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Catching up with Clare Crespo: See her crocheted oysters (and more!) next month at Heath Ceramics

January 25, 2010 | 11:43 am

Crochet

Artist Clare Crespo has been busy getting ready for Mardi Gras next month. There will be seafood gumbo, oysters on the half shell, shrimp cocktail, soft-shell crabs, catfish po' boy, beignets and cafe au lait, and don't forget the king cake. The entire Mardis Gras feast will be made lovingly ... with yarn.

From Feb. 6 to 21, Crespo's crocheted food will be on display at Heath Ceramics' Los Angeles store. "I've been crocheting all day. I'm like a crocheting maniac," Crespo says. "I'm from Louisiana and get so homesick around this time of year, so I'm so excited about this Mardi Gras feast."

Crespo is the author of "The Secret Life of Food" and "Hey There, Cupcake!"; the creator and star of the DVD children's cooking series "Yummyfun Kooking" (taped in a studio in her garage); and a founder of the underground roving bake sale Treat Street, recently featured on Gwyneth Paltrow's website Goop ("Can you believe it?" Crespo says. "Little, tiny Treat Street on big, fat Goop?").

Read more about Crespo and see the catfish po' boy!

Poboy

The kids' cooking club she started last year, in which members are sent recipes by mail every month, has been a hit. ("I have kids signed up from other countries," Crespo says.) Recipes have included mice rolls (rolls shaped like mice), football meatloaf, and egg eyeballs (for Halloween). Members e-mail photos and stories to be posted on her website. 

It was Crespo's grandmother who taught her how to crochet. "When I first moved here in 1998, I was knitting a pair of mittens and thought, 'Why would I ever need a pair of mittens in Los Angeles?,' so I scrapped the mittens and crocheted a sushi roll," she says. An exhibit of crocheted food soon followed, featuring hamburgers and snack cakes with a glass of milk, mounted to cafeteria trays on the wall of a gallery.

She forgoes patterns and has developed a knack for finding yarn whose colors most closely resemble certain foods. "I'll be at the yarn store and I'll just stare and stare at colors. You have to get the exact right color for food or it won't look right. At a garage sale, I found some yarn that looks amazingly just like smoked salmon."

Her current show -- titled "Laissez le Bon Crochet Rouler" (a play on the saying "Laissez les bons temps rouler," or let the good times roll) -- will be displayed on Heath tableware. The opening will feature Louisiana snacks such as king cake, Dixie beer and Zapp's Potato Chips (in flavors such as Cajun Crawtator), ordered directly from Gramercy, La.

Says Crespo: "I remember something someone said to me at my first crocheted food show. 'It's amazing how yarn can make your mouth water!' "

"Laissez le Bon Crochet Rouler": Heath Ceramics, 525 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Opening is Feb. 6, 6 to 8 p.m., and the show runs through Feb. 21.

-- Betty Hallock

Photos: Clare Crespo

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