This is the tile wall behind a wood stove that an acquaintance installed in his house. I also made the field tiles surrounding the art tiles. It will be featured in the next quarterly issue of Alaska Home magazine. The nice speckled brown field tiles are all the same glaze, so the difference in appearance is due to the placement in the kiln. An enlarged drawing of the entire area was provided so that plate/stencils could easily be made, especially for the odd shaped tiles, near the top. All the tiles are made from the local clay from the Anchorage mud flats, a part of the Boot Legger Clay formation, and they are stamped on the back with “Cook Inlet Glacial Clay”.
The Fur Rondy sales begin tomorrow at the Dimond Mall (in Anchorage) and I will be heading to the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona for the Indian Art Market on Thursday.
These are recent tests for a two-inch size pendant. None sold at the Colorado Indian Market last month, but I’ll see how they do this summer. If they didn’t have holes, they could be tiles. To be installed with tiles, they would need to be slightly smaller, like 1-7/8″, so they could fit four to the same area as a four-inch tile, plus they would need to be just a tad thicker.
I’m working half time on tiles while I prepare taxes and work on the fish-skin coat that will have some of the buttons from the previous post.
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.
Four four-inch tiles. The ravens are done with a two part glaze process where I apply a strontium carbonate based glaze underneath one of my usual glazes. It gives the top glaze a reduction fired look, or a variegated matte/semimatte surface. The flower has a single glaze but it was underfired to give it a matte surface and is not as variegated as the double application. The double glaze process takes more time so the tiles are priced at $40 whereas the single glaze process is $35 per tile.
The tile business is always slow at the beginning of the year and then gets unbelievably busy by about mid June. I participated in a local show here in Anchorage last weekend but didn’t sell a single tile. My main customer is the visitor to Alaska that is looking for something made by an Alaskan Native, with local materials, and with traditional themes, motifs, and stories. And they don’t show up until after break-up (When the snow piles finally melt away). I should be thankful that I have a niche.
These six tiles are rarely made. They are all six-inch square. They are a flying owl, blue heron, seals, single seal, cicada, and an early version of the double salmon. I’m kind of likeing the old double salmon now that I’m glazing it differently. Before, it was colored with mason stains and then sprayed with a clear glaze. It looked good until the paper scales wore away and didn’t leave an edge to catch ink while plate wiping. Sorry for talking technical printmaking lingo. These designs are early and the plates are worn and a bit harder to work with compared to the more current, newer plates, but it is still nice to make these and have a wider variety of designs for customers to look at.
This is what I made for Object Runway 2014, an International Gallery of Contemporary Art sponsored event in Anchorage, Alaska each January. It is pseudo lambs wool with salmon and halibut fish skins sewn on plus Cook Inlet clay pendant buttons. The diagonal zipper actually works, so bully for my new found sewing skills. Sixty-seven pieces walked the runway and mine was one of twenty to make the second round but it did not get in the top five. Bummer. I will gather up other pictures and post them next. Moriah Walker was my model and she also wore my previous entry three years ago, she did an excellent job.
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.
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.
Six-inch square collagraph print on Cook Inlet glacial clay, $75
This is one of my earlier designs and you can see it has a raised border around the edges because the plate itself is six-inches, so 3/8″ had to be added so that the finished fired size would be just under six-inches. Funny how you make tons of small mistakes that get corrected over time. New designs are put on a full 6-3/8″ square plate so trimming is quick and without measurements. This particular tile sold at the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) conference in Fairbanks last week.
I did well sales-wise and met a lot of people including ceramics professionals, though all non-native. The last traditional Alaskan native ceramics maker died in the 1880’s not to far from where many of my family have lived and died, in Northwest Alaska. The hand built, pit fired ceramics had been made in that area for about 5,000 years.
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!