Saturday, August 1, 2009

Random Layers

Blue Heron by Linda Starr

Above is my favorite of the tiles I completed in the workshop I took with Diana Fayt a while ago. It's not unusual I chose to depict a Blue Heron on one of the tiles. They fly overhead quite often and every year they nest in my neighbors tree and I get to observe the young birds growing and finally flying from the nest. I see the parents flying to and fro bringing food to their young and think how hard they work just to stay alive and feed their family. I guess we're all in a struggle for survival.

Dragonfly by Linda Starr

As I go about my daily chores each day I've become much more observant of my surroundings. I feel lucky because I find the greatest joy in seeing even the smallest creatures such as a Dragonfly. I was thinking about the various animals, birds, and insects which manifest themselves to me and have been wondering about their significance. I'll have to give this more thought; for now I'll be content to know that nature has a strong influence in my art.

Orange Slice by Linda Starr

As I was reviewing the tiles I was thinking about choices and how I came to decide what to depict on the tiles and even what colors to choose. Of course Orange Slice had to be orange, but maybe not. I could have used a different color, but would it be recognizable as an orange then? Diana had quite a wide color range for us to choose from but for most of these I chose to use the same colors. I also noticed I used both yellow and orange and those aren't colors I normally would choose. I was trying to achieve a stark contrast, particularly in Yellow Tree.

Pinwheel by Linda Starr

You may not be able to see in the photograph, but the Pinwheel in the tile is raised above the rest of the tile. I used the shellac technique to wash away the clay surrounding the pinwheel. I painted on the shellac and when it dried I took a sponge and gently wiped the clay removing a little at a time till I got the effect I wanted.

Yellow Tree by Linda Starr

Generally I like things very orderly with crisp lines, but Diana encouraged us to let the underglazes flow beyond the lines, and to overlap the illustrations we used. I was trying to obtain a layered look. It's not that easy to achieve random layers. I think the Balance tile was the most successful for random layers. In the Blue Heron tile I was trying to achieve a watercolor painting look with the background color. This is a technique I want to use more because I like that look a lot. It reminds me of the surfaces Judy Shreve is achieving on her new work.

Balance by Linda Starr

I plan on making more tiles and practicing these techniques and others I'd like to try. Knowing when to stop adding embellishments to the tiles is something I want to improve upon. A certain amount of negative space or just a muted background color on the tile is more effective than filling up the whole tile with images. I'd also like my tiles to be more asymmetrical and I'd like to explore using different color combinations. The more I learn, the more I realize the more I need (and like) to learn. Thanks for a great workshop, Diana.


  1. I like all these very much, although I feel it is the odd one out. My favourate is the yellow tree, it is just so tender. When I used to make single tiles I devised a hanging system which involved careful drilling with a bit when leather hard I will have to photograph it for you when I get back to Spain it’s too difficult to explain. Although this was very successful a painter friend said to me that I could get more for my tiles if they were framed, I didn’t believe him but I went ahead with a few to test the market. I worked out that if you used picture framers moulding upside down it created a rebate that the tile could fall into and be fixed with filler around the edges. The advantage of this is the back of the tile could be seen as well. It is quite a task to find moulding that looks OK on the back though and if you can fuse a soft wood so that you can push the tile into place. I have to say he was quite right and I sell these tiles (15cm x 20cm) now for £175 each. Another great advantage is they post and packing really well with their frames protecting them, great for Etsy. I am sending you via e mail a framed tile with a painted frame too. Maybe I’ll put it up on my blog later too.

  2. First line should read....very much, although THE LAST ONE I feel is the odd one out. Sorry got carried away, brain thinking too fast for fingers!

  3. Linda - these tiles are so wonderful. You have really captured the essence of each subject so well. I love the 'water-color' effect -- makes them quite dreamy.

    I'd love to take a Diana Fayt workshop -- I so admire her work & it looks like you got so much out of it. I hope this is a direction you are going to pursue -- and share with us!

  4. the calm which I felt from this post and your tiles was so real. It was as if someone put life on hold long enough for me to just drift. They are wonderful and I mean wonderful.
    I like Kitty's thoughts on framing. I too have been looking for another way to mount the tiles I am making. Picture molding is one idea.
    I read on Ron's blog a way he does his.
    Linda these show such talet and promise to come. Me- I love the Heron

  5. Kitty is right, the last tile is odd man out - not your usual imagery. That said, I love all the tiles, especially the heron. Sorry to miss Diana's workshop!

  6. Hi Kitty, thanks, yes the imagery for the last one is not something I would normally choose. In fact I chose the imagery on what "I thought would be current or popular with today's trends". Interesting to see people can recognize what my imagery would be and not be. I used those because the stamps were available to me.

    Diana actually uses wires to hang her tiles (see link to workshop I posted a few of her tiles with the wires on that post) and she recommended we put the holes in the top, but I was afraid the tile would crack since they were quite leather hard when we worked on them so I chose not to put the hole in. I think drilling the hole would be much better at that stage than using one of those handheld copper hole punch tools. I intended to put two d hooks on the reverse and string a wire between the two for hanging, but I think the frame method would be much better because as you say the reverse can be seen and a frame is a more traditional way of hanging art and may appeal to more consumers. I would love to see your method Kitty, I do hope you post it or send me a photo of it via email, thanks so much. It seems each project I work on is a step for me to put into a folder for when I have a larger studio and can actually make a living with my work. But also to share my love of nature and clay with others - of which part of this post had me thinking about a project along this line too (more about that later). Kitty, I know some of those trivets you see in the kitchen stores have a way of slipping the tile into the front - I will have to examine them next time I am out and about. Thanks so much for your ideas, these are all very helpful to me.

    Kitty, I am surprised at your choice of words that the yellow tree is so tender. I was wondering what you meant. But now as I look at the tree, there is something to me endearing about it, but also independent feeling too. Is this what you mean? I guess it is the yellow and I don't think of yellow as tender, it would be interesting to see the tree in different colors to see what the feeling would be. Wonderful that imagery can evoke different feelings in different people. Thanks again.

  7. Hi Judy, thanks, I am so glad you see (feel) the dreamy effect as that is what I wanted to achieve with that technique. I want to explore this effect more and then I can share how I achieve this - (want to be sure it is repeatable). Your new work had really inspired me to try things I didn't think were possible or achievable with clay surfaces and I have you to thank for that. I have newly discovered that I like making painterly type things and also that I would like to illustrate certain messages through clay in addition to the piece being functional, so this will be helpful to me in that pursuit. Thanks again.

  8. Oh Meredith, that is exactly how I feel, if even for a brief moment, when I am taking care of all I have to do around here and it is what gets me through the day and through the trials and tribulations of intellectual, financial and health woes at this time in my life. If I can help someone feel floaty even for a moment then it is all worthwhile.

    One time a guy came to visit my gardens when they were open to the public and he said "do you mind if I just stand here and look at the mountains for a bit" I said "no that is what these gardens are for" It was so revealing to me that many folks don't get the chance in their lives to just stand still and think, reflect, or relax - our world and we are so very busy

    Yes, the picture molding would be another way to mount these and I think increase sales which is always helpful. Also I think having several different methods to hang the tiles make them that more appealing to different people.

    I will have to check Ron's blog to see if I can find his method. Thanks so much.

  9. Hi Cynthia, you too recognize that the last tile is not my style - hey you mean I actually have a style - that's cool. I've been hoping something comes along and shows it's face or reveals itself. The heron seems to be a symbol to me of feeling free and strength. I almost titled this post Flying Free or Free Flying, but that will probably come with another post in the future. Thanks so much.

  10. Hi Gary, thanks so much and they are fun to make too.

  11. Thanks Linda -- let's inspire each other! Your new work is great -- so I will post results -- and failures & please you do the same. Working with lowfire sure has me excited to be in my studio again

  12. Hi Judy, yes lets, I'll do the same, failures too - the pinwheel above leaves a bit to be desired for sure, but I posted it anyway. I'm going from Cone 10 to Cone 5/6 and I'll bet some day I'll try low fire too. Thanks so much for your support and encouragement.

  13. Incredible Linda! The Blue Heron and Balance are my favorites. Your work is growing by leaps and bounds! I love your willingness to explore and experiment. Some of your best pieces (that you have posted) have come from your ability to try new forms and materials. Not all artists are willing to take any risks, including myself! I need to be more like you!

  14. Really like your choice of colors and subtle affect. You out did yourself this time! Did you fire these in YOUR KILN? Hummmmm that is progress I must say than, it was just a short while ago KILNS were an issue and just look at your lovely work.

  15. Hi Cindy, thanks so much, keeep in mind I learned these particular techniques at Diana's workshop, but the background on the Blue Heron was my experiment, we chose the subject matter and Diana guided us with the techniques.

    I feel like I am all over the place and no one clear direction though. But I also feel like I have to do this to find the direction I want, to somehow gel all of what I learn into my work. I'm wondering though does an artist have to have one style or can they just experiment and grow. I'm not a spring chicken so I feel like I must try everything before I am too old to do so. I always say it doesn't hurt to try. Thanks again.

    Hi Mary, thanks so much. I can't take credit for firing these. but I applied the underglazes at the workshop, so there really is no glaze on them other than the clear Diana put over the top and fired and then just mailed to me.

    I am sure I will have various issues with the kiln, but I feel I can work them out. I really like the effect of underglazes and feel I can achieve the color I am looking for and the painterly effect for some of my drawings or sketches in clay which I will concentrate on till I move and can then start experimenting with mixing my own mid fire glazes - unless we don't sell by winter then that may be another story.

    Right now I am hesitant to purchase a bunch of chemicals to start experimenting with Cone 5/6 glazes since I want to wait till we move. I already have a stock pile of Cone 10 glazes and I only have so much room. We will travel around for a while if we sell and I am not sure mixed glazes will store well. Time will tell. Thanks again.

  16. Hi... thanks for the heads up about this blog post. Gosh, you are so creative! These are gorgeous. The first one is my favorite. Peace~

  17. Inspiring to see your tiles and the different techniques you are using and exploring. I look at your Blue heron and it makes me want to rush off down to the lagoon near here with some drawing things and see if I can see the Grey Heron that is often down there (I haven't been out and about for a while, what with all the alterations going on here...).
    I like what you say in your last paragraph about negative space and making things asymmetrical. When I was abstract painting (but also when I was painting landscapes) I loved the notion of achieving balance in the painting with objects that were quite different in size. It was like putting two people of different sizes on a see saw plank and having to shift the pivot under the plank to keep both of them level. A feeling of balance, but only just! This made the composition interesting, because it was slightly risky.

  18. Hi Amy, thanks, hope all is well with you in your new job.

    Hi Peter, thanks so much, I am drawn to so many things I am wondering if I will ever settle on any one process or technique. You always have an interesting way of looking at things and examining thoughts and this is very valuable to me, thanks so much for your thoughts.

  19. Thanks Julia, I had fun making them, want to make more, soon as I get my kiln working, it won't even turn on, wish me luck tomorrow troubleshooting it.

  20. The heron is beautiful! In feng shui, it symbolizes longevity and fidelity.
    Other cultures have meanings too.

  21. Hi Leezra, thanks, glad you like the heron, there are so many birds here in Florida, we see them every day.


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