These buttons are made out of clay from the Anchorage mud flats (Cook Inlet glacial clay), the same clay that is used in my tiles, and the images are from the stamps that I have created to decorate the back of the tiles. They are approximately one-inch in size and destined for a coat that I will make soon. Last year, I had bought wool and silk, and processed my own fish skins for the purpose of making a coat for the 2015 Anchorage Object Runway event, an art/fashion show, but it was cancelled. The coat will be patterned after a paper coat that I made a few years back that had won people’s choice award in the same Anchorage Object Runway event.
I’ve been busy since Christmas making tiles, inventory was down to three tiles. So everything I made last year sold! I hired a temporary part-time artist to help with waxing, while I did everything else.
I participated in the Colorado Indian Art Market, Jan 22-24, and did well. My favorite customers were the interesting couple that bought two twelve-inch tiles plus a few other tiles of various sizes.
My next two events will be the Anchorage Fur Rondy sale at the Dimond mall, March 2-6, and the Heard Museum Indian Arts & Crafts Show in Phoenix, Arizona March 5, 6. There is an overlap, so someone will cover for me at the Fur Rondy.
Here are several new designs: dragonfly, new seal, walrus on the top row,
a swan turning into a salmon, muskox, and pendants on the second row, and on the fourth row a single owl, and an bald eagle.
It’s been a while since I last posted, but now that the summer season is over, I should be able to post once every couple of weeks. Since my last post in mid July, I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the Southwest Indian Art Market. I got a table just by showing up because a lot of vendors sell out on the first day. There were over 1200 native american artists showing and selling their work, it was amazing. I wanted to buy some turquoise, pottery, and woven rugs, but things were pretty expensive. I flew into Denver and my Dad, all of 84 years old, drove down with me and we had a good time. on the way back we visited Fort Union. It protected the Santa Fe trail and participated in wars against Mexico, Indians, Confederates, and then more Indians. I almost stepped on a what looked like a rattle snake, and workers repairing some adobe walls got pretty excited and called the park rangers to come capture it. The best preserved building was the rock jail. Rock holds up better than clay adobe over time.
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.
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.
Plate used to print wolves tile constructed of matte board and 140 lb. cotton rag etching paper. Glued together with gesso and coated with acrylic medium. The plate is good for 100 or so printings. The tiles I print with the plate are therefore a limited edition, handpulled print, but without numbering, and of course on clay instead of paper. They are more valuable than any machine made, mass produced pseudo art tile. The etching paper is the negative space on the plate and the recessed line on the plate creates a raised, printed black line on the clay. I wax the black line and that keeps the different glazes separate in the final firing. The constant wiping with the tarleton cloth slowly wears away the acrylic medium and eventually the gesso. You can see the greying of the edges and smaller areas where the ink is starting to stain the underlying paper. This six-inch design has more color glazes than other designs, it can have ten or more glazes.
Three Hares, six-inch, $75
Cook Inlet glacial clay art tile with collagraph printed hares in x-ray style of coastal Inuqiaq. Three hares, three ears, yet each hare has two ears! A while back I made a large woodcut (about 3-1/2′ x 5′ – playing card aspect) using a sheet of plywood that required a steamroller to print an image of three hares similar to this tile, and titled the Three of Hares. It was the third steamroller print event put on in Anchorage. The idea for the three hares came about as a piece in a local group show with a theme about St. Francis and a hare that leads other animals to their respective heavens (put together by James Riordan, an assistant professor at the University of Alaska, Anchorage). The image of three hares was in some medieval monastaries and represented the trinity, but of course, the original design is much older, Etruscan, and historians don’t know what significance it had. Someone referred to the tile as the three rabbi’s.
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.
Fox & Hare, 6″ x 6″ x 3/8″, $75
One villages tale of why night follows day. The fox is the moon and the hare is the sun and they are in this continuous chase through the sky, and that is why night follows day. This is a revision of an earlier design which had the hare sort of upside down. The collagraph plate was about seven years old and wearing out, so it was a good time to make a new printing plate with a slightly different layout. The xray style is indiginous to the coastal areas of Alaska.
The red is new, it is a majolica base with red stain and without the opacifier. Also new is the temuko gold for the background. The clay is from the mudflats next to Anchorage, Alaska.
(Photo by Mike Conte) Here’s the back of the paper coat. The seals on the upper back are cut outs that are gesso-ed on to the etching paper. The x-ray style of showing parts of the inside like the ribs and stomach is common in Alaska coastal areas where wood food bowls and drum skins were decorated with these types of images. Most of my time is taken up making art tiles with the local clay from the glacial mudflats and it was fun to make something different.
A model wearing the coat was posted a couple of weeks ago. She did a fantastic job of selling it to the audience.