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Amid the pandemic and the loss of her dad, this clay artist found comfort in making food art

By Brooke Villanueva Published Jun 30, 2021 3:38 pm

Dealing with anxieties and worries in the middle of a pandemic is no easy feat in itself—but quadruple times harder it could be for those who are also coping with the loss of a loved one. And so, in the midst of it all, a creative knew she needed an outlet for the burdens and uncertainties of life.

Many have found their way around the kitchen during the crisis. Rhica Toledana Obien, 33, could have easily done the same thing, but there was one problem: she doesn’t know how to cook. She then turned to an old hobby to “cook” something in an oven. In her case, however, it’s not real food but polymer clay. 

She’s been experimenting with clay and resin since 2014, but Obien found herself upping her game in late March, when she lost her dad to kidney failure and COVID-19. “Doing food art has helped relieve my stress and loneliness,” she told PhilSTAR L!FE. “I really find joy in it.”

Rhica Obien

From crafting miniature food, she has learned how to put various elements together for even bigger masterpieces. Case in point: this sari-sari miniature art. “I finished it for just almost a week after my father died because I kept myself busy,” she shared. 

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A post shared by rhica obien (@the_rhicrafts)

Apart from this, she has taken food art to the next level by making hyper-realistic phone cases mostly featuring Filipino food like bibingka, taho, pork nilaga, and adobo, among others. “I don’t see a lot of Filipino food art here, so I decided to make some so that many people can discover our delicious food,” she explained.

Pork nilaga, bibingka, and pork adobo phone cases

Inspired to do your own food art, too? Obien said it requires patience with the amount of effort and time each piece may consume. “But if you know it’s what you would love to do, trust me, everything will fall into place,” said Obien, “no matter how tough the art—or life—can get.”

Photographs courtesy of the subject