Gifts for food lovers: Art and craft (Recipe: four-fold gratin)
Part Four of an eight-part series.
My little log house in Rhode Island is the old-fashioned kind, with lumpy-bumpy walls inside and out.
Some logs stick out more than others, as though trees were felled and simply piled up in a rectangle, holes cut here and there, until someone said, "Okay, that's enough -- let's put a roof on it!"
I know the construction wasn't quite that haphazard, but try hanging artwork on a log wall, and you'll know what I mean. Nails or hooks go into the logs that protrude; then the art must be shimmed out on the bottom to make it more-or-less level, or it looks like it's sliding down the wall. And you'd better like the height, because those protruding logs aren't always quite where you want them to be.
Except in the kitchen.
The kitchen has one long plastered wall. No lumps, no bumps, no logs. Perfect for art.
If the food lover in your life has an art wall, or an art corner, or a tiny space above the countertop for a little painting, here are gift ideas galore for art-loving foodies or food-loving artsies.
Providence artist Shawn Kenney's iconic food paintings grace the kitchens of some of Rhode Island's top chefs and restaurants, and I have three small paintings (garlic, sushi, moon pie) on my art wall. Shawn offers food-themed blank note cards, too. $20; portion of proceeds donated to hunger relief agencies.
On Etsy.com -- a fantastic source for a wide range of affordable original artwork -- I found Alan Reinhart's sensuous images of food and kitchen tools. This wrinkly pepper spoke to me. Prints ($20), note cards (6 for $20).
Also on Etsy, Jessie Oleson, known to food bloggers everywhere as Cakespy, sells original watercolors, prints and note cards featuring her charming anthropomorphized cupcakes. $24-38. I hope I find her Yes We Cake postcards under my Chanukah tree this year.
I love this set of three 8x10 prints of found-object sculpture, including "Retro Mixer Pups" and "The Espresso Family", from Artsy on Etsy. $36 for the set.
More ideas for a food lover's art wall:
Small woodcuts with food and kitchen themes from CPlummerart on Etsy. $15-20.
Kitchen utensils fine art poster, from art.com. $29.99.
"Gentle rants about everyday life" by Mary Harman will make you think -- about housework and food, relationships, dogs, and the green life (11x14 prints of original watercolors, $25; portion donated to Kiva).
Several food bloggers sell their food photos as posters, prints, cards and calendars. Meeta, of What's for Lunch Honey, has a shop on Zazzle, where pantry lovers can buy her wonderful Array of Spices (11x13 print, $9.95) and other drool-worthy images. Beautiful food photos from blogger Food Chic are available on Etsy ($15-20).
Even food bloggers who don't have a "shop" might sell prints of the photos you love on their sites. Two of my favorites do: the fabulous Matt Armendariz of MattBites and Lolo from Vegan Yum Yum. And everyone's favorite food blogging illustrator, Ximena Maier of Lobstersquad, happily accepts commissions.
'Tis also the season for the best of three-dimensional art to come out of hiding, at craft fairs everywhere, but there are some fantastic fine craft gifts available online:
Whisk earrings or a chef's knife pendant by Debbie Howe, at Uncommon Goods. $45-65.
Wonton or pierogi pendant from Waxing Poetic. $38.
Linen reversible no-tie apron from Inklore at 1000Markets. $45 and oh-so-clever!
Pewter fish measuring spoons from Stowe Craft Design. $64.
And to the many readers who've inquired about my Robert Fishman Pottery tagine, please contact the artist directly. Note: 2008 tagines are sold out; orders now being taken for delivery in early 2009.
In case you need proof of the bond between food and art (you don't, do you?), here's a recipe from The Art of Cuisine, written and illustrated by the incomparable French painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, with Maurice Joyant. Need I say more?