SINGAPORE – American supermodel Chrissy Teigen received the “best gift ever” from her husband, R&B singer John Legend, for her birthday – and it was a Singaporean clay artist who made it happen.
Jocelyn Teo, 30, created 15 miniature replicas of dishes from Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings, including chicken satay, fish tacos, kale salad and chicken noodle soup.
Speaking to The Straits Times on Tuesday (Dec 5), Teo said that the project was one of the highlights of her hobby-turned-career.
She said: “It is a huge opportunity for me to create for someone of John Legend’s talent and celebrity status.”
Teigen, a former Sports Illustrated model, gushed over the present on Snapchat.
“Oh my god, my recipes are tiny,” she laughed, adding that the miniature food replicas “look just like it”. Legend can be heard in the background.
Teo told ST that she was overjoyed when she first saw Teigen’s Snapchat.
Reposted from @chrissyteigen’s Snapchat. 🎁 The moment she received her birthday present from @johnlegend ! I’m just beaming from cheek to cheek as I listen to her in the video. Isn’t she such a dear! All my hard work is WORTH IT. Let me go cry tears of happiness now. Also, friends and family are all sending congratulatory messages and linking me to news articles on her ‘weird’ birthday gift! 😅 Pardon the many posts coming your way today. I’ve been quiet about this for too long! 🤣 #shecalleditthebestgiftever #😭 #aiclayxhappybirthdaychrissy #miniaturefood
A post shared by Jocelyn Teo (@aiclay) on
“She sounded genuinely excited about the gift, and with the caption ‘best gift ever’, it made my day. Days even,” she said. “All the hard work making the entire collection of miniature sculptures was really worth it, for her reaction.”
And after keeping the project a secret for four months, Teo was bursting with excitement as she revealed the news on her Instagram on Sunday, calling it a “thrilling ride from the get go”.
Teo was first contacted by Legend’s manager through e-mail in July and discussed ideas for the present with the singer through a Facetime call.
She also documented the sculpting process on micro-blogging site Dayre on Sunday (Dec 3), where she included several behind-the-scenes photos.
She had pored over Teigen’s cookbook, which was sent to her from Los Angeles a few days after her call with Legend.
Eventually, she selected the 15 dishes for their “varied look”.
Happy Birthday Chrissy! | Here it is, the big reveal. THIS is what I’ve been working on since August. 😱 I was commissioned by John Legend himself @johnlegend to create the birthday present for his wife Chrissy Teigen @chrissyteigen, 15 miniature food replicas based around her recipe book Cravings. It was a thrilling ride from the get go, imagine I had the honour of speaking to John on Facetime to discuss our ideas 😱😱, and knowing that Chrissy introduced AiClay to him! I would never have dreamed of sculpting for someone of their fame and talent, and thanking my lucky stars ⭐️ that they picked little ol’ me from this faraway island. 😬 It has been tough keeping mum about the entire project these last few months, and also why I couldn’t post any new content on here! But now that the secret is out, get ready for an unleashing of photos and I’ll fill you all in on all the little stories behind each little dish! 😉 #AiClay #chrissyteigen #johnlegend #aiclayxhappybirthdaychrissy #miniaturefood
A post shared by Jocelyn Teo (@aiclay) on
“As I knew we were going to compile them all into a frame… I wanted to create items which would look different from one another,” she said, adding that the project took her 3.5 months to complete.
To perfect her craft, Teo even whipped up a few of the recipes in the book, including a bowl of sweet chilli chicken wings.
This allowed her to study the colours and textures of the items she could not obtain in real life.
While she declined to share how much she was paid, she said that shipping, duties and insurance had cost more than $400. Legend had covered the insurance.
Teo first dabbled in clay craft in 2009, after stumbling upon some clay in an art store.
Together with her then-boyfriend and now husband, she would make “some tiny things for fun” and posted it on her blog.
When friends and later strangers took at interest in her work, she started creating gifts from them, earning pocket money as she went along.
She now runs her business AiClay full-time and has worked with clients such as McDonald’s, Sushi Express and Volkswagen.
She hopes her experience would show Singaporean artists that nothing is impossible.
She wrote in her post: “Hopefully, this would be a small butterfly effect in an avalanche, to set off a ripple and have more people around the world knowing about Singapore and what we have to offer in the arts!”