Rabbit and Monkey on their first trip to Paris c/o Coffee & Chocolate Milk via Facebook

For all of you New Yorkers who still need to thaw out your cold, winter hearts, Holly’s HeART by Hand (HHBH) is featuring a heart-warming (heh, heh) collaborative project by married couple Shih-Wen Lin and Kuni Chang named Coffee and Chocolate Milk (on view now until June 7th).

The project started in March 2014, when Lin (a photographer) and Chang (an animation designer) made two characters—Rabbit and Monkey—for their wedding. The idea took off, and now Lin recreates a shared, daily moment through the Rabbit and Monkey toy figures using modeling clay. The result is a sweet exhibition that lets viewers share in the happiness by writing about or sculpting their own character to be featured in the series. Greenpointers caught up with Lin recently to learn more about the project.

Rabbit and Monkey visit a farm c/o Coffee & Chocolate Milk via Facebook

Greenpointers: How long does it take to make one of the scenes and how many have you made so far?

Shih-Wen Lin: I started Coffee & Chocolate Milk as a 365- photo diary project in March, 2014. I would post a photo daily from from Monday to Friday every week. The one-year project was finished in March this year, and so I now post about two photos per week. The time I spend on each scene really varies, and it depends on how complex the idea is for the day. The set up time can go from an hour to a day [Lin uses uses modeling clay to create the characters’ hands, clothing, and props for each scene].

GPers: What’s the hardest part of working with clay?

SL: The clay I use is oil-based modeling clay—the kind that people use for clay animation. It doesn’t dry out and is very easy to shape and great for details. But because it is very soft, it’s hard sometimes to make it hold in certain positions that I want. Also, because the Rabbit and Monkey characters are about 2.5 inches tall, everything I make for them is tiny. It gets really tricky sometimes to apply details to something that’s about 0.25 of an inch or even smaller.

To scale c/o Coffee & Chocolate Milk

GPers: Do you have a favorite image from the project?

SL: I don’t have a favorite image. I love them all, hahaha. Each of them represents a moment of my life, so it’s very hard to pick just one.

Getting hitched c/o Coffee & Chocolate Milk via Facebook

GPers: Are there any plans to make a short animation with Rabbit and Monkey?

The Rabbit and Monkey characters were originally designed for our wedding, and my husband, who is an motion graphic designer, created a short animation film with them. After we started the Coffee and Chocolate Milk project, I had always want to make some stop motion animations but I didn’t have time because it was a daily photo project. Now, after the one-year project has finished, I am planning to bring those stop motion short film ideas that in my head into reality.

A cheerful tea party c/o Coffee and Chocolate Milk
Story time for two c/o Coffee and Chocolate Milk

Holly’s HeART by Hand (HHBH) is an art & maker learning center and handmade shop located at 172 Greenpoint Avenue. Shih-Wen Lin is a former Greenpointer who now lives in Long Island City with her husband and collaborator, Kuni Chang. When she’s in Greenpoint, Lin loves to hang out at Word Bookstore—”a charming, cute little bookstore where I enjoy spending my free time”—and gets her coffee fix at Cafe Grumpy.

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