In 2002, two ideas began to gel so I set some time aside to play with new work. I thought I'd make some tiles and learn to read and speak Chinese characters at the same time. The result is the new work pictured here. In studying for the advancement program at my Taijiquan school I realized that I should learn the language. Ha! Language impaired since my seventh grade French teacher told me I'd never speak anything but English and switched me to Spanish, I soon realized that speaking the language was out of the question and further modified my goal of learning to read Chinese characters when I discovered that there are at least 100 characters for the word happiness alone. I then thought I might manage to read some very simple characters. As I learn so much better tactilely, I chose to carve tiles for the project adding of dragonflies, a frog, butterfly and rabbit. Garden creatures. Thought I’d tile my garden sink while I was at it. I found that I was not going to be making thousands of tiles but did want to raku them and use them somehow.
Still obsessed with pots for flower arranging and becoming more and more influenced by the quiet beauty of the East, I soon found myself playing with the idea of using the tile symbols on a new piece. The first series used sea urchin spines and copper wire to tie the tiles on the pot. Then I found I enjoyed playing with brass and copper, bending it, hammering it and combining beads and findings to attach the tiles. That led to making my own clay findings and different shapes to go with the tiles. These combinations have a more sculptural feel and I like to think of them as gates to the pieces themselves, ornaments.
In addition to the representative tiles, I thought that the combination of the black arranger and the horsehair look would be very exciting so I fired some plain tiles using a border glaze and the horsehair. Wrapping the horsehair in copper wire as foundation for the tile completed the idea.