What should I get my MIL?
June 19, 2019 8:37 PM   Subscribe

My mother-in-law's birthday is coming up. She is recently widowed. She is a professional artist. She enjoyed Charlie M. Holmberg's Paper Magician series (and the sequel Plastic Magician series so far). WE HAVE NO IDEAS. Give us ideas!

I gave my own mother an oven mitt that said "I HAVE A KNIFE!" but my husband feels like that is inappropriate.
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Shopping (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
does she ever bake or use the oven? anyone who ever uses their oven needs a pair of silicone oven mitts. Not glamorous or funny but a big life improvement.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:48 PM on June 19, 2019

What kind of art? Painters and sculptors and potters and mulitimedia folks fall into different camps. Same as people who sell works for $50 may have different tastes than people who sell works for $5000. Also is your budget closer to $50 or $500 etc?

Anyway, on balance, assuming around $100 for easy online shopping and new gear: a good general
gift for artists is a nice harpoon., or perhaps a speargun.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:01 PM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

She's an oil painter (she sells works for $5000+ and is in several major galleries), and she never cooks.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:36 PM on June 19, 2019

Paper. Go to an art store and hunt down a bunch of really interesting papers, lots of textures. Wrap them up in really standard gift wrap.
posted by sammyo at 9:55 PM on June 19, 2019

If she likes the Paper Magicians series, she might also like some books by Mary Robinette Kowai, Shades of Milk and Honey is the first one, I think. Very similar in that they incorporate magic/fantasy in a historical setting, elements of romance, etc.
posted by gnat at 10:02 PM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Some really nice fancy as hell hand lotion - cleaning oils is turps, and turps is a bitch on your skin.
posted by Jilder at 10:39 PM on June 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

An odd interesting source of inspiration, colors, etc? Art glass, like a handmade artist kaleidoscope [disclosure, I know the owner of that store, but they're the biggest and carry work from many many artists at many price points]. They have jewelry pendants that are working kaleidoscopes, they have an Eiffel Tower one, etc. They have very expensive ones but also a nice selection under $200.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:06 PM on June 19, 2019

Does she live near you? If so, a "doing" gift may be something to consider. Tickets to a play, a "fancy" dinner organized at home by your family, a visit to a unique museum.

If she's not close by (or even if she is!), paying for a professional photographer to take family photos is something she may cherish. Quite a few photographers have simple half hour packages that are quite affordable. I've done something like this for my in-laws several times (professionally framed photos of them with us/our kiddo) and it always goes over really well.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 11:07 PM on June 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

A spa package for a place that does hand massage?

A version of her favorite beverage that's slightly fancier than normal (special teas, smaller batch alcohols from nice places, locally fermented kombucha, my local shmancy store is now carrying coffee beans aged in whiskey barrels...), or the go-to Zingerman's gift basket at a pricepoint of your choice (they do a tapas party inna box thing that might work nicely if she likes guests.)

If she's a grandmother she might really appreciate grandkid art that's been curated and nicely presented, like in an album.

Please tell me where you got that oven mitt, I need one.
posted by Mizu at 11:58 PM on June 19, 2019

Barefoot dreams has some gorgeous and insanely soft, luxurious robes, sweaters and throws. $120-$150 range
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:21 AM on June 20, 2019

I would not buy a professional artist art supplies like paper. She knows what her materials are.

A luxury version of a mundane thing is always a great present. Some extremely nice nightwear, or very high end bath products. An experience like a spa or theatre or music or dance tickets is also an amazing present.
posted by Balthamos at 3:38 AM on June 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

Since she's recently widowed, I think she might appreciate a doing gift, particularly if it involves time with you and/or your husband. If this is practically impossible, then I would second tickets or dinner reservations to spend time with a friend.
posted by frumiousb at 4:04 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

A gift certificate for a massage. Physical touch is important, especially given that she is recently widowed - I realize I am making some assumptions here, but that may be absent from her life.
posted by nathaole at 4:34 AM on June 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Textured hand towels might be good to go along with some hand lotion. (I have some Finnish ones which I can't find online right now, and they are almost too exfoliating for hands, but a spa or sauna supply place might get you a better price than the kind of insane one I linked to.)
posted by BibiRose at 7:12 AM on June 20, 2019

Intricate pop-up books. Here's a blog with lots of recommendations, reviews and videos. There are also good books about how to make them.
posted by carmicha at 7:14 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Depending how much she liked those books, you might find an origami or papercraft artist and commission an anatomical looking paper heart.
posted by mattamatic at 7:39 AM on June 20, 2019

Gift certificate to Dick Blick art supplies, or Utrecht, Utrecht is great for oil paint. Some tubes cost more than you think. For an artist ther is nothing more fun than discovering art supplies. They both work well as online supply houses.
posted by Oyéah at 8:55 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

My suggestion would be a membership to a local museum or arboretum if she does not already have them, it's a gift she can use all year.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 9:06 AM on June 20, 2019

I always get my very artistic mother-in-law art books. The last two have been:

The Monet Cookbook

or if super quirky, an art / recipe book from Salvador Dali
posted by hillabeans at 11:32 AM on June 20, 2019

I often wear an apron when painting- perhaps a new apron?
black & practical or some crazy design / funky saying etc?
maybe with “I have a pallet knife...” ?
posted by cabin fever at 5:27 PM on June 20, 2019

We settled on the Shades of Milk & Honey book + a sequel or two, and an extra-cozy throw! (I was pro-spa but my husband wasn't sure if his mom would be into it.) Thanks so much! These were really good suggestions and I'll come back to them at Christmas.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:59 AM on June 21, 2019

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