We have this old concrete block garage that’s a bit of an eyesore. I think there’s an opportunity here for an interesting tile installation so I’ve begun to research what others have done in outdoor settings. I started with some of the better know tile projects like the work of Jujol, Gaudi’s collaborator in Barcelona and Simon Rodia’s Watt’s Tower in LA, but then I came across the artist Linda Wallen. She’s done a lot of mosaic projects in Pittsburgh. I’m particulary taken with the houses she’s tiled in the Spring Hill neighborhood. They’re beautiful collages made with materials that she’s gathered or been given. Each mural tells a story, both in the way the fragments have been selected, and in the way they’ve been arranged.
I participated in two really fun hands-on workshops with Artisan Tile Northwest http://artisantilenw.org/ this month. The first was a raku firing at Seattle Pottery Supply. I haven’t done a raku firing since college. It was just as dirty, smokey, smelly and fun as I remember it. There were dramatically different results from piece to piece with some incredibly beautiful pieces scattered throughout.
Last night we had a mold making workshop lead by ATNW member Steve Moon. Steve showed us some great ways to build durable and precise cottle boards from acrylic. Here are some photos of the demo he did with Sue Tuttle. It was her first mold making experience. Great job Steve and Sue!
Last week I went to the Artisan Tile NW monthly meeting. There was an interesting and informative presentation called “Social Media Marketing for Artists” by artist and comedian Meredith Arnold http://www.mereditharnold.com/. Meredith covered a range of topics including types of social media and various apps for cross-referencing sites and managing these services. I’ve always been slow to explore the latest tech tools, be it hardware or software, so my head was spinning by the end of the evening. Nevertheless, I retained enough info to use these tools more effectively. As Meredith pointed out, the trick is not to try to do everything but rather find what works best for us and build from there. So far, I’ve had some success reaching interested buyers with Facebook.
An interesting chain of events started a couple of months ago. I finally set up a Facebook account this year (like I said, I’m kind of slow). One of the pages I follow is the Seattle Humane Society http://www.seattlehumane.org/. That’s where we adopted Sam and where I still get inspiration for my “Scratching Dogs” tiles. It’s fun to see the photos and videos they post. One morning they posted a video of Sarge – the beautiful black Shepard mix that I made a portait of. After a year at the shelter he was still looking for a home. I responded to their post with a comment and photo of my tile. Jenny, a staff member at the Seattle Humane Society, had been working with Sarge and searched my Etsy site for his portrait. In the process, she saw a portrait of Georgia, a sweet little dog she had recently adopted (that’s Georgia’s portrait on the bookcase). She was so happy with the purchase that she ordered custom portaits of her other two pets. Then she posted one or more of her tile portaits on the Seattle Humane’s Volunteer Facebook page. I got a ton of views from her post. Another Facebook user, Charly, saw Freya’s portait (the golden Pit Bull mix posing with her new portait). I’m currently working on three new custom orders as a result of Jenny’s post. Thanks again Jenny!
In unrelated news, Sarge was adopted last week 🙂
Where has the time gone? I just realized I haven’t posted since January. I’ve been pretty busy with a few projects since my last post but everything is sort of half way done right now.
The images above are from a new sign I’m making for my studio. The letters are from some alphabet drawings I made a few years ago. I actually carved 24 tiles (see above) and made a full set of molds from these drawings but was never entirely satisfied with them. The tiles were too heavy and inconsistent in size. When we moved in 2015, I got rid of the molds because they were taking up a lot of studio space. The new sign uses the original designs but each tile is individually carved. They’ll be fired several times with layers of underglazes before getting a clear coat.
I’ve also been working on another batch of scratching dog tiles. Included in this set is actually my first cat tile so I may have to start calling them my “scratching pet tiles”. Hmmm, that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. I’ll be posting those on my Etsy site soon.
I’m also working on a couple of new tile designs. They’re still in the early stages but I’ll be posting those in the next month or two. Stay tuned!
I’ve finished a second batch of Scratching Dogs tiles. Click on my “Shop” button above to see the new ones. The two photos above show how tiles from the first group of Scratching Dogs were used to accent a dog bath in NY. They were combined with larger photo tiles of the owners’ dogs. The photo tiles were made by Zazzle.
A few weeks ago I sold the last few scratching dog tiles I made back in 2013. Unfortunately one of the tiles, a pug, broke in transit. I offered to carve a new one for the man who bought it. It was really fun to make the new pug so I decided to do another series. Once again, I went to the Seattle Humane Society website http://www.seattlehumane.org/adoption/dogs to find most of my models. This is where we first spotted Sam (our beloved dog) and I often look at the photos in hopes of maybe getting Sam a sibling someday. Nobody else thinks this is a good idea.
This time around I decided to explore different shapes, sizes and even clay bodies for the tiles. One alteration I hadn’t actual planned was replacing the black underglaze with black glaze. I accidentally coated the first few tiles with glaze. Then, I spent several hours carving them. When I finally realized the mistake I’d made, I debated whether to even fire the tiles. I assumed the glaze would run into the fine lines and I’d be very sad. But I fired them anyway. As it turns out, the glaze didn’t bleed and the results were actually pretty cool. The spaniel tile above shows the contrast between the shiny black glaze and the carved bare clay. These experimental tiles won’t resist water the way a fully glazed tile would but they’ll look fine on most walls. A rare happy accident in ceramics!
I really enjoyed participating in my first Artisan Tile NW Festival this past weekend. It was alot of fun getting input from visitors to the festival. What I enjoyed most however was seeing the amazing range of beautiful tiles from artists at the show. The people I’ve met from this group are so supportive, helpful, and inspiring.