Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tales, Arturo is loopy

He's about to graduate from college (cum laude!)
He does love cake.

New tiles in the etsy shop; Arturo cracks me up with his goofy grin.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

win some, lose some

Perfect, wonderful, hooray, goodgoodgood...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

the good, the bad, and the ugly

the good
Ahhhh...the summer bed. :) :) :)

the bad
A custom tile for child's table came out flawed; I'll have to remake it. Bah. :(
the ugly
Debris fell on the tile in the kiln and became embedded in the glaze.

*note to self: increase up-charge for custom orders, this always happens. Grrr...

Monday, May 25, 2009

In the studio, Vista Ridge tiles

They came out great! Even the practice mountain that I did on a leftover piece of tile (smaller mountain in the center).

Saturday, May 23, 2009

in the studio, baby tags & jewelry

white ~> necklaces to be, gray ~> baby tags
Just noodling around today with this and that...
are these cute names or what?
Baby tags, a thrifty alternative to a baby tile or baby plate.

Remember when I first tried the baby tags? And the first baby tile failed too.

Friday, May 22, 2009

in the studio, more black tile

a short series of undersea images for a kitchen in Astoria

No, I wasn't working a night. It's just that the flash went off and I was too lazy to go up to the house to get my better camera.
Also, this is a quick post for Friday because the sun is out and the garden is screaming at me to be planted and weeded and now I'm gonna go.

ps~ yes, that is a nineopus; I couldn't eliminate any of the tentacles so I just put in nine. It's possible in nature, right?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In the studio, work in progress

I have been working on a new tile series combining text and image. Above are initial pencil sketches on the bisque tile. I work out the lettering on the computer first to control my chaotic handwriting.
Here they are, slip trailed and ready to glaze. I have some orders for customized table tops for children, just putting the name of a child in place of my character's name.
I haven't really figured out marketing for the 6" tiles yet. I think they need to be in a retail setting. I doubt that anyone would actually install them in a bathroom or kitchen. Gah, I really hate marketing...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Artist, Motoi Yamamoto

Sakura (cherry), detail
Motoi Yamamoto is a Japanese artist who uses salt as his medium. That's right, ordinary table salt. (I just love to see what other artists think up.) He is very philosophical about his work and I can't begin to encapsulate the essence of his ideas here. His art reflects his interest in exploring life, death, meditation, and memory. Because salt is consumed or used by all living things, he sees it as a substance that demonstrates the interconnectedness of all life. (He asks that the salt from exhibitions be returned to the ocean when the the show is over.) Asked about the impermanence of the work, he says it does not matter if the work lasts or does not last. It will last as long as it will.
He uses a tool that looks like a large slip trailer and sits on the floor, presumably for hours, drawing intricate, elaborate mazes and labyrinths with ordinary table salt. Remarkable.

If you are really interested in his process, here's an eight minute video of him working on an installation:

Still more on Yamamoto here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

In the studio, tiles again

This is for a kitchen for a local family who are remodeling their house. As landscape architects they had specific ideas about what they wanted in the backsplash. Because they have a good visual vocabulary and are familiar with my work, I'm pretty confident that they will be happy with this.
*you may need to click on the photos to see them better...
The first thing I do is sketch the design with pencil.
*Actually, first I layout all the lines where tiles will have to be cut during installation so that I don't put any important design elements there.
I gather lots and lots of pictures when I need to draw specific plants. In this case, it is supposed to look like a woodland forest floor and include Trilliums, various ferns, and a few other plants beloved by the owners.
Then, I slip-trail the design, roughly following the basic outline. I go back afterward and add bits and pieces to balance out the density of the elements.
These go on adjoining walls (backsplash) in the same kitchen.
The final step is to fill in with a wash to shade in certain elements (cobalt blue).

I can never bring myself to draw a full scale cartoon to work from. So much of the character of what I do depends on spontaneity, so I really prefer to ad lib when I draw a mural. Having the whole thing premeditated, so to speak, kind of kills it for me. I do spend tons and tons of time thinking about it in advance though. And I spend a lot of time researching too. This process works best when the client is willing to trust me, but I don't like blind faith...I really need them to understand the look and feel of my work first.

That's it. Later in the week, Mr. Cranky will spray them with a clear glaze, I'll load them into the kiln and fire them. After a day of cooling in the kiln (no peeking), I can unload pack and get them delivered.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tales, introducing Ravenna T. Robot

There, doesn't she look nice? She splashed water on her face, adjusted her antennae and came out ready to greet you this afternoon. Meet Ravenna:

With her verbal abilities, political passion, and leadership skills, Ravenna is a very effective community organizer. She is a fantastic and witty writer who communicates with unruly enthusiasm. Chronically unemployed, Ravenna gets flustered when her circuits overload (once or twice a day) and she ends up baking cupcakes, creating paper crafts or blogging instead of looking for meaningful employment. However, when her book is finally published, she will be rich and famous and the talk show circuit will provide her with a platform to implement her lifetime goal of creating world peace. She loves unicorns, rainbows, and believes that bacon* is the cure for the ills of the world.
And, by the way, I never called her a Drama Queen. Someone else (cough-Bothell-cough) said that.

*this belief might compromise her achieving her goal of world peace ...

Friday, May 15, 2009

In the studio, tiles

These are freshly carved 8" x 8" tiles for a house in the Columbia River Gorge. The images are of various scenes from the Gorge, along with a couple of custom views specific to the house, plus a tile for the fireplace with the name and date of the house.

The house burned down in a summer fire last year. The owners are rebuilding it with two other couples as partners, creating their own sort of private time-share. I think it's a brilliant way to get the most out of a second home for all parties, as well as making the replacement house more affordable for the original owners.

The (white) tile are covered with a black slip that I carve through. The tile are once fired resulting in a matte or semi-matte surface. The unfired color is red because the black slip has lots of red iron oxide in it. I developed this technique so that I could render images with more fine detail and less glare from a glossy glaze than my other process (slip-trailing) affords. I like the result, but the process involves inhaling* toxic dust (manganese) and my fingers get really sore from the pressure of carving with the fine tool on the hard clay.

*I know, I know, but I hate wearing a dust mask when I work.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tales, Ravenna

Ravenna T. Robot is not ready for prime time just yet. I wanted to have her profile ready for her birthday which was last Thursday. However, I was discussing a particular aspect of her personality that she did not consider flattering when she turned on her heel and left, trailing a string of obscenities, and locked herself in her room. Since then, there has just been the sound of sobbing punctuated by the occasional wail emitted from behind the door. When she calms down, I will post her full (very very flattering) profile.

* of course, she hates this drawing, she says it makes her legs look fat...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tales, meet Thackery

Thackery (hedgehog) is both intelligent and practical. Self-taught in everything from yoga to sailing and navigation to mastering high finance and the stock market, he knows how to learn. Pessimistic about the human race and the future of the planet, he doesn't let his gloomy world view interfere with the joy he finds in life and nature. He is tender-hearted, but not sentimental. He is a crack shot with a rifle and a fantastic dancer. He will only speak of things that really matter and is not afraid of silence. In fact, he loves silence. He is happiest in warm places with sunny beaches. He is extremely self-sufficient. He loves his family with a fierce passion and is godfather to Arturo and Little. Thackery is Yeti's best friend, they will talk dharma long into the night, fueled by carrot cake and red wine.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tales, Thackery

You haven't met Thackery yet, but he's a hedgehog and despair threatens to overwhelm him.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

art for daily life

This is a leftover ridge cap that we made for our house. It's been in storage outside and has grown a nice crop of lichens and mosses. Mr. Cranky made a spontaneous little bird-feeder-house with it and some bricks and stone on the terrace wall. It's fun to see the birds and squirrels hop in and out of in, getting seeds and peanuts.
This is on a shelf by the wood stove; a casual pile of kindling and sticks that I think is pretty.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tales, Clementine

Oh, Clemmie. Please tell us what you find out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tales, what they do to feel better

Bothell thinks 'pretend fly' when he zooms around with his arms outstretched, that's why it doesn't say pretend to fly.

Just wait until you see what Malone does to cheer himself up...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In the studio: table tops

Eek, they came out perfectly!
These are going to made into tables for children; soon to be on their way to a new furniture store in the Bay area. They will finish out to about 16" x 16" and 12" x 17".

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tales, Arturo

A new tile series of Tales characters with text is in the works. Blue & white and black & white.
So busy right now, lots of work... great! But I am still obsessed with Tales and that's all I really want to do.
Yeah, I'm kinda spoiled.