle of them, and it’s because someone is loved.   


Where there is cake, there is love.

And it is ART.

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