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.
What can I say. I got People’s Choice Award for my coat construction in this years Object Runway show. I can’t make tiles all the time. It was nice to do something a bit different while the tile business is slow during the winter. I cut out small animal designs and lined the bottom edge, like the way old time parkas had your area or family designs along the bottom. The coat is made from etching paper, 140 lb cotton paper, sewn together from a design that I got at a Joann store, a former project runway design. The paper is coated with gesso, acrylic medium, and inked in burnt umber, with most of the color wiped off to give it some surface texture. The buttons are made from the local glacial clay from the inlet and fired like two days before the show and quickly sewn on. It was a fun night. My model, Moriah Walker, was beautiful and helped sell the design. I’ll post a picture of the backside when I can, it has a x-ray style, double seal cut out in red.
6″ x 6″ x 3/8″ Musk Ox, $75
Collagraph print on Cook Inlet glacial clay, multiglaze, cone 6 oxidation.
There’s a musk ox farm in Palmer, north of Anchorage, and there are musk ox at the Anchorage zoo. The wool is collected from musk ox and is made into really warm items like scarves and hats, it’s called kiviut and it is super expensive. My iphone dictionary says musk ox are in Canada and Greenland, but we have them in Alaska too.
6″ x 6″ x 3/8″ Loon, $75
Collagraph printed on Cook Inlet Glacial clay, multiglazed, cone 6 oxidation.
Our black spruce, called bog spruce are kind of thin looking and occasionally, a branch will jut out at the top. A loon use to nest on a lake where I walk my dog, but the increase in the number of dog walkers has driven it away. Good thing there are plenty of other waterfowl and beavers still in the lake. Did I mention that the lake is like in the center of town, and that I see moose there several times a week also. Ok, maybe I’m bragging now, but I love Anchorage.
6″ x 6″ x 3/8″ Halibut Man, $75
X-ray style shaman in his animal spirit form, the halibut.
Collagraph print onto Cook Inlet glacial clay and oxidation fired to cone 6. I use mat boards with cut out designs to impress images into clay, a raised inked line is waxed and acts as a separator to the different glazes.
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.
4″ x 4″ x 3/8″ red tipped maple leaf and seed pod. Cook Inlet glacial clay, slip, mason stains, cone 6 oxidation, high calcium clear glaze.
I collect the leaves at the off-leash dog park or the grounds at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The leaf is placed on a textured matte board with a firmed, slipped, slab of the local clay placed over the leaf and matte board. The sandwich is run through an old fashion etching press, the slab trimmed and the edges smoothed. Mason stains are applied in two applications before a cone 04 bisque fire. Small imperfections are fixed, if possible, and glaze is sprayed on, and the tile is re-fired at a higher cone 6 temperature, which makes the tile clay body nearly non absorptive.