Heikki Seppä, born Viipuri, Finland 1927-died Bainbridge Island, WA 2010
formed, hammered, and soldered 18k gold, sterling silver, and diamond
4 1/2 x 8 x 8 1/4 in. (11.5 x 20.4 x 20.9 cm)
In this piece, Heikki Seppä employed two technical innovations for silver and gold: three-dimensional tessellation (the creation of a mosaic pattern using small squares of stone or glass) and the use of 20-gauge silver sheet stock. The title of the piece refers to a Finnish custom similar to "throwing the bouquet." In the wedding rite, the bride wears a gold crown adorned with a lupin, a wild plant symbolizing abundance and fertility. Following the ceremony, the bride is blindfolded and single women dance around her. She then places her wedding crown on one of them, signifying that the recipient is the next to be married.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance
Wedding cake toppers were first produced in the 1880s. However, it was not until they were massed produced in the 1950s that the figures began to reflect different races. Before this time, individual bakers, brides, or family members sometimes painted standard figures to resemble a specific couple. This wedding cake figure from 1956 is one of the earliest to reflect the appearance of the bride and groom. In later years, manufacturers have produced cake figures to appeal to different racial and ethnic buyers. They offer a variety of characteristics such as hair and eye color, mustaches, and even moles to personalize the figures.