I believe that any artist you ask will tell you that creativity never ceases. Often, creativity is relentless and chases away the hopes of peaceful sleep. An obsessive call to express what lies at the very core. A newly learned technique sprouts tendrils of endless ideas that nag until they come to life. A well crafted piece sparks further exploration of design. Creativity is a pull; a driving force that can not be ignored. Inspiration is everywhere.

Always this energy smolders inside. When it remains unlit, the body fills with dense smoke”.

David Whyte

I have been crafting art tile for many years now. When the Covid quarantine hit Idaho in early March of 2020. I prepared to hunker down and carve all of the tile designs that I had been hoping to get to but never had the time. But one morning, I stumbled onto a live broadcast (it was the first year of Clayshare Con, where Jessica Putnam Phillips came to the rescue of thousands of quarantine stranded clay artists and supply companies.) that re-introduced me to a technique that had long fascinated and intimidated me.

Starting to carve the design

The technique is Sgrafitto. Clay pieces are decorated with a colored slip and designs are scratched through the slip to the natural clay below. Traditionally, it was a black slip on a white clay. Personally, I love the traditional look but these days there are artists that are creating beautiful pieces with other color slips…green, blue even pastels.

My first attempts at sgrafitto were promising enough to be a spring board of endless ideas that refuse to be shoved aside. If you are familiar with my work, you’ll know that I strive to build a connection and a curiosity for nature. The idea of large platters that told stories about the joys of nature took hold and refused to let go.

Wilderness soothes the soul and allows us to ground ourselves in the rhythm of Mother Nature.

So today, I share with you my first real attempt. The concept for this very piece kept me awake for several nights. The story of two days and two nights, the majestic mountains and soothing water. Wilderness soothes the soul and allows us to ground ourselves in the rhythm of Mother Nature. This platter is 12 inches in diameter. It is somewhat organic in shape which lends something extra to the natural beauty of the piece. I am keeping this one but I have fallen in love with the process so much that they will become apart of the Fire Creek line.

Even though I have more work to do to refine the vision that is in my head; sgrafitto no longer intimidates me. And while the ideas continue to swirl…often in the wee hours, I no longer resist them. I keep them safely in notebook to flesh them out and refine the design at a more appropriate hour.

Thank you for taking a moment to read about my work. I’d love to hear what you think of this piece. Comment below!


The landscape listens and we hear it call our own name.

Emily Dickinson

2 Replies to “Following the call”

  1. Oh, this is really wonderful, Dana, and so connected to what an artist friend of mine and I have been discussing. The process is engaging for sure and the one you present here is great…but that’s the thing about clay…so many different processes…so little time!

    My hope is that you will join us when we host a zoom conversation for artists sharing our experiences of the pandemic and how we see it affecting our future work. I will be posting links via Facebook and my newsletter, sign up at http://www.CLAYSONGS.com

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it! I am so happy it struck a chord with you. I would absolutely love to join in the conversation! I will go sign up! Thank you, my friend!

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