Whether it be an apple pie, macaroons or chocolate chip cookies, you can bet that Desirae is capable of making your favourite foods into a beautifully handcrafted piece of jewellery! All of TinySlice’s pieces are carefully sculptured and baked to perfection. Each piece is incredibly realistic looking (just don’t be tempted to take a bite!). Filling orders from Paris to Singapore and her hometown of Vancouver, Desirae is thrilled to be doing what she loves. Read on to learn more about Desirae and her business and how each and every TinySlice is hand crafted!
PS… Did we mention that Desirae is also a full-time student at Emily Carr University? She is one talented, passionate and busy woman!
How did TinySlice come to be?
During spring of my third year of university I had a bunch of bottle caps leftover from a project. I was looking up creative ways to use them when I came across a photo of a miniature pie someone had created inside a bottle cap out of polymer clay – it was the cutest thing I had ever seen, and so one night my friend and I bought some clay and just starting playing around with making miniature food! After awhile we started to actually get pretty good, and thought it would be pretty cool to try selling them on Etsy. My friend and I opened up our shop in June of 2014, but around Christmastime she decided to move on to other creative endeavours, which has just left me!
What is the process like to create one piece of jewellery?
It really differs with each piece. Sometimes I’ll need to use different materials to achieve the look of things like semi-transparent sauce/liquid, or icing, or peanut butter. But for most items, I start by sculpting the item out of polymer clay – sometimes the clay comes in the colour I need, other times I’ll have to mix it to get it right. Once it’s sculpted I use a variety of tools to add believable texture to the pieces – needles, toothbrushes, crumpled tin foil, toothpicks, etc. I add shading to the pieces with a paint or makeup brush using soft pigments – the pigment of the soft pastels actually adheres to the clay after it’s baked, so it’s a really nice way of adding colour. I always find it really funny when I’m putting a whole bunch of tiny pies inside the oven – the process sometimes really feels like cooking (but without the delicious payoff at the end)!
I really try to stay away from using molds to ‘duplicate’ my pieces, or using pre-made canes (canes are long cylinders of polymer clay that have a pattern running through them, so you can cut lemon slices, or different fruits) – unless I make them myself. Canes can be really difficult to make and actually require a lot of skill – so I don’t want to simply re-sell somebody else’s hard work. Each piece I make is made from scratch by hand every time.
How do you stay inspired and motivated?
Well for starters, there are just endless possibilities for designs – I have so many ideas that I can’t wait to try that it never really gets boring. There are also a lot of really inspiring miniature-artists online that post tutorials, and some of them are just incredible. But probably one of my biggest motivators is the response I get from people who see my jewelry for the first time. I remember when I first saw those miniature pies online, I couldn’t get over how cute they were – so it’s really a lot of fun to see that reaction in others, either in person, or in comments on social media, etc. Having people purchase my work is also a huge motivator – the entrepreneur in me has completely taken off with TinySlice, and I really enjoy all aspects of running the business. It’s so exciting when I get orders from places like Paris and Singapore, or even in my home country – that I’m reaching people all over the place who want to buy my work.
Are you able to do custom designs?
Absolutely! I love a challenge; so custom requests are really great. They also often lead to the creation of pieces I hadn’t thought about making before, and sometimes end up being some of the best pieces.
What is your most memorable piece of jewellery you’ve made?
A custom miniature bottle of Sriracha sauce that a customer bought for her sister’s birthday. I was working with sterling silver, so I was really nervous not to mess up the sculpture! But I think it turned out really great. I got to meet up with the customer as she was local to Vancouver, and it was so awesome getting to see her reaction to the piece – you often never hear back from customers on Etsy, unless they leave you a review, so that was pretty awesome.
Finish these sentences…
Vancouver is… the place to be. Seriously. There are so many amazing people and opportunities here, I feel really fortunate to be living in this city.
TinySlice is… a shop that really cares about making you smile! Making people happy is really the ‘cherry on top’ for me. (I know, food puns are cheesy…)
Polymer clay… is not edible. Haha – actually though, polymer clay is durable, non-toxic, and does not contain any animal by-products – it is a pretty awesome medium.