Sculpting with sugar dates back to medieval times, when artists in Europe, Egypt and Turkey created elaborate renderings of buildings, trees, animals and other objects for feasts and big celebrations.
Sometimes, the sculptures would celebrate the event’s host; other times they served mainly to entertain, or as a display of power and wealth. The fact that they were fragile and perishable added to their value.
As sugar became cheaper and more accessible, sculpting with it became more widespread, eventually giving rise to the 19th century practice of creating elaborate wedding cakes. In contemporary Western sugar sculpting, artisans typically combine sugar, water, corn syrup and cream of tartar into a mixture that becomes fluid when heated and can be pulled, molded, blown (like glass) or otherwise manipulated in a number of different ways as it cools.
Several age-old sugar-sculpting traditions also persist today, including the creation of traditional wagashi confections in Japan and Day of the Dead figures and skulls in Mexico. Both traditions date back more than five centuries.
» The Fine Art of Confectionary. "Blowing and Sculpting Sugar." September 15, 2007.
» The School of Pastry Design. "Sugar Showpieces."
» Sugar Museum. "Triumphs, Tributes and Trickery: Sugar Sculpture: Past and Present."