More Scratching Dogs

dog-tile-trio    dog-tiles-4x4  dog-tiles-6x6  dog-tiles-hexagons  dog-tile-detail

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!

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Handmade Tile Festival 2016

stained-tiles   paulas-tiles

rooster    kellys-tiles   juried-show

award

glass-tiles

eds-tiles   eds-salmon-tile

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.

Display Boards

walrus-board-2

This month, I’ve been working on display boards for my tiles. I’ll be participating for the first time in the Artisan Tile NW’s annual exhibit at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture. For information on this event click  http://artisantilenw.org/annual-festival/

My goal is to put together boards featuring 7 or 8 of my favorite tile designs. It would be nice to make more boards to illustrate different ways they can be used but it will really depend on how much I can get done by November. I plan to submit this piece titled Dancing Herd to the juried show themed “Water”.

Wish me luck!

New Designs

sea turtlessea lions 01new molds

Summer is always a busy time of year. With the kids home most of the day during the summer months, it’s sometimes hard to be productive in the studio. That said, I’ve actually been getting stuff done at night.

Between working on my new studio space, making stamps and vessels, and exploring new glazes, it’s been about two years since I designed a new tessellation tile. It’s probably my favorite thing to make in clay and I’ve really missed it. So the past few weeks I’ve focus on two new designs.

It’s a pretty slow process to produce a new tile. First, I start with a sketch. Then I create a blank version of the tile and make a mold of this blank. When the mold dries, I press a blank tile and carve detail into it to make a new tile. I then make a new mold of the detailed tile. When this mold dries, I’m ready to make multiples. I use the blank tiles to make edge pieces rather than slicing up a detailed tile. More photos to come…

More Color Studies

glaze applicationceladon studywalrus boardwalrus panel color

June has had its ups and downs. Yesterday I went to check on five vessels I started to make last week. I’d wrapped them each tightly with plastic so they would dry slowly but all of them had serious cracks. I’m not sure why. Maybe a combination of too soft clay and especially dry weather.

In the meantime, glaze studies continue. I purchased an airbrush (Badger Air-Brush Co 250-1 Basic Spray) a few weeks ago. I’ve been disappointed by the streakiness of some of my glazes so I thought it was worth a try. I was concerned that ceramic glazes might be be too thick and granular to get through an airbrush but by thinning the glaze with about equal amounts of glaze and water, I’ve had no problems. So far I’m really happy with the results.

I’ve also continued exploring the Amaco celadon glazes. Big difference in layering and mixing these (see above). I’m currently firing the walrus tiles shown here using a combination of mixed and layered glazes. Let’s hope my luck turns around!

Color Studies

celadons 01glazes 01

This past month I’ve focused alot of attention on testing glazes. I’m still not entirely comfortable with using colored glazes on my tiles and vessels. But this is the year of conquering my fears so I think it’s time to start addressing the issue.

My biggest problem with colored glazes is their unpredictable nature. This can sometimes lead to nice surprises but more often than not, I’ve been disappointed by them. The most common problem: they obscure details. When one has worked hours on carving or sculpting a piece, it’s a drag to see a glaze smother the effort.

The good news is that I’ve discovered a line of celadon glazes from Amaco http://www.amaco.com/t/glazes-and-underglazes/high-fire/celadons. I’m not sure how long these have been around but I wish that I’d known about them sooner. There are two things that I really like about these glazes. The first is that my favorite glaze (aside from clear) is Potter’s Choice Celadon PC-40. It’s the beautiful bluish green glaze that I use on most of my tiles in  photographs. The reason I like it for my work is that it pools in lines, accentuating rather than obscuring detail. While I love the color of true celadon, I’m glad there are other color options that will give the same effect.

The second reason I like these glazes is that they’re mixable. This might not seem like a big deal but it really is. Mixing colors in most mediums is a fairly straight forward process. Not so with glazes. In the past, mixing two glazes would usually result in something completely unexpected and frequently undesired. Being able to blend colors, as well as, creating tints and shades is very exciting.