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Prints, Collages, Tile Panels, Ceramic tiles, Tablescapes, and Place Settings 

phone 330 303-3889 

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How do prints, collages, and designs for ceramic tiles, tableware, and tile garden panels relate to one another?  

   After retiring from the practice of  architecture, I continued to create drawings using the same technical pens and ink with which I had so many years of experience.  Combining my love for botanical study with the precision made possible by the use of the technical pens led me to explorations of pure image making. Again, my architectural experience had conditioned me to consider the reproduction of those images.  Because my ink drawings are line only, shadows, tones, and textures must be executed by alternative techniques (akin to the same challenges posed to engravers and drypoint artists).  I soon realized that the benefit of facility in reproducing images executed in line only was offset by the limitation  of the choice of only one printing color.  
     Because I live in a former pottery center, the transition to having decals made of my drawings that could be fired to ceramic bodies was a natural one.  The adjunct pottery businesses enabled my learning of the techniques of producing  and decorating of ceramic wares  and tiles. 
      However, producing designs for ceramic wares meant the adoption of additional sets of constraints that I realized would not permit me adequate avenues of expression for some of the ideas that I had for projects.  Scale, for example. was a major obstacle.   The image sizes that can be printed for decorating tiles and tablewares are severely limited not only by the items themselves, but by the reproduction process itself.   This hurdle caused me to experiment with unconventional repeats and other means to break free from the confining dimensions dictated by the tile grids.  Some degree of success was achieved but this was tempered by the recognition of the additional limitations   being imposed by the decal manufacturing process itself.   Decals' efficiency once lay in the printing of large quantities.  Before digital printing's development, it was necessary to print larger runs of images for efficiency. These were runs of a 10" by 16" "window" that often was at a minimum of 10 sheets with 50 being a preferred minimum.  
     Not willing to be bound by these somewhat arbitrary constraints, I began executing drawings whose scale was appropriate for the idea that I was attempting to explore.  Reproduction of these drawings would be in the form of limited editions of prints. This determination occurred simultaneously with my growing familiarity with Japanese Washi papers and my desire to work with them. The exquisite, handmade papers themselves are each unique and it was my intention to somehow combine my imagery with them rather than impose drawings upon them.  This idea led to my images, themselves manipulated by printings, colorings, excised backgrounds, and other means,  being transformed by their addition to the art papers into another cohesive entity.  This was the genesis for my collage editions.

Original drawings for "FUCHSIAS" a design for  a two tile alternating matching scheme. 

    The evolution of my explorations of the idea of transforming images can be traced in the development of the design of "Fuchsias."  The concept was for a design for tiles whose images would expand beyond the geometric dimensional limits of the tiles themselves yet be reproducible in a conventional manner.  By developing 2 standard 8" by 8"  tiles and arranging them in an alternating matching scheme, the scale was increased and the effect of the repetitious single tile was obviated.  
     For the 2 tiles to achieve their goal, each needed to be at least 8" by 8" which is readily available; however, the for the transfer production process, efficiency is best achieved by the large production runs of smaller images on the A3 sized sheet (approx. 10" by 16")  This meant that only 2 tiles per sheet could be produced, greatly increasing the costs. 
     Reluctant to incur excessive upfront expenses for experimentation, I simply worked with paper copies and it was during this process that it occurred to me that the manipulation of image was becoming more important to me than the actual production of the ceramic tiles.  
     My introduction to the Japanese handmade papers coincided with this period and proved to be inspirational.    It was at this time, I began the development of other elements, such as the Aesthetic Movement inspired borders, to amplify the transformed image.  The possibilities presented by the manipulations of paper images was liberating for both in my designs and my aspirations.   


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From Tiles to Collages 


Drawings, Prints, and Collages 

After beginning those explorations that were not constrained by the scale of the ceramic transfer process, I began to translate some longstanding ideas into images in the form of individual drawings.  One such project was "Conservatory" in which I wished to explore the juxtaposed worlds of the organic, geometric, and the crafted.  
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Original drawing:   20" by 30" technical pen and ink on illustration board.   NFS
Print:   Edition limited to 15  printed on Japanese paper                                                                             


"TSUBA #1" for the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum

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 Each of the 4 collages uses a different combination of Japanese and Nepalese papers.  Shown is silver lokta paper, ivory Mingei and Tarasen tissue overlay.  
  A limited edition of 4  1/1 print-collages created for the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Florida.  These were inspired by the iron and mica fireplace hood created by Louis Comfort Tiffany for his townhouse in Manhattan in 18-- and later moved to his Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall. Among the decorative devices used were the "tsuba" , sword guards.  Seeking inspiration, I reflected upon the impressed geometric forms above the main grill, the patterning of the rivets, and the textures of the iron itself. I then used these elements to draw a frame for a "tsuba" which I designed based on several prototypes.   After being printed in blue, this image will be combined with layers of Japanese papers to create the collages.


Inspired by the trailing nasturtiums in the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston 

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Pursuing yet again my interest in the juxtaposition of natural forms and shapes to architectural detail, I am developing this image as BOTH a collage and a 4 tile panel. Because of this  dual set of goals, it is necessary to create the original image to allow for its eventual transformations.  For example, the pleasing spare quality of the blank background will lend itself to the assembly of the collage where the decorative paper will take predominance.  However, the rondels will enrich the tile's appearance and yet still recede when the nasturtiums are hand painted.  

4 TILE PANEL  8" by 32" overall  
Four 8" by 8" (20.32 by 20.32 cm) hand-molded quarry paver tiles (allowing for exterior vertical installation) with design fired in a sepia brown and then hand painted and fired again for permanent vitrification.   See semi-custom panel below for effect of paints over the sepia decal


INSTALLATION DAY !! _Today marked the se

Custom designed tile panel for garden pool wall of a Pittsburgh client.  Design was inspired by 18th Century print rooms.  Please see detailed description of this project on "Custom Tile Project" tab on the navigation line.     

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"RINCEAU" (vine-like) is the term given to the scrolling linear decorative work that distinguished Roman decorative pattern making, notably that of the murals and frescos found at Pompeii.  This became part of the vocabulary of artists from the Renaissance onwards.  I envisioned using this as a framing element for a center tile which would be devoted to a botanical image.  These panels would consist of the hand painted borders and hand tinted center decal and be made available in various scales and types of tiles.  These also could be utilized in the creation of other items, such as small chairside tabletops.  
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The tiles' design is fired initially in brown.  These are then hand painted using china paints which are then fired a second time at Cone 016 for permanent vitrification.  





I often find inspiration in my own garden.  Taking guidance from the Japanese proverb quoted above, I closely study the plants and flowers that I find there.  Textures, patterns, lines, forms, colors all present themselves in new ways when intensely studied and considered. Very humble plants, like the much despised barberry, thus can  become inspirations along with the more obvious blossoms such as this tree peony, the "Marchioness" a 1942 Saunders hybrid. 

BARBERRY COLLAGE _To be printed on the g

Its dramatic blossoms inspired the drawing that was transformed into the "TREE PEONY" pattern shown here on a variety of ceramic items.  

_TREE PEONY_ brique-a-vin

Shown on stoneware 16" serving platter, White Fiesta plates, and a Hall China brique-a-vin  




Create Jobs for USA: the local AMERICAN MUG & STEIN CO. , producer of wares for STARBUCKS COFFEE 

While engaged in the design of tile and tabletop items, I began to be intrigued by the idea of creating images that would not need to be limited by the constraints of the transfer to ceramic  production process.   In these works, I would then be able to expand my vocabulary of expression, incorporating alternative media and techniques.  

 'MADE IN AMERICA" featuring the Homer Laughlin Company

     After developing tile designs, it was a logical step to consider the locally produced products of the potteries.  East Liverpool is still the home of The HALL CHINA CO., a subsidiary of the HOMER LAUGHLIN CO, the manufacturer of the world famous FIESTA WARE.  In addition, the town's former Pioneer Pottery was purchased and became AMERICAN MUG & STEIN CO.  It is with immense satisfaction that I am able to offer not only American made goods but ones that are COMMUNITY made.   It is interesting to note that Starbucks recognized this value and contracts with American Mug  and Stein for its products.   Attached are two videos which highlight Homer Laughlin and American Mug and Stein.

     I wish to emphasize that, while I use the wares produced by these local businesses, I am not affiliated with them, and my designs are my property.  Each piece that I decorate is backstamped with my logo and a disclaimer stating this fact and an affirmation that decorations are lead free. 

The Pontalba Ironwork Coffee Mug

The intricate iron work adorning the venerable (circa 1840's)  Pontalba buildings, flanking Jackson Square in New Orleans, was among the first installations of that architectural detail which would contribute so much to the definition of the city's character.  While enjoying a coffee and a beignet ("a" single beignet?! LOL), I had the idea to base a design on the filagree as a component to be used in a collage.  Later, I realized that the elongated panel could be adapted as the decoration for a coffee mug that would remind me of that experience of enjoying a beautiful morning on the Square.    
Monogram option for the Pontalba wrought
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