Three more 12″ Tiles for an Alaskan Native Corporation Building. It takes a couple of weeks to get the design drawn, cut, glued, pressed into clay, bisqued, waxed, glazed, and glaze fired. Two more tiles are drying on wire racks and two more designs are ready to print. I’ve been reading up on myths and folk tales from the Northwest area of Alaska, and there is quite a bit out there.
Been thinking of arts & crafts shows outside of Alaska to attend in 2013. Applied to NorthWest Art Alliance show in Seattle March 23 & 24, Old Towne in Chicago June 8 & 9, and the Moravian Tile Festival north of Philadelphia in late May. The only show that I’m sure of is the 57th Street Fare in Chicago June 1 & 2, since they allow an artist to attend for four years once you are accepted, and this will be my fourth year there. The 57th Street Fare is in Obama’s old neighborhood. Cool, eh?
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.
Tile on the left and copper plate etching/engraving on the right. Click on the copper plate image to see a better quality scan.
The copper plate is an engraving that is used to print onto the clay. I have a large etching press that I use to print on the clay like if it were paper. I don’t have a problem with the clay curling during firing since I make my own clay body and have added stuff to the clay body to counter the tendence of flat tiles to warp and crack.
The image on the right of the tile is a white whale, the center is a half man half seal, and on the left is a swan turning into a salmon. The three are samples of Alaska native art that were once drawn on the bottom of wood food bowls or on skins.
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.