Inspired by her love for working with paper and a passion for fashion, Virginia Beach artist Lauren McHale began creating hand-sculpted wedding cake toppers in 2010.
“I realized that I could sculpt paper the same way that I sculpt clay to create textures and designs to mimic fabric and replicate attire onto miniature forms,” she said. In other words, McHale specializes in personalized toppers that replicate actual brides and grooms—the dress, of course, and right down to the accessories, hair pieces, pets, props or any other important request.
She receives custom orders through her Etsy shop, Crimson Muse, and spends anywhere from 10–20 hours on each topper, depending on the intricacy of the pose and attire and the time needed to bring a vision to life. She says the first step is to sculpt each figure and then bake to harden. Once cooled down, she paints the faces and then starts painting and fashioning the attire from a very thin paper. McHale uses a glue mixture to sculpt the paper into place to resemble folds and textures in the fabric, as well as to give a firm hold to the attire to keep everything in place.
“I use a variety of different materials to finalize the details including embellishments, beads, gems, Swarvorski crystals, sequins, glitter, fabric, etc. to capture any small details of the actual attire that I can,” McHale says. “I challenge myself each time to see how else I can be creative in bringing to life all the details on miniature form.”
Big ideas made miniature is what it’s all about, says Mchale, and the more personal, the better. “When I receive an custom order from a customer who has an exciting idea for a cake topper that will make their wedding that much more personalized to the bride and groom I get really excited to be able to use my two hands to bring their vision to life. I always say that my most favorite part of what I do is when I receive feedback from a customer after their wedding with photos of the cake topper on the cake telling me that it will remain a memorable token of that special day for years to come.”
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