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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Big love for tiny food

Miniature-food artist Jocelyn Teo spends up to an hour getting tiny seeds on mini bun to look as realistic as possible
The Straits Times - January 8, 2012
By: Cheryl Faith Wee
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Big love for tiny food Ms Jocelyn Teo quit her job to make clay food miniatures as accessories and ornaments full-time. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

For miniature-food artist Jocelyn Teo, 24, the hardest part about creating a hamburger sculpture the size of your thumb is the sesame seeds.

She spends up to an hour getting those teeny tiny seeds on the mini bun to look as realistic as possible. This involves looking at close-up pictures of sesame seeds on the Internet and experimenting with texture and shading. 'I make sure every detail is well made, down to the shadows. These all affect the final appearance,' she says.

In March last year, she left her job as a promotions scheduling executive to make model morsels full time. Ms Teo, who graduated from the National University of Singapore three years ago with a degree in communications and new media, now runs an online store (www.aiclay.com) selling food miniatures made of clay. They are available as ornaments or accessories such as earrings and pendants.

Each miniature takes, on average, four hours to complete and varies in size from 3.5mm in diameter for a macaroon to 10mm-wide potato chips.

Prices range from $9 for a chocolate chunk cookie ring to $103 for a cheeseburger meal, complete with fries and coke in handmade packaging.

Her realistic burgers, pastries and French baguettes have gained her customers from countries such as Poland, Australia and the United States. She gets three to five orders a week.

She also conducts workshops on making food miniatures. One-on-one lessons cost $60 to $80 for three or four hours. Group workshops for more than 10 students cost around $40 a person. Materials and tools are included.

While she is not earning as much as in her previous job, she hopes that business will pick up soon.

Her interest started in 2009. Bored, she had bought a set of air-dry clay for less than $20 from an art and craft supply store. With it, she made a 2cm-long hot dog bun. She was hooked.

Subsequently, she was inspired by the works of renowned British miniaturist Angie Scarr, who has published books such as Making Miniature Food And Market Stalls.

Several months of trial and error ensued, alongside Web research on food-sculpting techniques, after which Ms Teo's food miniatures looked so sumptuous that her friends were willing to fork out money for them.

'It may sound cliched but I believe that you should enjoy what you are doing,' says the artist, who is single, on her decision to quit her day job.

'I love food and there are so many varieties. It is amazing how a lump of clay can replicate food.'

There is a minor downside to her career choice - she constantly gets food cravings while working. 'I sometimes get hungry and feel like eating whatever I'm making. If I'm making a miniature burger or hashbrown, I have to head out to buy one afterwards.'

 

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