My boyfriend booked a class at Tinkle Art Room for me as a surprise when he was away, and to be honest I didn’t quite know what to expect. The idea of how one can use plain white clay to make these miniature plates of food baffled me, and I was looking forward to figuring that out.

The class was held at little workshop tucked away at the corner of Keppel Road, and there were quite a number of participants for the session (maybe 8?). They have different sessions to make different types of food (so cute)!

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Different local Singapore food including Hokkien Prawn Noodles, Satay, Curry Chicken etc. We were going to make the plate of Nasi Lemak (far right)

We had various tools laid out in front of us, and I was about to find out the hard work and patience needed for this session…

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There’s an old Chinese poem we learnt in school long ago that goes:
锄禾日当午,
汗滴禾下土。
谁知盘中餐,
粒粒皆辛苦。

Online English translation:

“At noon, farmers are weeding under the scorching sun”
Their sweat dripping down onto the ground.
Each and every grain of rice in your bowl
is the fruit of the toiling farmers.”

In our case, we literally had to make every grain of rice! White clay was press through a contraption that produces very thin long strands of clay. After which, we take a pair of scissors to snip out every grain. 粒粒皆辛苦 indeed.

Thank goodness we just had to make enough to coat a mound of white clay (even then, that was still quite a number of grains!)

That was possibly the most tedious part of the plate of nasi lemak, and the rest of the parts were really fun to make. Coloured clay was prepared by mixing and kneading oil paint into clay, and textures (on the omelette pieces) were made by pressing velcro strips against them.

The chicken drumstick was so cleverly built on top of half a Q-tip / cotton bud!

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Coloured clay was slowly molded on top of the cotton bud
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WIP food items being laid on top of the sponge to dry
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Our instructor and her nimble hands + everyone concentrating on their tiny food
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“Frying” our chicken with batter that included sand (I think) to give it the nice crispy texture

When we were done, we “painted” a couple of items with some glossy paste, to make them look nice and shiny / oily, just like what real food looks like. Can you spot what we glossed up?

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Before glossing (I took an extra large serving of the sambal chilli, as I would have in real life :p)
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After glossing

And finally, ta-dah! My very own handmade plate of nasi lemak – all made out of clay, but unbelievably realistic!

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Details of the workshop

Duration: ~3 hours (we took a bit more)
Price: $90 per person for the class, with all materials provided. My boyfriend booked it on Lessons Go Where, but they have a website too

Level of “fun”: 3.5/5

It was incredibly enjoyable to learn and transform mounds of clay into realistic-looking food pieces. Whenever the instructor showed us how we were going to make the pieces, there were lots of “cool!”, “that’s so clever!” a-ha moments (e.g. cotton buds forming the foundation of chicken drumstick, velcro to give it texture)

Even though I joked about the rice being super tedious to make, it was strangely therapeutic too.

Level of difficulty: 2.5/5

The activity wasn’t difficult, but does require one to concentrate and be willing to work with your fingers (given the very small size of the objects we were making). The guidance provided by the instructors were very clear, and they were always around to help you tweak your pieces just in case you aren’t so good with you fingers!