They say, the road to finding your passion is long but rewarding. Such is the story of Shirali, who stumbled upon an art form while she was pursuing fashion, which we became her calling! A bio-chemist-turned-fashion designer, Shiralis discovered her passion for sculpting miniatures in 2011. Since then, she hasn’t turned back and continues to create marvelous miniatures.
“My goal as an artist is to create top 20 miniature staple food of every state and create a food trail across the country. I have started working on this project, and to my amazement, I found so many overlapping similarities in local cuisines from one state to another. Same food, similar recipes and yet different names!” Shirali talks about her work, what influenced her to take this up and the challenges she faces while running her venture. Read on!
We had a chat with Shirali, miniaturist from Ahmedabad about her venture, “Small Idea”, which is about sculpting miniatures such as food, bag charms and so much more!
Hello, introduce a little about yourself.
Hi I’m Shirali, a Bio-Chemist-turned-Fashion Designer — turned Miniaturist — 43-years-old from Ahmedabad. After working for over a decade in Retail Industry, I left my corporate job and pursued my passion for creating miniature. I am a self-taught and have mastered this art after many years of mistakes and experimentation. It’s been 10 years now since I’ve been sculpting miniatures. It’s a joy to see my quirky little utility and collectable products bring a smile on many faces.
Tell us about your venture “Small Idea”. How did it all start?
I started my career as a fashion designer in the 90’s. After working for over a decade in retail industry, I switched gears entirely and began working with clay. I took formal training in Pottery and Ceramics Fine-art in 2003 . In early 2005, I accidentally found a new medium called polymer clay and was completely intrigued by its versatility. A ceramic piece could take me weeks to complete, but with polymer clay, there is instant gratification as the results are instant. Small Idea started as a hobby in 2011, when I was in between jobs. I handcrafted few products to sell online. I got a very encouraging response and from then, there was no looking back.
Cute miniatures of Macarons and Eiffel tower in a box by Shirali
Miniature coke cans by Shirali
Customised bag charm by Shirali
How did you come up with the idea and what was the inspiration behind it?
I just love miniatures. Miniatures fascinated me as a child and it still gets me excited as an adult!! Also, my personal taste is more biased towards quirky and one-of-a-kind products. Back in 2008, before I started working professionally, I had made customized pen-drives for myself and some gifts for a few friends. I tried my luck selling few pieces online and people did purchase them. This motivated me to pursue it further more.
How have your roots influenced your work or working style?
My roots have a huge influence on my work. Though I am very versatile in my work and can sculpt everything from miniature books to shoes, my favorite genre to sculpt is food. And India is a culturally diverse country. With 29 states and various cuisines, it’s a rich source of inspiration for me!
My goal as an artist is to create top 20 miniature staple food of every state and create a food trail across the country. I have started working on this project, and to my amazement, I found so many overlapping similarities in local cuisines from one state to another. Same food, similar recipes and yet different names!
Miniatures of various Indian food | by Shirali
Some miniature Plates, Trays, Bowls, Plates, Pizza-boards and Chopping boards | by Shirali
What are the challenges that you face while running your venture?
Sourcing the right raw material that’s needed for miniature work is the biggest challenge. Indian stockiest still do not have wide range of supply to offer and artists often have to look towards overseas markets to buy what they want. The prices hence are quite high, owing to custom duties and shipping costs.
Give some details about your products, where can we buy them?
I offer customized miniatures in certain categories specially miniature food, coasters and bag charms. I retail through my shop on ETSY, where I cater to international customers. Domestic customers mostly approach me through my social media page on Instagram and Facebook.