This year’s started off a little challenging. A few weeks ago, my kiln broke down during a firing. This was pretty stressful since the only kiln repair shop within a couple hundred miles, Seattle Pottery Supply, isn’t doing house calls due to the pandemic. If you need your kiln fixed, you have to bring it to them. Fortunately, a really smart guy who works there was able to diagnose the problem without even looking at the kiln. With James’ help I was able to buy the parts and repair it.
With my newly repaired kiln, I’ve been able to glaze most of the tiles for my flag reclamation project. Just a few more perimeter trim tiles, and it will be ready to assemble. This month I’ve also begun to experiment with small versions of my tessellating tiles, handmade beads, and some new stamps. I’ll be posting some photos of these projects in the weeks ahead.
I’m very excited to be participating in this year’s CVG 2021 Juried Show. Each year Collective Visions Gallery in Bremerton, WA invites artists throughout the state to submit work in three categories: Photography/Digital, Two-Dimensional, and Three-Dimensional art. Black and White Llamas was selected for the Two-Dimensional category.
If you have some time, I encourage you to check out this virtual exhibit. There are so many beautiful pieces in a wide range of styles and mediums. https://www.cvgshow.com/gallery
There wasn’t much to celebrate this past year. No live music or theater. No art shows, museums, or galleries. For the most part it’s been a pretty solitary year. I was able to get in a pottery class before things shut down in early March but aside from that I’ve just continued with tile making and I’ve started to design fabrics. Making things has been somewhat inconsistent because I’ve been largely distracted with politics throughout the year. My final piece of 2020 is a large tile panel of the American flag. One of the most upsetting things to see this past year was how this symbol of freedom and democracy has been co-opted by a political party that has done nothing but undermine these values. With new leadership in Washington, I’m optimistic that things will get better in 2021. Happy New Year.
So I took the advice of my husband and finally started listing ready-to-ship tiles on my Etsy site. I have to admit, he was right – they’re drawing a lot of interest. If you’re looking for a lovely little handmade gift for a friend or family member, be sure to check them out.
I don’t know if it’s just me, or all tile makers, but I love the relationship between hexagons and right triangles. The geometries are simple but so versatile. In this series of tiles, the softness of the insects is a nice contrast to the rigid geometry of these two shapes.
I started this blog over seven years ago and, in recent years, have tried to post something at least once a month.
It’s been really nice having this journal to look back on. A few of my old projects are a little underwhelming to me now [for example, some of my early tessellation tiles, furniture pieces, and jewelry ideas] but many still give me a real sense of accomplishment. It’s also great to look back at things with a fresh eye and think about how I would do them differently a second time. This blog has been a very useful tool and I hope to continue posting regularly.
In addition to this blog, I plan to start posting images on Instagram. I’ve hesitated to take on this task because I’d rather spend my time doing things other than looking at my phone. However, I do find myself using this app more often these days as I look for inspiration in ceramics, tessellations, and nature photography. I think I’ll be posting mostly process photos to start as these are some of my favorite posts from other people. This app also allows me to post short videos which might be a fun thing to try. I hope you’ll consider following me. 🙂
Last week I finished mounting the new tessellation tiles. I also made a new octopus and squid board since I no longer have one and they’re two of my favorite tiles :).
I combined several finishing techniques in these tiles. First, I applied underglazes to the bisqueware and wiped them away, leaving the colors in recessed areas. Next, I sprayed light coats of underglaze to highlight textures like fur that have been carved into the molds. Lastly, I splattered underglazes with contrasting colors on some of the tiles for more variation. I think it works well on the sea creatures.
I’m already starting to think of other configurations for these new tiles and hope to have some additional boards to show in the coming months. As always, thanks for looking!
After months of spraying and layering underglazes and glazes, I’m so happy to finally post this series of panels. The baby birds are the only tiles in this series that were designed this year; the other panels were explorations of new colors and patterns. I’m especially pleased with the Ray panel. I’ve always liked this tile but, until now, had never set aside the time to make a large enough panel to display them properly. After overcoming years of being afraid to experiment with color, I now find it a challenge to show restraint. I’m glad I was able to hold back on this piece.
I’m currently working on eight different tile boards and will post some images when things are a little further along. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few photos of the fat quarters that arrived in the mail today. In case you’re not familiar with the term, a “fat quarter” is a piece of fabric made by cutting 1/2 a yard of fabric into two equal pieces. I think it’s a hilarious term for a big swatch.
Back in December, while participating in a holiday craft show, glass artist Connie Munford suggested doing something with the tessellating patterns I use for my back drop. I researched companies that print custom designs on products and came across Spoonflower, a company that lets you design your own fabrics. Back in February, I ordered a sample of my walrus pattern to see what the quality is like. It turns out that the quality of their fabrics is very good and I made a pillow cover with the sample.
Not long after the pillow cover, I mustered the courage to make my first quilt. I’ve been inspired by quilt patterns for years but thought it would be too difficult to make a quilt without a lot of sewing expertise and special equipment. While browsing the shelves of the Elliot Bay Bookstore, I came across a good book for beginners called Simple Geometric Quilting by Laura Preston . I considered designing custom fabrics for the quilt but given the cost of the fabric and my own lack of experience, I decided to use old sheets and pillow cases instead. It was a challenging project, but I learned enough to make a simple twin size quilt. With my new (and very basic) sewing skills, I was also able to make a few dozen face masks to donate to local hospitals at a time when masks were hard to come by.
I’m not sure what I’ll do with the new fat quarters. Each is a different type of fabric. There are a couple of canvas samples, a linen, and a denim. All are quite nice and will probably make good pillow covers but I think I’ll be ordering lighter fabrics in the future. It will be fun to make some tessellating pattern face masks and, at some point, I’d love to make another quilt. Now that I know I can do it, I’ll invest in the custom fabrics.
Well, we’re wrapping up two months in quarantine. Back in March when everything shut down, I ordered 4 boxes of clay from Seattle Pottery Supply thinking it was 100 pounds. Much to my surprise, 4 boxes of clay is actually 200 pounds. While I wasn’t sure I’d have space for the eight bags, I found the space and now I’m so glad I made the mistake. This clay is keeping me sane. In addition to pressing dozens of tiles for several new panels from existing designs, I’ve designed three new animal tiles. There are a lot steps in the making of a finished tile but the design phase is by far the most fun.
The dolphin and llama were inspired by fabric patterns. The baby bird was inspired by the House Finches currently building a nest in the Clematis vine above our patio. This isn’t the first year this pair of finches has nested in our vine. They were here a year or two ago and it was so much fun to see and hear the babies.
Be sure to check back in a month or two if you’d like to see the finished boards.