Why she's interesting Baumlier turns playing with your food into an art project. As the founder of Food Font, she has helped people create more than 1,200 letters of the alphabet out of various foods, from vegetables to vending machine snacks to coffee grinds. Images of the letters are uploaded to her website, where she plans on launching a free interactive design tool in 2013 that can be used by anyone from teachers to restaurants.
Planting the seed Baumlier wanted a fun way to engage people with the idea of sustainability and local food. She held her first event last April at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she's a digital media professor. "We created two lunch alphabets. One was out of packed food — food that people had brought. The other was out of the vending machine food that we had at school."
The leftovers The food used for the alphabets does not go to waste. "Sometimes I eat it, but if it's been touched too much or little kids have sneezed on it, we compost it."
Caffeine buzz At last year's Ingenuity Festival, Food Font made an alphabet out of coffee and tea from Phoenix Coffee Co. "People really liked working with different coffee beans and tea leaves. It was very detailed."
the design tool Baumlier plans on having an easy and advanced mode where letters can be resized and users can choose backgrounds. Information on when and where each letter and alphabet was made will be listed as well. "While the idea of writing words with food isn't exactly new, with this tool people can make cards, posters and T-shirts."
By the numbers Food Font, which has held events in five states, has gathered 22 complete alphabets and 1,209 letters.
The importance of food education It's vital to teach kids about the benefits of eating healthy now. "One in three children are considered obese or overweight. If you eat better, you feel better."
Unusual eats Purslane, an edible weed that was used at a Milwaukee event. "Farmers are actually growing it. It's a little bit tart, so it's good in salads."
most popular letters "A" and "E." "I'm not sure why, but we have a lot of duplicates." The hardest to make? "Oh, that's the @ or # symbols."
Blogging away While on sabbatical from CIA in 2011, she started a blog called Tiny Splash Big View. "I learn about people who are interested in food and art. It makes me feel like I am connected to different communities."