By Penny K
The person behind My Milk Toof is the elusive Inhae Renee Lee, 32, a full time blogger currently living in Berkeley, CA. Inhae is the kind of person who rather let her art take centrestage. Save for a whimsical biography of herself and an old photo of her as a young girl (with a “moustache” – see “About the Author”), there’s not much more information about Inhae.
That’s because the stars of this blog are two milk teeth, ickle and Lardee, and each post is a visual treat of their misadventures. The thing to note is that ickle and Lardee aren’t actual milk teeth – that would be disgusting. These are milk teeth crafted out of clay with faces painted on; these teeth are adorable.
My Milk Toof was conceived of the artist’s childhood dream to immortalise a milk tooth. Today it is a blog with curiously cute content and merchandise too. Nope, no teething problems at all.
We speak long-distance with Inhae about My Milk Toof, why milk teeth and her fascination with childhood memories.
Hi Inhae, thank you for taking the time to speak with us! Tell us, what do you do when you’re not working on mymilktoof.blogspot.com?
I enjoy watching early movies on weekdays, reading, and visiting thrift stores. Also, I spend a lot of time cleaning because each photoshoot creates quite a mess.
How do you get away with being a full-time blogger with Korean parents – or are your parents just cool like that?
My parents were not too pushy, but also I’ve been pretty independent and self- sufficient since high school, so I always had the freedom to pursue whatever it was I wanted – as long as I could afford it.
How did you come up with the concept of the blog?
After going on a hiatus from the game industry, I began exploring some personal projects. The blog was one outlet I was experimenting with, and I began photographing a clay tooth I created around my house and posting the pictures.
Of all things, why and how did you decide the principal characters of your works featured on the blog should be the two teef ickle and Lardee (they are lovable, by the way!)
Thank you! The idea to use teeth came when watching a movie and hearing the term “milk teeth”. After looking up what they were, I thought about making a little tooth character, ickle. When I began posting photographs of it on my blog, the pictures became more narrative. It was then obvious that the character needed someone to talk to. That’s why another tooth, Lardee, was created.
Why the names ickle and Lardee?
ickle (with intentional “i”) is the sound babies make when trying to pronounce “little”. Lardee, who is chubby, is indeed named after lard.
How do you come up with the plots for each entry?
The stories comes from many different places. It can come from my own childhood experiences, or stories my sister tells me about my two little nieces. Sometimes a little prop I buy can inspire a story.
How long does the entire process – from conceptualising the storyboard to publishing the post – take?
Each story takes about 2 to 4 weeks to complete.
Obviously you work with an awesome camera, possible to share what camera you use?
I use a D60 from Nikon. My boyfriend gave it to me for my birthday.
You seem to have a fascination with memories of your childhood; is this fascination what fuels your art? What else inspires you?
Nostalgia definitely plays a huge roll in my work. I had a surreal childhood, and look back at my childhood fondly. If that fails to inspire, I am fueled by my nieces, my boyfriend, and the comic strips Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes.
Any plans for the future?
I’m anxiously waiting for my book to come out next year. The rest of the time will probably be spent maintaining the blog. If there are future opportunities to expand the project, I’m certainly open as long as it doesn’t compromise the quality.