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.
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.
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.
These six tiles are rarely made. They are all six-inch square. They are a flying owl, blue heron, seals, single seal, cicada, and an early version of the double salmon. I’m kind of likeing the old double salmon now that I’m glazing it differently. Before, it was colored with mason stains and then sprayed with a clear glaze. It looked good until the paper scales wore away and didn’t leave an edge to catch ink while plate wiping. Sorry for talking technical printmaking lingo. These designs are early and the plates are worn and a bit harder to work with compared to the more current, newer plates, but it is still nice to make these and have a wider variety of designs for customers to look at.
Here is the finished glazed tile. Last post was the unfired clay version that ends up full of color. I just today mailed off the two toucan tiles to my aunt in Chicago.
Usually this is a slow time for me, but not this year. I’m currently sewing together a coat for Object Runway, an Anchorage found object fashion show, that has pseudo lambs skin/wool, halibut and salmon skins, and pendants made out of the clay from the mudflats. It is looking awsome! I will post a picture of it after the runway show on the 23rd of this month.
Six-inch square collagraph print on Cook Inlet glacial clay, $75
This is one of my earlier designs and you can see it has a raised border around the edges because the plate itself is six-inches, so 3/8″ had to be added so that the finished fired size would be just under six-inches. Funny how you make tons of small mistakes that get corrected over time. New designs are put on a full 6-3/8″ square plate so trimming is quick and without measurements. This particular tile sold at the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) conference in Fairbanks last week.
I did well sales-wise and met a lot of people including ceramics professionals, though all non-native. The last traditional Alaskan native ceramics maker died in the 1880’s not to far from where many of my family have lived and died, in Northwest Alaska. The hand built, pit fired ceramics had been made in that area for about 5,000 years.
A shaman could take the form of his animal spirit, in this case, a halibut. Also, animals could take the form of humans, but they couldn’t speak. I don’t sell too many of this tile, for some reason people are uneasy with it. Doctors don’t mind it though, the medicine man part of the shaman they consider to be one of their own.
The background glaze is a caribbean sea green. It’s a nice pebbly variegated surface and color.
I will be in Fairbanks October 24-26 for the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) conference as a vendor. It is my best show of the year!
Six-inch Square Tiles, Multiglazed, Cook Inlet Glacier Clay, $75 each
A former art student classmate, Shara Dorris, owns Octopus Ink (Octopusinkclothing.com), a really cool handmade useable art boutique store in Anchorage. She silk screens her own designs onto clothes and she has maybe a dozen other artists selling their handmade wares in her store. She asked her artists to make a valentine themed object for last February’s First Friday art walk, so I made these two designs for here store.
I’m taking off for Seattle this afternoon to be in the Artisan Tile of the Northwest show at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture. The show is Friday from 3-8 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. I want to ask other tile artists if they ever go out of the country to do shows, because I would like to go to London and visit the William Morris Museum. He was an early proponent of the arts and crafts movement.
I have to collect some Cook Inlet glacier clay before it gets too cold!
Three six-inch tiles and the collagraph plate. I like the spearment inside the halibut on the bottom left, but the best combination is the grey halibut on the upper left with the spearment as the water color. I also prefer a darker brown for the exterior of the fishing boat with a lighter brown interior.
Halibut can get too big to easily haul on board. A previous boss of mine caught a 295 lb. Halibut and the boat had to go to dock because they could not get the fish aboard. I just bought a 14-1/2 lb. halibut from the local fish market and had it cut into 1-1/2 lb. vacuum sealed packets for a several gourmet meals.
I bought the halibut mainly for the skin which I plan to use on a coat for a fashion show next January. I tried the old Inuit way of processing fish skins by soaking the skin in day old urine. The urine breaks down into ammonia that tans the skin, but the skin still smells strongly of fish! So I used a process that I learn this summer from a fellow artist at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. The skin is soaked in a solution of half rubbing alcohol and half gliserine for three days and then in dishsoap for three more days. It really does cut down the odor but not completely.
I will be in Seattle October 4 & 5 at the Artisan Tile of the Northwest tile show at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture.
Stamps used to impress images into the back of the tile.
Back of the tile:
Silver Hand Artist
Aug 14 2013
“Stamps: swan/fish, fish, star, fish, and fox”
Cook Inlet Glacier Clay
The “Silver Hand Artist” means I’m registered with the state of Alaska as a aboriginal artist. Vitrified means the tile won’t absorb water and the tile is good for wet or outdoor use if a person wanted to use the tile in a shower stall or outside in a garden. My last name is pronounced “mile” as the “igh” rule makes the “gh” part silent; it’s old English and back then the language was more gutteral and it sounded more like Michael and is actually a variation of that name when applied to the arch-angel. I make my own tile clay body and the major component comes from the mud flats next to Anchorage. The material is the surrounding mountains that were ground up by the glaciers.
Made new halibut and gingko leaf plates and will post the resulting tiles next week.