Creations of clay

After 20 minutes pass by, freshmen Esther Lee excitedly opens the oven, ready to see the result of her hard work. Carefully taking her creation out of the oven, she reveals a marble-sized clay model of Pikachu.

Lee has been creating charms by molding and baking clay for over two years. Her charms are as tiny as a centimeter and have intricate bits of detail put into them. Though the base of her pastry charm is the size of a dime, she still adds miniature clay strawberries on top of it.

“Seeing how creative I can get makes creating charms fun,” Lee said. “Seeing my mom’s face when she’s like ‘Oh wow you made it? That’s so cool!’ or when my sister goes like ‘Oh can you make one for me and one for my friend too?’ makes me happy.”

Inspired by Creative Rachy, a do-it-yourself YouTube channel, Lee started crafting her own charms in 2016 and worked on them on a daily basis. In seventh grade, she decided to publicize her artwork with her friends by creating a craft account on Instagram, sweetsugardoughnut.

“I thought [the charms] would be good to post on social media, and it would be pleasing to the eye to make these cute [charms] for other people [to see],” said Lee

To come up with an idea for her charm, Lee draws out a conceptual design in her sketchbook. Lee’s designs include animated characters such as Jake from “Adventure Time,” Totoro from “My Neighbor Totoro” and Jiji from “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”  First, she begins to randomly mold the clay in order to soften it. Using a variety of colors, she combines multiple molded clay parts to achieve her desired shape. Then, she puts her creation in an oven and bakes it at 275 degrees to harden and finish her model. This process can take from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the complexity of the model.

“A lot of crafters say that [their favorite part is] baking it and seeing the final product. But I like how I can, in the process of making it, put on itty-bitty details. The itty-bitty details can actually define the whole creation,” Lee said. “I really like making those really small details [because] it can make a big difference.”

Though Lee currently does not plan on selling her charms, she gives them away to her friends and teachers during the holidays.

“I really like giving charms to my friends,” Lee said. “I have time to spend and I [like] spending that time doing things for my friends. Seeing that expression on their face really just makes me glad that I did something for them.”

By Andrew Kim, Staff writer
Photo by Isaac Le