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Stamps and Back of Tile

Stamps8-21-13
Stamps used to impress images into the back of the tile.

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Back of the tile:
Mighell
Silver Hand Artist
Aug 14 2013
“Stamps: swan/fish, fish, star, fish, and fox”
Cook Inlet Glacier Clay
Alaska
Vitrified

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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Seven Multiglazed Tiles

Curlew
Curlew
Three Hares
Three Hares
Blue Heron
Blue Heron
Mammoth
Mammoth
Owls
Owls
Polarbear & Seal
Polarbear & Seal
Three Wolves
Three Wolves

Six-inch square art tiles, multiglazed, $75 each, Cook Inlet glacial clay

The new scanner is up and running. Thought I’d try posting a few images at one time and in a larger image size since internet access is getting faster. All these tiles were run through the etching press on July 23 and fired on July 31. All were tiles that were sold out at my vendors booth at the weekend market in Anchorage. And since making these tiles, other designs have sold out. It is near impossible to keep up during the height of the season!

I was at the Alaska Native Heritage Center yesterday and a large bull moose got into the grounds even though the area is fenced off. It stayed in the shallow lake in the center of the culture walk and put on quite a show for hundreds of visitors that lined the shores taking pictures.

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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.

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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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Artisan Tile NW show at University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture

Fireweed Plant Impression
Fireweed Plant Impression

Thess two 4″x 6″ fireweed plant impressions were made for the Seattle tile show held on November 3. I made a lot of plant and flower impressions given that the event theme was plant related, but more of my figurative designs sold than plant impressions. Sales were much better than last year. I experimented with applying glaze up to the edge of the plant and leaving the flower and leaves bare.

We stayed at my girlfriend’s sister’s place about 3-4 miles away from the UW campus. The trees still had leaves, not like here in Anchorage where every tree is bare now, and the colors were awesome. Went to the King Tut exhibit near the space needle, and that was cool. I had seen the original solid gold coffin in Egypt when I was a youngster travelling with my Dad who developed water resources wherever water was needed.

Since I mentioned my Dad, we are going to do the Camino De Santiago next April. It is a 500 mile hike across northern Spain, a route pilgrims have followed for about 1200 years. He is 82 years old but still in great shape. We hiked 26 miles on the Crow Creek Pass trail near Anchorage, through the mountains and next to a glacier when he as 79, and I could barely keep up with him.

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Tiles Ready to Spray

Bisque Tiles

Close-up

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.