Hello, my name is Huong and I make pretend food for my shop, Milkfly. I was raised in Houston, Texas, where I continue to live today.
I’ve always been a maker. My family immigrated to the United States as refugees after the Vietnam War with virtually nothing. It was being resourceful that ignited the ingenuity and creativeness in me: as a child, I once made pretend French fries by cutting strips from the foam of my mother’s shoulder pads (it was the ’80s and there was an abundant supply!). Although I played around with making objects, drawing and painting was my first artistic discipline. I received a fine arts degree (in painting) from the University of Houston.
I’m greatly inspired by beautifully photographed foods. I saw a book on felt desserts nearly ten years ago and was immediately fascinated – it evoked the giddy, joyous excitement of my childhood. I was eager to understand how they were made; after completing a couple of pieces, I realized how simple the concept was and started experimenting with my own designs.
All new ideas require time for experimentation. To create a pattern, I begin with a piece of felt. I add or subtract, then sew and re-sew until I get the desired form, shape and size. In the early days of pretend food-making, I simply used felt with stitching. Eventually my drawing and painting sensibilities crept in; I started using a variety of pigments and sculpting techniques to create subtle colors and textures.
I initially started making pretend food because I wanted to relive the playfulness of my childhood, but the happiness that someone else gets from my work has been a heartwarming surprise. I’ve had the good fortune to have kind and enthusiastic feedback from my customers, and it is so encouraging to feel supported in my creative endeavors. Many of my pieces have traveled the globe, and I live vicariously through each one in imagined adventures. I feel lucky and grateful that I get to do what I enjoy and be paid for it. What a concept!
I have it in my mind’s eye to one day teach what I’ve learned through tutorials and patterns. But in the meantime, I’m in the studio playing around with new ideas…
All photographs by Milkfly.