Saturday, December 29, 2012

Handmade, relief carved ceramic Celtic deer tile

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~Happy Holidays~
Relief carved 9"round Celtic deer Knot ceramic tile.
For many cultures around the world the female deer or hind's natural qualities of gracefulness, gentleness and dignity have made them a symbol of the sacredness of life.
 For the Huichol people of Mexico the 'magical deer' is of very special significance. Representing both the power of the maize to sustain the body and peyote to enlighten the spirit, the deer is also said to pass some of her qualities onto the people of the tribe. Interesting to note that the character of the Huichol people tends to be light, flexible and humorous, and they have avoided open warfare with the Spanish as well as with any Mexican governments, but still hold to their own traditions. 
The Celts held hinds as supernatural animals, often referred to as 'fairy cattle', herded and milked by a local, benevolent fairy giantess that could shape shift into a red deer who would oft times lead this or that hero to adventures in the underworld.
In some Native North American symbolism deer is a strong healing totem that helps humans to conquer the fear of death and leads their souls peacefully into the spirit world.
In Buddhism they are considered the messenger of universal love and there is a mandara (sacred painting) of a deer standing on a white cloud with the tree of life above. Meditating on this mandara is said to open ones consciousness to the mystery of infinite peace.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Decorative handmade Celtic hound ceramic tile

4x18 relief carved Celtic hound tile
In ancient Ireland the 'great Irish hound' known today as the Irish wolf hound was held in such high esteem battles were fought over them and the laws of the day permitted only Kings and nobles to own them. Often adorned in collars and chains of precious metals, Wolf hounds were frequently given as presents to people of importance. Though mainly kept for guarding property and herds as well as hunting, there are many stories of the bravery and ferocity of these colossal hounds in battle. The greatest Chief of the Fianna, who's soldiers fought on foot side by side with their dogs,  was reputed to own over 400 hounds. Today Irish wolf hounds have a much different reputation being often refered to as 'Gentle Giants.'

Saturday, December 1, 2012

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6x12 relief carved English Holly tile
Holly trees occur almost everywhere in the world and are surrounded in myth and legends which are usually but not exclusively associated with winter and winter magic. It was sacred and favored among the Ancient Celtic Druids in whose tradition the Holly King rules the land from Summer to Winter Solstice sharing the year with the Oak King. Due to the widespread belief in it's ability to ward off evil, wreaths and sprigs of Holly would be hung indoors in the winter. As well as for general protection, Holly wreathes provided a safe place for fairies to shelter from the cold, avoiding friction between them and their mortal hosts. Also traditionally known to protect against lightening strikes Holly was closely associated with thunder gods such as Thor and Taranis. In Japan Holly is a popular New Years charm and there are a number of amusing and somewhat lewd legends involving Holly there. The seeds and berries of the Yaupon Holly were used by the early people of the American South to induce vomiting and hallucinations during purification rituals. In South America the Guarada have a tale of the bearded god Pa-i-shume who taught mortals to make mate, a stimulating, healthful beverage made from the leaves of the Paraguay Holly.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Decorative, relief carved ceramic wind man

15 x 73/4 relief carved ceramic wind man tile or wall plaque.
For many civilizations both past and present wind is not only a powerful and mysterious force of nature, but is also an important force behind many spiritual beliefs. The wind is celebrated as one of the five great elements in Buddhists teachings and viewed as the nature or state of a god. In early Japanese culture the wind was considered a pure substance of universal power providing a spiritual connection between departed ancestors and the living. Legends of wind gods and spirits are widespread and plentiful in the North American Native tradition and in Greek mythology there were gods who created and ruled the eight wind directions with each direction represented by it's own unique wind deity.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Decorative relief carved and hand painted ceramic swan tile

12x12 relief carved and hand painted ceramic swan tile

 "You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."
~ Mary Oliver

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic marmot tile

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New 8x8 relief carved and hand painted Vancouver Island Marmot tile.
This is the first tile in an endangered species series I'm carving.  $5.00 from each tile sold will be donated to the Vancouver Island Marmot recovery foundation.
One of the rarest mammals in the world,  Vancouver Island Marmots live in colonies on small patches of south and west facing alpine and sub alpine meadows,  hibernating below ground from mid September until late April or early May. The marmots Summer is spent foraging on grasses, herbs and wildflowers. Boulders typically found in these meadows are an important feature of  a marmot habitat providing convenient lookout spots as well as heat sinks to help regulate their body temperature, marmots often spend early mornings and evenings stretched out on them. Nose touching and play boxing are common social behaviors, and when alarmed marmots give piercingly loud whistles. The Vancouver Island marmot has five distinct whistles and trills for different purposes, more than any other marmot species. Once,  relatively small colonies were distributed widely in alpine meadows throughout Vancouver Island and to avoid interbreeding two year olds of both sexes would disperse to other colonies to find a mate. In order for dispersing marmots to find potential mates there must be a healthy community of colonies within range. In the mid 1990's the marmot population began to rapidly decline until by 1998 only 70 were recorded in the wild and with the exception of one lone colony on Mt. Washington they were all located in one small geographic location east of  Nanaimo lakes. With populations being so fragmented, dispersing marmots were unable to find mates. Although still critically endangered, thanks to recent recovery efforts the population has increased from less than 30 in the wild in 2003 to an estimated 320-370 marmots on 28 mountains in 2011.
For more information about the Vancouver Island Marmot and on going recovery efforts please visit 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Decorative handmade Celtic ceramic tiles

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Antique Scottish fireplace featuring thistle, Celtic knot and dragon tile insets.
Samhain, the end of the harvest season when the veil that lies between the spirit world and ours is thinnest marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year. Known as Halloween by most and Nos Calan Gaeaf in Wales, the eve of the first of winter. It marks the beginning of a new cycle. To the country folk it was the day to lead the livestock down from their summer pastures to the shelter of the stable for the dark half of the year. In early Ireland it was traditional for people to gather at their tribes ritual centers for the main feast of the year, giving thanks to the spirits that drew near for the harvest now safely preserved and stored for winter. Households would extinguish their hearth fires and await the lighting of the central new years fire, around which there was much feasting and ritual. At the end of the festivities, it was from this ceremonial fire that all the home fires of the tribe would be re-kindled and the ashes from it spread on the fields in blessing. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Decorative handmade ceramic Celtic horse tile

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6x6 relief carved, ceramic Celtic horse tile.
The Takhi horse of Mongolia is the last living subspecies of horse in the world. They diverged genetically from other horse breeds over 16,000 years ago and have remained relatively the same ever since. Because of this they have distinctly pre historic features, their appearance is unique among horses. The most significant difference between the Takhi, also known as Przewalskis horse, and domestic breeds is that they have 66 chromosomes, the most of any equine, all others have 64. Interbreeding between Takhi and domestic horses will produce fertile offspring with 65 chromosomes. Takhi's are also the last of the true wild horses on earth, at no point in their ancestry have they been successfully domesticated and all other horses we refer to as wild today are actually feral domesticated breeds. For the last century these rare and unique creatures have teetered on the edge of extinction. In 1960 there were only about 15 Takhi horses in zoo's and one small herd left in their native Mongolia. By 1970 the Mongolian herd had died off and they were declared 'extinct in the wild' The 'Foundation for preservation and protection of the Przewalski horse' was founded in 1977 and they along with the cooperation of several other organizations and zoos established breeding programs intended to increase the population of Takhi horses. After 15 years of careful line breeding a herd of 16 horses were released in Mongolia in 1992. They adapted well and more were released shortly after. Since then more herds have been successfully re introduced in other protected areas of Mongolia and the Gobi Dessert ecoregion. Today there are 300 Takhi horses in the wild and 1500 in zoos and breeding facilities, all descended from nine horses in the seventies. The Takhi horse's status has been changed from 'extinct in the wild' to 'critically endangered'.
By protecting the unique eco systems that these and other creatures need to survive we protect the diversity of our planet which all life needs to survive. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Handmade relief carved custom ceramic sign

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8 x 16 Custom relief carved ceramic sign featuring our 8x8 moon woman tile
The full moon in September, known in the Northern hemisphere as the Harvest Moon, gets it's name from the fact it's appearance coincides with crop harvesting and traditionally farmers could continue to harvest late into the night by the light of the full moon. It is also known as the wine moon, the elk moon and the singing moon. Studies have shown that birds rely on the light of the harvest moon during migration and will actually wait for it's appearance to begin their journeys.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Handmade relief carved ceramic raven tile

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7 x 14 relief carved half round ceramic raven tile.
Raven, famed trickster and revered keeper of secrets, wisdom and magic.
Known as the leaders and teachers of the wise, ravens are among the most intelligent creatures on earth. Being learners, planners and problem solvers makes them highly adaptable. They construct and use objects as tools for many purposes including playthings, being very social and playful. Much like us, they speak to one another, engaging in lengthy verbal conversations using a variety of noises in various tones and patterns. They are able to mime many sorts of sounds and can be taught to speak human languages. Young Ravens spend a great deal of time carefully choosing and courting before mating for life. The elaborate courting rituals and tasks designed to show as well as develop skills while building trust between the pair will continue for one to three years until they reach sexual maturity. After mating, the couple stays together in the nest, but only the female sits on the eggs. Once the chicks have hatched both raven parents are very protective and interactive with caring for and teaching their young. Being quite like us in so many ways, the more we learn and understand the raven, so we may of ourselves as well. Ravens are another presence that serves to remind us that we are part of the natural world, not alone, but connected and akin to all beings and life.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Decorative relief carved lizard ceramic tile set

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12 x12 relief carved lizard ceramic tile set
After taking two of our grand kids to visit my friends lizard today I was inspired to feature our lizard tile set along with a snippet of Hawaiian mythology.
The geckos of Hawaii, which likely arrived as stowaways aboard early Polynesian canoes, have a great reputation rooted in the earliest history of the Islands.
For centuries four of over 900 species world wide thrived on the Hawaiian Islands. These gentle little geckos were sacred and deeply respected as the modest representatives of the giant great magical lizard, the Mo'o, an ancient mythological dragon like being appearing in legends throughout Polynesia. In early Hawaiian tradition, as part of an intricate communication system with the gods, the shape-shifting lizard Mo'o was one of the oldest and most powerful guardian spirits along with the shark, owl and hawk. These guardian spirits had living representatives which provided their wisdom to people through dreams and visions.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Handmade relief carved Celtic cross ceramic tile set

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18 x 30 Relief carved ceramic Celtic tile set
One of the oldest amuletic signs in the world is the cross, and the history of this powerful symbol is very ambiguous. At one time it was believed that it was entirely of Christian origin, but in fact it was in use by the Pagan peoples of western Asia and Europe many centuries before Christ and in the Americas long before Christianity arrived there. All known human civilizations have art or symbols and there are no systems of symbols that don't include circles and crosses. A plain circle is often representative of the moon and a plain cross along with it's variants the four directions. A cross within or extending beyond a circle, a very important symbol for the ancient Druids, is a universal symbol for the sun. Though the cross has become  predominately associated with Christianity, older meanings still persist. The Celtic Monks of the early Church practiced a simple life finding joy in spirituality, love and creation. This was also the Druids way in their worship of nature. That the Celtic cross within a circle coincides with the emergence of the cross as a Christian symbol at a time when the Gospel was being delivered to a sun worshiping culture is interesting. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic Celtic knot tiles

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 In this age of ever increasing advancement in science and technology there is a danger of older accomplishments in the arts, crafts customs and pursuits being discarded and forgotten.
Decorative knotwork, the most identifiable type of Celtic art produced by the ancient Celts was born in prehistory and has been steeped in mystery since it's death some thousand years ago. Methods of original construction are obscure, but the beauty, complexity and excellence of design and workmanship achieved by Celtic artisans can be seen in examples of the art that have survived on carved stone, in jewelry, metal work and in ancient illuminated manuscripts. The symbolism is not that concrete, like the knots themselves their meanings are fluid and abstract, more related to the universe and life in general than to specific interactions. As an art form it is unique, and the current popular interest it inspires is important for it's continuity and development as a new artistic expression of Celtic origin.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Decorative relief carved Celtic deer ceramic tile

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19"x19", seventeen piece relief carved Celtic deer and dragon ceramic tile set.
The graceful hind, a female red deer, was especially sacred to the Celts and Druids. In Scottish tradition they were milked in the mountains by fairies and known as "fairy cattle" Some say they are fairy women taken the form of a deer and it is said that in a fit of jealous rage a fairy queen once turned one hundred sidh girls into hinds. There were at least three great hag goddesses that were connected with and cared for these fairy cattle. Cailleach-mor-nam-fiadh who lived in the mountains on Jura, The great Hag of Clibric protected them from hunters and the Cailleach Beinn-a-bhrie hearded and milked them in the forests of the hills. Like the Great Hags of Scotland, Flidhais the Irish goddess of wild things cared for the deer like cattle and was also known as the deer goddess. In both Irish and Scottish tradition, the mother of Ossian was turned into a hind by enchantment before she gave birth to the hero-poet. The hind was probably the most common wild and hunted creature in ancient Britain and was highly respected not only as an important source of food and clothing, but as a magical shape shifting animal, capable of affecting the lives and ways of men. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Decorative relief carved gnome tiles

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4x4 relief carved, hand pained, ceramic gnome tiles
Gnomes are diminutive humanoid spirit creatures, referred to as earth elementals, reluctant to interact with humans and able to move effortlessly through solid earth. They are known by many names in numerous ancient and modern mythologies, often tending to nature or guarding mines and precious underground treasures.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic morning glory tile

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4x10 relief carved ceramic morning glory tile.
Hand painted in underglaze with a clear gloss glaze finish.
Humans have always had a love/hate relationship with the beautiful and bad morning glory, often called the courtesan of the plant world. Both wild and cultivated varieties grow profusely with very attractive funnel shaped flowers on strong twining, trailing hairy stems. Some members of the family, particularly the bind weeds, are often found in the company of poison ivy and wrap their tendrils with equal enthusiasm around any other plants, fences and hydro poles. Several folk names for the morning glory express the exasperation this plant aroused among rural people who called them devils night cap, devils guts, devils garters and hell weed. One blue flowered species native to tropical America has seeds which contain an acid similar to LSD. These seeds were consumed ceremonialy by indigenous people to induce 'visions' and healing. Over 3,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia morning glory juice and a substance from the castilla elastica tree was combined to make bouncing rubber balls.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Handmade relief carved ceramic bullrush tile set

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12 x 12 relief carved bulrush ceramic tile set done in charcoal and mocha cream.
All over the world wherever conditions are right the Typha (bulrush) can be found. It reproduces through seed and root, both of which are able to survive periods of drought and flood. It is amongst the most efficient water filtering plants, helping to clear toxins (including arsenic) from the areas it grows. Besides being low maintenance, environmentally cleansing and uniquely ornate, typha has a variety of uses and is quite edible. There is evidence of it having been commonly eaten by people in Europe during the late paleolithic era, some 30,000 years ago. For thousands of years the native inhabitants of the places it grows used the bulrush for many things. It is a year round crop, in winter the rhizomes can be harvested to make a very nutritious high calorie flour. The rootstock when mashed to a paste is effective for treating rashes, boils, wounds and burns, or boiled and used as a diuretic. In spring the base of the leaves are tender, eaten raw or cooked. Come early summer green flower heads can be boiled and eaten in much the same fashion as corn on the cob. The pollen can be collected in mid summer for a flour supplement or thickener. Bulrush heads dipped in wax or fat can be used as candles with the stem as the wick. After it has gone to seed, the down produced by the typha is good for tinder, stuffing for clothes and bedding as well as liner for diapers, acting as a natural baby powder. And the starch of the plants can be used instead of cereals as an efficient way to make ethanol. So Cheers to the bulrush!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic heron tile

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5x12 relief carved heron ceramic tile
The heron, sacred bird of the Druids is a symbol and embodiment of patience, learning, longevity, magic and secret knowledge. Native to nearly all parts of the world, the heron has always been a wonder of nature, beheld by ancient peoples long before known history. Herons are strongly connected to to the older more primal aspects of Celtic lore. They are special to the sea god Manannan MacLir (son of the sea) as well as to the triple goddess formed by the union of  the goddesses Badb, Macha and Morrigan. The heron is particularly associated to Morrigan, the phantom queen believed to have been a manifestation of Cailleach the veiled hag. Cailleach is mother to the gods, creator of mountains, very old and connected to all life forms. She is also known as the 'White moon goddess' and the heron, one of her many sacred animals is known as the 'Moon bird'

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

4x4 relief carved, hand painted ceramic sunflower tile.

Happy full moon on this eve of Lammas or Lughnasadh, the first of the three Pagan harvest festivals on August 1st around the time of the early grain harvest which has been celebrated for thousands of years.
It is a time we begin to reap what has been sown, prepareing for the summers end and the up coming abundance of the fall harvest.
Lughnasadh is named for the Celtic diety Lugh who presides over science and the arts. According to Celtic legend, Lugh decreed that a feast be held each year at the beginning of the harvest season in honor of his foster mother Tailtin, the Royal lady of the Fir Bolg. After her people were defeated by the Tuatha De Dannan Tailtin was obliged to clear a vast forest for the planting of grain. In her attempt to fufill this obligation she died of exhaustion. Tradition states that she was buried beneath a great mound called the hill of Tailtin where the first feast of Lughnasadh was held in Ireland. There were games and contests of skill as well as a great feast from the first fruits of the summer harvest. As the years past traditions surrounding the feast at Tailtin began to evolve into events and ceremony to celebrate not only Tailtin and the beauty of the harvest her sacrifice provided but also to honor the work and sacrifice of human beings as they strive to provide sustenance for their families and community.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Decorative handmade relief carved ceramic thistle tile

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4x10 relief carved, hand painted ceramic thistle tile

Thistles, as well as being a symbol of vitality, endurance, protection and strength of spirit are believed to be a very potent hex breaker.
Needing very little nutrients from the ground, thistles will grow in almost any soil, relying mostly on the sun and rain. A thistle in it's prime may stand three meters high, a meter wide and have up to forty thousand seeds which can lay dormant for over seven and up to twenty years before sprouting from just one of it's flowers. Often referred to as 'natures barbwire' thick stands of thistles can form an impassable barrier even for large grazers such as deer and elk. Though the thistle guards itself well, beneath it's formidable thorns it has many practical uses. Long ago it's recepticals ( the thickened top of the stem below the flower) were commonly eaten, much like artichokes. The seeds, a favorite food of finches, make good oil for cooking and burning. The flower heads are used in remedies to treat lung, kidney and liver problems as well as chronic headaches, memory loss, menopause, menstrual cramping, loss of appetite, indigestion, colds, fevers, infections, ulcers and some cancers. The Scottish thistle's botanical name 'Onopordum acanthium' means 'thorny donkey food' in ancient Greek and when milled the leaves do make a good fodder for livestock, in which way they were used to a large extent in ancient Scotland.  Though they take little from the soil, I still pull thistles from the garden, but am pleased to have them standing tall in the yard, their lovely blossoms attracting butterflies and bees. I'll be extra glad they're there should I have need of a good home remedy or something to break a hex.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic poppy tile

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4x10 relief carved and handpainted ceramic poppy tile.

Demeter, mother goddess of harvest, holds red poppies that grow among the barley as an emblem of her mysteries and wisdom. The poppy is a symbol of the sacred laws of nature, the sanctity of marriage and the cycle of life and death over which Demeter presides. In marriage the poppy represents fertility, unity, loyalty and the connected elements of creation. Like the love of Demeter for her daughter Persephone, in all matters of love they symbolize dedication. In death poppies guard the memories of past lives and are associated with peace, passage and Demeters guidance through the dreams of eternal slumber. In it's life aspect it signifies a promise of rebirth, renewal, comfort in times of need and guidance through the many stages of being in our journey along lifes path. Where the poppy stands and falls spreading its seeds to the earth where many more may grow when thier time comes. By this the gentle goddess Demeter bestows upon us an understanding of the endless cycles of energy within all things.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Handmade, relief carved ceramic tile set

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10 x 21 Three piece, relief carved, hand painted ceramic botanical pea tile set

There are certain foods which have played a significant role in shaping the course of human history. Peas, along with other legumes are undoubtedly one of these foods. There is speculation that peas originated in either Burma, Northern Thailand or Northern India, though it is generally considered they are most likely from somewhere between the near east and central Asia. Fossilized peas from 9750 BC were found among the artifacts in the 'Spirit cave' on the border of Thailand and Burma. These were almost certainly gathered from the wild. Many archaeological finds have included dried peas which, in most cases, had been grown and stored by our ancient ancestors. Peas were one of the first plants ever cultivated and since then their path through history has been closely intertwined with our own. It was largely due to the ability to dry and keep staple foods such as peas that nomadic people were first able to have permanent dwellings. Likewise such foods enabled travel over longer distances and a wider range of environments. This for the most part is how peas spread in such abundance. As we have followed our evolutionary course through time, peas have been there with us offering nourishment and sustainability, virtually the same now as they've always been.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Handmade relief carved Celtic owl ceramic tile

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6x6 relief carved ceramic Celtic Owl tile

Owls are one of the oldest types of creatures alive today. Fossils have been found showing owls already existed as a distinct lineage some sixty million years ago. By the time human evolution began owls were already well adapted, masters of their environment in almost every part of the world. People have always beheld these magnificent birds with awe and wonderment. Intrigued by their mysterious nature there have been and still are many stories and beliefs surrounding the ability and behavior of owls. Many cultures hold owls to be powerful symbols of both wisdom and protection, believing them to possess physical strength and cognitive powers far surpassing that of any other creature. They are also associated with the nurturing, maternal forces of nature by way of their deep connection to the moon.  Metaphysically able to see through the darkness of time and space as they can see through the dark of night, an owl’s real strength of vision comes not only from their extremely good eyesight, but also from advanced and complex capabilities of perception. The goddess Athena found the owls ability to look into the soul and subconscious a great asset, for it helped her to know and speak full truths as only owl could see it. It is in the form of a great white owl that the moon goddess Arianrhod is said to spread her protective wings over the night bringing peace, safety and solace to all who beseech her. In eastern lore the goddess Lakshmi, known as a keeper of spiritual and maternal prosperity as well as for her loyalty and beauty rides upon an owl which symbolizes many of the same blessings as the goddess they carry. The owl’s connection to the spirit world and dark often leads them to be associated with aspects of death and reincarnation and in many cultures their ability to fly silently is attributed to them being either part or all spirits themselves. They represent the North and the North wind in the Native American Sacred hoop tradition. Whether the owls silent flight, stealth, agility, superior eyesight, hearing and ability to camouflage to near invisibility is due to their spiritual status or not, they are at the very least a marvel of evolution deserving of respect and reverence. Should we neglect to give that respect and recognize their entitlement to the earth as their home, one should hope they truly are spirits, able to transcend the boundaries of life and death, an evolution which would enable them to survive humanity, the only threat to their majestic existence.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic dandelion tile

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3x3 relief carved, hand painted ceramic dandelion tile.
Not only does it sport a most beautiful flower, the dandelion is also an excellent food and medicinal plant. With it's large supply of nutritive salts, it is a blood tonic and stimulant for the entire system. The young leaves of the dandelion are much higher in vitamins and minerals than ordinary garden vegtables, (we all know how easy they are to grow too) and can be eaten raw in salads or lightly steamed, dried leaves are used for tea & beer making. Dandeloin wine can be prepared from the flowers and young roots can be cooked as a vegetable or roasted and ground for coffee. Oh and lets not forget the delightful pleasure of sending dandelion seeds parachuting off into the wind with one puff of breath!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Decorative relief carved red clover ceramic tile

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3x3 relief carved, hand painted red clover ceramic tile
Red clover, whose Latin name (Trifolium pratense) means ' clover found in meadows' is a primary food source for honey bees, bumble bees and and dozens of types of moths & butterflies. Though it is native to Europe, west Asia and Northwest Africa it's ability to flourish in such a wide range of climates has enabled it to naturalize in many other parts of the world. Where ever it's found, despite often being perceived as a weed, clover is an environmental and economic asset. Aside from aiding the ever more delicate survival of pollinating insects and being a valuable source of nourishment for nearly any herbivore, clover also helps to re-build depleted soil, being one of the most efficient nitrogen locking ground covers.
There is an old expression 'to be in clovers' which means living an easy carefree life of comfort and prosperity. This expression originally comes from clover being known to fatten cattle and preserve the soil of the pastures. Perhaps the exuberant red clover with it's tiny, perfectly balanced  inflorescence's is a good reminder of the important balancing aspects of nature which we can so often overlook.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic sun tile

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8x8 relief carved ceramic sun man tile.
A very happy summer solstice to the northern hemisphere.
The longest day of the year, celebrated for centuries with bonfires and revelry is one of the most significant days in the pagan calendar. The sun is at it's height of power, the earth is abundant, herbs are at their most potent and magic is said to be more powerful on the solstice. Called Alban Heruin ' light of the shore' by the Druids, it's the mid point between the equinox festivals, 'light of the earth' and 'light of the water.'  In the Wicca tradition it is the Sabbat of Litha when the apex of light is symbolized by the crowning of the oak king, god of the waxing year, who the next day must relinquish his crown to the Holly king, god of the waning year. In ancient Sweden mid summer trees were erected and decorated in each town. Villagers would dance around the tree and women & girls would ritualistically bath in the river to bring rain to the crops. Today it is the largest celebration in Sweden next to Christmas and in England thousands of people still gather at Stonehenge and Avebury to welcome the sunrise on solstice morning.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic orange tree tile set

The sweet orange, a symbol of physical and spiritual prosperity, is believed to have originated in southeast Asia as an anciently cultivated hybrid between the mandarin and pomelo ( predecessor to the grapefruit) By 2500 BC sweet oranges were being grown domestically throughout China. In 1493 the first orange tree arrived in the western hemisphere from Spain and was planted on Haiti. The now common naval orange was discovered relatively recently, originally the product of a naturally occurring mutation it would most likely be very rare or extinct by now had it not been cultivated. The mutation was found in 1810 growing on a selecta orange tree at a Brazilian monestary near Bahia. Sweet oranges are now the most widely cultivated fruit in the world and each navel orange tree,  being a mutation and unable to reproduce,  is essentially a clone of that original tree in Bahia.  Thus the very popular navel orange is the same as it was 200 years ago.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Decorative relief carved wild rose tile

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6x6 relief carved ceramic wild rose tile from

To The Rose Upon The Rood Of Time
Red rose, proud rose, sad rose of all my days
come near me while I sing the ancient ways
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
the Druid grey, wood nurtured, quiet eyed
who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old
in dancing silver sandaled on the sea,
singing in their high and lonely melody.
Come near, no more blinded by mans fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.

Come near, come near, come near - Ah, leave me still
a little space for the rose breath to fill!
Lest I no more hear common things to crave;
The weak worm hiding down in it's mall cave,
the feild mouse running by me in the grass,
and heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
But seek alone to hear the strange things said,
by God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
and learn to chant a tongue men do not know.
Come near; I would before my time to go,
sing of old Eire and the ancient ways.
Red rose, proud rose, sad rose of all my days.
~W.B. Yeats~

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Handmade relief carved ceramic rose faerie tile

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4 x 10 relief carved rose faerie ceramic tile

So named by Aphrodite
the fairest of the fair
a lifeless nymph upon the ground
was by the gods compassion spared
Kissed by Dionysus
sweet nectar at her heart
Her fragrance cast by the breath of Zephyr
who bade the clouds depart
And from the endless heavens
Apollo this day, kind and warm
granted ever after by his light
the rose would be reborn.
                                              By Sara Gresham

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Handmade relief carved wild rose ceramic tile

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3x3 relief carved, hand painted ceramic wild rose tile

 Wild roses & rose hips have been used medicinally, cosmetically and as a source of nutrition for thousands of years. They are mentioned in many ancient manuscripts and have been found in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. In the middle ages rose hip tea was used to calm anxiety and depression as well as to aid circulation. To this day it is still used for these and many other purposes.
Roses are very beneficial for the heart, mind, stomach and respiratory system, teas and tonics made from the hips are used to treat nearly every digestive upset, coughs, flues, fevers, menstrual cramps, hypertension, along with a wide range of disorders caused by vitamin deficiencies, most notably vitamin C. Taken internally or applied topically roses help to enhance the skin, hair and nails. Poultices made from the flower and plant are used to heal burns & rashes, eliminate the pain of bee stings and sooth puffy sore eyes. There are hundreds of species of the genus Rosa, both wild and domestic with more every day due to their ability to naturally cross pollinate. Every part of the rose plant with the exception of the thorns is edible and beneficial. Even smelling roses is known to have an uplifting and energizing effect on the mind body and soul, and their beauty has inspired many a love poem. So DO 'stop to smell the roses' and maybe eat a few as well, you will be accepting one of natures most precious healing gifts.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Handmade relief carved ceramic mermaid and seal tile

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8x8 relief carved mermaid and seal done in emerald shadow art glaze.

 It is said Selkies are capable of great compassion and love. Many tales have been told of people being rescued by seals off the coast of Scotland and Ireland and many tales of love between the Selkie and the sea folk there. Selkies dark eyes speak of deep emotions, but the true depth of their gaze comes from the abyss of the sea. It's there in the quiet weightlessness of the ocean that they belong, it is there alone that they can find true peace and contentment. A Selkie may stay many years in human form, living and loving as any other, but the waters will always call to them and eventually they will return to it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Handmade, relief carved ceramic oak leaf border tile

2x2 acorn and 2x5 oak leaf tiles shown here in a pine matte art glaze.

The sacred oak is deeply rooted in Celtic culture and lore and holds powerful symbolism in Wiccan belief and ceremony. To the ancient Celts, Greeks and Romans wearing oak leaves was a sign of status, symbolizing nobility, courage, strength, loyalty, family protection and honor. The oak is believed to hold extrordinary power due to it's ability to attract lightening, more oak trees are hit by lightening than any other tree. The element of fire and the gods Dagda ( Celtic), Thor (Norse) and Jupiter (Roman) are all connected to oak as well as Jupiters wife Juno, goddess of marriage, thus making the oak also a symbol of conjugal  fidelity & fulfillment. In the Drudic tradition the oak (Duir) is the tree of May, of June and Litha (summer solctice) in the Wiccan tradition.
It is in this time, as the earth begins to warm and come alive that we are reminded of life, fertility, birth and renewal. As we bear witness to the wisdom, strength and endurance found in the gentle persistance of nature, we are compelled to honor that which heals, comforts and protects us. All such earthly blessings are symbolized by the mighty oak.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day

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Happy Mothers Day
In 1858 Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, a young Appalachian house wife started what she called 'Mothers friendship day' as a means to promote awarness about the need for better sanitation. Through the 'Mothers friendship ' clubs she established,  Jarvis was able to teach thousands of women the basics of nursing and good sanitation practices durring the civil war. Mothers freindship day, though never widely celebrated, became known in some parts of the United States as Mothers work day, the day after it was safe to plant tomatoes outdoors. In 1908, Prompted by her daughter in Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis's honor and mainly as a memorial to her Mother,  the first mothers day was observed  in both Grafton West Virginia and Philidephia. Grafton is now home to the international Mothersday shrine. The idea of Mothersday caught on quickly and by 1912 it was celebrated throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico, South America, China, Japan and Africa with more to follow. It was on December 12, 1912 that the International Mothers day association was formed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May day relief carved hand painted ceramic tile set

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Relief carved, hand painted ceramic orange tree tile set available at
 Happy May day!
The pre Christian custom of  rural comunities comming together after a long winter of isolation to welcome the abundance of a fertile earth has a long and often libidinous history.
In the Celtic pagan tradition May 1st known as Beltane, festival of fire is one of the two most celebrated festivals of the solar year, Samhain being the other. Depending on local customs Beltane has and is celebrated in many ways, but the focus is always fertility, purification and optimism. The return of vitality and passion. It's when the fertile earth mother opens up to the father sky and the union of earth, sun and rain brings about new life, strong crops and healthy livestock.

Sunday, March 25, 2012
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6x6 relief carved Celtic tree of life ceramic tile

The Ash tree, also known as the world tree or tree of life figures prominently in both Celtic and Norse mythology. In the Druidic tradition it is known as the cosmic ash, associated with the month of March       and the link between inner and outer exsistance. To the Norse it was the world tree, with thick strong branches supporting the universe, earth at it's center and deep roots in hell. For the Celts the Ash tree represented the connection of the three circles of exsistance, confusion, balance and creative force, a continual rebirth as passage is made from circle to circle untill the land of the blessed is finally reached. Historically the ash has also been used to remove spells and hexes, cure warts and repell snakes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic lily fairy tile

4 x 10 Relief carved ceramic Lily tile.
Some of the oldest traditions of mankind revolve around the rites of spring, celebrating growth and the renewal of life. Ostara, celebrated around the spring equinox, 20th-22nd of March in the northern hemisphere and around the 23rd of September in the southern, is one of the eight major Wiccan holidays.
In Welsh mythology it is the time when the god of light, reborn on the winter Solstice is now strong enough to defeat his rival twin of darkness and mate with the great mother goddess who every year at Imbolc ( February 1st) returns to virginity. The indigenous Mayan people have celebrated a spring equinox festival  for ten centuries. As the sun sets on the day of the equinox,  the great ceremonial pyramid,  El Castillo in Mexico, is bathed in late afternoon light. The lengthening shadows on the long staircase of the pyramid give the illusion of a diamond backed snake in decent. This is the return of the sun serpent to the land.
Most ancient rites of spring revolve around goddesses, many returned to virginity for the event and resurrection. The earth mother goddess Asasa Ya is honored by the Ashanti people along with the sky god Nyame at the spring festival of Durbar. Eostre is the ancient teutonic spring goddess who's name is the root of the present day spring celebration of Ostara. The Roman goddess of spring flowers Flora was honored at the festival of Floralia, April 28th - May 3. The Norse fertility goddess Freya returns every spring with her magical necklace representing the fire of the sun. Each spring in India the Hindu goddess of art, wisdom and learning , Saraswati is honored with prayers and music at the festival of Saraswati Puja. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Handmade relief carved ceramic wind man

The stormy March has come at last
with wind and cloud and changing skies;
I hear the rushing of the blast
that thorough the snowy valley flies.
Ah! passing few are they who speak
wild stormy month in praise of thee,
yet though thy winds are loud and bleak
thou art a welcome month to me.
For thou to northern lands again
the glad and glorious sun dost bring
And thou hast joined the gentle train
and wearest the gentle name of spring.
And in thy reign of blast and storm
smiles many a long, bright summer day
when the changed winds are soft and warm
And heaven puts on the blue of May.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Decorative ceramic Celtic moon tile
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8x8 relief carved Celtic moon woman ceramic tile

One Night in Spain ( Full Moon at the Bullfight )

Tonight, the moon howls at the dogs; her silent screams
echo in their dungeon dreams
where wild ancestors pace the dust
of ageless patience for their prison walls
to slowly crumble, one day surely fall,
as all the worlds walls one day must

Pale the naked moonlight shines with empty lust
for all that she can never touch;
her shadows and the distant sun,
niggardly that grants her few weak beams,
enough to stir up dog’s and lover’s dreams
yet leave her barren still; the lifeless one

Just once, just once to stand beside the primal fire
its touch to melt her cold desire;
to swoop down from the astral plane
and hunt the fugitive pleasures of
mortality; hunger, fear; just once to love
and quaff its bitter ferments, hate and shame

As on the firmament now tilts her rays to rise,
from sultry summer loft she spies
blood ritual below, in final spurt:
then with obscene and desperate delight
entwines her glare within the fierce arc-light
and hurls it at the sacrificial dirt

The tortured bull, on seas of leaden agony adrift,
to submerge it’s only wish,
through twisted catacombs of mind
has crawled for shadowed corner, there to hide,
there to face alone the rushing tide;
for peace, if only with last breath, to find
In poor mockery of passion moon flings her spiteful rays

uselessly into the fray

Off sword and mirrored suit they fly,
shattered and unseen, except by chance
one single, thin, illuminating lance
finds it,s target true; the round bull’s-eye

Bloodied and supine, the beast, of rage bereft;
its eyes, though darkening windows, yet
still admit that slender shaft;
by which chaste lunar glow is there revealed,
in that last refuge, dim memories
of moonlit summer meadow, cow and calf

Softly now through time the bull’s lost life subsides
back unto the other side
In tranquility the beast now lies,
and innocent again with mother near,
her gentle lowing sounding in his ear
The bull takes one last loving look, and dies

Poor moon, frustrated still by what she’ll never know
Takes her sluggish tides in tow
And scribes her lonely arc above the earth
Tugging at the hearts of beasts and men
Though how, she cannot ever comprehend
For she feels not our pull, so strong though we feel hers

J. A. Gresham

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Relief carved Celtic heart ceramic tile

6x6 Celtic Knot & heart tile
Available at

The very ancient festival of lupercalia, February 13-15 in honor of Lupercus, god of sheperds and partly in honor of Lupa, the she wolf that suckled the orphans Remus & Romulus, founders of Rome, is said by some to be the origin of Valentines day. In Roman tradition the festival began with the Luperci (brothers of the wolf) priests. Foreheads smeared in sacrificial blood wiped from the knife with milk soaked wool, wearing only a goat skin, they would circle the city of Rome hitting women who lined the route with shaggy goat thongs. This was believed to ensure the barren fertility and the pregnant easy deliveries. Another of the festivities included eligable men drawing maiden's names from an urn, who they would pair with for the remainder of the festival and sometimes longer. Around 496 AD Pope Gelasias, feeling that this pairing of couples was not in keeping with the Christian teachings, ended the festival and replaced it with St. Valentines day whom he declared the patron saint of lovers (that being a whole other story) February 14 then became the day for men to draw the names of saints from the urn and spend the following year emulating their drawn saint. This practice fizzled out and by the 15th century Valentines day had returned to coupling eligable singles. Attemps to revive the saint pairing later never caught on.During medieval chivalry days the Valentines custom was to draw names in pairs, the man then wearing his chosen name on his sleeve, honor bound to attend and protect her. The 17th century saw the custom of exchanging elaborate hand made cards with flowery verse. Pre fabricated cards and a reduction in postal rates in 1797 ushered in the practice of mailing Valentine cards. Suddenly, most likely due to the anonimity of the mail, great numbers of racey, sexually suggestive cards began to appear. A great stir was caused amongst the prudish Victorians and several countries actually banned the exchange of cards due to the large number of obscene Valentines circulating. In the late 19th century the Chicago post office rejected tens of thousands of cards as not being fit to be carried through the US mail. Valentine cards were not to be stopped and today February 14, jokingly refered to as a 'hallmark' holiday has the highest sale of cards than any other day of the year and I'm sure there's a good smattering of sexually suggestive ones among them. So Happy Lupercalia!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Decorative relief carved Celtic ceramic tile willow tree set

10 x 21 three piece relief carved, ceramic Celtic willow tree set
Available at

The willow tree figures prominently in the mythology and folklore of many cultures, associated to the feminine lunar rhythms of life and utilized throughout history for healing, tools and spirituality. It is a symbol of romantic love, healing, protection and fertility. Along with the hazel and birch, willow is known to be one of the best woods for water divining and the bark has been used for it's pain relieving qualities since ancient times.
In the Celtic tradition February is the month of the willow which has long had an association with Pagan rituals involving the enhancement of psychic abilities, to connect with intuition, dreams and visions and to poeticly inspire writing, music & images.
A tree of dreaming, inspiration and enchantment.
Sacred to the moon.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic crocus tile

3x3 ceramic relief carved crocus tile
Available at

Imbolc, the ancient pagan festival of the lactating ewes, celebrated on the 2 of February marks the center point between fall equinox and summer solstice, the dark half of the year. A time to prepare for growth and renewal by blessing seeds & tools and paying homage to the dieties of fertility, especially the goddesses in their maiden aspect. Hearth fires are doused and rekindled and candles lit to honor the strenthening of the sun. Ibolc is a sacred day of the goddess Brighid who's snake emerges from the womb of the earth mother to test the weather, this being the origin of ground hog day. The crocus, being a member of the iris family, associated with Eos, Venus & Aphrodite as well as the sun, mars, leo & fire is one of the traditional decorations used to celebrate Imolc.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Decorative handmade relief carved ceramic dragon tile web site
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Happy year of the Dragon!
This is our 14 x 7 half round dragon tile #2 surrounded with custom shaped field tile.

Dragons are deeply rooted in, and their legends permeate Chinese culture from ancient times untill today. The benevolence of the dragon signifies greatness, goodness and blessings, many Chinese still often refer to themselves as decendants of the dragon. In ancient China there was not doubt of their exsistance and great respect was shown for any writing or art depicting dragons. Being a divine mythical beast, dragons can ward off evil spirits and protect the innocent, the ultimate symbol of good fortune. According to Chinese mythology dragons lived under the earth, surfacing only in the second month of the Chinese calendar to create rain & thunder. They looked like snakes and had no wings but could still fly.
This is the year of the less selfish and opinionated water dragon. Being less power hungry than the other dragons tend to be, the water dragon can accept defeat gracefully.  A good negotiator knowing when, where and how to apply pressure. They are a little on the over optimistic side and must remember to relenquish the unfeasable in order to concentrate fully on the most rewarding endevors.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Relief carved decorative handmade ceramic swan tile our web page
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12x12 ceramic swan tile, relief carved & handpainted in underglazes with a clear gloss glaze finish.
Available at

Swans feature strongly in the mythology of many cultures the world over. For the American Navajo the white swan could call up the four winds, Australian aborigines considered the black swan as wives of their All father and in Greece the swan was and is the symbol of the muses. Norse Valkyries often took the shape of swans and flew singing though the skies. They appear throughout Irish folklore, often in the disguise of fairy women. At times such as summer Solstice, Beltain or Samhain when the veils between worlds are thin, swan maidens can take on human form. In the Celtic tradition the swan is associated with dieties of healing water and sun. Sacred to bards they are shape shifters that have mastered the elements of water, earth and air. The swan is known as the Hamsa bird in Hinduism, signifing the divine mind and the breath of spirit...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Relief carved ceramic humming bird tile

6x6 relief carved humming bird ceramic tile
available at

A Maya folk tale
In days long ago the sun god Baalam Kej transformed into a humming bird to escape the anger of his beloved Lady moon's father. The lady moon, unaware of the transformation came upon this humming bird and was magically drawn to him. The humming bird showed no fear and allowed himself to be captured by lady moon and carried home. Lady moons father known as the creator and supreme god was so pleased by his daughters happiness he had a special house built in lady moon's sleeping quarters especially for the humming bird. That night the sun god and lady moon eloped. They have made a perfect match of day & night ever since.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Decorative Celtic handmade ceramic tile installation web site
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These days we tend to think of ceramic tiles as mainly funtional, but they also possess a particular beauty which has played a major role in thier development through the ages. There have been periods throughout history where, in many places of the world, ceramic tiles have flourished primarily as decorative, adorning numerous palaces & public places. Increased movement along trade routes, wars, political unrest and religious fervor have all played a part in the blending of cultures. The subsequent exchange of artistic ideas, techniques and materials lead to the evolution and development of tile making. Since ancient times skilled craftsmen and artizans have been respected members of many societies, often employed by the governments of thier countries and traveling to centers of commerce & wealth to practice thier skills.
The tradition of hand crafting tiles which dates back to prehistoric mans first recognition of clay as an artistic medium is experiencing a present day renaissance throughout North America with hundreds of small artistic tile studios emerging and many large manufacturers refocusing thier production to include decorative ceramic tile lines.