Photos by Jessica Portillo.

meet the artist turning your favorite foods into tiny accessories

Pastry chef Daisy Mijangos transforms her love of baked goods into delectable jewelry.

by Sara Radin
Nov 11 2019, 7:57pm

Photos by Jessica Portillo.

Growing up, Daisy Mijangos’s mother collected miniatures, something that stuck with her. To this day, the 23-year-old still maintains her own robust collection of toys from her childhood including all things Hello Kitty and Nintendo. She's been revisiting her youth through intricate handcrafted jewelry and hair accessories that she makes under the name Pastry Plug, which mimic the foods she often bakes as a full-time pastry chef, but in tiny form. Think earrings featuring mini versions of bread baskets, pieces of cheesecake, cups of iced coffee, and so much more. They’re adorable and purposely so, meant to elicit the catharsis Daisy feels when she reflects on her younger days.

Creating these itty-bitty objects using special types of clay, Daisy admits that after losing her father in middle school, it took her awhile to find a creative outlet that felt right. And it’s really only recently that she has been hitting her stride, using these pieces as a means to honor what she holds dear to her heart, including the feelings of unity and belonging. As she says, “Even if people don’t know the full story behind the pieces, making them is a form of therapy for me and helps me work through things. And hopefully I’m creating something that someone else can enjoy just by looking at them or wearing them.”

i-D spoke with Daisy about how she got into making jewelry, how she’s turning nostalgia into wearable objects, and her first official collection.

How did you first get into making jewelry?
It all started with a finsta that was meant to be a private space where I could use my creative voice. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time, but I wanted to channel all of my emotions into something creative so this page was me exploring and trying different artistic mediums I always wanted to get into. I started doing embroidery and music and I was doing a bunch of stuff I didn't feel so fulfilled by. Then I was given a great piece of advice from a good friend of mine and he said that the way he channeled his creativity through music is by using his memory. And that changed the game for me because I’ve always struggled with living in the past and dealing with unhealed trauma but I didn't know how to translate that into art.

Then I looked around in my room and saw all these things that made me happy or reminded me of a good time. I’m a huge toy collector. So, I realized that I am at my happiest when I am at home surrounded by my toys and things I've kept from my childhood. And I decided I could express myself by making functional art. I started by making jewelry for myself and asking myself: what do I want to wear, what do I want for myself, and what can I make for myself? Then my friends started asking me to make them things and that’s how it all started.

Photo by Jessica Portillo.

What were some of the first things that you gravitated toward and how did you decide where to go from there?
If you go into my apartment, you'll see a lot of Hello Kitty and a lot of old school game references like Sonic the Hedgehog and Animal Crossing. These things are huge inspirations of mine and tie back to some of my earliest memories and what I used to share with my brother and my mom and my family. But I decided to look at things with a different lens.

Sometimes I would see these objects and it would remind me of a time I yearned for, like unity and family and a time when I felt super safe, but then I would look at the same things but see them in a negative way and think, I don't have any of that anymore. So I thought, how do I honor what used to make me so happy and what I hold so dear to my heart? I decided to combine that with my daytime job as a professional baker (I went to pastry school) and make wearable accessories that resemble toys and pastries. I'm also inspired by Japanese fake food art.

What's your process for making these pieces?
I am not the best when it comes to cooking for myself at home because I have to do it so much for other people in the daytime. So I guess it just really comes to what I'm craving or what I'm dreaming about eating at home, and maybe that’s a strawberry, banana tart. And I’ll just make that as something I can share with somebody else. But to create a single item it can take me up to 10 tries because I usually experiment with different sorts of clays. I test out durability, I test out the lightness of it. And then also, before releasing my product, I test out the wear of it. So it honestly takes more failure than anything. And then finally, I end up with a simple strawberry earring that legitimately took me seven tries to make.

What types of materials do you use to create them?
I mostly use polymer clay and resin clay that I get it from Japan. It’s very expensive, but it doesn't need to be baked. And depending on the thickness of the clay and how much you use, you wait for it to dry and it could take up to two weeks to dry. But basically the goal of this clay is to create things with a sort of translucent effect to it. I also use different kinds of silicone and plastic to make mine.

Photo by Jessica Portillo.

What are some of the emotions you’re trying to explore through these pieces?
My father passed away when I was in middle school, so I used to be creative with him and he was a huge DIY dad. He would just create the weirdest sculptures and functional furniture pieces and all of that. And anytime I made something really dumb and insignificant, he thought I was a complete genius. He really admired my weird creative little ideas and experiments that I would do. So when he passed away, I felt like I didn't have a creative bone in my body. After that, I became a people-pleaser and would follow paths that just weren't as satisfying for me. It took me a decade to grasp my father's death and know that he died and it's okay. So these little toys, hair clips, and earrings, they remind me of a time in my life where my family was together.

We were happy, we were healthy. I'm happy and I'm privileged to say that I had a great childhood. So although I feel like it ended very quickly and abruptly, this is how I keep those memories alive. Even if people don’t know the full story behind the pieces, making them is a form of therapy for me and helps me work through things. And hopefully I’m creating something that someone else can enjoy just by looking at them or wearing them.

How do you decide what to make and what to release? Is there a timeline you go by?
I actually just released my first cohesive collection. It was something I've been planning for months. My mom has a huge miniature collection. She loves them so much and naturally I became obsessed with them too. And she said to me when she was visiting once that before she dies she's going to get her dream dollhouse and instantly I was like, that’s my new goal in life — to make her her own dream dollhouse. So I started researching the miniature diorama sets and I built scenes where I could display miniature foods.

Meanwhile, in Guatemala miniatures are huge. My mom is from Guatemala and my dad, his parents were Chinese, although he was raised in Guatemala. But when you go into marketplaces there, you see a bunch of little crafted foods, baskets, breads, and kitchen appliances. And they're all made of clay. And I've always loved them. I've collected them since I was a little girl. I just wanted to do a more refined version of that and display them in their miniature settings. So I created two of those. I was finally able to release them two weeks ago at a boutique. So that collection is called the cafe collection.

How people responded to the pieces? They seem very nostalgic and remind me of playing with dolls and Polly Pocket.
Nostalgia is definitely the biggest motive behind this whole project. I'm trying to make these pieces that help other people feel happy or distract them from whatever bad thing is happening right now, even if it's just for two seconds. People often say my work reminds them of old school games, little erasers, stationery that they used to own, and miniature toys.

Photo by Jessica Portillo.
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