Sailorboy Pilot Bread

Pilot Bread

Alaskan Hardtack

Six-inch Square, Sailorboy Pilot Bread Art Tile, $75
Originally made this design as one of the thirteen 12″ tiles for Nana Development Corporation, one of the many native alaskan owned businesses that are fairly common these days. I can’t tell you how cool it is that the indigineous population has taken an active part in the current world, and a large part of that is business related, for better or worse, though, each regional corporation pretty much has a non-profit equivalent representing the same population. Anyway, the powers that be wanted to try something different than the Indian reservation system common in the lower 48.

Pilot bread is known by everyone that has lived in a rural area. Its a modern day version of hard tack, and it is kind of hard and lasts for ever.

I’m done selling for the season. For December, did one large event at the Alaskan Native Heritage Center, and three smaller ones at the Native Hospital, Nana Development Corporation, and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. Did fairly well. Now time to build up inventory. I don’t think I’ve had more than a rare day or two off here and there in the last eight months. I need to hire someone so that I can keep up!

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Glaze Tests

Glaze Tests

Three Glaze Tests on Four 4″ Tiles

I Haven’t posted in over two months, and I thought the summer was too busy. This post will be on the technical side, and you can skip the first part if you like. Three of the tiles, with small white dots in the background glaze, had an undercoating of a strontium carbonate glaze. The undercoat glaze adds variation to the surface quality of the main glaze, kind of makes it look like the tile had been in a reduction, maybe salt firing. The three new glaze mixes are shell pink, mango, and robins egg blue. I add the mason stain colors to a base majolica glaze that doesn’t have its usual opacifier. The puffin tile on the top right shows what the shell pink looks like without the strontium carbonate undercoat, it has a slight purple tint with the pinkness.

It’s been a busy Fall, sold tiles at four shows since the summer market ended, The Bad Girls of the North, and I’m not even a bad girl, in Fairbanks, the Alaska Federation of Natives conference in Anchorage, the Artisan Tile of the NorthWest event in Seattle, followed by another Bad Girls of the North in Anchorage. Did really well in the Anchorage shows and pretty good in the shows away from Anchorage. Getting ready for the Anchorage Museum Thanksgiving show and the last show of the year at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

One of the more interesting things I did was to become certified as an instructor for the First Peoples Fund. I will talk to native americans about starting an arts business and all the things involved with that, like how to value your time. Many native craftspeople way under pay themselves for the time they put into their art.

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Several New Designs

Sept2014
Here are several new designs: dragonfly, new seal, walrus on the top row,
a swan turning into a salmon, muskox, and pendants on the second row, and on the fourth row a single owl, and an bald eagle.

It’s been a while since I last posted, but now that the summer season is over, I should be able to post once every couple of weeks. Since my last post in mid July, I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the Southwest Indian Art Market. I got a table just by showing up because a lot of vendors sell out on the first day. There were over 1200 native american artists showing and selling their work, it was amazing. I wanted to buy some turquoise, pottery, and woven rugs, but things were pretty expensive. I flew into Denver and my Dad, all of 84 years old, drove down with me and we had a good time. on the way back we visited Fort Union. It protected the Santa Fe trail and participated in wars against Mexico, Indians, Confederates, and then more Indians. I almost stepped on a what looked like a rattle snake, and workers repairing some adobe walls got pretty excited and called the park rangers to come capture it. The best preserved building was the rock jail. Rock holds up better than clay adobe over time.

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More Plant Impression Tiles

Plant Tiles

4″ Plant Impressions

I took these plant impressions to the Chicago Botanic Garden art fare. Ten each of the creme and blue background colored impressions sold, compared to only six of the green background colored tiles. Hmmmm, greens are not as popular. Sold a variety of other tiles also, including a bunch of my Alaskan themed designs. Delivered a twelve-inch tile to this collector after the show and was blown away by her 500 tiles, all hung and arrayed on various walls.

Well, sales were enough to cover the costs, but what matters more is that I got to visit my aunt and cousins, and one of my sweetheart’s friends from her fish cannery days. She took us to the beaches on Lake Michigan and they were packed during the July 4th weekend…we just don’t see people in swim suits that often in Alaska.

So, I’ll be selling tiles at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum, and the weekend market the rest of the summer, except for when I go down to the Indian Art Market in Santa Fe this August. It’s busy.

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Ravens and a Flower

Ravens and a Flower

Ravens and a Flower

Four four-inch tiles. The ravens are done with a two part glaze process where I apply a strontium carbonate based glaze underneath one of my usual glazes. It gives the top glaze a reduction fired look, or a variegated matte/semimatte surface. The flower has a single glaze but it was underfired to give it a matte surface and is not as variegated as the double application. The double glaze process takes more time so the tiles are priced at $40 whereas the single glaze process is $35 per tile.

The tile business is always slow at the beginning of the year and then gets unbelievably busy by about mid June. I participated in a local show here in Anchorage last weekend but didn’t sell a single tile. My main customer is the visitor to Alaska that is looking for something made by an Alaskan Native, with local materials, and with traditional themes, motifs, and stories. And they don’t show up until after break-up (When the snow piles finally melt away). I should be thankful that I have a niche.

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Tiles for the Botanic Gardens and an Old Tile Manufacturer

Impressions

Plant Impressions


Went to the Denver March Powwow to sell art tiles the end of last month. The economy is still soft and I didn’t sell enough to cover all the expenses, but I did get to see my Dad, brother, and sister. They still live there, and three of my other siblings and I have moved back to and now live in Alaska. I have never seen so many dancers and drum groups. There were a lot of vendors. My favorite were the Navajo rug weavers, wish I could afford one of their hand woven rugs.

Scooted over to San Francisco to attend the Southern Graphics Print conference. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Printmaking, so it was a professional thing. It sure is nice to go to the demos and workshops. And you couldn’t ask for a nicer city to have it in. I love cities where you can walk around.

The plant impressions did ok. I know they will do really well in Chicago when I go to an arts and crafts show at the Chicago Botanic Garden in July.

Tile Maker

Van Briggle Tile Factory


While in Denver, I took a road trip to visit the Van Briggle Tile company and learned that it had gone out of business do to the recession. It was sold last year but the buyer isn’t producing tile. The picture is of their original factory that had the kilns built right into the building. Bummer. It would have been my third visit to the factory. My first time was when it was in a horseshoe shaped building that had been a train switch building. You could walk through and see the various stages of tile making. The second trip was four years ago when they had moved in a smaller space. I should have suspected times were tough because everything was covered in dust.

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New Tile Designs: 4″ Raven & 6″ Berry Pickers

Blue Berry Pickers

Blue Berry Pickers with Birch Bark Baskets

These two tiles are new and were made for the Fur Rondy festival that is held for ten days each year at the end of February. There are tons of events and I’m in one with about 120 other Alaskan Native artists selling Arts and Crafts. The Berry Pickers is six-inch in size and priced at $75 and the raven is four-inch and goes for $35. I sold six of the ravens at the Fare.

The baskets are made from birch bark.

Raven Tile

Four-inch Raven

The Iditarod started over the weekend. It’s a 1000 plus mile sled dog race that starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome. There is a Jamaican racer this year. Wow. It reminds me of the Jamaican Bob Sled team in the Olympics.

I will be in the Denver March Powwow March 21-23, The Moravian Tile Festival in Doylestown Pennsylvania May 17-18, the Chicago Millinium Fare May 31-June 1, and Chicago Botanic Fare July 5-6. Don’t know yet if I got accepted into the Sante Fe Indian market, but looks like I can be in the Alaska Native Heritage Center tent if I want to. Otherwise I will be at my tent at the Anchorage Weekend Market.

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