These buttons are made out of clay from the Anchorage mud flats (Cook Inlet glacial clay), the same clay that is used in my tiles, and the images are from the stamps that I have created to decorate the back of the tiles. They are approximately one-inch in size and destined for a coat that I will make soon. Last year, I had bought wool and silk, and processed my own fish skins for the purpose of making a coat for the 2015 Anchorage Object Runway event, an art/fashion show, but it was cancelled. The coat will be patterned after a paper coat that I made a few years back that had won people’s choice award in the same Anchorage Object Runway event.
I’ve been busy since Christmas making tiles, inventory was down to three tiles. So everything I made last year sold! I hired a temporary part-time artist to help with waxing, while I did everything else.
I participated in the Colorado Indian Art Market, Jan 22-24, and did well. My favorite customers were the interesting couple that bought two twelve-inch tiles plus a few other tiles of various sizes.
My next two events will be the Anchorage Fur Rondy sale at the Dimond mall, March 2-6, and the Heard Museum Indian Arts & Crafts Show in Phoenix, Arizona March 5, 6. There is an overlap, so someone will cover for me at the Fur Rondy.
Walked the Portuguese Camino with my 85 year old Father and two younger sisters, Dorothy in the middle and Karen on the right. Dorothy has a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford and Karen is a civil engineer with the US Forest Service. We’re all engineers, I just switched to art. The ten day hike from Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain took us fifteen days. Our pilgrimage was leisurely this time as we sent our backpacks ahead each day and stayed in nicer hotels each night. By nicer, I mean with private bathrooms and sheets on the bed. We usually got two rooms and the price would be about $30-40 per person. Me and my dad roughed it a few years back by staying in the hostels, walking the much longer French route, but this time we spent a little more, and felt totally pampered. Our Dad did have a scare, an ear infection that felt like a possible stroke had our taxi speeding down rural, cobble-stoned lanes to the nearest hospital. The emergency room visit and antibiotics cost around $100 and then the pharmacy store charged another $20 for medication drops.
The tile business is taking up all my time, and this will be the best year, sales-wise, since I started a dozen years ago. I’ve decided to not go to the lower-48 next summer, since customers are coming to me up here at that time. Those trips will have to be in the off season.
I still have three more shows before the end of the year, so I better get back to the studio! The three shows are the Thanksgiving Fare at the Anchorage Museum, November 27-29, The Holiday Bazaar at the Anchorage Native Heritage Center, December 5, and a small group event at the Blue Hollomon Gallery December 12.
It’s been a busy 2015 so far! I went to two arts & crafts shows in Denver in January and March, and I recently went to Doylestown, Pennsylvania for the Moravian Tile Festival. I made a short trip up to Fairbanks and picked up two new customers, the University Museum gift shop and the Wells Street Gallery. So this year started out with a bang.
Today I start a four week gig teaching student interns how to make tiles and pendants at the Anchorage Native Heritage Center. The Anchorage weekend market has been open since Mother’s Day and I’m selling there on Saturdays. My schedule this summer will be Saturdays at the weekend market downtown, and Monday, Thursday, Friday at the Heritage Center. I will be out of town three times, for the Chicago Botanic Garden show July 4th weekend, The Bellevue Museum show the last weekend of July, and the Sante Fe Indian Market the last part of August.
Other than tile related stuff, my dad, two younger sisters, and myself will be hiking for ten days on the Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostella, Spain pilgrimage. What a mouthful, how’s about just Porto to Santiago. This will be in late October, early November, so we were able to use off-season airline miles. Can you believe it, American Airlines offers round trips to Europe for 40,000 miles in the off season. We are members of Alaska Airlines and luckily American is a partner airline.
The old plate is in the upper left above and overlapped by the new plate that is being cut out of 300-lb cotton rag etching paper. The cut pieces that will be glued to a matte board are visible in the upper and lower right, under wax-paper, to keep an unexpected sneeze from scattering them about. My preferred glue is actually gesso and over the gesso will be brushed acrylic medium. This design is popular and probably has the most cut pieces, maybe two hundred or so. The triangular shape of the netted salmon gives the composition a stable and pleasing aspect. I will post a finished, glazed tile next.
I will be selling tiles at the Colorado Indian Market, January 23-25 in Denver.
Six-inch Square, Sailorboy Pilot Bread Art Tile, $75
Originally made this design as one of the thirteen 12″ tiles for Nana Development Corporation, one of the many native alaskan owned businesses that are fairly common these days. I can’t tell you how cool it is that the indigineous population has taken an active part in the current world, and a large part of that is business related, for better or worse, though, each regional corporation pretty much has a non-profit equivalent representing the same population. Anyway, the powers that be wanted to try something different than the Indian reservation system common in the lower 48.
Pilot bread is known by everyone that has lived in a rural area. Its a modern day version of hard tack, and it is kind of hard and lasts for ever.
I’m done selling for the season. For December, did one large event at the Alaskan Native Heritage Center, and three smaller ones at the Native Hospital, Nana Development Corporation, and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. Did fairly well. Now time to build up inventory. I don’t think I’ve had more than a rare day or two off here and there in the last eight months. I need to hire someone so that I can keep up!
I Haven’t posted in over two months, and I thought the summer was too busy. This post will be on the technical side, and you can skip the first part if you like. Three of the tiles, with small white dots in the background glaze, had an undercoating of a strontium carbonate glaze. The undercoat glaze adds variation to the surface quality of the main glaze, kind of makes it look like the tile had been in a reduction, maybe salt firing. The three new glaze mixes are shell pink, mango, and robins egg blue. I add the mason stain colors to a base majolica glaze that doesn’t have its usual opacifier. The puffin tile on the top right shows what the shell pink looks like without the strontium carbonate undercoat, it has a slight purple tint with the pinkness.
It’s been a busy Fall, sold tiles at four shows since the summer market ended, The Bad Girls of the North, and I’m not even a bad girl, in Fairbanks, the Alaska Federation of Natives conference in Anchorage, the Artisan Tile of the NorthWest event in Seattle, followed by another Bad Girls of the North in Anchorage. Did really well in the Anchorage shows and pretty good in the shows away from Anchorage. Getting ready for the Anchorage Museum Thanksgiving show and the last show of the year at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
One of the more interesting things I did was to become certified as an instructor for the First Peoples Fund. I will talk to native americans about starting an arts business and all the things involved with that, like how to value your time. Many native craftspeople way under pay themselves for the time they put into their art.
Here are several new designs: dragonfly, new seal, walrus on the top row,
a swan turning into a salmon, muskox, and pendants on the second row, and on the fourth row a single owl, and an bald eagle.
It’s been a while since I last posted, but now that the summer season is over, I should be able to post once every couple of weeks. Since my last post in mid July, I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the Southwest Indian Art Market. I got a table just by showing up because a lot of vendors sell out on the first day. There were over 1200 native american artists showing and selling their work, it was amazing. I wanted to buy some turquoise, pottery, and woven rugs, but things were pretty expensive. I flew into Denver and my Dad, all of 84 years old, drove down with me and we had a good time. on the way back we visited Fort Union. It protected the Santa Fe trail and participated in wars against Mexico, Indians, Confederates, and then more Indians. I almost stepped on a what looked like a rattle snake, and workers repairing some adobe walls got pretty excited and called the park rangers to come capture it. The best preserved building was the rock jail. Rock holds up better than clay adobe over time.
I took these plant impressions to the Chicago Botanic Garden art fare. Ten each of the creme and blue background colored impressions sold, compared to only six of the green background colored tiles. Hmmmm, greens are not as popular. Sold a variety of other tiles also, including a bunch of my Alaskan themed designs. Delivered a twelve-inch tile to this collector after the show and was blown away by her 500 tiles, all hung and arrayed on various walls.
Well, sales were enough to cover the costs, but what matters more is that I got to visit my aunt and cousins, and one of my sweetheart’s friends from her fish cannery days. She took us to the beaches on Lake Michigan and they were packed during the July 4th weekend…we just don’t see people in swim suits that often in Alaska.
So, I’ll be selling tiles at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum, and the weekend market the rest of the summer, except for when I go down to the Indian Art Market in Santa Fe this August. It’s busy.
Four four-inch tiles. The ravens are done with a two part glaze process where I apply a strontium carbonate based glaze underneath one of my usual glazes. It gives the top glaze a reduction fired look, or a variegated matte/semimatte surface. The flower has a single glaze but it was underfired to give it a matte surface and is not as variegated as the double application. The double glaze process takes more time so the tiles are priced at $40 whereas the single glaze process is $35 per tile.
The tile business is always slow at the beginning of the year and then gets unbelievably busy by about mid June. I participated in a local show here in Anchorage last weekend but didn’t sell a single tile. My main customer is the visitor to Alaska that is looking for something made by an Alaskan Native, with local materials, and with traditional themes, motifs, and stories. And they don’t show up until after break-up (When the snow piles finally melt away). I should be thankful that I have a niche.
Went to the Denver March Powwow to sell art tiles the end of last month. The economy is still soft and I didn’t sell enough to cover all the expenses, but I did get to see my Dad, brother, and sister. They still live there, and three of my other siblings and I have moved back to and now live in Alaska. I have never seen so many dancers and drum groups. There were a lot of vendors. My favorite were the Navajo rug weavers, wish I could afford one of their hand woven rugs.
Scooted over to San Francisco to attend the Southern Graphics Print conference. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Printmaking, so it was a professional thing. It sure is nice to go to the demos and workshops. And you couldn’t ask for a nicer city to have it in. I love cities where you can walk around.
The plant impressions did ok. I know they will do really well in Chicago when I go to an arts and crafts show at the Chicago Botanic Garden in July.
While in Denver, I took a road trip to visit the Van Briggle Tile company and learned that it had gone out of business do to the recession. It was sold last year but the buyer isn’t producing tile. The picture is of their original factory that had the kilns built right into the building. Bummer. It would have been my third visit to the factory. My first time was when it was in a horseshoe shaped building that had been a train switch building. You could walk through and see the various stages of tile making. The second trip was four years ago when they had moved in a smaller space. I should have suspected times were tough because everything was covered in dust.