Array of four-inch etchings on slipped Cook Inlet glacial clay, each $25.
I have not posted any tiles made from copperplate etchings. Here are six of the smaller size tiles. They take less time to make so they are $10 cheaper than the multiglazed tiles. The swanfish is an actual design from long ago; the artist claims a distant ancestor darted the creature as it was transforming from a swan into a fish, and it got stuck that way and still wanders around in the Yukon.
I have made a new 6″ halibut design and still need to cut it out from its drawing. So maybe next posting will be the halibut plate. I have also ordered supplies for making a mud facial mask, of course using the Cook Inlet glacial clay, and supplies for processing or tanning salmon skins. This weekend is the end of the Anchorage Market, and I will have a little time to play around with something new and different.
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.
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.