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.
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″ 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″ Loon, collagraph print on Cook Inlet glacial clay, multiglaze cone 6 oxidation.
Read up on the loon while designing the tile. Old time Inupiaqs would put a loon skull in a persons grave because it was thought to be a spirit guide. Found out the loon is one of the more ancient birds and is the only bird to still have some solid bones. The Alaska Geographic publication on prehistoric animals that once lived in Alaska shows an ancestor of the loon on the water living along side dinosaurs.
Moose, 4″ x 4″ x 0.4″, multiglazed, x-ray style, cone 6 oxidation.
A collagraph plate is used to print the raised black lines which when waxed act as a separator to the glazes.