Business profile

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2000

Title and firm: Owner, Heirloom Porcelain.

Business overview: Lewis, a painter, does original artwork for plates, cups, jars and boxes, as well as pastel drawings on paper, hand-painted ties, and air-brushed T-shirts and sweatshirts. Generally, she paints from photographs supplied by clients, usually of family dogs. Her ``custom pet portraits'' are her main line. She also sells pastel drawings on 11-by-14-inch acid-free paper and hand-painted ties. In addition to selling locally and over the Internet, Lewis has attended dog shows in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. She has decorated trophies for dog clubs and memorial urns for pet ashes.

Process: The porcelain pieces Lewis does are notably time-consuming. She uses a layering process in applying transparent paint to blank china. First, using a wax pencil, she makes an initial drawing. She uses her own ground paint powder, mixed with an oil medium, to reproduce a dog or other pet from a photograph. Then she fires the piece in a kiln at 1,400 degrees. After the piece cools down, usually a 24-hour process, she repaints. Depending on the intensity of colors needed - for example, to get a dark purple - the piece could be fired up to 11 times. Every piece is fired at least three times, she said.

Biographical information: Aside from 10 years in Valdez, Lewis, 41, has lived in Juneau her whole life. She has been drawing for 30 years and was especially inspired by the husky and malamute portraits by Josephine Crumrine. She began the business three years ago, after several years of classes in china painting.

Family: She and her husband, David, have a daughter, Jesie, 19, and a son, Joshua, 18, and three basset hounds, Tater, Grace and Hershey. Her mother, Sue Miller, also lives in Juneau. Her father, Dale Miller, died in September.

Latest project: She just signed a contract with Putting on the Dog, a national catalog of handmade gifts for dog lovers that goes out to 150,000 homes. It comes out Feb. 2.

Quotable: ``I love animals, and I especially love to paint dogs. My customers seem real pleased with my work, which is real gratifying.''

Contact information: 8845 Gail Ave.;; 790-2077. Studio hours are Monday through Saturday, by appointment.

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