Faux food: Jeanne Martin’s fabric food sculpture
July 11, 2013
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Jeanne Martin is waiting to cross Grand Avenue on a hot summer day. As the traffic rolls by, she heralds double takes from practically every car that drives past.
The stares could have a little something to do with the large, seemingly chocolate-covered, three-by-three foot doughnut in Martin?s arms.
"It's just fun," she said, as people approach Martin on the sidewalk to touch the doughnut, which is in reality a fabric food sculpture.
“It’s just fun,” she said, as people approach Martin on the sidewalk to touch the doughnut, which is in reality a fabric food sculpture.
"He makes you feel like a little kid. I guess that's the No. 1 reaction. It just makes people smile."
The source of the smiles is Martin's most recent soft food piece, a doughnut boy named KT modeled after the popular Voodoo Doughnut mascot out of Portland, Ore. The KT doughnut art is named for Voodoo's owners, Kenneth Pogson and Tres Shannon.
"This has been an art form that has been so fun," said Martin, whose studio is based out of Parachute. "Even if people's reaction to KT is startled, then they are soon laughing and smiling."
The KT sculpture is made with 20 pounds of stuffing, flannel fabric, acrylic paints, and an airbrushing technique Martin has nearly perfected to bring her food art to life. The piece took nearly three months to sew, shape and paint. "The fabric and the paint embedded in the fabric just make it look so real," she said. "Even when I was making him, I laughed myself through the process. I even had some brown paint on my finger and I almost licked it off because I thought it was chocolate icing."
Martin has photographed KT doing different deeds around the valley, including going to the dentist, riding the swing ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, and visiting the barber shop. Martin posts the pictures on her blog and social networks.
"He's out there on Facebook having fun," she said.
Believe it or not
Martin started making her signature food art in 1997 and has created everything from caramel apples and a plate of bacon and eggs to giant pieces of taffy and ice cream cones displayed at an ice cream shop.
"The first thing I ever did was pretzels, and they looked so real. I had a lady say to me, 'Oh did those just come out of the oven?' It's just so delightful to see people's reactions because everyone can relate to food."
Three of Martin's sculptures — the "Deliciously Deceptive" pastries, "Party Extraordinaire" meat and cheese tray, and the "False Alarm" plate of doughnuts — are displayed at the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum in Orlando, Fla. Her realistic food sculptures have tricked many of the museum's guests.
"We do indeed have a few of Jeanne's pieces in our collection," said Angela Johnson, executive assistant of archives and exhibits for the Ripley's Museum. "Two of them we keep in the lobby to amaze and 'surprise' our visitors when they reach for a doughnut or sweet."
Martin's "False Alarm" plate of doughnuts piece, which she created as an inside joke with the police department in Montrose, has fooled its share of hungry admirers.
"I actually had one of my neighbors try to eat one of the doughnuts," she said. "His wife had left them out on the table, and when he found out they weren't real he was so hungry he asked her to pick up some real doughnuts at the store later."
The Fabric Chef
Martin's art not only attracts the hungry, but has racked up a list of awards that include a Certificate of Recognition from Ripley's Believe It or Not, proudly displayed on Martin's Fabric Chef Facebook page. Her "Deliciously Deceptive" pastry piece won second place at the Ridgway art show a few years back. Her plate of fabric pastries titled "In Honor of Julia," for late chef Julia Child, has also garnered widespread attention.
"People sometimes think I'm a chef or baker," she said. "People don't always get it and think they are supposed to eat what I create. It's all just an illusion."
Martin said she looks to the culinary arts for inspiration in her work.
"I have a lot of cookbooks for the pictures, and not for the food," she said.
Martin has penned her own book on Amazon titled, "Magic in the Fabric: Creating Beautiful Home Decor with Fabric and Acrylic Paints" and writes a blog about the topic.
"I'm just a one-woman show," she said. "It's always a hopeful thing that this will go beyond what it already has. You really just have to build a reputation, and I'm still learning."
The popularity of Martin's art continues to rise. She was recently invited to participate in the annual art festival in Grand Junction this fall.
"They are doing all textiles so I am learning more about Navajo breads to make," she said. "I'm making sopaipillas, tortillas and tacos. I'm down to the lettuce and tomatoes. The fabric doesn't always do what you want it to, but luckily my brain is always clicking with ideas."