You’ve probably seen stories of oversized food creations, from giant milkshakes to towering burgers. But what about miniature food? Shilpa Mitha is a gifted culinary artist who makes miniature food with a twist: her creations aren’t edible. They may look utterly delicious, but these tiny plated masterpieces are actually hand-sculpted from clay.
Mitha says she can’t cook gourmet dishes, but she can make a completely lifelike miniature replica of just about any food out there. Her first creation was a tiny clay hamburger her mother helped her make. Since then, the artist has branched out in her clay modeling, and her creations now include a wide variety of foods, such as:
● Fried chicken
Along with individual food items, Mitha also creates full plates and trays of various foods. Some popular examples include a burger with a side of fries and toast served with a jar of Nutella. She specializes in recreating regional Indian dishes, such as karimeen pollichathu and biyani.
Clay Food Connoisseur
Mitha crafts every item by hand to order, just like real food in a five-star restaurant. While classic American dishes like fried chicken are always popular, Mitha receives the highest praise for her Indian food replicas. Each item is completely authentic with realistic colors and plating. No detail is missed, from individual grains of rice to a final sprinkle of green garnish on a finished dish.
Mitha finds inspiration in many places. She started crafting Indian food sculptures because she found it was a cuisine not well-represented in the miniature food niche. She also enjoys creating mouthwatering clay desserts, from simple brownies to show-stopping delicacies featured on food shows such as Masterchef.
From that first miniature burger her mom taught her to make, it took Mitha several years to develop and perfect her art. She uses a variety of special tools to create the minuscule elements of her creations. Some tools of the trade are similar to their counterparts from traditional kitchens, including cookie cutters and rolling pins. Mitha also incorporates paintbrushes and needles to get the fine details on her pieces just right.
Colors and Textures
While there are several types of clay artists can work with, Mitha prefers to use an air-dry variety that doesn’t require baking. Some pieces can dry in a day whereas others take several days before they’re ready. To get the colors to appear as natural as possible, Mitha actually mixes the pigments into the clay before sculpting rather than painting the shapes after they dry. As a final touch, she gently coats each miniature item with varnish. This adds a sheen that is especially important in making certain dishes look as realistic as possible.
Market for Miniatures
While it’s considered a niche market, the demand for clay models of miniature food is surprisingly high. Mitha runs a successful business selling her creations from her shop Sueño Souvenir (you can visit her Facebook page.) Many customers purchase her creations to place in dollhouses for realistic playtime. Others wear the clay pieces as jewelry or use them to decorate personal items such as planners and notebooks. Most of Mitha’s pieces cost around $10 to $15. You can visit her website at https://suenosouvenir.blogspot.co.il/
Tiny food is a big deal to Mitha and her fans. What do you think about these unique clay pieces? Is there a dish you’d love to see miniaturized?