It's wonderful how a project can sometimes start out as work, and turn into something truly enjoyable. Silvia de Freitas found herself in that situation while helping one of her daughters with a school science project. Her daughter had to make a model out of "cold porcelain," a dough that can be easily made at home and used to mold a wide variety of craft projects, such as figurines or jewelry. As they worked through the project together, Silvia inadvertently discovered a new passion.
Silvia's love for creating different objects out of the clay became a hobby, but then the orders started rolling in – to her surprise, she discovered she could turn a profit doing work that she loves. She began selling her products at different craft fairs and markets, passing out business cards to get noticed. Silvia had rented a space to work in, which is where she first met her loan officer, Carlos, and learned about Accion Microfinanças.
Silvia's first loan was for approximately US$1,100, and she used it as working capital to purchase more supplies. The loan helped Silvia to expand her business to make dolls and wedding cake toppers, and she typically has orders from six weddings each month. She has been in business for over nine years – and what started as a small affair in her kitchen, making magnets, jar lids and knick knacks, has become larger than she ever imagined. She says, "Today I'm known in all of Manaus. I love it. It started as a hobby – today it is a real job."
Cold PorcelainFrom the studio of Silvia de FreitasIngredients:
Yields approximately two cups of cold porcelain.
Mix the glue, vegetable oil and lime juice in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the cornstarch a bit at a time, until mixture is the consistency of cake batter. Place uncovered bowl in the microwave for one minute, then mix with a spoon. Repeat microwaving and mixing two more times, or until the mixture thickens and becomes more difficult to stir.
Put a thin coating of cold cream on a clean, nonporous table or countertop to avoid sticking, and knead the dough until it reaches a uniform consistency. Coat your hands with cornstarch while kneading to avoid sticking to the dough. Use caution: dough will be hot! Let it cool off a bit if it is too hot for you to touch.
Wrap dough in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for 12 hours before use.
Once your dough is ready to use, you may choose to dye it with a couple of drops of food coloring before molding your projects. Projects can also be colored with acrylic paint after they are dry. Be sure to give your projects several days to air dry completely. For increased durability, give your finished, colored project a coat of water-based craft sealer (like mod podge).
Store any remaining cold porcelain by wrapping it in airtight plastic wrap or storing it in a ziploc bag.