American food culture in miniature: an interview with Vida La Chiquita

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23 June 2021
Re-creation of a McDonald's hash brown in miniature Re-creation of a McDonald's hash brown in miniature
Get to know Luna Enriquez, a.k.a. Vida La Chiquita as she shares the process for making her incredible miniature food creations in 1/12th scale, how she finds inspiration and a top tip for all you miniature food enthusiasts! 

Luna Enriquez

Luna Enriquez

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What got you first interested in making miniatures?

I started making miniatures in the summer of 2018 on a total whim. I randomly got into watching the Instagram account SugarCharmShop’s videos and thought it looked like something that would be interesting to try. I remember going out and buying all the stuff and making the absolute worst looking, totally not-to-scale pepperoni pizza.

What sort of miniatures do you make and why these in particular?

I make miniature food and miniature food scenes in 1/12th scale. I’m specifically interested in making miniature food because I've always been interested in food art. I have a fine art practice as well, and the theme of a lot of my artwork revolves around consumerism, mass production and American food culture, so I think it was a natural idea that I’d focus on food.

Miniature waffles in miniature clay

I wish I was the kind of person who was really amazing at making miniature furniture as well, but I think my attention to detail when it comes to texture is better applied to food. I'm pretty hopeless with math, which is an important part of making furniture and converting things into different scales.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I collect vintage cookbooks from the 1950s through the 1970s, primarily Better Homes & Gardens, and I pull a lot of inspiration from those cookbooks when I run out of ideas of what to make. 

Unfortunately, I don't have as much time to spend on miniatures as I’d like, so often I spend a lot of time doing restocks or focusing on things I think customers would like. Hopefully in the future, I'll have more time to do the weird little miniature side projects that I want to. I'm very into the idea of doing miniature jello moulds and retro food, but I think the classics will probably always sell better!

Miniature pie in polymer clay

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Tell us how you go about creating your work?

I typically decide what I want to do and then spend a significant amount of time looking for reference photos of the food. For example, if I'm going to make a grilled cheese, I have to decide what type of grilled cheese I want to make, so I'll look at a lot of different varieties and try to decide what would translate the best shrunk down to 1/12th scale. Then I get close up pictures and staged pictures of the food so I can try to decide what I want my final product to look like and emulate the photos. 

Miniature cheese sandwich in polymer clay

After that, it's just the long process of blending polymer clay colours and levels of transparency, texturing the piece, and eventually adding additional colours using chalk pastels or diluted acrylic paint. Then it gets baked and sealed with a top coat and it's ready to go into the shop! I work almost exclusively with polymer clay. I've been branching out a little bit into resin, but it takes so long to cure that polymer clay is always my go-to material.

Where do you make your miniatures? Do you have a dedicated craft room?

I live in a 570 square foot apartment with my boyfriend and our cat, so it's actually a very tight squeeze in there, especially during quarantine when he also had to work at home. I'm the one with a desk, so he has to work from the kitchen and since he's got a 9-5 job, I usually work at night. So it's basically me working at a desk in our living room from 6pm to 2am, switching mediums depending on what I need to do. I also sew, draw, paint and have to do clerical work, so it's pretty crazy to use one desk for all of that!

Do you have a top tip?

If you want to get really good at making realistic miniatures, pay attention to how unstaged photos of food look! Normally when you get food in person, it doesn't look completely perfect, so if you fixate too hard on making your miniatures look flawless, they might actually look less real.

Do you have a favourite project?

I made some tiny trays of deviled eggs and I absolutely loved how those turned out, and also a serving board with s'mores and all the ingredients to make them. I've made a lot of tiny jello moulds, but I haven't listed or photographed them yet because I'm still perfecting them. They're incredibly cute, though!

Miniature s'mores in polymer clay

Find out more

Instagram: @lavidachiquita 

Want to have a go at making your own? Try this easy-to-follow pancakes tutorial using polymer clay – or perhaps we can tempt you with these miniature cupcakes using polymer clay!

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