‘He was very down-to-earth’: Singapore clay artist talks working with John Legend

Nurul Azliah
Senior Lifestyle Reporter
Singapore clay artist Jocelyn Teo talks working with John Legend. Photo: InStyle/Jocelyn Teo

While clay artist Jocelyn Teo has created works for local celebrities such as Sugie Phua and Sylvester Sim, the 30-year-old never imagined that she would one day receive an email query from the manager of international R&B star John Legend.

It took a while for Teo, the founder of local miniature sculpture business AiClay, to let that sink in. The clay artist of eight years then had to contain her excitement before her six-minute FaceTime call with the “All of Me” singer.

“He was very down-to-earth and friendly. I was excited at first, but after that it was more of a professional call where we both discussed about the project,” said Teo, who has listened to songs by the 38-year-old singer, but admits that she is not a big fan of “Western entertainment”.

The project was a birthday gift for Legend’s model wife Chrissy Teigen, and it required Teo to create 15 miniature food sculptures replicating the dishes from Teigen’s cookbook “Cravings”.

These were, chicken satay, Hasselback potatoes, tuna melts, chicken pot pie soup, chicken noodle soup, Caprese salad, steak, spicy tomato skillet megs with prosciutto, scallops with corn and kale salad.

Singapore clay artist Jocelyn Teo created 15 miniature food sculptures replicating Chrissy Teigen’s recipes. Photo: Jocelyn Teo

Teo spent three months working on the project, which consisted mainly of dishes that she had never created with clay before.

“I had to go through a long process of trial and error to create the accurate colours and textures for the miniature pieces. Also, it was a challenge to hunt down the actual food items as I usually like to have the real item with me while I worked,” said Teo. “Some dishes required food ingredients which were not available in Singapore, like heirloom tomatoes and baby arugula.”

However, her biggest challenge for this project was keeping it a secret since August. Teo finally made the big reveal on her Instagram over the weekend, two days after Teigen’s birthday on 30 November. Her hard work paid off after receiving praises from Teigen via two Snapchat posts, one of which said: “Best gift ever!”

“We have to talk about how cool this gift is. You guys remember how obsessed I were with tiny foods. Look at these! These are my recipes!” said the model and mother to daughter Luna. “An artist made them herself we found her on Instagram and John planned on this… I wish you could see all the details. It’s so cute!” Teigen added.

For Teo, what started as a hobby with her boyfriend-turned-husband during her university days has now become a business popular among the stars. Working with Legend has definitely “enriched” her portfolio and gained bigger support from friends, families and former schoolmates.

“It’s very heartwarming to see and feel this outpour of support. With the Internet, physical boundaries are broken down and our works travel with the swipe of a finger. So keep working hard, for the opportunities that are yet to come,” said Teo.

For more works by Teo, visit the AiClay website, its Facebook or Instagram.

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