Before I was born my mother was in great agony of spirit and in a tragic situation. She could take no food except iced oysters and champagne. If people ask me when I began to dance, I reply, 'In my mother's womb, probably as a result of the oysters and champagne - the food of Aphrodite.'
- Isadora Duncan, American dancer (1878-1927)
Isadora Duncan was right about at least one thing: oysters are indeed the food of Aphrodite, as beautiful to eat as their pearls are pretty. And though their homes are humbler than the gifts they reveal, once emptied of their delicious, briny bivalve dwellers, these crusty grey things lend themselves to an untold array of artistic, as well as practical, applications.
Naturally, there’s plenty of riff-raff in the vast sea of oyster arts & crafts out there: just go ahead and type any deadly combination of "oyster", "shell" and "art" into Pinterest to have the internet version of food poisoning. But here we’ve happily done the dirty work for you, harvesting some of our favorite oyster-related images to kick off our week of the oyster: gorgeous pearl divers, comfortable dresses (c/o avid scuba diver Alexander McQueen), cleverly-bound books, glamour shots of caviar and lemon wedges, that thing with all the beads and an eye…it’s the best of the best!
Of course, the oysters themselves—that ultimate snack—have also long provided artistic inspiration of all kinds, Isadora’s choreography included. Based on the anatomical drawing below, we’re not sure how it all works, technically speaking. But we’re fairly sure that the bright, sharp smell of lemon and vinegar, the pale sunshine of a cold white wine in sparkling glass, and the rustle of empty shells on ice are all the elements you need to attain genius.
Oyster Eye 4, beaded sculpture by Betsy Youngquist, via Etsy.
Ensemble VOSS, by Alexander McQueen S/S 2001. Overdress of panels from a nineteenth-century Japanese silk screen; underdress of oyster shells; neckpiece of silver and Tahiti pearls. Featured 2011 in Savage Beauty, via via metmuseum.org
Gold rimmed oysters for wreath-making via Oysters and Pearls.
"The Party Guide: Designer’s Chic Soirées." Edited by Amanda Weiner, via Harper’s Bazaar.
Oyster at The Ordinary, fancy seafood and oyster hall, Charleston, South Carolina, via Eat the Ordinary.
Hand stitched oyster book by Odelae via Etsy.
Anatomy of an Oyster from Handbook for Oyster Farmers, Division of Fisheries, Australia, via California Oyster Industry.
Oysters on the half shell, via Tumblr.
Japanese pearl diver underwater, via Gakuranman.
Another Japanese pearl diver underwater, via Gakuranman.
The World Is Your Oyster card from Rifle Paper Company, via Off with Your Jorts!