Vietnam’s miniature handicrafts get bigger during Covid-19 crisis

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Nguyen Nhu Quynh and her miniature fruit and vegetable shop. Nguyen Nhu Quynh

Nguyen Nhu Quynh is making the final touches to her work. She has just completed a dream miniature-bakery that she has planned for a decade.

In her ‘shop’, there are many different kinds of cakes, gateaux, bread, cookies and pies – mostly made of clay.

“Everything here is fat-free, which can help people lose weight quickly because they can watch them only,” Quynh told Viet Nam News of her bakery, which is sized 55x25x30cm.

In the tiny area, visitors can quickly find their beloved colourful macaroons in the right cabinet, donuts with chocolate in the left, and beautiful pastries in the centre.

Many cannot not hide their surprise but admit the cakes look 100 per cent real and mouthwatering to boot.

The 33-year-old has spent three months preparing materials, sculpting the clay, mixing colours, and reviewing everything to make sure the tiny cakes are accurate in every single detail.

Earlier in May, Quynh made headlines in local media with her shop of vegetables and fruits that she posted on a Facebook group with more than two million members. Her post received more than 100,000 likes, 10,000 shares and 1,800 comments.

The Hanoian showed hundreds of items such as papaya, asparagus, bananas, cabbages, chillies and onions, which were only about 0.2-2.5cm long.

Quynh owns more than 1,000 tiny products of different themes including food and desserts, drinks and doll house kits.

The mother of one hopes that she will have the chance to organise workshops and meet between interested people to popularise the clay miniature movement in Vietnam.

Like Quynh, Nguyen Phuc Hau and Tran Minh Tan have had plenty of time during social distancing to discover new things.

Hau left Ho Chi Minh City to return to his home town in Ben Tre province in May because of the pandemic.

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Nguyen Nhu Quynh has just opened her tiny bakery, with hundreds of cakes made of clay. Nguyen Nhu Quynh

The 24-year-old believes that his fish tank is better now that it has been decorated with mini-houses.

“I use clay to make part of the house and other materials such as carton, bamboo and pieces of wooden board for the rest.”

After five days, the 10x15cm stilt house was completed fully, with furniture. He also attached tiny household and decorative items.

“It is made of simple materials, which I can find around me. I only use a knife and handsaw to cut, and special glue for metal to stick things together,” he said.

Tan, from Bien Hoa City, found his new hobby by accident when he read a website and saw construction replicas made of pieces of lumber and milled wood.

Graduating from Dong Nai College of Decorative Arts, Tan spent two months searching for more information and collecting materials which were “available and cheap,” and then made his first products.

After six months, he has converted wasted wood, nutshells and toothpick into hundreds of construction models that he has seen during his tours of many cities and provinces.

“Handmade products look easy but they are actually not. With the same material and labour, things are different if you don’t have a creative mind, good imagination and talent,” said Tan, who has been creating handmade items since he was in high school.

“Wooden pieces have their own shapes, colours, texture and wood grain. I am really interested in working with them. Designing a model is not difficult but arranging pieces to match with each other, mixing colours and adding detail requires great skill,” he said.

“I think that working on a handmade house model is a kind of art, which converts raw and tough wooden pieces into real and lively constructions. I am really pleased and feel relaxed watching my works step-by-step take shape and become complete.”

Recycling wasted items to either make life more beautiful or save the environment is also an idea of 61-year-old Nguyen Minh Truc from Kien Giang province.

Truc saw his wife throwing away plastic cans of oil and detergent and water bottles, and started collected them to make fine-art works during social distancing.

“He can’t go out because of the social distancing, so he cuts the cans and draws the 12 animals of the zodiac, and then marine animals too,” said Nguyen Ngoc Tran, Truc’s daughter.

The cans are cleaned before Truc makes drafts of his sketches on both sides. He then uses scissors to cut his designs and then colours them. It often takes him up to five hours to complete one product.

His neighbours and friends appreciate Truc’s work and send him all the cans they have. Meanwhile scrap shops give him free materials.

time. He is strongly supported and encouraged for what he is doing. He is happy because he can partly save the environment and stay safe from the outbreak,” said Tran.