Singaporeans take pride in our local cultures, and several bright minds have bloomed to create items from our childhood days so we could have a piece of them before they get lost over the years.
From cushions, home decor to accessories, this Singaporean childhood flashback has taken the generations by storm, allowing us to reminisce and gush over the replicas of our once-upon-a-time memories.
Unknowingly, yours truly has been following a certain local artist who helms her handcrafted masterpieces on Instagram and her online store. It’s time to put the spotlight on her to find out how she ended up “baking” miniature goodies from yesteryears, and why her customers keep coming back for more!
We’re excited to catch up with Juliana, the Miniature Artist behind Miniature Asian Chef, who constantly serves up yummy-looking dishes that are… inedible!
Hello, Juliana! Thank you for delighting us with your tiny food pieces ever so often. Do tell us about yourself!
I’m currently working full time as an advertising and promotions manager. Back in school, I majored in Mass Communication and Marketing.
So, how did the Miniature Asian Chef come about?
Being a miniature food collector, I started to make my own miniature local food two years ago as I could not find realistic miniature replicas of local food. I started with making a few miniature home cooked dishes (家常菜) using polymer clay.
I started Miniature Asian Chef in 2013 to sell my creations to miniature food collectors. Most of my creations are inspired by daily life in Singapore. Before I made jewellery, I have been making miniature kuehs as display pieces for collectors.
One day, my mother’s friend had a stall in a church carnival selling accessories. My mother asked if I could contribute some items, and I had some leftover earring studs so I put both together and created my food jewellery series. Those kueh earrings sold very well at the carnival, so I decided to make more for sale. I would say, this opportunity presented a turning point for me to take my hobby up a different scale, and I’ve not look back since!
How did you discover this special talent of yours? It does require sharp eyesight, steady hands and meticulous fingers!
It just came naturally one day when I sat down to create things with clay. A little trial and error here and there and a few things came together. Yes it does require sharp eyesight and very steady hands!
I do not have any formal training in Art, and I learnt the craft through observation and online tutorials, and honed my skills through self-experiments and feedback from family, friends and customers. I work with various materials and tools ranging from polymer clay, air-dry clay and paints.
How did your family and friends react when you started this business?
Miniature Asian Chef is still my part-time business. My family and friends have been very supportive of this business since the day I started. Now my husband helps me with the day-to-day aspects of the business, for example, replying emails and keeping track of orders so that I can focus on crafting.
What do you love most about creating all these mini yummy food?
I love the satisfaction I get after completing each piece.
What is your favourite local dish?
There are simply too many to name! Chicken rice or Bak Chor Mee, perhaps?
How young are you this year? And where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I’ve just turned 30 :)
I think I’ll probably be a mother in the next 5 years, and will be handling Miniature Asian Chef full time while taking care of my family.
What do you think your fans love about your creations?
I think they love it because every piece is unique, one-of-a-kind and are conversation starters.
Every item has its own story to tell or reminds the wearer of a good memory in the past.
Any advice for like-minded crafty folks who wish to pick up some tips on creating such tiny masterpieces too?
There are a lot of materials on this topic online, especially YouTube. Start with trying out different clays to see which one suits you most as different types or brands of clay have different textures and consistency. If you’re using polymer clay, do invest in a cheap and yet good oven and do not bake your pieces in the oven which you use to cook real food. It is better to keep food and clay separate.
Store your clay and tools well so that they will go a longer way with you.
The Miniature Asian Chef would like to offer a special something just for our readers!
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Valid till 2 Feb 2016.
Wow, a self-taught artist deserves thumbs up! What with an ardent group of fan who treasure each food accessory and memory too! Thank you, Juliana for sharing your accidental twist in life, and having found your passion which you are excelling in!
To the rest of us, have you found a hobby or interest that keeps you going apart from your day job? If you’ve got an interesting experience or story to share, or know someone who should be featured, drop us a note!