From the moment that Mab Graves tagged us in a picture of her completed Ghibli miniatuart on Instagram, we were enthralled by her art.
Based in the woods of Indiana, Mab Graves is a pink-haired Pop Surrealist painter and artist, who creates magical worlds and characters that are wonderfully weird AND cute. As her website notes, her work is "inspired deeply by Science, 60’s Space culture, fairy tales and old classic literature. She adores narrative and all her works have deep symbolism and stories."
Although the Ghibli miniatuart kits, made by Sankei here in Kyoto, are already stunning, when Mab created the Miniatuart | Kiki's Delivery Service: Okino's House, it was elevated even further with her signature attention to detail.
Since then, we’ve enjoyed following her stunning artwork, and snippets from her life including her whimsical adventures with her beloved nephew, nicknamed “Punkin”. Several months ago, we were pleasantly shocked when we saw that Mab had painted an amazing piece on the lid of the Suri Urushi Bento!
Using gouache and acrylic Mab completely transformed the subdued bento with an adorable Kappa (amphibious yōkai demon/imp from traditional Japanese folklore). Not stopping there with the bento lid art, Mab also painted this ethereal blue Dachsund that contrasts strikingly with a black background. Mab's work is playful, and at times also evocative and wistful.
Imagine the delight of eating from a custom bento box like this!
(Would you ever consider painting, or customizing your own bento box like Mab? If so, what would you paint on your bento? Let us know in the comments below!)
Reflecting on these creations, Mab says
“I love integrating art into the functional parts of life, so I painted the lids of bento boxes for each one of us. This is a special lid I painted just for today”
Making food for kids (who often have strong likes and dislikes with food) can be tricky. As a loving aunt, it's been no easy task for Mab to make food for her nephew Punkin. Mab reports though that it all became easier with an approach that she calls "Food Cute", essentially making food cute with bento boxes, and accessories!
“...Getting Punkin to eat has was always a challenge, but when I unlocked the magical secret of Food Cute it changed everything. If I put food in little teacups or stacked it on skewers, I could get him to eat just about anything! An internet search randomly led me to the doorstep of one of my favorite new shop discoveries of 2021 - @bentoandco 🍱 They opened the door to a whole new world of Food Cute. It’s taken the stress out of meals and has made feeding a kiddo with anxiety something that’s now both a comforting ritual and an adorable challenge."
We are so glad that Mab discovered us and that our bento boxes and bento tools have taken some of that stress off! It's feedback like this that truly encourages us at Bento&co. It brings our team joy to see her "Food Cute" creations, all with that signature Mab sparkle. While our popular Shokado boxes are mainly used in traditional-style restaurants here in Japan, Mab demonstrates how they work well for cleanly dividing kinds of food, which is often a must for picky eaters. Food picks are also great for little hands to grasp when eating.
In addition to preparing adorable food for for her nephew, Mab also works the magic of "Food Cute" for the local birds in the area! Recently, we were delighted to see Mab demonstrate that the "Sea Animals Rice Mold" could also be used to make birdseed cakes for feathered friends.
We love seeing the new things Mab is working on, and look forward to continue witnessing her truly unique spin on everything she makes, whether it's a painting, a miniature creation, textile prints and even food. Thank you Mab for sharing your magic with the world!