I’ve been so busy with the start of the school year and making tiles that I haven’t posted for awhile. There’s a lot going on though. This year I’ll be partipcipating in the Artisan Tile NW Festival on November 3rd and 4th and the Phinney Neighborhood Association Winter Festival on December 1st and 2nd. October will be devoted to finishing 5 or 6 new panels, as well as, some extra tiles to sell at these events. Currently, my studio is a bit chaotic. I have greenware drying, bisqued tiles to underglaze, underglazed tiles to glaze, and finished tiles ready to install onto boards. The key to maintaining my sanity will be to stay organized (and keep calm).
I’ve been wanting to do this project since we moved to the North Beach neighborhood in 2015. It’s been really fun getting back into tessellations and color after a year of doing almost exclusively black and white sgraffito tiles. It took awhile to figure out the best way to install the tiles on our bumpy stucco garage but I think the cement board was a good choice. The installation went very smoothly. I’m starting to think about ideas for another panel on the opposite side of the door.
I really enjoyed making this dachshund series and I think it illustrates the range of photographs I receive from customers. Often people ask me is if the photo they provide is good enough to work from. Typically it’s easier to work from sharp, detailed photos but sometimes that’s not possible (particularly if the portrait is of a dog who has passed along time ago). Most of the photos this couple sent me were great but a couple proved challenging. That said, making a nice tile from a challenging photo is very rewarding.
I love the way the tiles are being displayed in their newly renovated kitchen.
The weather is finally starting to get nice here in Seattle. Yesterday, I took Sam and Louie for a walk through Olympic Manor, a section of North Beach that has a high concentration of lovely midcentury homes and beautiful views of Puget Sound. At the east end of the neighborhood, behind a grove of trees, there’s a small playground that I’ve never really noticed. On the perimeter of the play area stand five large concrete columns covered in wonderful mosaics depicting plants and animals of the pacific northwest. According to a plaque the project was completed in 2003. I’ve searched the internet for the name of the artist but haven’t had any luck yet. If you find yourself in this part of the world, it’s worth a visit!
Today I was delighted to receive a message in my email from a resident of Olympic Manor who worked on this project:
“So happy to hear you enjoy the park – I was the volunteer coordinator on this community project. Bronwyn Groman created the designs and Wilbur Hathaway was the lead on the mosaic process. David Ringstrom, a partner at Atelier Landscape Architects provided the layout and original idea. Catherine Weatbrook provided the kiln for all of the tiles for purchase and painting. There were many volunteers and countless hours involved in the completion.” – Deb Stamey
This morning I hosted an open studio for the members of Artisan Tile NW. Rather than demonstrate how I create my tessellating patterns, I decided to explain some of the basic geometric rules to make tessellations so that they could design their own. I’m not sure these women were expecting me to put them to work but they all picked up the concept very quickly. Some even began transforming their tessellating shapes into animals. A big thanks to this creative and fun group for being such good sports!
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a couple in South Dakota to make a series of tiles honoring all of the dachshunds and dachshund mixes they’ve owned through the years. I made several versions of Malie (above) using a few different underglaze colors and a few different clay bodies. They ultimately chose a terracotta underglaze on a porcelain clay. I plan to post the series of eight tiles when they have been installed and photographed by the owners. This project made me realize that I really should be offering other colors, besides black for my Scratching Dogs Etsy site https://www.etsy.com/shop/ScratchingDogs.
In addition to black, I’ve added reddish brown, terracotta, and Royal Blue to start. These are portraits of Diamond, a Pitbull mix recently adopted from the Seattle Humane Society http://www.seattlehumane.org.
While working on the dachshund series, my kids reminded me that I had not carved a portrait of Louie yet so I made a couple of Louie tiles too (Louie is the Shih tzu/Chihuahua mix that we adopted from Homeward Pet a few months ago). http://www.homewardpet.org
Just wrapped up my first year of “Scratching Dogs” on Etsy. I’m very grateful to all the dog lovers who visited this blog or my Etsy shop. For those of you who ordered tiles of your furry pals, thank you for trusting me with the task.
I’m very excited to explore some new ideas in the coming year including experimenting with a variety of underglaze colors. Brown, terra-cotta, and royal blue tiles will be available soon. In addition to tiles, I plan to get back into making planters. These might be an item available on “Scratching Dogs” in the spring.
Happy New Year!
Last weekend, I participated in the 12th annual Artisan Tile Northwest Handmade Tile & Art Festival. It was another inspiring showcase of tiles made in clay, glass, concrete, and stone. I was also excited to see some of the other arts and crafts that many of the exhibitors displayed. There were beautiful bowls, bird houses, ornaments, and jewelry – something for everyone.
This was the first year the festival was held at the Mt. Baker Community Club. The elegant space had high ceilings, hardwood floors, and was perfectly suited for the number of artist’s tables and visitors that turned out on a rainy weekend. A special thanks to Allison Moore Peel for organizing the show and Jaki Reed for assisting her.
I can’t believe it’s already October! The Artisan Tile Northwest’s 12th Annual Tile Festival is just around the corner – be sure to check it out. This year’s festival will be held at the Mt. Baker Community Club in Seattle on November 4th and 5th.
I finally came up with a concept to finish the Commemorative Tile. While a bit labor intensive (due to several layers of underglazes and firings) it’s actually pretty simple. I decided not to glaze them. This was a difficult decision because I truly love glaze. Unfortunately, glaze smothers detail and sometimes that’s fine but I didn’t like the results on this tile.
This year the Tile Festival is allowing non-tile work to be included so I’m thinking of making a series of Pug Mugs to accompany my “Scratching Dogs” tiles. Definitely going with a canine theme this year.
Also, I’ve been busy making some boards for the garage project. I don’t think these with be ready to show at the festival but maybe I’ll include them in a photo album I plan to set out that will feature the tessellation panels. I’ll be posting more photos of these as they come together.