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Three New Four-Inch Tiles

Four-Inch Seal
This is one of several new designs for this summer season.

Four-Inch Otter Tile
This is a four-inch otter tile. Alaska has river and sea otters.
I like the eyes of the otter, so the new seal and fox designs might be reworked to have similar eyes. The x-ray style, common among the Alaskan Coastal peoples, is hinted at with the inclusion of the red ribs

Thick Paper Cut Out of a Fox
This is what the paper cut outs look like before the pieces are separated and glued onto a matte board plate. The plate is impressed into clay to make the tiles.

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Several New Designs

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.

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More Plant Impression Tiles

Plant Tiles
4″ Plant Impressions
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.

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Ravens and a Flower

Ravens and a Flower
Ravens and a Flower
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.

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Tiles for the Botanic Gardens and an Old Tile Manufacturer

Plant Impressions

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.

Tile Maker
Van Briggle Tile Factory

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.

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New Tile Designs: 4″ Raven & 6″ Berry Pickers

Blue Berry Pickers
Blue Berry Pickers with Birch Bark Baskets
These two tiles are new and were made for the Fur Rondy festival that is held for ten days each year at the end of February. There are tons of events and I’m in one with about 120 other Alaskan Native artists selling Arts and Crafts. The Berry Pickers is six-inch in size and priced at $75 and the raven is four-inch and goes for $35. I sold six of the ravens at the Fare.

The baskets are made from birch bark.

Raven Tile
Four-inch Raven
The Iditarod started over the weekend. It’s a 1000 plus mile sled dog race that starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome. There is a Jamaican racer this year. Wow. It reminds me of the Jamaican Bob Sled team in the Olympics.

I will be in the Denver March Powwow March 21-23, The Moravian Tile Festival in Doylestown Pennsylvania May 17-18, the Chicago Millinium Fare May 31-June 1, and Chicago Botanic Fare July 5-6. Don’t know yet if I got accepted into the Sante Fe Indian market, but looks like I can be in the Alaska Native Heritage Center tent if I want to. Otherwise I will be at my tent at the Anchorage Weekend Market.

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Four-Inch Copper Plate Etchings on Glacial Clay

X-ray Frog
X-ray Frog
Leaves with fish stamps

Array of four-inch etchings on slipped Cook Inlet glacial clay, each $25.

I have not posted any tiles made from copperplate etchings. Here are six of the smaller size tiles. They take less time to make so they are $10 cheaper than the multiglazed tiles. The swanfish is an actual design from long ago; the artist claims a distant ancestor darted the creature as it was transforming from a swan into a fish, and it got stuck that way and still wanders around in the Yukon.

I have made a new 6″ halibut design and still need to cut it out from its drawing. So maybe next posting will be the halibut plate. I have also ordered supplies for making a mud facial mask, of course using the Cook Inlet glacial clay, and supplies for processing or tanning salmon skins. This weekend is the end of the Anchorage Market, and I will have a little time to play around with something new and different.

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Three Halibut and One Gingko

Halibut and Ginkgo
Halibut and Ginkgo

Array of four-inch tiles, halibut and ginkgo, multiglaze, $35 each

These are the newest designs and the plates are made from 300-lb. cotton rag etching paper on matte board. The paper is thicker than what is usually used to make the plate, but it helps keep the glaze colors separate a little better than the 140-lb. paper. The stem of the ginkgo leaf is nice and thin plus the width of the stem and leaf outline is varied, kind of like calligraphy writing. With the thicker paper, the stem won’t get covered up by glaze when the tile is fired.

I’m going to make a six-inch tile with a halibut next. The halibut will be as big as the boat of the fisherman. The size is exaggerated, but not by much. Halibut can get up to nearly 400 pounds.

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Fireweed Plant Impression

Fireweed Crystal Glaze
Fireweed Crystal Glaze

Array of Four-Inch Flowers & Leaves
Array of Four-Inch Flowers & Leaves

Fired off another load of plant impressions. Made several of the fireweed flower impressions since a lot of people love them and they are all over in Alaska.

Started selling art tiles at the ANHC, Alaska Native Heritage Center, again last week and this week. ANHC had a Monday work shop on how to process salmon skin for baskets and rain coats. It was so cool but the parts thrown away were stinking up the place near the dumpsters yesterday and today. The lady next to me had some mammoth ivory jewelry. How often does one see mammoth ivory jewelry?

It has gotten into the 80’s several times this summer in Anchorage. I’ve lived in Anchorage since 1980 and I can’t remember it ever getting into the 80’s. Heck, we are lucky if it gets into the 60’s, which for some summers is rare. But there you have it, by my count, we have had six 80 degree days. I just may be able to plant that ginkgo tree that I’ve been dreaming about.

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Turquoise Crystaline Glaze Plant Impressions

Plant impression & crystalline glaze
Plant Impression Tiles

Array of four-inch plant impressions, $30 each.

The phote is from an iphone since my scanner is kaput. It’s hard to take a decent photo of a glossy surface. Three of the tiles have a ginkgo leaf. Anchorage has one ginkgo tree and it is inside at the University since it is too cold for them here. I picked up a few ginkgo leaves at the Chicago Botanic garden after a few leaves fell from a tree after a rain. Half of the tiles are sold already, and they just came out of the kiln last Thursday. I will print flower impressions tomorrow in the four, six, and eight-inch sizes. I will do some Fireweed, wild geranium, Sitka rose, and dogwood for this next week.

I’m at the mid way point of my ninth season at Anchorage weekend market, and it has slowed down sales-wise, but on-line sales have sort of picked up the slack. I think it has something to do with people now buying more on the web, so other places that people use to spend is loosing some of its volume.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center will carry my art tiles again starting this week.