Finished Tiles!

I unloaded the kiln today! There were many goodies. I am so very, very pleased with the tiles. Especially the ones with the crewelwork sgraffito… there are so many ways to play around with this design. Rainclouds bringing flowers and fertility to the trees. Menacing storms making the ohshitboat[1] long for the domestic comfort symbolized by the embroidery pattern. Hibernating trees in winter dreaming of fabulous blossoms.

And bees. You know the bees always see flowers as sexier, gorgeouser things than we do.

They’ll be for sale at the Christmas Craft Fair at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre from Wednesday to Sunday this week.. Fair hours and list of exhibitors is on the Craft Council website over here.

[1] The ohshitboat is a recurring design of mine. It is never out of danger, but it seems to survive, from one tile to the next. It may be more or less constantly panicking, but it manages to keep sailing.

Bisqued tiles!

I’ve been busy as a very busy thing, getting ready for the big Christmas Craft Fair at the Arts and Culture Centre this week. My last glaze kiln is loaded to the brim with Robots and tiles, ready to be fired tomorrow. Can’t wait to see them all finished.

Also, can’t wait to have a sort-f day off. The kiln firing is going to take something like twelve hours, and I only need to be around for parts of it. I’ve got the day off work, and won’t be making new things (because I’ll have no time the next day to trim them), so… I have most of a day to relax.

I plan to a) figure out my craft fair knitting for this year, and b) read.[1]

[1] The ever-effervescent and potter extraordinaire Jay Kimball is in town. He was the clay studio coordinator when I first started, and moved away to Saskatchewan back when my throwing involved a lot more swear words. It’s been very rewarding to show him my gallery show, and the Robots, and the tiles, and to get positive feedback on them.

Anyway, this is a rambly footnote to say jay had a garage sale party last night to clear out some stuff left behind by his most recent set of tenants, and in amongst the action figures and the catgirl costumes, there were some great books.[2]

[2] Two about medieval witches, one about sex and minority groups in the Middle Ages, and one about Hindu goddesses that I picked up more for the “One of These Things is Not Like The Other Ones” than from any previous interest in the subject.


Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City

Columbia Restaurant Tile Staircase Ybor Tampa

One of the things that struck me in Florida was the potential of ceramic wall art. I mean, sure, tiles have been kind of hovering in the background for years. I know they exist, and I know you can make beautiful things with them, but I’d never been somewhere so insistently decorated with them. The Columbia Restaurant up there was the most glorious example[1][2], but there were cool paving stones and neat little tricks with brickwork and moulded cement and mosaics all over the place. St. John’s may be known for colour, but it’s not known for patterns or textures. We look just plain boring compared to some of the neighbourhoods down there.

Anyways. I’m not to the point yet of room-wrapping mosaic pieces[3], but I would like to try my hand at some flat things to put on walls. Probably some small pieces, to start… they can be my new product at this year’s Fresh Fish. We shall see how it goes.

[1] Best. Mojitos. Ever. The pitcher came with sugar cane pieces stuck in it!

[2] Actually, that whole building is a work of art. Not just for the tiles, but for the stained glass, the woodwork, the archways, the balconies, the metalwork… Anything that could be carved was carved, and everything that couldn’t be carved was tiled or textured or painted something bright.

[3] Although if I get one excuse to do a staircase like the one above…


There’s a wall in the studio that, over the years, has been slowly covered with tiles made by various studio users. At one point, a summer student also added a large section of broken pottery bits. But it was all sort of piecemeal and wasn’t even grouted, so that section had been sad and ugly-looking for a long time, until finally something snapped and the co-ordinator took the ugly bits off with a hammer.

It’s now considerably uglier, of course… but can now be improved upon with actual tiles, made by students and volunteers and anybody who wants to leave a little mark. So last night I sat down with some underglazes and stains and slips, and tried to make some interesting tiles.

I had a slight fit of sepia…

… and also wanted to try and get some practice with the glaze pen. This is a little narrative, Poppet and Robot, that I was considering putting together a while ago. I didn’t end up doing it, because while Robot is my own character, Poppet is someone else’s. And Poppet refused to get out of my story and be replaced by some other critter, so… it’s kinda hard to make money off Poppet and Robot. But there’s no reason fanart can’t be put on a community studio wall, right?

All I could hear when the flow from the glaze pen got wonky was Yoda’s voice. “Control, control! You must learn control!”

Then it all just got silly, with the viking ship and rubber duckie tile from the last post. And another one about bears and houses. And there are two that will just be random splashes of colour.

Fun With Underglaze

Here’s the first draft of the tourist mugs, fresh out of the kiln:

If I want them to sell, I should probably stop calling them that.

White clay, painted with underglaze, and dipped in clear glaze. The black outline was done using a glaze pen, which is a neato-cool contraption not dissimilar to a white-out pen: convenient in theory, but kinda tricky to use in practice… The mug on the left had the outline added at the greenware stage. The pen kept biting into the clay, gouging the surface and gumming up its own insides; it’s why the lines are so untidy. For the mug on the right, I didn’t even try using the pen until the clay had been bisqued. The harder clay kept the pen from gumming itself up or messing up the surface, and allowed me to get much nicer lines (if also producing a sound very much like fingernails on a blackboard). A little more practice, and I might get the hang of the thing.

Or I could, y’know, learn to use a paintbrush. But I’m crap with paintbrushes. See?