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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Click on the picture to see a larger image.
12″ x 12″ x 0.7″ Multiglazed tile, Cook Inlet glacier clay, cone 6 oxidation
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.
Berry Picking in Alaska. A favorite pasttime for many. The birchbark baskets are in a style found in the Northwest around the Kotzebue sound area.
Adding a bit of folk lore to the tile, on the upper part are the hare as the sun and the fox as the moon, and they are in an ongoing chase. That is why night follows day.
I got invited to the Best of the Northwest Art and Fine Craft Show in Seattle on March 23 & 24. Fun. The economy is on the mend and I did well in Seattle at a tile show last Fall, so I thought I’d try some other shows in the lower 48 (what people in Alaska call the rest of the U.S., except Hawaii.)
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.