BobbleGram Inc. operates from sunny San Diego, California, USA.
We have been making custom wedding cake toppers for a really long time now and we have learned a whole lot.
I got married in 2001 and my new husband to be had a little 5 year old son. He was ok with the idea of his daddy getting married but we really wanted him to feel special and part of the big day. We both wanted to incorporate him into every aspect of the wedding because we felt that in our case, with a blended family, we were three marrying that day instead of two.
I really wanted a wedding cake topper with the three of us on it but it was positively impossible to find back then. I purchased so doll house dolls, clay, fimo, and tried my hardest to come up with something elegant for the top of our wedding cake. Just a bride, a groom and a little boy cake topper.
That’s when we started our line of custom wedding cake toppers. Not only did people have a need for a blended family wedding cake topper, there was also a need for bi-racial wedding cake toppers, same sex cake toppers and cake toppers that reflected a huge assortment of hobbies and interests. Heck, it was even hard to find a red headed bride cake topper or two brown haired figures.
Nowadays, there are lots of companies that make custom wedding cake toppers. How do you select the right one for you?
I think a lot of people do not consider the materials used to make the cake topper. The majority of companies design cake toppers today work in polymer clay. Polymer clay is great to use because it cures at just 200 degrees – it can be hardened in a toaster oven. No specialized equipment is needed to make a polymer clay cake topper – just the sculpture and a toaster oven.
The downside to polymer clay is that it is extremely fragile. The clay is hardened but remains brittle like stale bread dough. Over time, it will crumble – especially the little detailed strands of hair and fingers. Also, it is not meant to be exposed to light for extended periods of time so if you leave it out, the sun will eventually fade the color and make it even more fragile. If you want a customized wedding cake topper that will stand the test of time, don’t select polymer clay.
I have seen some artists on etsy work with earthware clay. It is fired at high temperatures and glazed with underglaze. They are definitely more durable and will not fade or crumble with time. They will break if pushed off the table but pretty much anything like this will. The problem with clay is that it just doesn’t give you the fine detail in the faces like polymer clay. Your finished cake topper will be crude in the facial details at best – which might be the look you like but my assumption is that most brides like a realistic cake topper.
The best material for creating cake toppers, and trust me, I have made thousands and thousands since 2003, is sculpting in wax, creating a latex mold and casting polymer resin in the mold. The poly resin figures can be carefully and finely painted with non-toxic acrylic paints for the most realistic finish possible. The wax gives the artist the ability to make the face very finely detailed with realistic facial features and the paint, rather than the color coming from the clay, allows shading, airbrushing and most important, revisions. Once a polymer cake topper is made, there is no going back on the color.
One company we have worked with created a 2D sketch of each custom designed cake topper project. This is one of their selling points because customers naturally love to see some sort of a proof of the work before they receive it. But, beware of this. The 2D design sketch is simply to protect the artist because what they send along with the rough drawing sketch is a small sampling of clay colors that you must sign off on. Once the sculpture is made in colored clay, they will not make modifications if you do not like the finished color. They will refer to your original 2D sketch and say that you signed off on it! Totally unfair and not the right way to make custom cake toppers.
Over the years, we have developed a way better system. We provide photo proofs of the wax sculptures in progress.
This photo represents a typical sample of our custom heads being proofed with the customer. 9 times out of 10, the artist has totally nailed it and the customer loves it (our artists are the very best!). But, if they don’t like it or there are some revisions to be made, it’s totally ok at this point. In fact, we allow unlimited revisions as time allows.
If the customer selected one or more custom bodies, we also proof those.
Since we don’t get started until we have adequate materials for faces, hairstyles, clothing, accessories and pose, by the time the artist sculpts the bodies, they are usually 100% perfect the first time. Again, our artists are phenomenal! They will make you look just like you – only movie star gorgeous.
The next step after our customers love their sculptures is to start the latex mold process. It takes a few days to make the mold, pour the resin and allow it to completely harden. The figures are now in separate pieces – the heads, the bodies and sometimes the base. Kids and pets are also made separately. The pieces are also totally white – a blank slate to paint.
This is the stage when the cake toppers come to life; the painting. The faces are less than an inch wide yet our talented painting staff is able to create tiny little eyelashes, perfectly pouted lips and lightly blushed cheeks. The paint is what adds the life to our personalized cake toppers.
The poly resin is much more durable that clay and will last a lifetime. Don’t mistake, if it falls off your mantel and onto your hardwood floor, it will break. Probably not shatter but it will break. But, if treated like a precious heirloom, it will last forever.
Custom cake toppers are not cheap. I’m not going to lie. As you read here, there are hours and hours worth of work put into these beauties and several artists come together to make each one. But, at the end of the big day, your custom wedding cake topper will be a perfect keepsake of those few precious hours when you were at your best and totally in love.