Sugar art is a specialty within the candy and pastry making field which involves using sugar to create complex shapes, scenes, textures, and patterns. Displays of sugar art appear in a wide variety of settings, from wedding cakes to store windows, with it being especially common during the winter holiday season. Artisans at the top of their field even attend competitions to pit their skills against those of others, and the displays at these events can be quite astounding.
In order to do sugar art, people need training in working with sugar. A wide variety of techniques can be used for this art, including blown and pulled sugar, and all of these techniques require skills and practice. Sugar can be very finicky to work with, and sometimes dangerous, in the case of sugarworking techniques which involve heating sugar to high temperatures.
A skilled artisan can create a range of shapes in blown sugar, including animals and ornaments. Pulled sugar may be used to create ribbons of sugar and similar decorative items, and people may also work with sugar which has been molded into various shapes. While some artisans work with plain sugar, most use colorings, for everything from surprisingly realistic flowers to delicate blown sugar ornaments on a holiday-themed cake.
This art form is highly perishable. Sugar art will start to weaken and melt if it is exposed to moisture or high temperatures, and many sugar creations are also very delicate. The perishable nature of sugar is one of the things about sugar which appeals to some artisans, as their ephemeral creations are designed to be enjoyed for a brief period of time only.
Some people specialize in edible sugar art, such as decorations for cakes. Others may use stabilizers which are not safe to eat to make more long-lasting sculptures. Culinary schools sometimes include a display of stabilized sugar art as an end of semester project, with students working together to build a scene entirely in sugar. Candy stores may also use this art as a seasonal decoration, and small decorations are also given as gifts in some cultures.