The hands behind TinyPinc belong to founder Ling Hooi Yin, fondly known as Ling. Her brand that began in 2010 takes polymer clay and expertly turns it into realistic food miniatures, Ling’s favourite subject. These miniatures can be turned into accessories earrings or charms, or simply as nostalgic memorabilia.
Before the MCO, Ling would offer workshops at her studio but for now, the artist says she’s planning to launch online workshops on creating miniature polymer clay food like rainbow cakes, nasi lemak, and yummy (although inedible) Malaysian kuih.
There’s so much intrigue to her art, and in the latest instalment of our Made in Malaysia series, Prestige is thrilled to speak to Ling herself:
TinyPinc started as a hobby when I was a first year in college in 2010. I was taking a Multimedia Designer course, and my days were filled with assignments and projects. I figured I needed a hobby or an activity to relax my mind a little. I was browsing YouTube and I stumbled upon a video of a girl showing her creations made of polymer clay. I had never come across that medium, and that piqued my interest. Back then Polymer clay wasn’t a “thing” in Malaysia yet, so it was really difficult purchasing the clay here. After trying my luck at several craft and art supply stores, I finally found a few blocks of clay to try my hands on! My first order was actually by a classmate of mine. She saw my creations and asked if she can customise something for her, and that was how I started selling!
I look for tutorials on websites — blogs mostly — and YouTube. I didn’t have a lot of allowance when I was still in college. I would read craft books from the shelf in POPULAR or MPH, I ended up purchasing some books after selling some creations.
The challenging part working for myself is to always “upgrade” my work. I have to be a critique to myself, my own work. I’m the lady boss and slave to my business, therefore I have a lot to work on. I’m also my own teacher. I still do research online to keep myself “up to date” on the latest skills discovered by other artists. Since I’ve joined Patreon to offer monthly subsciptions, I had to come up with something new every month. Sometimes I will come up with an idea to make a certain food, but I’ll end up spending weeks figuring out on the technical part.
The most rewarding is to see the happy smiles on my customers’ faces when they receive or wear the miniatures! I have quite a number of Malaysian residing in foreign countries purchasing my miniatures. They told me they needed something close to home, and I’m so glad my creations get to represent Malaysia like that.
Definitely Malaysian food!
I get inspired with my daily life. I focus a lot of Malaysian food, and I enjoy turning them into miniatures. Every kind of food captures different childhood memories of mine, and I’m hoping my miniatures will remind some sweet memories of yours too.
Working process usually starts with kneading the clay, mixing clay colours to achieve realistic colours, sculpting the shape (achieving realistic colours and sculpting can take up to days, or longest weeks). Clay creations then go into the oven to bake to harden, and then I’ll have to turn them into accessories like earrings or charms.
Go for it! And always have a back up plan. When you turn art into business, it won’t be all fun. Balance your passion and be realistic at the same time, takes some time to get there, you can do it!
You basically have all the resources you need at your fingertips! Mr. Google is just a click away. Hobbies are meant to be relaxing and therapeutic. Keeping our mental health healthy is really important during MCO. Stay safe everyone!
Made in Malaysia is a series by Prestige Malaysia that showcases homegrown talents across various sectors. Through interviews, we strive to highlight the work put in by these individuals while supporting their craft.