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Handmade Tile Association Newsletter
S P O T L I G H T on artists and events




Our 17th Year

Welcome to the January 2016 spotlight on Handmade Tile Association artists. We feature two to three tile artists every month, plus links and resources (at right) to many of the tile events, gallery shows, and workshops featured around the country. 

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Membership growth is one of our big goals in 2016 is to expand our presences into new areas across the country. We want to double our membership in the next two years from 100 to 200 hundred. Our membership base makes up a 1/3 of our financial base  which helps us do outreach to art centers, tile events, social media, tile tours, and to help tile makers who need a little help getting back on their feet after they have a personal or studio problem like a fire or flood. 

The Handmade Tile Association is an extremely small organization with a budget of $15,000 a year. To be highly effective without lots of money we collaborate with other organizations to build our presence of the directory. We also rely on volunteers and members to distribute directories to expose home owners, schools, the tile industry and designers to the amazing tile artists featured in the directory and website. 

We believe people want to know that American artists still make handcrafted objects for the architecture field as well as Fine Art and handcrafted work to adorn homes. To help us with our mission we need more people who follow us to support us financially by becoming a member. If you feel we do a quality job with this mission please join us by becoming a member today. Thank you.

Micah Waalen 
Cold Spring, Minnesota

Micah Waalen discovered ceramics in 1994, choosing a path less traveled, the way of tiles, as opposed to spinning pots.  In 1998 he opened Re.Be.Do. Studio with equipment he developed, re-built, or re-purposed, including a wedging table and a treadle wheel tile spinner.  He began his career as an artist-in-residence at a local high school before producing replication tiles for a historic mansion. 

"Bubbles in Storm" back splash 4" x 4" Photo-Relief tiles

Micah now uses two different methods of producing tile.  In the first, he hand-glazes commercial tiles, creating colorful, unique artistic works, suitable as murals for wall art or back splashes.  The second method involves hand-making his own tile into Photo-Relief murals which are equally effective as field tiles or as accents. 

In the "Bubbles" back splash, above, Micah took artwork (in the form of digital photo or digital art) and produced hand-made tiles.  He looked for "interesting contrast" that lent itself to the process and then manipulated the images in Photoshop.  Click here to see images of the Photo-Relief process, which creates actual texture on the handmade tile surface.

Hand-glazed Commercial tile

Using commercial, specialty, low-fire glazes, Micah is able to get controlled results that translate into lively, symbolic and even organic patterns that work well as murals or wall art, accents or back splashes.  Click here, then scroll down to see recent combinations of glaze colors and patterns. 

Artistic rendition of Minneapolis skyline mural for client approval 
Customers who have an image in mind can submit them to Micah for commissioned projects.  The image above was created on a computer to show what an upcoming project could look like, after installation.  Micah enjoys custom work and hopes that in the future he'll be able to collaborate on a series of large-scale, natural sciences murals of bones, fossils, insects, etc, perhaps for a museum.  His proprietary process is ideal for rendering close relief details.

Micah is currently showing in the Art Tile Exhibition at the Edina Art Center featuring a juried collection of artwork by the Handmade Tile Association.  The exhibit is up through February 10th in Edina, MN.  Currently on Etsy is a mounted Photo-Relief Grasshopper mural, 45" x 22", and an unmounted, 13" x 13"  hand-glazed mural.  For your own, custom project, contact Micah directly to get started.

Contact Information:
Micah Waalen
15561, 241st Street
Cold Spring, MN 56320

Wickwire Clay Works 
Melissa Wickwire
Grand Marais, Minnesota

Melissa Wickwire has been working with clay for over 20 years.  She grew up in Wyoming and upstate New York.  When she was in her teens she started apprenticing with a studio potter after school and on weekends.  She studied ceramic art and art education at Alfred University before returning to Wyoming as a ceramics teacher at a public secondary school. 

Melissa moved to Lake Superior's North Shore in 2011.  It was only a few years ago that she began to focus her studio practice on tile making.  She started Wickwire Clay Works in 2013.  Since then, she has made thousands of tiles and welcomed hundreds of people into her studio in Grand Marais, MN.  Click here to see images of her process.

Dandelion image, in process on unbaked tile 

Melissa makes her tiles by hand-rolling slabs of clay before cutting each shape.  She creates surface designs using glazes and ceramic slips (a liquefied suspension of clay in water) and through hand carving.  Melissa also uses a process called sgraffito, in which two or more layers of colored slip are applied and allowed to harden before removing sections to create a design.  (See carving tools in the picture above.)  The tiles are then bisque fired, glazed and then fired again to produce a durable, functional, final tile, suitable for installation.  Click here for three rapid-fire clips (only seconds!) of Melissa at work. 
Mural over fireplace in Grand Marais

Melissa provides a range of artistic services from project design through overseeing installation.  Current and recent projects include tub/shower surrounds, kitchen back splashes, fireplaces, house numbers and wall hangings.  Installations can include a mix of handmade and commercial tile or other materials.  

Melissa currently has her art at the Art Tile Exhibition, sponsored by the Handmade Tile Association, at the Edina Art Center, from Jan 11th through Feb 10th.  She will be at the Grand Marais Arts Festival, July 9th & 10th and a part of the Crossing the Borders Studio Tour from Sept 23rd to Oct 2nd.  She offers classes to teens and adults through Grand Marais Art Colony workshops.  In addition, her studio and showroom are open year-round, by appointment.

Wickwire Clay Works creates ceramic tile for art lovers who crave a connection with their surroundings.  Nature, tradition and contemporary concepts inspire function, simplicity and surprise.  Collect stoneware tiles one at a time or collaborate on a custom commercial or residential installation. 

Wickwire Clay Works: Tile made by a human. 

Contact Information:
Wickwire Clay Works
Melissa Wickwire 
PO Box 702 / First Avenue West 
Grand Marais, MN 555604
Did these artists spark your interest for your tile project or tile collection? If so, contact them to let them know what you like about their work. You can also sign up for their mailing lists and/or social media. One of the best ways to support handmade tile is to share your favorite tile artists with friends and colleagues. Be a tile maven and help us spread the word!     

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Josh Blanc
Handmade Tile Association, LLC  

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