Tag Archives: Artisan Tiles

Om in art and daily use

Doors with Aum sign, Varanasi

Doors with Aum symbols, Varanasi. By ampersandyslexia via Wikimedia Commons


Devanagari Aum. By Andriy Makukha and AnonMoos via Wikimedia Commons

Om or Aum is a supercharged word and a mystical sound. Much has been written about it and many have heard the word chanted or sung. When “Aum” is produced, it vibrates in particular chakras or energy centers in the body. “Its initial sound ‘aa,’ vibrates within the muladhara, the chakra at the base of the spine,” said Gurudeva and the Himaylan Academy. “The second sound of this mantra, “oo,” vibrates within the throat and chest chakras,” he continued. “The third sound, “mm,” vibrates within the cranial chakras, ajna and sahasrara,” the Third Eye and top of the head. Om or Aum is an ancient Sanskrit word, a primal mantra that is often chanted at the beginning of other mantras. Said three times, it is a blessing, along with a prelude. The meaning is abstract and tied to Eastern thought. “Aum is explained in the Upanishads as standing for the whole world and its parts, including past, present and future,” said Gurudeva. “It is from this primal
vibration that all manifestation issues forth.” While the word is rooted in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, Gurudeva clarifies that it may be used by anyone, regardless of their religion. Looking at the symbol above, you can see there are different visual elements. “Its three letters represent the three worlds and the powers of creation, preservation and destruction. In common usage in several Indian languages, aum means
‘yes, verily” or ‘hail,'” concludes Gurudeva.


Statue of Ganesha in the form of an aum. By Hinduism Today Magazine and Himalayan Academy Publications via Wikipedia

About five or six years ago, I created some tiles with Hindu symbols at Gillian McMillan’s  ceramic studio here in Port Moody. I lived across the street from her at the time. As it turned out, I gave them to some of my Hindu friends, but I still remember them well. The symbol for Om lends itself well to design. You can stretch it, condense it, fatten it, or constrain it. It is neat to work with, really. Some years back, Gurudeva and the Himalayan Academy put together a fantastic collection of Oms, each one a work of art. To see the color, black-and-white, and  poster galleries, click here. You won’t be disappointed! Some of my favorite Oms are ones that incorporate the form of Ganesha, the Hindu god who is half elephant, half human. To create an Aum-Ganesha combination, the Om is constrained enough to illustrate both god and symbol. Working with Oms in clay is a form of meditation itself: the acts of devising a design, determining materials, making decisions about relief, creating, firing, and glazing. Oms are powerful sacred art and when you’re working with a mystical symbol that long, it is bound to affect you…. My experiences and spiritual growth led me to create Oms, not just chant it. The chanting experience is very special, though, and incredible if it’s with a whole room of people. When you are chanting Om, it vibrates through your entire body, creating a hum, literally, along with meditative state. Of course, meditation has many health benefits, too, such as lowering blood pressure and relieving stress. To be certain, chanting Aum can hurt no one and help everyone. However, to experience the full benefit of chanting, as with the practice of yoga, one must go beyond North American confines and learn its true form, the one for which it was developed, spirituality, not just for stress relief or exercise. Believe me, yoga is not about  current trends or snazzy exercise clothing…. Back to Oms, however. The versatility of the design means the the Om symbol can be worked with many ways. In addition, different languages have their own symbolic representation of Om, as is the case with this example above, in Tamil, or Tibetan, to the left. Below, you can listen to a mantra being chanted, one which prefaced by Oms. While I prefer Oms that are longer, deeper, and more drawn out for full vibrational effect, this is still very nice. You’ll hear the powerful the Gayatri Mantra, with Ravi Shankar and George Harrison.

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A new Etsy shop and makeover for Jane Street Clayworks

Good news! Jane Street Claywork’s Etsy shop is up and running.

Online Shop
You can see my new Etsy shop by clicking the link above under the blog’s banner. Clicking will take you to a new page and my gallery, which is directly linked to my online store. More information about each piece can be seen by hovering your cursor over the photographs. Simply click an image and you will be taken to another window, my Etsy store. Etsy is an marketplace, if you’re unfamiliar with it. On the site, individuals have shops through which they sell their goods. It is a completely above-board enterprise that is safe to use. Transactions take place through PayPal, an online payment system. By using PayPal, a customer pays cash directly from their PayPal account or uses their credit cards, which are processed by PayPal. PayPal is also a safe method for making online purchases. As for my online shop, stock will increase over time. When something new is added, it is featured on the main Etsy page and I want that promotional boost. I’d love it if you took a look at my Etsy gallery by clicking the link on the toolbar above. No hard sell, I just want you to see what I’ve been up to and I’m proud that my little store is finally up!

New Banner
As you can see by looking at my Etsy shop, the artwork on the banner differs from what is shown above. Well, change is good. A new look for my blog will shake things up and get the energy moving. I have been working on these projects behind the scenes for some time and they’re ready to see the light of day! Change can smart, though, too. I’ve adored the image of the aggregate fence which is the basis of my blog banner…. It was created from this photo of a British garden wall. A change is needed, though. As I worked on the Etsy site, I realized my banner needed a softer look. By Monday, that same look plus my new logo will replace the current banner.

New Logo
When I first started blogging, I just used wordpress.com. I didn’t know I’d adore blogging and really make a go of it. I have, though, and am completely back in touch with my writing. Add to that a new shop and an eventual Facebook business page and I realized I needed a logo. As a graphic designer, I’d created many and am enjoying the process once again. Interestingly, it’s ended up being a joint adventure! First, I took to sketching, to come up with ideas. I wanted to do something with a terra-cotta pot and growth signifying creativity. In the midst of this activity, I mentioned my idea to my friend, Christina Ngo. She suggested that I work with a 45° angle. I liked her idea in more ways than one. For starters, the dynamism of a verticalRapidografi Staedtler line is a good design element.  So, my sketching continued and I incorporated the angle. At the same time, I had been researching plant sites looking for vines that appealed to me. I also investigated  plant symbolism because I like working with meaning, too. Not finding exactly what I wanted, I came up with my own, based on what I knew I wanted, a leafy vine with tendrils. Next, Mark gave me some of his Bristol board and I was ready to start inking. With technical pen in hand, I reached for the board… At that moment, Mark looked at my sketch, had an aha moment and suggested that I scan what I had drawn. I’d mapped out a grid to follow a 45° angle and drew my image over that. I did scan it and it looked great! So, all my banners will show my rudimentary sketch of the vine… My jingle is “growing creativity,” so a partially finished sketch is perfect. My work on the logo design evolved. I had wanted to constrain stacked letters into a flowerpot shape, using a nice Pantone terra-cotta. But, it wasn’t going to work well with the new banner idea. Too busy, visually. The idea was improved by stacking the Nickelodeon font, a nod to the Arts and Crafts style, and centering it on a plant pot. I’m also using Hoefler Text, which has a nice, rounded look. I’d studied fonts for several weeks, narrowing it down and testing them out. My friend, Connie Thoreson, suggested I shorten the vine, which I will do, too. As far as the technical end, I have my husband to thank because he is a whiz with Adobe Photoshop. We teamed up; I acted as the designer and he the technician. Working with 7 or 8 layers, we started achieving the look I wanted, with time left over for tinkering. Tinkering…the best part, if you don’t overdo it! I’m finalizing the logo and it’ll be up with new banner on my blog by Monday!

New banner, check. Etsy shop, check. New logo, soon. Next up is my Facebook business page….

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The Arts and Crafts style: Mary Philpott and Spokane, Washington

Close to Cannon Hill Park, this early example of a classic craftsman bungalow was built in 1911. It is located at 721 W 22nd Ave.

This craftsman bungalow was built in 1910. Located at 712 E 19th Ave., Spokane Washington. Once a less desirable area, the eastern side is being gentrified.

William Morris age 53

Portrait of William Morris, aged 53. J. W. Mackail, Author, “The Life of William Morris” in two volumes, London, New York and Bombay: Longmans, Green and Co., 1899. Frederick Hollyer via Wikimedia Commons

William Morris 001

William Morris (1834-1896), “Guinevere,” oil on canvas, 1857. Tate Gallery, London. William Morris via Wikimedia Commons

Morris Woodpecker tapestry detail

Detail of “Woodpecker” tapestry designed by William Morris. (The complete tapestry has a border and inscription. William Morris via Wikimedia Commons

It feels a little strange. I will be dropping down into the United States from Canada for a family celebration and, while there, I  will make a special trip downtown to look at some exquisite ceramic tiles that are made in Canada. My purpose is clear; I aim to have a second look at work by ceramist Mary Philpott, whose work I very much admire. She hand-carves porcelain then applies layer after layer of translucent porcelain with multiple firings. The effect is jewel-like. The tiles have heft, with medium to deep relief. Last year, I was delighted to find her tiles  in downtown Spokane at Artisans’ Wares in Riverpark Square. I had seen her website on the Internet before but had no idea I would be able to see her work when I went home to see my family. Philpott states that her studio, Verdant Tile Co., is located in the “historic Grand Trunk Railway Station” in Stratford, Ontario. The brick and antiquity would set accent her work well. This talented woman has the type of curriculum vitae that makes me want to weep with joy. Her work and interests represent much of what I love in terms of style and approach, right down to her membership in the William Morris Society.  I think her work is achingly beautiful. Photos of her work can be found on her site and I hope you can take the time to have a peek, as I cannot post them here. No worries; it’s just a click away…. She also has a blog called The Running Hare and if you peruse it, you’ll have a chance to see works in progress.   Much of her work is in the classic Arts and Crafts style and Spokane, Washington is one of those little niches in the U.S. of  A. that is bungalow heaven. Philpott either did her art market ‘homework’ well, or was approached by Spokanites who wanted to sell her work there. Mary Philpott has the distinction of holding RoycroftMaster Artisan status, well-earned, no doubt, and she is a tile designer and full-time studio potter. It might sound like I’m going about seeing her work in a roundabout manner, since she lives in the same country I do, but it is the only way I can see her work in person. She sells her art work in Canada, the United States, England, and France, but nothing can be had in the Metro Vancouver area. It makes sense; only a few original bungalows grace the Vancouver area, most having been replaced by later architecture and, to my mind, wretched architecture. (Michael Klucknerhas written extensively about it.) But, refreshingly, a trip to Spokane means a trip to all things bungalow and I am sure Canadian Mary Philpott does a good trade there. Spokane’s bungalows are peppered throughout the city, but they are  mainly on the South Hill, the area to the south of the Spokane River. For a kick, I recently researched Spokane real estate and found many classic bungalows on the market there. While the rest of the city’s real estate is experiencing the same lows as throughout much of the U.S., the bungalows seem to be holding their own. While what you would pay for a bungalow there equals the amount one would spent for a mere lot here in Metro Vancouver, it’s known that the market here doesn’t reflect the actual value of homes for sale. Real estate is very inflated here, the most expensive in Canada. So, seeing these bungalows at such reasonable prices is eye candy for me. Mary Philpott’s artwork would fit in very well in any of these homes. I look forward to having the chance to see it again and now I have to start thinking about which of her pieces I’d like to add to my collection.

“A belief in working with the head, hand and heart and mixing enough play with the work so that every task is pleasurable and makes for health and happiness.”

— John Ruskin; the Roycroft “creed”



Filed under Featured Artists, Fun, Home and Garden, Videos/Photos/Slides

Photo: Beautiful mosaic tile street signs in Paris

Mosaic street signs in Paris: beautiful colors, beautiful lettering, beautiful design.

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