A block of polymer clay, tiny dental tools and plenty of imagination is all that Mina Cerrachio needs to create one-of-a-kind miniature baby sculptures. Beautifully intricate and life like, these sculptures bring joy to collectors, comfort to grieving families and remind us all of the miracle of new life. Cath Johnsen caught up with the talented Mina to find out why she chose babies as a subject and how she brings them to life through sculpture.
Mina has always had two loves – babies, and anything in miniature. Her sculptures, known collectively as Sugar Baby Creations, combine these two loves in a breathtaking way.
“I have always had a strong interest and love for babies. I remember as a small child going to the shops with my mother, and always having a look into the cots on display, hoping to see a baby in there. If someone we knew had a baby, I couldn’t wait to go to the hospital to see them,” Mina shares.
“I also had a strong love for anything miniature as a child, and still do. If it was in tiny form, it captured my heart.”
About nine years ago, after the birth of her second daughter, Mina began to question life and her purpose in it. She knew she didn’t want to return to her former job as she didn’t have a passion for it.
“I strongly desired to do something that would make my heart sing, and at the same time, somehow help others too,” Mina says.
“I didn’t know how this was going to all unfold, but I just followed my heart and stopped thinking about it.”
Not long after this, Mina discovered a section on Ebay, called OOAK (one of a kind) artist dolls that were sculpted by hand out of polymer clay.
“I had the strongest belief that I could do it, and it wasn’t long before I bought my first batch of clay and fashioned tiny tools from sharpened toothpicks. I sculpted my first baby in miniature form and I was hooked!”
With much persistence, experimentation, and the desire to constantly learn about anatomy, Mina mastered the skills necessary for sculpting, and discovered that she has a natural talent which stems from an artistic family heritage.
“Sculpting is definitely a journey and not a destination,” Mina says. “It’s important for me that I am always in ‘learning’ mode, and I am always aiming to better my last sculpt.”
The artistic process
How a lump of clay turns into a beautiful baby baffles me, but Mina says the process generally starts with a standard armature (framework) which she then builds up with clay as the base.
Mina then refers to photos for the appropriate fat distribution and bone structure and uses dental tools to sculpt with to achieve tiny details in the clay.
Once it is finalised, the sculpture is baked. Polymer clay bakes with a subtle translucency to give a realistic appearance of flesh, and added to this, many layers of subtle ‘skin’ tones to enhance the realism.
The subject matter for sculpting is endless and so I wonder, why babies?
“I love the newness and promise that a newborn baby brings, which is why I prefer to sculpt this particular baby milestone,” Mina says.
“The miracle of life is so ever present in a newborn baby, and this is what I strive to capture in my sculpts.
“I have two beautiful daughters who are the inspiration behind my sculpting also. I often refer to their baby photos from time to time so I can revisit the memory of having babies, which can inspire me further.”
Coming from an artistic family, it was no surprise that Mina would be in the arts in one way or another. But it was quite a surprise to discover a few years ago, when doing an ancestry search, that sculpting is indeed in the genes.
“I discovered that an ancestor by the name of Enrico Cerracchio, (also my grandfather and brother’s name) sculpted the Sam Houston monument for the Texan government in 1924, as well as other things,” Mina says.
When she is not sculpting, Mina enjoys painting on canvas and journals using acrylics and watercolours.
Collectors of Mina’s work are many and varied. Many are collectors who share Mina’s love of babies and all things miniature. Others are families that have tragically lost a baby and find comfort in Mina’s sculptures.
“It is heartbreaking, and more common than we know, but comforting to get feedback from grieving parents, letting me know that these tiny sculpts bring them comfort and make them smile,” Mina says.
“One project I am focusing on, is to get some sculpts reproduced so I can create little ‘care’ boxes for hospitals to pass on to these families.”
As a mother of two children, life is busy for Mina, and keeping up with the demand for her sculptures is difficult. To accommodate the demand from collectors, she is in the process of having her sculptures reproduced in another medium so that more can have the opportunity to purchase them.
“I am excited for what the future holds,” Mina says. “There are so many levels on how my sculpting can unfold, and I hope to be able to take it out of the box and start new and different adventures with it. It really has taught me how to follow my heart and to never give up on my dreams.”
Mina sums it up beautifully: “If it makes your heart sing, it is worth pursuing.”
To view more of Mina’s stunning creations, visit her Facebook page:
Sugar Baby Creations by Mina.