Clay jewellery almost good enough to eat

Ms Tay Li Suan (above) quit her job to focus on the craft of making clay jewellery in the form of snacks such as Hello Panda biscuits (above right) and rainbow kueh (right).
Ms Tay Li Suan (above) quit her job to focus on the craft of making clay jewellery in the form of snacks such as Hello Panda biscuits and rainbow kueh.PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, TAY LI SUAN
Ms Tay Li Suan (above) quit her job to focus on the craft of making clay jewellery in the form of snacks such as Hello Panda biscuits (above right) and rainbow kueh (right).
Ms Tay Li Suan quit her job to focus on the craft of making clay jewellery in the form of snacks such as Hello Panda biscuits (above) and rainbow kueh.PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, TAY LI SUAN
Ms Tay Li Suan (above) quit her job to focus on the craft of making clay jewellery in the form of snacks such as Hello Panda biscuits (above right) and rainbow kueh (right).
Ms Tay Li Suan quit her job to focus on the craft of making clay jewellery in the form of snacks such as Hello Panda biscuits and rainbow kueh (above).PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, TAY LI SUAN

One of the few full-time crafters in Singapore, Ms Tay Li Suan makes miniature food jewellery from clay that looks good enough to eat.

Her faithful replication of popular snacks such as Pocky biscuits, tutu kueh and Potong ice cream in the form of rings, necklaces and earrings is inspired by Singaporeans' favourite pastime.

"Singaporeans love to eat, so my products are catered to them as they can appreciate them better," says Ms Tay, 31, who has set up shop in flea and craft markets such as Maad and the ones organised by Public Garden.

The digital media design graduate from Nanyang Polytechnic also rents a space at Craft Assembly, a shop in Haji Lane that sells mostly handmade products. But she enjoys peddling her jewellery at craft markets as she can reach out to more customers.

Ms Tay, who adores pigs - her website is named thepigbakesclay - started working with clay 21/2 years ago after being inspired by a YouTube video that showed the making of realistic-looking clay cupcakes.

Some knowledge, plus a bit of luck, she says, are needed to create the right mixture of different colours of polymer clay for the perfect replica of the type of food she wants.

"I have to find the perfect colours and mixture by trial and error, so it takes me a few tries at the start to make sure that, for example, the chocolate in the Hello Panda biscuit looks exactly like the real one."

She then bakes her creations in the oven for 30 minutes at 130 deg C.

The former primary school teacher, whose husband is also a teacher, quit her job last year to pursue her passion full time, as well as to take care of her two-year-old son.

She has her own recipes for each of her creations. She buys dough from local stores such as Popular and Artfriend, as well as online marketplaces such as Amazon and Etsy.

Her dream is to open a cafe so people can "clay-jam" - make clay artwork to take home while nursing a cup of cappuccino.

"I also want to expand my business overseas," she says.

Lim Min Zhang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline 'Clay jewellery almost good enough to eat'. Print Edition | Subscribe