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Four of Fox Card Tile

12″ x 9.5″ Card Tile
This tile is one of three card tiles made for an upcoming May show at the Anchorage Humanities Forum. There will also be about twenty 12″ x 12″ tiles, every 12″ tile that I have designed and made, in the show. I’m about 3/4’s done.

It has been over a year since I last added a post to this tile blog/website. I blame Facebook. The Anchorage Native Heritage Center helped a group of us start Etsy stores connected to Facebook, and we all got caught up in the never ending connectedness of Facebook. Nothing is for sell in the Etsy store…yet.

I will be selling at the Denver March Powwow from March 25-26. Then I’m attending a ceramics event in London, the Ceramics Art of London, March 31-April 2. Since I’m there, I’ll throw in a extra few days to sight see.

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Basement Tile At the NANA Building in Anchorage


Click on the picture to see a larger image.
12″ x 12″ x 0.7″ Multiglazed tile, Cook Inlet glacier clay, cone 6 oxidation
$350.00

The fish in the center are dolly varden, arctic char, and pike. This tile was the last one of thirteen that I made for NANA Development Corp. and it is outside the elevators on the basement floor. I got a ton of compliments from people that have walked through the building just to look at the art tiles. Had some interesting comments the last time I posted the cut-out that went into making the plate that is impressed into the clay slab, so I decided to add another post but along side the tile that it made. I usually sell my art tiles during the summer, but the winter commissions have been picking up, so I don’t starve during the winters anymore.

A lot of the old art work along the west and north coasts of Alaska had a sort of circular aspect to it because it would fit onto a drum skin or inside a wood food bowl. I used the circular motif on several of the tiles for NANA and on the tile above. The x-ray view of the caribou and the seal is also a style common in the area.

This isn’t tile related but I feel like writing something about native Alaskans. During the superbowl, a local commercial came on saying how over a thousand students have benefitted from the ANSEP (Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program), a part of the University of Alaska system. It made me feel good. I was just the third native Alaskan to graduate from the Anchorage civil engineering program way back in the day, and now it is more common.

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Berry Picking

Berry Picking
Picking Blue Berries

Twelve-inch Tile, $350, Collagraph impression on Cook Inlet Glacier Clay, multiglazed, Cone 6 oxidation.

Berry Picking in Alaska. A favorite pasttime for many. The birchbark baskets are in a style found in the Northwest around the Kotzebue sound area.

Adding a bit of folk lore to the tile, on the upper part are the hare as the sun and the fox as the moon, and they are in an ongoing chase. That is why night follows day.

I got invited to the Best of the Northwest Art and Fine Craft Show in Seattle on March 23 & 24. Fun. The economy is on the mend and I did well in Seattle at a tile show last Fall, so I thought I’d try some other shows in the lower 48 (what people in Alaska call the rest of the U.S., except Hawaii.)

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Cut Out For Collagraph Plate

Cut Out Process
Cut Out Process

The last few posts had blurry pictures. I cleaned the lens on the iphone and this picture looks better. Anyway, This is a partial cut out of the 140 lb. cotton rag paper that will be used to make a plate. A collagraph plate is a printmaking term for a process where you just glue stuff to a stiff surface and then use it as a plate. I use a light table to transfer the initial drawing onto the 140 lb paper and then to cut the images out. Notice the “Arches Huile France” water mark on the lower left side of the paper. The plate is thirteen-inches square so that the final fired size of the tile will be twelve-inches after shrinkage. The fish with the zigzags are chum salmon, the fish below are white fish. The smaller caribou make up the upper edge of a birch bark basket.

I can’t complain about 2012! I love to travel and got to go a lot of places. Went to Chicago, Fairbanks, and Seattle for tile related shows. Then Seattle again for a ceramics conference. I Went once again to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland Oregon for an end-of-season vacation. And the big one was when me and my sweetheart went to Spain and Portugal.

Tile sales slacked a bit compared to 2011, but I had two winter commissions that more than made up for sagging sales. As a side note to running an art business, I attended a workshop on how to do better on the business side of art, like pricing work, and projecting a friendlier, attentive demeanor when selling at arts & crafts fairs. It was put together for Alaskan Native artists by the First Peoples Fund; they help out indiginous artists internationally when it comes to the business aspect of living the life of an artist.

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More 12″ Designs for NANA Building

12" Tiles
12″ Tiles

NanaTile3asmall

NanaTile3bsmall

Three more 12″ Tiles for an Alaskan Native Corporation Building. It takes a couple of weeks to get the design drawn, cut, glued, pressed into clay, bisqued, waxed, glazed, and glaze fired. Two more tiles are drying on wire racks and two more designs are ready to print. I’ve been reading up on myths and folk tales from the Northwest area of Alaska, and there is quite a bit out there.

Been thinking of arts & crafts shows outside of Alaska to attend in 2013. Applied to NorthWest Art Alliance show in Seattle March 23 & 24, Old Towne in Chicago June 8 & 9, and the Moravian Tile Festival north of Philadelphia in late May. The only show that I’m sure of is the 57th Street Fare in Chicago June 1 & 2, since they allow an artist to attend for four years once you are accepted, and this will be my fourth year there. The 57th Street Fare is in Obama’s old neighborhood. Cool, eh?

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Twelve-Inch Tile for NANA Building

Tile for Elevator Lobby in Nana Building
Tile for Elevator Lobby in Nana Building

The tile clay body that I developed from the mudflats glacial clay works well for large size tiles. This tile design is one of fourteen that the NANA native corporation commissioned for the elevator lobbies of their new six-story digs in downtown Anchorage. They want original designs and they don’t mind that I will make more tiles later of the designs made for them. After all, I am a printmaker, and we do make multiples. They don’t have to worry about seeing the designs too often because I don’t sell too many of the larger sizes. They cost a lot. A twelve-inch multiglazed tile costs $350. Of course, they paid a bit more since it is a custom order.

I used a circular pattern of caribou around a few figures in the center. Imagery from Western Alaskan coastal areas often use a circular design since they are drawn usually on a skin drum or in a oval type wood food serving container. One old artist says that for larger figures, an x-ray style of depicting the insides of the animals helps add interest to the drawings.

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Twelve-Inch Plaster Mold Tiles


This is part of the studio space where I make tiles. I’m currently working on a large mural that has nineteen twelve-inch tiles and fifty-one four-inch plant impressions. I make the original and then cast a plaster mold of the tile. Wire racks are for making sure the tile dries from both sides. My Cook Inlet clay body works great for tiles. Even the large tiles hardly warp at all. Noticable on one tile is a raven and on another is a tree. It’s great to do some relief tiles every once in a while. The molds weigh about forty pounds each.

It has snowed a couple of feet in the last few days and has been below zero every day for more than two weeks now.