Saturday, January 25, 2014

Handmade relief carved ceramic thistle tile

~Happy Robert Burns Day~
I mind it weel, in early date,

When I was beardless, young, and blate,

An' first could thresh the barn,

Or haud a yokin' at the pleugh;

An' tho' forfoughten sair eneugh,

Yet unco proud to learn;

When first amang the yellow corn

A man I reckon'd was,

An' wi' the lave ilk merry morn

Could rank my rig and lass,

Still shearing, and clearing

The tither stooked raw,

Wi' claivers, an' haivers,

Wearing the day awa.

Ev'n then a wish (I mind it's pow'r),

A wish, that to my latest hour

Shall strongly heave my breast -

That I for poor auld Scotland's sake

Some usefu' plan or beuk could make,

Or sing a sang at least.

The rough burr-thistle, spreading wide

Amang the bearded bear,

I turn'd the weeding-heuk aside,

An' spar'd the symbol dear:

No nation, no station

My envy e'er could raise,

A Scot still, but blot still,

I knew nae higher praise.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Decorative handmade ceramic dragon tile set
 Trying to identify the dragon of myth and legend is a virtually impossible task, as they have taken so many forms in various cultures during many time periods. They appear in the mythologies of Greece, Rome, other parts of Europe, Africa, the near east, in China, Japan, pre-Columbian America and the Pacific Islands Later they became an essential feature in tales of European chivalry. Many of these fearsome beasts were clearly composites, made up of combinations of known animals. A classical European dragon would typically have a snake like body, claws like a lion and bats wings. Others were more clearly serpentine with embellishments. The word dragon comes from the Greek drakon, meaning serpent or great worm. Many early reports of dragon sightings occurring in distant lands were almost certainly giant snakes such as the Indian Python. In the Bible the dragon was the serpent of evil, which explains why the mythical beast had ever after to be sought out and killed as a simple matter of duty by Knights and local heroes.  Although the dragons’ most typical form seemed to be derived from a variety of animals, it is also likely that some of them came from the distorted reports brought back by venturesome travelers of actual living beasts. Animals such as Crocodiles and monitor lizards that were rarely seen outside of Africa and the Komodo dragon of Indonesia may have been suitable subjects for a story teller to work with. One rather intriguing behavior of lizards and snakes of all sizes is that they constantly flick their often bright red, forked tongues in and out to test the air. To the more fancifully inclined, observed from a respectful distance this could very well look like a flickering flame, possibly sparking the origin of the mythical dragons fire breathing aspect.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Handmade, relief carved Decorative Fairy ceramic tile.

Relief carved and hand painted 6x6 fairy tile available to order from
Known as daughters of the moon, the Lele of Romanian mythology are described as beautiful virgin fairies with great seductive powers and magic skills. They inhabit remote forests, caves and marshes, mostly appearing by moonlight in groups of three or seven to dance in secluded glades, ponds, marshes, and the top of maple or walnut trees, they will also dance at crossroads and in abandoned fireplaces. Much like the elf and fairy mythology of many other cultures the Lele cast spells with their circle dances which typically leave a ring of mushrooms called ‘fairy rings’ behind. The Hora, a popular traditional Romanian folk dance done in a spinning circle, is said to come from the dance of the Lele. Though they are not generally considered evil, they will inflict terrible punishment when provoked by sleeping under a tree belonging to them or refusing an invitation to dance and if one should randomly hear one of their songs they will become instantly mute. To please the Lele, festival days were dedicated to them. Anyone not respecting these days by working or not participating in the dancing were said to suffer the revenge of the Lele with mysterious death or crippling. Lack of respect for the Lede could also cause hail, floods, withered trees and houses to catch on fire.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Decorative relief carved handmade ceramic fairy tile

I thought the earth remembered me,

she took me back so tenderly,

arranging her dark skirts,

her pockets full of lichens and seeds.

I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,

nothing between me and the white fire of the stars

but my thoughts and they floated

light as moths along the branches of perfect trees.

All night I heard the small kingdoms breathing around me,

the insects and the birds who do their work in the darkness.

All night I rose and fell,

as if in water grappling with a luminous doom.

By morning I had vanished at least a dozen times

into something new.

- Mary Oliver

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Decorative handmade, relief carved ceramic frog and salamander tiles

Water was considered sacred by the Druids, and every river, spring and well had its guardian spirit or deity. Frogs and salamanders, because of their connection with both water and land they were often believed to be representatives of water spirits. As an ally to the healer and seer, amphibians were considered the ones to bring the blessings of rain and purification from the water spirits. Frog was also seen as a healing messenger of the Mother Goddess. In more modern traditions the frog and salamander symbolize purification, renewal, sensitivity and hidden beauty.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Decorative handmade ceramic Celtic owl tile set

Owls and humans the world over have forever had a strong connection to one another. The very ancient goddess of death, Lilith is depicted with talons as feet, a horned head dress and flanked by owls. She was likely the inspiration for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare able to assume the shape of an Owl. The many ‘Little Owls’ that inhabit the rock crevices of Athens and the Acropolis were believed to be embodiments of Athena. The Romans, who appropriated many of the Greeks beliefs, associated Owls with Minerva, goddess of prophesy and wisdom. Representations of Owls were used in Rome to ward off the evil eye and feathers as well as other Owl parts were found in many magical potions and pharmaceutical remedies. The Ainu of Northern Japan placed carved Eagle Owls on houses as protection from famine and disease. Although they revered the Eagle Owl and Screech Owl, who warned against danger, the Barn and Horned Owl were considered demonic.

The Owl was the emblem of a royal clan of Chinese masters of the thunderbolt and was also a symbol of too much Yang.

In the Middle East, a person who nags and complains too much is compared to an owl. There was a belief there that Owls represented the souls of people who died un-avenged.

The hoot of an Owl in Southern India was interpreted by number:

1) Impending death. 2) Success in anything started soon after. 3) A woman marring into the family. 4) A disturbance. 5) Travel. 6) Guests on the way. 7) Mental distress. 8) Sudden death. 9) Good fortune.

In Polish folklore women who die un married turn into Doves and Married women into Owls.

The Ojibwa of North America, along with many other indigenous tribes consider the Owl a guide to the life beyond for the spirit of the dead. The Pawnee people have a beautiful ritual involving the decoration of the ceremonial pipe with Owl feathers based on the following visionary instructions:

“Put me upon the feathered stem, for I have power to help the Children. The night season is mine. I wake when others sleep. I can see in the darkness and discern coming danger. The human race must be able to care for its young during the night. The warrior must be alert and ready to protect his home against prowlers in the dark. I have the power to help the people so that they may not forget their young in sleep. I have power to help the people to be watchful against enemies while darkness is on the earth. I have power to help the people keep awake and perform these ceremonies in the night as well as the day.” (Fletcher, 1900-1901)

Whether perceived as power possessing beings or harbingers of death, Owls, throughout history, wherever they are found, have inspired humans who continue to celebrate their aesthetic beauty, sense of mystery and sharp sensory awareness, much superior to ours.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Relief carved and hand painted 21 x 29 ceramic tile set available to order from
The north wind blasts cold and rude,

boldly bearing down from snow capped peaks,

hurling icy fragments of discontent,

from a host of laden clouds.

The earth sighs a quiet requiem to the impotent sun

and drifts into slumber.

No creature dares wander the hills bleak and drear,

nor linger near the wild swell of the sea,

to be swept away

or pierced by sharp arrows of cold,

hissing through barren boughs


At length, fury spent,

wind, fog and mist gather in retreat,

leaving the pallid moon to luminate,

a frigid blanket of glittering splendor.

Snug in cranny and crevice,

life curls supine,

awaiting the docile Zephyr to return with spring.

~Shannon Gresham~