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 two tiles are new and were made for the Fur Rondy festival that is held for ten days each year at the end of February. There are tons of events and I’m in one with about 120 other Alaskan Native artists selling Arts and Crafts. The Berry Pickers is six-inch in size and priced at $75 and the raven is four-inch and goes for $35. I sold six of the ravens at the Fare.
The baskets are made from birch bark.
The Iditarod started over the weekend. It’s a 1000 plus mile sled dog race that starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome. There is a Jamaican racer this year. Wow. It reminds me of the Jamaican Bob Sled team in the Olympics.
I will be in the Denver March Powwow March 21-23, The Moravian Tile Festival in Doylestown Pennsylvania May 17-18, the Chicago Millinium Fare May 31-June 1, and Chicago Botanic Fare July 5-6. Don’t know yet if I got accepted into the Sante Fe Indian market, but looks like I can be in the Alaska Native Heritage Center tent if I want to. Otherwise I will be at my tent at the Anchorage Weekend Market.
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!
Photos of a raven collagraph plate, two raven tiles, and the back side of one of the tiles. On the “back side” photo, you can see my name at the top, and underneath is “Silver Hand Artist”, which means I’m registered with the state of Alaska as an Alaskan Native Artist. The tile was printed on January 17, 2012. The five stamps are decoration, but a couple hundred years from now, people will think it’s some kind of code. “Cook Inlet Glacier Clay” means that the main clay in the tile body is from the mud flats next to Anchorage, Alaska. “Vitrified” means that it is fused and has less than 1/2 percent water absorbtion, so it is similar to porcelain in that respect.
I like doing different color combinations; though some designs will settle down in one or two versions over time. I mixed a new glaze called “floating green” that is used for the bottom ground in one of the tiles. I like developing new glazes. I mix my own, usually from recipes in books or on-line. Some glazes need a bit of tweaking before they work on the local clay.
The collagraph plate that was used to print the raven tile is made of 140 lb. etching paper and matte board. It is coated with gesso and acrylic matte medium.
This is part of the studio space where I make tiles. I’m currently working on a large mural that has nineteen twelve-inch tiles and fifty-one four-inch plant impressions. I make the original and then cast a plaster mold of the tile. Wire racks are for making sure the tile dries from both sides. My Cook Inlet clay body works great for tiles. Even the large tiles hardly warp at all. Noticable on one tile is a raven and on another is a tree. It’s great to do some relief tiles every once in a while. The molds weigh about forty pounds each.
It has snowed a couple of feet in the last few days and has been below zero every day for more than two weeks now.