Friday, April 6 -- 11 am - 12:30 pm + 12:30 pm - 2 pm -- UNLV (GRA 104)


Demonstrator: Edwin Mighell


What do you do with a degree in printmaking? I tried making and selling hand-pulled fine art prints but couldn’t make a living from just that. However, selling hand-pulled prints on clay can be sold, and in enough quantities to make a living. Some might consider making tiles more a craft than a fine art. I feel that if you make your own designs, transfer that design to a plate, print that plate, you are being true to your printmaking degree. Also, when a tile from 1906 along with its design drawing auctions for over $100,000, the lines between fine art and craft blur even more. Finding venues to sell “art tiles”, the term I call my hand-pulled prints that happen to be on clay instead of paper, took a while. Venues could be local weekend markets, juried craft shows, and specialized craft shows. The DIY movement has sparked interest in hand made items and some art/craft shows only allow hand made items to be sold by the artist themselves. For me the specialized shows are like shows just for tile makers, or shows that feature work by Indigenous Americans. I sell art tiles at the Anchorage Native Heritage Center and learned from other artists that clay pots were made in my mother’s area in the Arctic for the last 5,000 years. I mention this because I use the local clay from the Anchorage mudflats, and they thought that that was like carrying on an old tradition. I did not know that, since the last lady to make pots died in 1880.  This past summer, my regional corporation, some would say my tribe, sent me to Point Hope, my mother’s home village, to show people how to make tiles using their local clay. Mainly kids were interested, but it just takes one or two if they keep their passion for making, on into adulthood.


The main process, the one I use for 85% of my print/tile making, involves the collagraph plate.  Copper plate etchings and engravings make up the other 15%. Of the collagraph prints, most are cut-outs of designs on etching paper with the pieces glued to a stiff matboard. I glue down the negative spaces, the shapes between the lines, so that when the plate is impressed into clay, the positive space, the lines are created. The raised lines keep the glazes separate, so all the colored glazes can be applied and fired in one glaze firing.  I have also used plants on blank matboard to impress flowers and leaves on clay. On plant impressions tiles, a dark color is brushed onto the bisque tile and then sponge wiped. The dark color will remain in the low recesses and bring out the veins and edges of the plants. A transparent glaze will then fix the image.

Anchorage has active volcanoes that every now and then drop ash onto the city. When they dig us out from twenty feet of ash, my tiles will look like new.



My mother contributed her Inupiaq genes to me and my father contributed equal amounts of English and Danish genes.  My grandfather, on my dad’s side, researched our family’s European roots to the early 1600’s and I learned that there was fighting between both sides of my gene pool. My mother’s side can be traced back only to my great great grandfather and mostly contains hunters with an occasional shaman thrown in. They too immigrated from Central Asia some 10,000 years ago. I was born in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, mostly grew up in Denver, Colorado, but did spend a year each in Yemen, Ethiopia, and Egypt as a teenager.  I moved back to Alaska in 1980. I received a BS in Civil Engineering in 1992 and a BFA in Printmaking in 2006 from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.


My first job was dishwashing (which makes doing dishes at home easy). My second job was installing hardwood floors (which made wanting an easier job desirable). My third job was as an Engineer (which showed me how deadening a cubicle could be). My current job is making art tiles. I love making something with my own hands, and my creativity has an outlet. Selling tiles gives me enough social contact to counter working alone in the studio. I love to travel, and going to shows has allowed me to accumulate a lot of air miles. I have used air miles to go abroad four times, and I’m still collecting more miles.