I Made all the tiles for this fireplace, the art tiles and the field tiles. It looks awesome! The size of the field tiles are 2″x 2″, 2″x 4″, 4″x 4″, 4″x 6″, 6″x 6″, and 4″x 8″. There are four different glazes. I used the clay from the mudflats next to Anchorage to make a good tile clay body.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Array of four-inch plant impressions, $30 each.
The phote is from an iphone since my scanner is kaput. It’s hard to take a decent photo of a glossy surface. Three of the tiles have a ginkgo leaf. Anchorage has one ginkgo tree and it is inside at the University since it is too cold for them here. I picked up a few ginkgo leaves at the Chicago Botanic garden after a few leaves fell from a tree after a rain. Half of the tiles are sold already, and they just came out of the kiln last Thursday. I will print flower impressions tomorrow in the four, six, and eight-inch sizes. I will do some Fireweed, wild geranium, Sitka rose, and dogwood for this next week.
I’m at the mid way point of my ninth season at Anchorage weekend market, and it has slowed down sales-wise, but on-line sales have sort of picked up the slack. I think it has something to do with people now buying more on the web, so other places that people use to spend is loosing some of its volume.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center will carry my art tiles again starting this week.