Jobs 101: Miniature food sculptor
If you have a passion for food, art and detail, being a miniature food sculptor may just be the job for you.
When we first stumbled on Jocelyn Teo’s realistic recreations of local desserts like ondeh ondeh and colourful layered kueh, we were amazed. Her attention to detail in her miniature food sculptures left me in awe.
We caught up with Jocelyn, owner of the online miniature food sculptures store AiClay, after one of her sculpting workshops to find out more about her job as a miniature food sculptor.
Who: Jocelyn Teo, 28
Studied: Communications and new media at National University of Singapore
Tell us more about yourself.
I enjoy exploring parts of Singapore, such as Chinatown, to check out our local food. I also enjoy travelling to see different food and cultures.
How and why did you become a miniature food sculptor?
I started in 2009, when my friend and I were browsing at Artfriend. After we chanced upon some clay materials, we decided to make something out of fun. We took photos of what we did and put them online. Anonymous comments started coming in, and people started to request for the things I made.
After realising that there is a market for miniature food sculptures, I started AiClay full-time in 2011. I also started offering workshops because more people wanted to buy and make these miniature food sculptures as well.
Describe a typical day at work.
I start off by checking emails about urgent queries. Then, I get started on my orders, such as the things I have not made and have not shipped out.
Usually, I work on sculpting during the day, where it is bright. At night, I work on marketing, such as publicity, posters, and editing photos. If I have workshops, I spend the day preparing and setting up for them.
Share with us a memorable experience.
The most fulfilling moment for me was being able to work on my Pocket Kitchen craft kit from the conceptualising stage, all the way to the actual product.
It was a two-year process that involved travelling to Hong Kong, China and Germany and speaking to suppliers to have it manufactured.
What difficulties do you face in this job?
Right now, I face difficulties with manpower because I only have two hands. It is quite hard to manage.
During workshops, I may be able to speak to a lot of people at the same time, but I cannot go around to help everyone individually. But, I am looking into finding interns to join the team.
How long have you been doing this, and how has industry changed?
I have been doing this for six years. From the start, very few people knew what miniature food crafting is about. I think that has definitely changed, and I am hoping that it is partly because of my workshops.
People are also more receptive to the whole handmade notion, and they see value in hand-made items.
What motivates you in your work?
The fact that I control every aspect of it helps me craft my own life, and I do not have to seek someone else’s permission to do so.
I also like seeing how happy the participants are with what they created at the end of each workshop, despite their initial doubts. Knowing that I gave them a good experience to create something motivates me as well.
Any advice for youth who are considering this job?
Have a business plan! Sit down for one or two hours, and consider your target audience and what you can offer compared to other artists.
Also, many people are worried that the price of their items may be too expensive. Respect your time and effort, and price yourself fairly.
Educational requirements: No certifications needed, but you must be eloquent when conducting workshops.
Qualities: Attention to details, patience for sculpting and for dealing with participants, be willing to learn and adapt to different scenarios.
Working hours: Flexible. The usual work day averages from eight to 10 hours each day. Sometimes, you can expect to work during the weekends.
Salary range: Depends on your following and craft. You can earn from $1,500 to $3,000 per month.
Career prospects: You can be a teacher, or even work in the food industry, as crafting will inspire your passion for food.
Specialisations: You can choose the type of craft that you want to specialise in. Some enjoy creating food items, while others prefer to make non-living things.