Tiny is the new big when it comes to food art
Shay Aaron's miniatures look real enough to eat. Small as his sculptures are, this artist has big dreams.
Meticulously crafted tarts, handmade cupcakes, fluffy pita pockets and perfectly baked pizza toppings ... Shay Aaron's workspace resembles a true chef's kitchen – except the entire spread could fit into a dollhouse.
Everything the Israeli artist creates is in a 1:12 scale, meaning that things that would normally be 12 inches wide are only an inch wide, and his micro-meals, if they were edible, would have to be eaten with tweezers.
Aaron started out making tiny Looney Tunes and Muppets sculptures out of polymer clay, and created his very first miniature meal when someone approached him to create a realistic holiday platter 10 years ago.
"Since then, I've been obsessed with the idea of making realistic food items that are 12 times smaller than real life," Aaron told From The Grapevine.
Aaron's work has gained popularity over the years via his Etsy page, where he has turned his tiny pastries and slices of pizza into earrings, bracelets, cuff links and more. We took a magnifying glass to his incredible works and asked Aaron to explain exactly how he achieves such perfection:
From The Grapevine: The amount of detail that goes into every little sculpture is amazing. Can you walk us through how you go about creating a tiny pizza, for example?
Shay Aaron: The best miniature pieces are those that have an impressive amount of details. The main material I work with is polymer clay, but I combine resin, glass, wood and paper. I work in stages; an item never can be finished immediately. The miniature pizza process goes like this: First, I make the toppings and bake them, tomato slices, olive and onion rings. The next step is making the crust, giving it the realistic texture and shades; now comes the melting cheese, which is also made with liquid polymer clay. Once the melting cheese sits on the crust, I add the toppings, bake the pizza and the final stage is burning the cheese a bit.
Do you like to cook? If so, what’s your favorite dish to prepare “in real life”?
I bake more than I cook. Now, in my teeny flat, I can't really bake. But on Friday, when all the family gathers, I make some special desserts, edible ones. A few years ago I took a one-year pastry course at one of the biggest pastry chefs' schools in Israel.
What’s your favorite food? Have you created that into a sculpture yet?
My all-time favorite food is hummus and falafel. Very Mediterranean, I know, but I never say no to pita bread full of falafel, greens, hummus and pickles. You can throw some fries in; it would be even more perfect!
Of course, I did lots of lots of mini hummus plates and falafel necklaces. People around the world adore them.
What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on? How long did it take to complete?
Oh, when I was making my Seafood Collection. I don't think it was good enough, though. My miniature crabs and lobsters looked like my first creations in polymer clay, sweet and cute creatures – which they shouldn’t, when they're served on a plate. However, I was proud of the oysters I did. This kind of collection takes about a month to complete.
What have you learned from your years of practice?
Every time I sit to work I discover a new technique. I think the best way to improve yourself is keep working and never stop trying, even if you know that the things you plan might not work.
Any future plans?
I'm in my third year of Theatre and Costume Design studies in Tel Aviv. From a very young age I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to theater, and now it's happening. I'll keep making miniature food pieces for my costumes, but my big dream is to design for the theater.
Keep up with Aaron's fascinating miniatures on his Facebook page.
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