Bom ap-petite


Ifima Pereira will set your mouth watering with her pretty food miniatures


Ifima Pereira has been fascinated with miniatures for as long as she can remember. “I love the tiny details that go into it. In a very weird way this really calms me,” she says, while admitting that this love may have been set into motion by her mother who was equally enchanted by miniatures.

“My mother used to collect these little tea sets and tiny cups. I think looking at these tiny things really fascinated me too,” says the Dubai-based Goan who has been in the design industry for more than 10 years now.

Pereira created her very first miniature somewhere in 2016. “A friend of mine handed me a piece of air-drying clay and I was very intrigued with it considering I had only come across play dough or porcelain clay. I tried out my first piece and loved the fact that it dried out overnight and fell in love with it,” she says.

And food is her forte with many of her creations being sumptuous dishes like ramen, momos, shahi paneer, doughnuts, etc. “I have a huge weakness for good looking food. Food needs to be presented well first, which then makes you want to choose to eat it. I’m no good at cooking but I can work my magic when it comes to miniature food making. I believe food presentation is an art as well,” she says, adding that she loves the detailing that goes into it. “I love playing with different materials to achieve the right texture. It’s an ongoing process.”

While she began with air dry clay, she eventually started experimenting with polymer clay and also works with resin and sand and sometimes porcelain clay.

“Trial and error is a major part of my work. It’s quite heart-breaking when a piece doesn’t turn out right,” she admits, adding that different pieces take different amounts of time to complete. It can range from five hours to three days. “Also, while working with air dry clay I need to consider the time it takes to dry out a piece. The process usually involves moulding, drying/baking, texturing, colouring and final texturing after colouring,” she says.

In fact, one of the major challenges she faces while creating a piece is getting the texture right or even the colour as sometimes not getting the colour right can also fail a piece. “A major challenge with air dry clay also is that when you start working with it, it’s a race against time. It’s important to work quickly so that your clay doesn’t dry out. Moreover, you cannot leave a piece unfinished and continue later. This was one of the major reasons I turned to polymer clay,” she says.

Having started off creating miniatures as a hobby, Pereira, while also managing a full-time job and taking care of her one-year-old, now has a small-scale business around these. “Someone asked me if I could make her a keychain and well the ideas just kept flowing from then on,” she says. Apart from keychains she has also ventured into creating framed pieces.

“My first piece was a collection of my best friend’s mother’s favourite dishes. All the dishes were Goan specialities. I am looking into creating more of these pieces,” she says.

Pereira is also looking at trying out working on teaspoons. “I have made some teaspoon decor but overlooked the idea because they were made out of air dry clay and cannot be washed or immersed into water. However, with my introduction to polymer clay, this opens up the idea again,” she says.

And Pereira has a big to-do list in place which she hopes to go through, one item at a time. “I did venture into miniature pottery after my husband gifted me a miniature potter’s wheel. I still have a long way to go with that because pottery is a whole new concept on its own. I also would love to do up a miniature house someday,” she says, adding that there are days when her mind is bursting with ideas but there is just not enough time. “I keep a note of all these ideas and work on them when I do get a chance. I do have a few plans and ideas in the pipeline so let’s see where it takes me,” she says. “I would love to exhibit my work more and I would love to create more of our Goan dishes and put them on a platform.”