Posts Tagged With: gifts

Good food deserves better: revenge of the ramekin

This post has nothing to with ramekins. It’s just that this is the fourth in a series of musings about artful dinnerware, and I’m running out of clever sequel titles.

If you’ve read the other three posts, you know the gist. If you’re going to entertain this holiday season – or anytime around the calendar – don’t serve your wonderful food on trash (i.e., disposable plates and aluminum pans). Conversely, if all you have time to prepare is a “pack of Nabs,” at least unwrap them and place them on a tea towel in a lovely basket. Make bad food look edible, and good food look superb by serving on Kentucky Crafted items for the kitchen and dinning room.

I’ve covered the basics like plates, mugs and casserole dishes, and now I’d like to get fancy. The following are not things that everyone needs. What you are about to experience covers two things important to holiday entertaining: wowing the cream cheese out of the people who come to your house and finding gift items for the gourmand who thinks he or she already has everything.

Haley_Doug

For example, you’re never going to impress your wine aficionado friend with a bottle of wine, unless you’re a sommelier. Stop trying, and buy this fine wine caddy by Doug Haley. Made from maple, cherry or exotic woods, the caddy will hold bottles, glasses and even cheese and crackers or desserts.

Wolff_Fritz05

I know it’s not practical to buy kitchen gadgets that only do one thing, but sometimes a uni-tasker’s unique nature is a good conversation starter (i.e., guest impresser). Besides, Stone Fence Pottery’s garlic grater works up garlic and artfully presents oil emulsions for dipping – that’s one more task than a regular, old garlic press.

3 chip and dip final_1

Matthew Gaddie is a skilled ceramicist, but — I’m embarrassed to admit — I had no idea what this was when I first saw it at Kentucky Crafted: The Market.  I sort of thought it was a bird bath, maybe? That’s why these things are best left to the artists; this is actually a genius chip and dip or salad bowl, equipped to serve three different dressings or dips. This is the reason he was best of show in 2014, and I’m merely writing an article about his creations. Amazing, impressive, and no one else you know has one. Furthermore, you can get the ugly Wishbone and Ken’s Steakhouse dressing bottles off of your gorgeous table.

So that’s how you dazzle even the most ennui-ridden epicurean. Oh! I almost forgot; here’s an assortment of ramekins from Tater Knob Pottery in case you were feeling cheated by the title.

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Sarah Schmitt, arts access director 

Categories: Other, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good food always deserves better (and sometimes bad food does too)!

This is the third in a series of posts I have written about Kentucky Crafted products for the kitchen and table.  I truly love functional pieces of art, and the vessels for your food should reflect the work and care you put into the cooking process. If you want to use paper plates, then just serve up a bunch of Hot Pockets and Cheetos. Don’t go to the trouble of brining and basting a turkey if you’re just going to serve it in disposable aluminum bakeware. Good food deserves better than to be served on trash.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, that’s mighty judgmental. Not everyone has the time and energy to whip up a seven course meal to be served on fancy artisan-made trays. I have a life, and the holidays are a busy time!”  And, you would be partially correct. Even though the holiday season starts before Halloween now, somehow actual holiday minutes and hours seem limited. I still say that’s no excuse. Even if the food you make is not worth topping with shaved truffles, you might be able to compensate with elegant Kentucky Crafted kitchen solutions.  Replace your lack of time with an abundance of class.  Great dinnerware isn’t just for the foodies. For example:

At least pour the eggnog into a pitcher instead of implying that guests should drink it straight from the carton like a teenage boy looking for a midnight snack.

Caroline Zama Pitcher

Caroline Zama Pitcher

Take the premade, store-brand dinner rolls out of the bag and toss them in a basket.

Madonna Cash Basket

Madonna Cash Basket

They don’t know it’s a bagged salad, and you prove nothing by announcing it proudly.

Jerry Hollon Cutting Board and J.D. Schall Serving Bowl

Jerry Hollon Cutting Board and J.D. Schall Serving Bowl

We know you didn’t hand press the cider this morning or even bother to mull it, but put it in a decent mug.

Amelia Stamps Mugs

Amelia Stamps Mugs

Would it hurt you to drink wine from a bottle instead of a box for this special occasion?

Yardbirds Wine Caddy

Yardbirds Wine Caddy

If the extent of your culinary repertoire is chips and dip, then you should own a chip n’ dip set.

Melvin Rowe Chip and Dip Set

Melvin Rowe Chip and Dip Set

Happy holidays, and thanks for being a good sport. I hope you don’t mind me poking a little fun. The true spirit of the season is fellowship. We should be glad we’re rushing around to spend time with friends and family; that’s the good kind of busy! When you get that text message an hour before an impromptu gathering saying, “Come on over. No big deal. Just a few friends sharing laughs,” and all you have in the house is a half-eaten bag of grapes and a partial brick of cheddar cheese — if you have the right serving option available, you can fake-gourmet your way out of the awkwardness.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My three big questions for gallery and shop owners selling Kentucky crafts

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As we approach American Craft Week, Oct. 4 – 13, 2013, I begin to think about marketing craft in Kentucky and realize there are three groups that are important players in the industry — the artists, the retailers and the customers. Often times, there is a direct relationship between the artist and customer, but it is the craft retailer that reaches enough customers to make the industry sustainable.

I’ve interviewed three Kentucky Crafted Retailers who are most actively participating in American Craft Week with three big questions:

1. Why do you sell craft?

2. What are some of your customers’ favorite Kentucky Crafted items?

3. What does being a Kentucky Crafted Retailer mean to you?

Gift Shoppe on Main

Amy and Mike Martino promote both local and national artisans at the Gift Shoppe on Main in Brookville, Ind. Whether it is a gift for you or someone else, they offer the area’s finest selection of handcrafted American-made artisan gifts including pottery, glass, copper, art, jewelry, handbags, scarves, smocking, weaving, cedar chests, mixed media, quilting, wood, baskets, gourds, candles, soap, food, Christmas ornaments and more.

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Mike and Amy Martino

Here are their answers to my three big questions.

1. The love for the arts was passed down to us from family members who were quilters, seamstresses and musicians. To honor our heritage,  we wanted to have an outlet where we could promote the arts to the public to make them aware of the talents that are associated with finer craft making. We are also very interested in made in America and home-based businesses. Our gallery has made it possible for us to currently support more than 100 American artisans, most of which have a home-based business.

2. Customers’ favorite artisans are Nora Swanson Jewelry, Rachel Savane Jewelry, Richard Kolb Yardbirds, Luann Vermillion Wildflowers, Dan Neil Barnes Glass and Robert Ellis Woodworking.

3. Being a Kentucky Crafted Retailer gives us the ability to promote a high standard of craftsmanship that we want to offer in our gallery.

Zig Zag Gallery

Kim Megginson and her husband started out as potters and sold work at a number of craft fairs before taking over ownership of Zig Zag Gallery near Dayton, Ohio. At Zig Zag Gallery, Kim promotes the work of small studio American artists along with Pandora jewelry, StoryPeople, Naot shoes and Fair Trade items.

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Kim Megginson

Here’s what she had to say in response to the questions:

1. With our backgrounds and life experiences we have had the opportunity to know and work with many artists. These individuals and their beautifully handcrafted work have brought tremendous joy to our lives.  To be given the privilege of making a living working with these talented people is truly very special.

2. Many of our customers come in looking for local work, and having Kentucky Crafted artists certainly fills that need.  A few of their favorite artists are:

  • Dyesigns by Pamela – Customers love the beautiful color palette of her scarves.
  • Kentucky Springs –  We have sold Kyle Ellison’s salad tongs for probably 20 years! It’s the best hostess gift ever.
  • Yardbirds – They are fun, whimsical and just a little wacky…a definite great fit for ZIG ZAG
  • Terra Cottage – People love his “reading glasses.”

We always tend to gravitate to things with a little bit (or a lot) of humor.

3. While the primary focus of our gallery is the work of small studio American artists, we especially enjoy featuring regional work. Working with the Kentucky Crafted program has helped us discover more of these regional artists. I felt that becoming a Kentucky Crafted Retailer was important for a couple of reasons. I have great admiration for the support that the Kentucky Arts Council offers to Kentucky artists and hope that becoming a Kentucky Crafted Retailer helps in some small way to support this program. In addition, it creates another avenue to promote the artists working with the Kentucky Arts Council.

Completely Kentucky

Ann Wingrove, owner of Completely Kentucky in Frankfort, Ky., is proud to offer the work of more than 650 of Kentucky’s best artisans. She buys directly from small family businesses, many of whom follow generations of family traditions in their craft.

Here’s Ann’s take on the three big questions:

1. I worked as a consultant for a number of years, traveling all over the country. No matter where I was, I always looked for local art to bring back. At the same time I was also involved in downtown revitalization through the Main Street Program. I decided I should put my time and money where my mouth was and open a downtown business.  Choosing to sell only fine crafts made in Kentucky made sense.  I wanted to offer to other business travelers, locals and visitors what I looked for when I traveled — a wide selection of fine craft and locally made products. Having the Kentucky Crafted Program helped tremendously.  Kentucky has so many talented craft artists and a tradition of creativity that makes me proud every day I walk in my store.

2. That’s difficult to answer.  We offer all media and price ranges at Completely Kentucky.  I think it is essential for customers to realize the range of hand-crafted work that is available, and that not everything is expensive. That said, we do have several categories that are consistently good sellers. Pottery is always popular.  People love to have a handcrafted mug, or a special serving dish. Jewelry is also in great demand. As a jeweler once said, “You may use the same casserole dish for years, but a woman can never have too many earrings!” We have seen a growing demand for larger pieces, too. Furniture, sculpture and outdoor art are all strong categories for us. Functional wooden items, boxes, spoons and pens make great gifts.  We keep a holiday section stocked all year as many people love to buy an ornament when they travel.

3. Kentucky Crafted Retailers have deliberately chosen to support local suppliers. That means we don’t have large profit margins (like retailers that sell imported items). We can’t purchase in bulk and we often have to wait a long time for delivery. But, we also know exactly who makes the work we sell, we know where our money goes, and we get to sell wonderful, beautiful, meaningful items to our customers. We thank each customer by telling them that every purchase directly supports more than 650 Kentucky family businesses. How cool is that? I know that Completely Kentucky is supporting our local and state economy.  I know that local communities throughout the state are benefiting from the income our artists bring in. It’s a great feeling to support family businesses.

Ed Lawrence, arts marketing director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Buy local, buy unique, buy art

Challenge yourself this holiday season to buy at least one gift from a Kentucky artist. Why? There are certainly many reasons to support your creative neighbors. Here are just a few thoughts.

1. Strengthen the local economy

2. Encourage thriving, distinct communities

3. Invest in your community

4. Make better use of your tax dollars

When you buy local, more of your money stays in your community, whether you define community as your town, your region or your state. Purchasing a product from a corporation headquartered thousands of miles away means little of your money stays in the community. Should you even care?

Well, yes. Local taxes support local services, like your fire department, public library, police station and public schools. Small business owners and their employees (who are usually local people) benefit from increased revenue, increasing their purchasing power.

Small, local businesses also invest in their communities, sponsoring activities and events that promote community spirit, pride and involvement. These events — festivals, gallery hops, youth sports teams, concerts — create a wonderful and desirable atmosphere. Don’t think job-creating companies fail to notice great quality of life. As John Petterson, senior vice president of operations and manufacturing, told the Lexington Herald-Leader in 2010 on Tiffany & Co.’s decision to open a manufacturing facility in Lexington, Ky.:

“I want to be employing people in areas where I think they are going to have a great quality of life,” Petterson said, noting the city’s arts, history and sports activities. “That’s important to us at Tiffany.” [site]

Where to start?

First, check out the fantastic artists and musicians listed in the Kentucky Arts Council’s directories: Kentucky Crafted, Architectural Artist Directory and Performing Arts Directory.

Peek into an open studio, gallery or showroom

Visit one of the special artist events happening across Kentucky in November and December. You can find a list of activities and participating Kentucky Crafted and Architectural artists here. We’ve also put together a list of Kentucky Crafted retailers that sell a wide variety of Kentucky-made merchandise. Several retailers are hosting special events and promotions throughout the holiday season.

Put a name with a purchase

Take a tip from Arts Marketing Director Ed Lawrence in “Double Your Pleasure” and spend a pleasant weekend afternoon meandering the countryside, stopping at a few studios and putting a face and name with a purchase.

Look at the Creative Commonwealth archives

We love promoting Kentucky artists and their excellent work. You can find several great posts featuring gift recommendations on the Creative Commonwealth blog. Here are a few of my favorites:

Give a gift from Kentucky: good food deserves better!

Give a gift from Kentucky: six ways to black(out) Friday

Give a gift from Kentucky: no need for a chemistry textbook with these skincare products

Good food still deserves better!

Rings to Riches

Don’t forget the holiday gift guide

Kentucky Monthly magazine just released an online holiday gift guide  featuring many Kentucky Crafted artists and retailers.

I’m sure you’ll find a one-of-a-kind present that’ll knock the socks off the person you’re buying for. Feel free to post your best finds on our Facebook page . We’d love to hear from you. Happy holidays, everyone.

 

Heidi Caudill, administrative associate 

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Other | Tags: , , , , , ,

There’s only six months until Christmas!

Aside from Santa Claus, most people aren’t thinking about Christmas in July. However, my mother is the hardest person to buy Christmas gifts for in my family, so I have to start really early. She has almost everything, and she won’t wait around until Christmas to get what she doesn’t have. Two years ago, it was only a few days before Christmas, and I still hadn’t found anything for her. I had been looking all over Lexington and Louisville.  I had picked things up and put them back. I had even bought one item and returned it, deciding it was inadequate.

My final hope was at a local store that sells only Kentucky-made, handcrafted gifts. I searched frantically, and then a pearl caught my eye. It was a literal pearl on a silver necklace with an organic swirl design by Josephine Lamb Williams of Mayapple Creations. It was perfect, but because of the fine materials I just assumed I couldn’t afford it. I was ecstatic when I looked at the price tag. I also felt good about purchasing an eco-friendly, 100 percent-recycled silver product.

My mother's Mayapple Creation necklace.

My mother loved it. I liked it so much that I went back and bought a similar piece for myself. If you have someone in your life that is hard to buy for or if they have expensive taste beyond your budget, you can browse Mayapple Creations on her website or on the arts council’s Kentucky Crafted Directory.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

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There’s Only Six Months Until Christmas!

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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