Mini yusheng, anyone?
Part-time artist makes miniature replicas of local dishes from ang ku kueh to nasi lemak
It takes about 20 minutes to prepare Teochew-style steamed pomfret fish at home.
But Mrs Juliana Lim takes up to a day or two to serve up this dish. And you can't even eat it.
That is because it is a miniature replica of the real thing.
The 30-year-old part-time artist describes to The New Paper on Sunday how she carefully sculpts clay into the shape of a fish before baking it. She then paints it.
No details are spared for the "ingredients" that accompany the dish - from the salted vegetables, salted plums, mushrooms, tofu cubes and even ginger slices.
The final step: brushing on a paint sealer and resin to glue everything together.
A kaya toast set which comes with a kopi o and half-boiled eggs.
Mrs Lim, who works full-time as an advertising and promotions manager, says her love for the intricate craft started when she was in primary school. She currently has more than 100 miniature collectibles including food, pieces of furniture and cooking sets.
She was inspired to create her own miniatures - from nasi lemak to roti prata - because there was a lack of such replicas.
She says: "I realised it wasn't easy to find miniature versions of local cuisine. No one makes them."
"I have to make the spikes and stick them on one by one, making sure they have different shades of green. One durian piece takes three nights to complete. So I don’t sell them. " - Mrs Juliana Lim. TNP PHOTOS: Jeremy Long
Mrs Lim spends her weekends working on her "uniquely Singapore" delicacies, including food items such as kueh tutu and ang ku kueh which she says are "already disappearing" from the local food scene.
Mrs Lim, who is newly married, hopes her pieces can "serve as a part of history" for her future children and grandchildren.
She started out making these miniatures as decorative items, but customers suggested that she turn them into pieces of jewellery, such as ear studs and cufflinks.
She sells her wearable art online or at the occasional pop-up store.
Arranging "ingredients" on a dish.
Her best-selling products are ear studs from the ang ku kueh and Peranakan tile range.
Prices start from $10 for a hairpin to $130 for complex pieces and full-set items such as a kaya toast set that includes a kopi o (black coffee) and two half-boiled eggs - just like what you'd get at a coffee shop.
The easiest local food item to replicate, says Mrs Lim, is png kueh (rice cake).
The most challenging item?
She says: "I have to make the spikes and stick them on one by one, making sure they have different shades of green.
"One durian piece takes three nights to complete. So I don't sell them."
Mrs Lim bakes the miniatures so that the clay will harden.
Mrs Lim also organises workshops - $95 to $150for two- to six-hour sessions. Next month, she is conducting two workshops.
She says: "The workshop appeals to people of all ages. I've had participants from the age of three, all the way to 88."
Her husband, Mr Marcus Lim, 32, a system manager, has started pitching in.
He says: "I tend to notice details of our local food now, and I'll share with her some of my ideas for new products that she can make."