Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Pizza Project - Part One

I've wanted to make miniature pizza FOREVER, and I'm finally getting started on this savoury project! 

I just get into my crazed perfectionist mode especially when I'm sculpting a new item, and I've been researching so much on the real pizza and how it's baked and the various toppings that I've got myself some serious pizza dough cravings. 

Next up - tomato puree paste and melted cheese. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Heart-to-heart: Everyone likes to sound successful.

I have forgotten the real purpose of a blog.

Remember the days in the past, when blogs used to be an online replacement for our paper diaries, when one could spill thoughts into the immense world wide web.

For some people, blogs are still very much like that. But when commercial blogs started entering the picture, product photography and beautiful descriptions trying their best to convince the reader to purchase took over honest words and thoughts. 

I never wanted this blog to be that way. While it is not a personal blog, I had wanted to share my thoughts (oh I have so many) and feelings (as many as thoughts) while I carry on this journey of being a full time food miniaturist. Many times, I have forgotten about this, but TODAY I will pen down some thoughts.

They would be disorganised and may be more like rambling, but they are from my heart. So if you would like to, read on.

So, as opposed as to what others think of my life, I do not have a crazy schedule of sculpting orders to complete and loads of parcels to send off to the world every day. I don't jump out of bed thinking, "Another wonderful day ahead! I'm going to make use of every minute today to complete everything on my schedule today!". I don't sit back at the end of every day, patting myself on the back for another day well spent and feeling satisfied with being able to support myself with AiClay.

Very much the contrary in fact. 

Ever since I quit my job and started AiClay, I have known myself to be fighting against the odds. Of course, these include living in a country where a university graduate is expected to join the workforce and climb the career ladder. And also judgement from peers and family. But the greatest odd of all, would be myself. 

I believe it is crucial in the pursuit of happiness, to know one's greatest strengths and weaknesses. And wow, am I weak in discipline. I found that out soon enough after I embarked on AiClay full-time. When I started getting attention from the media, one of the most popular questions would be, "Describe how a regular day in AiClay would be like." I usually tell them what they want to hear. " I get up at 9am, check my emails, get started on sculpting orders, mail off packages, answer emails, brainstorm on new products, and repeat this the next day." 

I guess it just sounds much better than the truth. Which is. "When I feel hardworking I get up at 9am, but many times I have found myself snoozing past 11am. I surf the usual social media sites while having my brunch, and then when I feel up to it, I open up my mail and get so distracted answering my mails that it's usually evening by the time I feel ready to work. And then I might have to walk the dog, and by now it's probably time for dinner, so I get food. Sometimes friends ask to hang out after their work and I have a problem with saying no, although I should probably be working. I really don't get much work done at all in a day." 

There I've said it. Now that you guys know the ugly truth, I hope you're as disgusted as I am at my lifestyle. Because there is no way a business could survive like this. 

Most people envy business owners and our flexible work-play schedules. So many people hope to quit their day jobs and start a business, thinking they'll be less stressful and they will get to work lesser. Let me set the record straight, and tell you that if your business is to take off, you will face MORE stress and will work even harder than the regular employee. 

Because, flexible working schedules can also be read as having no fixed time to knock off from work. In a workplace, you might find yourself counting the minutes to 6pm before you can leave the office and head off to a night out with your friends. If you're a business owner, sure you can leave anytime but if you know there's work sitting there which directly affects your income, most likely you'll be working hard and forgetting your hunger. 

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy working hard, that's not the reason I quit the workforce. I just wanted to work hard for myself, and not for others. And definitely not working hard at something which didn't even matter to the company in the end. 

While I say that I enjoy working hard, there is still a not-so-fine line between enjoying working hard and getting to that point. Once I get in the mood, I can get raring and sitting at my computer/sculpting table for ages. But these moods are hard to come by. 

I digress, I think. (Reminder again that my thoughts are not organised at all.)

So the biggest problem with AiClay and how I'm running it, would be that all this time without knowing it, I've been trying to have the best of both worlds. I've been enjoying the flexibility of spending time not working during work-hours and also allowing myself to hang out with friends/family after (usual) work-hours.  Or simply put, I've just been a lazy unmotivated bum. 

Being my own boss sounds a lot grander than it really is. 

That being said, I now know my greatest weakness and a solution is for to seek collaborations. While I am all up for working for myself and not under a boss, at the same time I crave for human relationships and the knowledge that my actions (or rather, non-actions) affect another business/person. I needed this accountability. Let's face it, I could sculpt the most realistic miniature food and I would still not be able to support myself with AiClay. A business, is a business and money needed to roll in. 

So this May, I am glad I had formed quite a few business relationships and never had I attended so many business meetings in my life. Now, before I take a time-out on an email/project which has been abandoned for many months, I know I'm accountable to others and I force myself to get the work done before allowing that haunting tune of Candy Crush to fill the air once again. 

This entry is a mad jumble of thoughts but thank you for reading through if you have. :) I'll love to hear your story or thoughts if you could leave a comment below.

P.S This is inspired by my business partner/friend Daniel, who has always amazed me with his honesty, even in prestigious magazine features he gives the bare truth about his own struggles. :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A heart in an apple.

I wonder if it's possible to actually bite a heart out from an apple. Try it? ;)

Miniature apple with a heart-shaped bite handsculpted by me with polymer clay, made into a keychain. ♥

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Quacking your way to cheaper shipping at AiClay.

If you're familiar with Dragon Nest, you'll know these two game characters.  

Part of the collaboration between Dragon Nest and AiClay, miniature themed cupcakes in a Dragon Nest box! They are modelled after Mecha Duck and Crazy Duck.

Quack quack. 


I have wonderful news for all AiClay customers and would-be customers! 
Shipping prices at AiClay just went DOWN

Go check it out here at the store, this applies for both international and local shipping. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Farewell my friend! { miniature egg tarts }

I have a friend and family-to-be who was leaving for hongkong for a good few years, and I wanted to make a farewell gift for her. 

Photo taken by Li Lin! ♥ Also, not my hand there, I could never have painted nails due to my work!

This is what I decided to make - one of Hong Kong's famous foods, some miniature egg tarts. :) 
Oh, and I put it on a ring so she can wear it and always be reminded of the good things in HK. ♥ 

Are anyone of you from Hong Kong or like dim sum as much as I do? 
Let me know what are your favourite dishes! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Cheeseburger Story.

Last Saturday, a burger-making workshop happened. 
Not your regular burger, but a MINIATURE one. :)

I'm here to share a few photos of that day, and also fill you in on some juicy behind-the-scenes details.

So, for every workshop there is ALWAYS something going wrong during preparation and during the actual workshop. Don't get me wrong, we all have fun crafting but nothing ever goes perfectly to plan. Sometimes it's little small hiccups which I can get away with without participants even knowing about. ;)

Of course this workshop came with its fair share of bumps. Let me tell you a story about a very special cheeseburger.

Whenever possible, I've always loved to get real life versions of whichever food we're making so that the participants get to compare them during crafting. Similarly for this workshop, I wanted to get a real life burger that looked like the miniature version. 

Oh my, searching turned out to be SO DIFFICULT. I originally thought I could just research online for photos on the various fast food websites. That worked out well and I found Burger King's tendergrill chicken to be pretty similar. But I got a huge shock when I bought that burger and opened up the wrapping. :( Head to my instagram if you wanted to see how the burger looked like, not a pretty sight and NOT AT ALL like the promotional photo. 

{ Here is the photo of the miniature version and the real deal. }

After much deliberation and wondering if I should just make my own burger from scratch (I was only a few hours away from the workshop by then), I decided I'll try my luck at Mcdonald's. I saw that the Cheeseburger had a few elements I required - the buns without sesame seeds and the dark-coloured beef patty. However, it also had some ingredients which the miniature version didn't have.

So I headed down to my neighbourhood Mcdonald's, and made the craziest order in my life.

"Hello! Can I get a Cheeseburger, without pickles, without onions, without ketchup, without cheese. AND can I add on lettuce, mayonnaise and tomatoes?" 

To be honest I was ready for the server to give me the evil eye before letting me know that it was not possible. BUT I was pleasantly surprised when the lady gave me a warm smile and went, "Sure! Now let me just try to key this in, it's a bit of a challenge." She was so sweet throughout the entire communication with the kitchen staff and I was so touched and ready to pay extra for my crazy special request.

Guess what, I only paid $1.50. Which means there wasn't even an extra charge!

Dear server lady at Bukit Batok MRT Mcdonald's, you totally made my day. And I'm going to carry around a miniature replica of the burger so that I can pass that to you when I see you again!

So that's just one of the stories which happened because of my workshops. There are so many to tell, good and bad ones. But let's leave the rest for another blog entry. :)

Finally, I'll like to thank all of the lovely people who came down for the workshop where we got to make the world's smallest burgers together! They're all holding up their creations in the picture above, and there sits the real deal in the centre beside my little workshop chalkboard. ♥ 

Also, the miniature burger was made into a earphone plug, which would help protect dust from entering your phone. It's also in the store! Already, I've got a customer who bought it and showed me a photo of the burger on her iPad, very cute if I may say so. :)