#Stayhome reads: The world of unusual hobbies – from sculpting miniature brains to building homes for ants, Singapore News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Looking for an interesting way to pass time while you are stuck at home? Or simply need to get away from seeing the word “coronavirus” on your screen?

Today, we zoom in on some of the more unusual activities that Singaporeans have picked up in their free time.

From sculpting miniature body parts out of polymer clay to amassing a collection of 23 species of ants to form Asia’s first ant museum, find out how these hobbyists found hope, inspiration and solace in their passion.

For 22-year-old Reg, cosplaying started out as a way to pay tribute to her favourite fictional characters from anime series or video games and bring them to life.

But as cosplay gained popularity in Singapore, many enterprising cosplayers, like her, also grabbed the chance to make a living out of their hobby.

Reg, who goes by the moniker Rea Kami in the cosplay community, is among the rare breed of full-time cosplayers in Singapore. She makes up to $4,000 on a good month from attending cosplay and anime conventions, and selling merchandise.

Some cosplay enthusiasts, however, are happy for it to remain a hobby – and a way to escape into a different world.

Astronomy enthusiast Ethan Chong has shown that a whole lot of enthusiasm and patience is perhaps all you need to catch great views of the various constellations and planets in the solar system, including Jupiter, Mars and Saturn.

Mr Chong fell in love with astronomy after a trip to Bintan with his polytechnic’s astronomy club in 2016, where he used a telescope for the first time and managed to catch a clear view of Saturn.

He has two telescopes – an Orion and a William Optics – for which he paid $1,600 in total. But his other pieces of equipment are innovative and budget-friendly.

Singaporean artist Lim Qi Xuan gained an international following on social media for her unique and realistic sculptures of body parts, including a pie with little hearts for filling, tiny baby faces in pistachio nut shells and miniature brains.Â

While some people may find her pieces macabre, she explained that her sculptures are born out of her fascination with art that is both repulsive and alluring at the same time.Â

Her source of inspiration? Everyday objects and the motivation “to make things that express my inner world and strangeness”, she said.

At the lowest point of his life in 2015, Mr Zat Low was looking out his window and harbouring self-destructive thoughts, when an insect flew into his mouth.

He spat it out and researched it out of curiosity, before finding out it was a queen ant of the Camponotus auriventris species.Â

Taking it as a sign that he should learn more about ants, Mr Low soon fell in love with collecting ants and even learnt how to build formicariums – which are ant farms that house colonies – from scratch.Â

Now widely known as the Antman of Singapore for his expansive ant collection, he has since started a permanent ant museum at a three-storey shophouse in Paya Lebar, which he hopes will give visitors a glimpse into the various species of ants and their behaviour.

Singaporean clay artist Jocelyn Teo first dabbled in the craft in 2009, making “some tiny things for fun” and posting her work on her blog.

But in 2017, her passion for crafting miniature food replicas caught the eye of R&B singer John Legend, who got in touch with her to create a surprise gift for his wife, American supermodel Chrissy Teigen.

Over 3½ months, she made 15 miniature replicas of dishes from Teigen’s cookbook, including chicken satay, fish tacos, kale salad and chicken noodle soup.Â

When searching for a new skill or hobby to pick up, it can be tempting to go for one that is most practical and sensible, such as something that would help your career or make you more “future-proof”.

But after ditching data science for Hokkien classes and cycling lessons, Straits Times journalist Aw Cheng Wei realised that it can be much more productive to spend time learning things you are truly interested in.Â

If you enjoyed this week’s selection of stories, share it with your family and friends as you stay calm and beat the virus blues.Â

And when you’re ready, get up to date with our coverage on the coronavirus pandemic at str.sg/coronavirus or be a part of our Telegram channel t.me/TheStraitsTimesÂ

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Post time: Apr-23-2020