Captivating tiny artworks

Fong Wan Hui has over 100 miniature art projects up to date. Though a fulltime pharmacist, Fong enjoys her off days by constructing mini structures.

Miniaturist Fong Wan Hui loves turning memorable anecdotes into smaller artwork. Inspired by real objects, her hometown and memories from her travelling days, Fong shares her life through miniature art.

Miniature art pieces mostly inspired by fond memories

Miniature art is a rare medium in our local art scene. Despite so, Fong Wan Hui appealed to the art since a young age which was what prompted her to build her first model after undertaking the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) in 2007.

With a simple glance through her artwork, one would notice Fong’s meticulous detailed work as each miniature artwork showcases a painstakingly, elaborate design that reflects the original item. Fong has done up to 120 projects since she started. Though a fulltime pharmacist, Fong enjoys building them on her days off.

From a mini kitchen to a mini local souvenir shop, Fong takes between two to three hours per project depending on its complexity. What intrigued her since young to pursue miniature art as a hobby was how she enjoyed seeing life-sized items and buildings being compressed into a much smaller scale, yet maintaining the details in it.

Six shophouses, attached with mini light bulb for a more vibrant look: (top left) souvenir shop, grocery shop, Chinese herbal medicine store. (Bottom left) Tit-bits and snacks, goldsmith and jewellery, mooncakes.

“I usually finish a project during the weekends as I do not like to drag a project for too long. While there is no specific theme for my miniature art, I usually get my inspiration from daily life or my travelling days,” she said. Fong delicately built art pieces are usually of the eateries she comes across, “And I like to recreate scenes from olden days such as kitchen, living room and shophouses.”

Enjoying the satisfying process of how the artwork would turn out, Fong said there were still much to improve in her artwork. Without attending proper courses, Fong’s endeavour was sharpened through experiments she had done over the years.

“The ideas were obtained from things around me. I also collected small items with the help of my family, friends and colleagues because I know some of these would come in handy one day,” she pointed out.

From free gift erasers to paper clips and used cloth, Fong’s art revolves around recycled trinkets she gathered. Asked how much she averagely spent per project, Fong answered that it does not cost much. “However, if I require UV resin or clay to complete my project, then it will cost much more.”

The value of a project is beyond its cost. Fong opined that the ultimate value came from the amount of time she spent per project. “With that, it makes me value each project more than the exact cost.”

Her first piece

Fong’s first piece — a mini bedroom which she has envisioned of making since young.

It was a mini bedroom that she had dreamed of building since young. The 31-year-old first encountered miniature art during her childhood days admiring the ones at her cousin’s home. “I saw miniature art at my cousin’s house when I was young. Back in those days, it was rare to come across a piece of miniature art. To me, it was so cute and that was what attracted my attention.”

The pharmacist also had a penchant for the next closest thing to miniature art, apart from a dollhouse — the mini house models displayed during property roadshows. “I enjoyed looking at them and I pictured myself being inside the houses. I adored how detailed the items were.”

Asked whether she would pursue her childhood interest to build house models, Fong said no. “So far, I have no plans to do miniature art full time. I enjoy keeping it as a hobby as it enables me to take a good break from my routine work. Miniature art also brings joy, be it through the process of making it or in the end product.”

Building under the moniker ‘Tinytasking’ on Facebook and Instagram, Fong hopes to be able to visit a miniature exhibition in the future. Though building her portfolio took years of trial and error, Fong conceded to loving the process.

“It took me some time to figure out the suitable materials and right-sizing. Sometimes I have to redo a particular item if I am not satisfied with the outcome. It is a time-consuming hobby but I do not mind since I enjoy the process of making them,” she shared.

The process starts with the gathering of materials — Fong used her ‘Tembikar Sarawak’ as an example. “This project requires a lot of clay. Whereas, my ‘Old Shophouses’ needed many popsicle sticks. As for the vendor cart, I needed to get small wheels from the hardware store.” What’s interesting in both projects were how Fong managed to recreate each detail exactly as the original.

For a more complicated piece of work such as the ‘Hong Kong congee shop’, she would often draft a plan before starting a project to make sure the sizes are right. “Otherwise, in simpler projects, I would just improvise once I got the idea. I tend to add on details as I go along, depending on the ideas that came across my mind.”

With over 100 projects, and many more to go, Fong’s artworks are mostly based on fond memories she had spent at the location. Putting her heart and soul into building the next memorable place, what’s prominent about each handiwork lays in the details she inserts in.