Going to the Dogs

    

  

 

  

As some of you know, I make primarily two different types of tiles – tessellating animal tiles and sgraffito pet portrait tiles. Here are a few of my recent custom portrait tiles.

Because the tessellating tiles and portrait tiles are so different in technique, I’ve decided to open a second Etsy Shop. It’s called “ScratchingDogTiles” and you can go to this shop to order a portrait or to browse my current collection of shelter dog tiles (a portion of the sale of each shelter dog tiles is donated to local animal shelters in the Seattle area).

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ScratchingDogTiles

I Couldn’t Resist

     

So, after throwing what seemed like a hundred cylinders in my class these past two months, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to make things.

Inspired by the book Ceramics for Beginners, Animals and Figures by Susan Halls, I decided to make some animal containers using wheel thrown cylinders. With a title like “Ceramics for Beginners”, what could be easier? Well, as I discovered, many things are easier. Here are a few of the challenges that I encountered:

First, my elephant’s back legs and my sheep’s butt blew off in the kiln. Either I didn’t score them well enough or they weren’t completely dry when they went into the kiln. I was able to salvage the elephant by sticking with low-fire glazes (to minimize warping) and then gluing the legs on after with epoxy. With some carefully painted underglaze lines and splatters, the glue lines are barely noticeable. All I could do for the sheep was sand down his backside and then, using a dremel tool, carve a subtle tail where there was once a sculpted tail.

Next, the lids on my kangaroo and seal fused to their bodies during a cone 5 glaze firing. Guess I didn’t clean up those areas well enough before placing them in the kiln. Fortunately, the kangaroo survived but the seal broke while trying to detach the lid 😦

So, besides improving my throwing skills, what this class has really taught me is that I need to be a lot more careful and that most problems can be solved (more or less). 🙂

Conquering Fears

  

Brrrrr, when the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, my studio space gets cold and dark.  January is the perfect time to take a class in something that I’ve tried a few times but never really had the patience for – Wheel Throwing. This time around I’ve decided to focus on process rather than product. I see the class as an opportunity to “practice my scales”. Since I don’t plan to make many pieces, I won’t need to find places to store my amateurish pots and, at the same time, I’ll get a good workout recycling all that soggy clay at the wedging table. More photos to come (or not).

Tile and Art Festival

    

I’ve spent the past month creating my latest tile boards. These will be on display at the 14th Annual Tile and Art Festival on November 2nd and 3rd at the Mt. Baker Community Club in Seattle. I can’t wait to see what my fellow tile makers bring this year. I’m especially excited for the “Salish Sea” juried show. My entry “Ghosts of the Salish Sea”, shown above, depicts sea otters which once flourished in the waters along the coast of Washington. If you’re in town that weekend be sure to check it out – this show features some very talented people.

Garage Panel – Part Two

 

 

   

               

Well it was a very busy weekend. Despite all the rain and that amazing lightning storm on Saturday night, I installed the second garage panel. I really enjoyed doing this project but, it took nearly the whole summer to make the tiles, and it feels amazing to finish it! Still have some cleaning and polishing to do but I’m ready to start thinking about the next project.

Ongoing Projects

 

            

I haven’t posted any of my tilework for awhile but I’ve been working on a few different things. I’ve got the concept for “Garage Panel 2” done but I’ll save the sketches for that project for a separate post down the road. The panel will, once again, feature animals of the Pacific Northwest. I’ll be using the orca tiles again but in a different way. I will also include the octopus tile I designed last year. I was never happy with the way the octopuses interlocked so this year I designed a squid companion for them. I’m using this incredible underglaze that Amaco makes called “Flame Orange”. It holds up to a cone 5 firing so much better than their other reds and oranges. I also designed a pair of interlocking sea otters that will float above the deep sea creatures. I’m showing them clustered together but there will be a lot of blank tiles separating them on the panel.

Although I won’t be incorporating it into the garage project, I recently redesigned the flying fish tile I made last year. This version is a bit more sculptural and a little less grumpy than it’s predecessor. I’ve also been experimenting with stamps to make ceramic frames. They’ve proven to be more challenging than I anticipated (lots of warping and cracking) but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. I’m hoping to make a few to display more elaborately detailed individual tiles.