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Latest Kiln Load

Plaquette Glyph
Loon and Pendant Glyphs
Getting ready for the Anchorage Museum Thanksgiving Crafts Fare. The loon is a four-by-four square inch tile and the necklace pendants are maybe 1-1/4″ squarish pieces. The glyph stamps are fishes, fox, stars, eagle, letters, seal, owl, and the crazy swan turning into a salmon creature. The pendant pieces will be strung with simulated sinew singly and in groups up to five pieces. It has been a while since I have sold something other than tiles, long ago I use to sell fine art prints but the market was soft, or it could have been the timing, given that the economy went through the wringer at that time. All the pendants will be made from the Cook Inlet glacier clay with various slip colors and glazes applied to the front side.

Last Friday, I went to see my necklace mentioned in my last post, at the Native Alaskan fashion show, Wear Art Thou, hosted by the Alaska Native Arts Foundation, and I was really impressed by some of the pieces. I plan to make something for the show next year. Anyway, my necklace was worn lower than I envisioned but still looked good.

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Glacial Clay Necklace

Necklace made with local glacial clay
Glacial Clay Necklace

Made this necklace for the Alaska Native Arts Foundation for a fashion show they will soon host, possibly later this month. I rolled out a lot of small thin tiles, brushed various majolica glazes on them, stamped images onto the tiles while they were still soft, and finally brushed on mason stain colors to enhance the images. The two holes at the top of each tile were bored before the glaze application. The tiles were strung together with simulated sinew. The Russian trade beads across the nose of the manikin were originally going to be used between the tiles but it looks fine without them. The stamps are usually used to decorate the back side of the art tiles I make and sell.

I’m planning to make a bunch of necklaces with one to five small tiles on each for the Anchorage Museum Thanksgiving Crafts Fare November 29, 30 and December 1. Also I will put together a piece for next January’s Object Runway here in Anchorage. The garment will have a good part of the front covered in tiles similar to the ones on the necklace. Can’t wait to get started on it. It’s nice to do something other than the square art tiles.

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Heart Shaped designs

Valentine Seals

Valentine Ravens

Six-inch Square Tiles, Multiglazed, Cook Inlet Glacier Clay, $75 each

A former art student classmate, Shara Dorris, owns Octopus Ink (, 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!

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Stamps and Back of Tile

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.

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Four-inch Leaf Impressions

Leaf Impression Art Tiles
Willow, Heath, Alder, Birch, and Aspen

Array of four-inch leaf impressions, $30 each
The names listed under the images go clockwise starting at the upper left.

It was a very wet rainy weekend at the Anchorage Market yet sales were better than the week before. You can never tell specifically which weekends will be good, but generally, July is better than either June or August and those two months are better than May and September.

I got my ticket to Seattle for the October 4 & 5 “Artisan Tile of the Northwest” show in Seattle at the University of Washington Horticultural Center. One would think that plants would do well there, but in my case, the native Alaska themed designs do better. Fortunately, I can stay at a sister-in-law’s house near the University. Every little bit helps in keeping the expenses down.

I am in a print exchange with other printmakers from nine other countries that are part of the migratory route of shorebirds that migrate back and forth between Alaska and New Zealand. Some of the prints will actually go, as is, through the mail so they can show some wear and tear of a similar journey as the birds. It’s nice to get involved with a printmaking project, especially when most of my time is taken up by the tile business. Though technically, my tiles are hand pulled prints that happen to be on clay instead of paper.

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Early April In the Pyrenees

Early April on the Camino

Had to post one picture from our trek across Northern Spain.

Now back to tile stuff. Sold tiles at the Moravian Tile Festival May 18 & 19 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and then at the 57th Street Fair June 1 & 2 in Chicago. I will be in the Gold Coast arts & crafts fare in Chicago June 29 & 30. Made a new mammoth tile design which I’ll post next. Sold three 12″ tiles to the Alaska State Council of the Arts for their art lending library (don’t know what else to call it). My inventory is getting low, I can’t keep up, and now I have several orders for groups of tiles. I plan to post a tile related item at least once a week.

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Within the 100 Km mark of Santiago on the Camino

Wish I could post pictures. The Spring country side is beautiful with a lot the trees in bloom. We have walked by apple, chestnut, and magnolias. The small villages take you back into the middle ages with their cobbled streets and stone walled homes and fences. Much of the surfaces are covered in moss and lichens, as are the clay and slate covered rooftops. I only have ten minutes left on the coin operated internet connection here in a cafe near the municipal albergue (hostel).

Only two more stages to walk out of thirty-three. We walked for two weeks to Belarado and hopped on a bus to O´Cebreiro about seven days ago. It was the highest part in Galicia and was windy and cold. Yesterday it snowed a little and then drizzled a bit before we arrived into Palas De Rei. Wore pants, shirt, sweater, and wind/rain jacket and was ok till stopping for water or snack breaks.

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On the Camino de Santiago


I´ve been hiking on the Camino de Santiago across Northern Spain for the past two weeks. My Dad is doing it with me and we are going at his pace since he is 82 years old. Still we are averaging about 15 Km or more a day and that is amazing given his age. He is an old athlete and use to do ironman 100 mile marathons up until his mid 70´s. Hope that I´m as active as he is when I get to be his age.

Tonight we are in Viloria de la Rioja at an albergue (hostel) that cost only 5 euros. All the pilgrim hostels are reasonable. We have met people from all over. We thought it would be less crowded walking the Camino, but in Logorno, the municipal albergue was full when we arrived. I´ve noticed that the Camino is becoming more popular for mountain bikers too. There are about 15 walkers for every biker. The afternoon sun is quite hot, especially for a person from Alaska. The temperatures now are like Anchorage summer temperatures.

Gotta go take a nap.

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Temporary Change

Hello, I’m going to use my tile blog to post items from a pilgrimage I’m taking with my Dad in Spain for the next five weeks. We will be hiking the Camino de Santiago.

Sorry for not posting tile related stuff the last few months. I finished a nice commission for a building downtown, and then a wall backing for a wood stove for a friend. I sold lots of tile at the Fur Rondy during the Iditarod sled dog races, and also not so many at the Best of the Northwest arts & crafts show in Seattle a couple of weeks ago. Alaska Geographic will be carrying my tiles in their Denali store and later in the Homer store.

When I get back, I’ll be selling at the Moravian Tile Festival in Doylestown, PA in May, and then twice in Chicago in June. And of course the Anchorage Weekend Market starts in May. It’s back to the races.

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Tiles Ready to Spray

Bisque Tiles


Nine 4″ plant impressions, two 8″ copperplate etchings, and a bunch of cookie cutter fish with stamps and words. These bisqued fired tiles are about to be sprayed with a high calcium semimatte clear glaze. The fire schedule for a clear semimatte glaze requires a fairly fast cool down so that the glaze doesn’t become milky or fogged up. The dark look of the plant impressions will be somewhat absorbed into the glaze and the finished tile will look lighter. These tiles are for selling at the Alaska Natives Federation (AFN) convention in Anchorage and it is my best show of the year. You can find tons of Alaska native arts and crafts there.

I use four different scheduled firings for the four main glaze processes:
1) clear high calcium semimatte,
2) crystalline glaze,
3) opaque multiglazed,
4) double glaze with a strontium carbinate under a second glaze.