Small art, big impression

Thanh Hà

ANN/ VIETNAM NEWS – Nguyên Nhu Quỳnh is making the final touches to her work. She just completed a dream miniature-bakery that she planned for a decade.

In her ‘shop’, there are many different kinds of cakes, gateaux, bread, cookies and pies – mostly made of clay.

The bakery measures 55 by 25 by 30 centimetres.

In the tiny area, visitors can quickly find their beloved colourful macaroons in the right cabinet, donuts with chocolate in the left, and beautiful pastries in the centre.

Many cannot not hide their surprise but admit the cakes look 100 per cent real and mouthwatering to boot.

“Miniature cakes were my first products when I began with this movement 10 years ago. But they were not really nice, so I have practised a lot to finally produce a beautiful bakery that satisfies my wishes,” said Quỳnh.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people struggling, but it has given the 33-year-old time to complete her Lilliputian creations.

Nguyên Nhu Quỳnh and her miniature fruit and vegetable shop. PHOTOS: ANN/VIETNAM NEWS
Nguyên Nhu Quỳnh has more time for her hobby during the pandemic
ABOVE & BELOW: One of Trân Minh Tân’s houses made from waste wood collected from workshops and factories; and Nguyên Phúc Hâu’s tiny house uses materials from around his neighbourhood

She spent three months preparing materials, sculpting the clay, mixing colours, and reviewing everything to make sure the tiny cakes are accurate in every single detail.

Earlier in May, Quỳnh made headlines in local media with her shop of vegetables and fruits that she posted on a Facebook group with over two million members. Her post received over 100,000 likes, 10,000 shares and 1,800 comments.

The Hanoian showed hundreds of items such as papaya, asparagus, bananas, cabbages, chillies and onions, which were only about 0.2-2.5 centimetres long.

“To make such products, I spent a lot of time searching for information and watching YouTube for guidance. I have also observed every object carefully to find out its special details, while I sculpt little by little to make sure every detail is accurate,” Quỳnh said. She owns over 1,000 tiny products of different themes including food and desserts, drinks and doll house kits.

The mother of one hopes that she will have the chance to organise workshops and meet between interested people to popularise the clay miniature movement in Vietnam.

Like Quỳnh, Nguyên Phúc Hâu and Trân Minh Tân have had plenty of time during social distancing to discover new things.

Hâu left HCM City to return to his home town in Bên Tre Province in May because of the spreading pandemic.

The 24-year-old believes that his fish tank is better now that it has been decorated with mini-houses.

“I made a list of everything needed for my construction and draft for the design. Then, I tried to find materials that would be most similar to the real house,” said Thuân.

“I use clay to make part of the house and other materials such as carton, bamboo and pieces of wooden board for the rest.”

After five days, the 10 by 15 centimetre stilt house was completed fully, with furniture. He also attached tiny household and decorative items.

“It is made of simple materials, which I can find around me. I only use a knife and handsaw to cut, and special glue for metal to stick things together,” he said.

Tân, from Biên Hòa City, found his new hobby by accident when he read a website and saw construction replicas made of pieces of lumber and milled wood.

Graduating from Đong Nai College of Decorative Arts, Tân spent two months searching for more information and collecting materials which were “available and cheap”, and then made his first products.

After six months, he converted wasted wood, nutshells and toothpick into hundreds of construction models that he has seen during his tours of many cities and provinces.

“Handmade products look easy but they are actually not. With the same material and labour, things are different if you don’t have a creative mind, good imagination and talent,” said Tân who has been creating handmade items since he was in high school.

“Wooden pieces have their own shapes, colours, texture and wood grain. I am really interested in working with them. Designing a model is not difficult but arranging pieces to match with each other, mixing colours and adding detail requires great skill,” he said.

“I think that working on a handmade house model is a kind of art, which converts raw and tough wooden pieces into real and lively constructions. I am really pleased and feel relaxed watching my works step-by-step take shape and become complete.”

Recycling wasted items to either make life more beautiful or save the environment is also an idea of 61-year-old Nguyên Minh Truc from Kiên Giang Province.

Truc saw his wife throwing away plastic cans of oil and detergent and water bottles, and started collected them to make fine-art works during social distancing.

“He can’t go out because of the social distancing, so he cuts the cans and draws the 12 animals of the zodiac, and then marine animals too,” said Nguyên Ngoc Trân, Truc’s daughter.

His neighbours and friends appreciate Truc’s work and send him the cans they have. Meanwhile scrap shops give him free materials.