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Four-Inch Copper Plate Etchings on Glacial Clay

Swanfish
Swanfish
Halibut
Halibut
X-ray Frog
X-ray Frog
Leaves with fish stamps
Fishleaves
Crab
Crab
Reindeer
Caribou

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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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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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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Caribou

Caribou

X-ray Caribou
Caribou

Six-Inch Caribou, $75
Collagraph print on clay tile body made from local glacial mud flats. The x-ray style, the depiction of the insides such as the ribs and stomach, is common to the coastal native Alaskans such as the Yupiq and Inupiaq (Eskimos). The big dipper to the polar Inupiaq represents a herd of caribou. The polar star that people in lower latitudes refer to as the north star is not used for directions in the arctic because it is over head and unmoving and doesn’t help in determining directions. I’ve seen caribou carcasses in yards in Point Hope, my mother’s village. They were frozen and being eaten by dogs – a kind of old school dog food.

The two newer glaze colors used on this tile are nutmeg for the background and tenmoko gold used for the body. I mix my own glazes and these two were made at the same time, and each glaze, when wet looks like the other glaze’s fired color. It was confusing. This one potter at a craft show asked if I was a “purist” when I told him about making my own clay and mixing my own glazes. I do it because people like that the materials are local and the imagery is a contemporary take on traditional designs. Also, now that I know that hand built, pit fired ceramics were made in my ancestral area of Northwest Alaska for thousands of years, I will someday, test some of that areas clay for use in my tile work.

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Horizontal Pictogram: Seal, Fox, Caribou

Seal, Fox, Caribou
Horizontal Pictogram: Seal, Fox, Caribou
6″ x 6″ x 3/8″, $65
Copper plate engraving, printed on slipped glacial clay, mason stains, cone 6 oxidation.

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Caribou

Caribou

4″ x 4″ x 3/8″ Caribou, multiglaze, cone 6 oxidation, Cook Inlet glacier clay. Hand printed from a collagraph plate. Done in the x-ray style common to the coastal peoples of Alaska.

Sea mammals were the main food staple of my mother’s village of Point Hope, but caribou were important too. I like the old style parka were the caribou skin is worn so the fur is on the inside and the hide on the outside.

Ceramic shards have been escavated from Point Hope that show a ceramics tradition dating back about 5,000 years. The last Inupiaq to build ceramic pit fired pots died in the 1880’s and the tradition was lost. I couldn’t get into a native Alaskan arts sales event because the jurors told me my art wasn’t original to Alaska. The native heritage center had a talk with the jurors and after missing out for two years, they let me in. Crazy, I’m registered with the state as an Alaskan native artist, dig up and process my own local clay, and still run into people who say my art isn’t authentic. Oh well.