Posts Tagged With: #Give a Gift from Kentucky

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.


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.


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.


Sarah Schmitt, arts access director 

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

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: , , , , , ,

Good food still deserves better!

Around Christmas, I wrote a post about Kentucky Crafted artists who make great things for the holiday table. However, as humans, we eat in groups all year round.  And since the summer weather is becoming more tolerable, many Kentuckians are dining al fresco again.  In celebration of people getting together “just because,” here are a few more decorative arts for the the outdoor table. Enjoy quickly before Labor Day!

Berry Bowl

You can rinse and drain your berries, then put them straight on the table with this beautiful and useful strainer.

Mitzi Fallis Lutes berry bowl

Bottle Stoppers 

If you have been invited to eat at someone else’s home, the least you can do is bring a bottle of wine or olive oil. The most you can do is pair it with one of these glass bottle stoppers.

Jen Walters Petry bottle stoppers

Pepper mill 

This pepper mill is crafted like a beautiful piece of furniture.

William Cook cherry pepper mill


I can’t condone using that pepper mill to grind spices for food resting on a paper plate. I can definitely imagine that peppermill providing flavor to something on these dishes.

Amy Elswick four piece place setting

Salad Bowl 

It’s an unspoken rule that eating outdoors requires a salad. Whether it is lettuce, pasta, bean or fruit-based, your salad will look delicious in one of the Hoefer’s expertly glazed bowls.

Bruce and Kelley Hoefer bowl


When the sun starts to set and the meal has been served, coffee is always a nice way to end the evening.

Laura George Lynch mugs

Greeting Cards 

Don’t forget to say thank you to your host or hostess. It’s the best way to ensure that you will be invited back.

Hound Dog Press folding cards

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

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

Give a gift from Kentucky: any club that would have me as a member

Each year I get at least one gift that “keeps on giving.” This usually translates to a gift that I have to keep on dusting, a gift that requires regular maintenance or a gift that I have to keep jamming deeper into the back of a closet. I am not an ingrate; I just recognize that this phrase has become an empty cliché. I have a better suggestion about how to make your thoughts (and your money!) count for people you care about, while supporting the arts in a Kentucky community.

Giving memberships means giving experiences, not things. Experiences don’t fall on your head from the top shelf when you are pulling out your summer clothes. They fit right in your head and regular maintenance just means pleasurable reminiscence. Experiences keep on giving without collecting one speck of dust.

Here a few museums in Kentucky offering membership opportunities:

International Bluegrass Music Museum

A gift of $80 provides a couple with a $20 discount on two ROMP all-event passes, free museum admission for two adults, two museum passes for guests, a “Museum Member” bumper sticker, 10 percent discount on all museum purchases, and newsletters and special mailings. People who love bluegrass are usually not lukewarm about their interest. A trip to the museum dedicated to its past, present and future is a perfect gift for a fan.

Living Arts and Science Center

A $50 membership to LASC will give an entire family a discount on all classes and workshops and mailings of all class schedules, newsletters and invitations. This is a great value, as LASC offers classes for children, teens and adults throughout the year. The recipients will also receive a 10 percent discount in the Living Arts and Science Center art galleries and gift shop. Let them pick their own tangible gift.

 Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft

An individual membership to the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft at $40 gets the recipient free admission to the museum for one year; priority announcements of upcoming exhibits, events, workshops and lectures; an invitation to members’ only receptions and special events; two complimentary guests passes to the museum; a 10 percent discount on purchases in the gallery; a discount on workshops for adults and children; a subscription to their monthly e-newsletter; an acknowledgement listing on the website; and an invitation to the annual Bourbon Ball and Oaks Brunch events. Just $35 more will buy all the benefits above for two adults and all children under age 18 living in the same household!

National Quilt Museum

Like the International Bluegrass Music Museum, the National Quilt Museum would be enjoyable to anyone, but a membership is definitely a perfect gift for the textile enthusiast. A $60 dual/family membership comes with two free admissions for one year and two additional guest passes, a 20 percent discount in the museum gift shop and online store, a collectible pin, a member’s only quarterly newsletter, invitations to special events, updates on upcoming exhibits and discounts on workshops.

Janice Mason Art Museum

A membership to the Janice Mason Art Museum (JMAM) is perfect for a traveler. If you become a “partner,” you receive post card notification of events and exhibits, the ARTicles newsletter, a 10 percent discount in the Museum Store, discounts on all classes and workshops, discounts on art supplies, members-only receptions for exhibit openings and participation in museum sponsored art trips. And that’s only at JMAM! Partners also gain admission to over 325 museums nationwide through the North American Reciprocal Museum Program (NARM).

The Speed Art Museum

The Speed Art Museum is an excellent membership option to please a general art lover. For $50 an individual member receives a typical package of invitations to member’s reviews of exhibitions, free or discounted admission to special exhibitions, free or discounted admission to museum-sponsored lectures, a subscription to the Member Magazine and admission to the Art Sparks Family Interactive Gallery. But that’s not all; members also receive free or discounted admission to The Speed Concert Series, so they can enjoy great music, too. They also get a 10 percent discount in the museum shop and discounted parking in their garage. A Speed membership comes with the added bonus of free admission to all Southeastern Reciprocal Membership (SERM) and benefits at NARM member museums.

Look for membership opportunities in the recipient’s geographic area or within the recipient’s area of interest. Museum memberships are not the only way to give experiences. Tickets to shows and events are good options, too.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

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

Give a gift from Kentucky: good food deserves better!

Let’s be real. When you tell people that you will be entertaining for the holidays, it really means you will be serving a bunch of fattening foods and beverages in your brilliantly decorated home. The good thing is your guests are okay with that. They are not going to be impressed by your festive music (we’ve heard all those songs forty times each by now), and they can enjoy your lively conversation over the phone. Going to your house is the only way they can eat outrageous food, enjoy your home’s ambience and possibly peep into your medicine cabinet.

If the food is the focus, then this is not a time to go cheap and easy with the red Solo cups and paper plates. If you are going to all the trouble to fix holiday specialties, then serve them using deserving kitchen and dining ware. As one Kentucky Community Scholar in Paducah told me, “Good food deserves better than to be served on trash.” There are several Kentucky Crafted artists working in multiple media who make beautiful and functional items for your holiday table.


Harriet Giles, the Weavery 

The first thing you need for your table is a solid foundation, which includes placemats, napkins, table runners and table cloths. You want something to defend your table from heat and spills, but you also want it to be attractive. Harriet Giles of the Weavery has the perfect woven runner and placemat patterns for that. Festiva© is made from chili pepper and olive fabric with a sprinkle of white. Porcelain© is a blend of blues and cream that evoke the chilly joy of New Year’s Eve. The colors are perfect, and the woven texture is thick enough to protect.

Harriet Giles

The aptly named Festiva©


Craig Kaviar, Kaviar Forge and Gallery

The next thing you need is something to set the mood and serve as the centerpiece of your table. Candlestick holders take on both tasks all year round. All you have to do is change the candles to match your textiles. Craig Kaviar makes tough metal holders that appear as delicate as glass and as flexible as fabric. The pieces are tall and add height to décor. Did you know that dimming the electric light and using candles hides dust?

There is nothing dull about iron.


Robert Ellis, Robert Ellis Woodworking

Now you must lay out something to hold people over while you finish the last of your baked dishes, but you don’t want to overwhelm them before the “main event.” What’s easier and more elegant than a cheese board? Just unwrap the cheeses, put them on a wooden board, garnish with grapes and let people serve themselves. Robert Ellis makes exquisite cutting boards in a number of shapes and styles. They are almost too beautiful to use, but Robert reminds his customers, “there are two sides, one for show and the other to cut or serve on.”

Too beautiful to use, but we will anyway.


Scott Gilbert, GH Productions Inc—The Basket Makers 

Baskets are one of the first functional pieces of art humans endeavored to make. They’re light and sturdy with the added benefit that items in baskets tend to arrange themselves! Crackers, breads, whole fruits, cutlery and napkins all look great in a basket. Scott Gilbert makes baskets in a variety of traditional styles using white oak. Use the classic egg basket to keep rolls from crushing under their own weight. It works for the eggs!

It's okay to put all your eggs in this particular basket.


Melvin Rowe, Pottery Rowe

Melvin Rowe can make a whole set of bakeware and an entire tablescape. Of his work, he writes, “In clay, I have found a material that allows me to make almost anything.” That’s not an exaggeration. Just look at his gallery. He has everything from wine glasses to casserole dishes. If you’re looking for the right tool to improve your baking, he offers Colonel Mel’s New Fangled Modern Miracle Bread Baker & Colonel Mel’s Practically Perfect Pottery Pie Plate. Both have been tested and approved by Aunt Gertrude and the entire Lady’s Auxiliary, according to his website. He even makes cookie dunkers, a cup specifically designed for dunking cookies in milk to “allow maximum dunking coverage with minimum milk waste.” Won’t Santa be impressed?

You can read all my advice, or your could just buy this and call it a day.


Mark Payton, Payton Flameworks Inc.

Now for the pièce de résistance. It’s time for a toast, and it’s bad luck to toast the New Year in an ugly glass. Luckily Mark Payton makes beautiful toasting goblets and champagne flutes just for such an occasion. When you finish, you can cork the bottle (if there is anything left!) with one of his elegant or whimsical bottle stoppers.

Now these are "good luck" goblets.

I could have written a book on this topic using only Kentucky Crafted artists. For the sake of time and space, I had to leave out some really great examples like salt and pepper grinders by Carl Hall, baked brie dishes by Amelia Stamps, wooden trivets and bowls by Richard Adams, table rugs by Fox Hutt and wine racks by Jim Jones. Explore their galleries. Even if you are not hosting, you might find something appropriate for the host or hostess’ gift basket.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

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

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