Last year I exhibited in a number of shows and completed some interesting commissions. One of them was a depiction of “Raven Steals the Sun,” a native legend that the client especially wanted created in tile for installation in his renovated bathroom. This is a an octagonnal tile “collage” that is glazed and oxidation-fired to cone 5, with post-firing surface embellishment.
My major tile accomplishment for 2013 was my NW Natives tile that I created for the juried exhibit at the ATNW Annual Tile Festival. The theme was “Northwest Natives” and I figured most of the other entries would be native plants, given our show was at the Center for Urban Horticulture); so, to take a different tack, I decided to make a companion piece for my Fishing the Falls tile, showing native people, plants, raven and fish.
But there was so much to say in this work that it turned out much more detailed; the original tile took me over 45 hours to sculpt. After casting a mold of it, each tile created from the mold underwent many more hours of sculpting detail. After bisque firing, each tile was surface decorated with black underglaze, then re-fired and surface coated. My entry in the show won 2 prizes for which I was very pleased. But in the “be careful what you wish for” category, a guest who saw it at the show wants me to make a Sacajawea image in the same style. So that’s on my plate for 2014.
But first, something refreshingly less labored! I am pleased to AT LAST begin work on a tile I’ve been designing in my head for months. It as long been simmering on the back burner while I filled orders and created items for holiday giving and sales. The subject is Seattle’s Great Wheel. I think the ferris wheel is a delightful addition to the Seattle Waterfront — especially so when its lit up and flashing pretty lights in amazing patterns. The whimsy and joy of it delight me and I’ve been looking forward to making a tile of it for so very long, pondering how I can get the look and feel I want.
After months of visualizing it, I decided my great wheel tile will be made using the subtractive method instead of the additive method I usually use. In other words, its all incised lines, no raised relief. This is because I want the background to have a twilight sky, with dark blue fading to light at the horizon, and its not possible to put in a smooth background color when the brush runs into the structure of the ferris wheel. That causes the glaze to pool.
In the final design I’ve taken the liberty of moving Mt. Rainier and the moon to improve the compostition, but — hey — I’ve got my Artistic License all in order. More about this tile next month.