something unpredictable happens with art at 2200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Last week, potter Tom Meyer had 30 or 40 ceramic pieces ready for his upcoming gallery show with bead artist Salty Hanes. But his final project, a pair of ceramic tiles to be inlaid on a table, was eluding him. The abstract design he was trying for in the glaze was changing in the final firing in a way that was not to his liking.
"It's not a sure thing," Meyer said. "I was trying to complement the woodwork. The first two didn't work. The second two didn't work. I made six or eight a few days ago and we'll see how they work."
Meyer's studio, Tom's Pots, is next door on Fifth Street to Salty Hanes' shop, Spirit Beads. They've called their joint show "Neighbors: An exhibit of beadwork by Salty Hanes and pottery by Tom Meyer." It opens Friday at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery, with a reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Ceramic glazes are essentially glass, just as beads are. Beadwork is less uncertain than firing pots - the molten phase comes before Hanes starts her work, not at the end. The two artists have collaborated on several pieces for the show, two ceramic drums and some ornaments and a few pieces that involved melting beads on tiles in Meyer's kiln.
Hanes has created some beaded moccasins, an amulet octopus bag and a wall pocket - a beaded leather pocket that hangs on the wall to hold letters or papers.
"They were a big tourist item at the end of the last century," Hanes said. "You see them in museums."
She also has created three murals by bead weaving, which creates a curtain-like sheet of glass beads. The largest piece is a landscape called "Summer in the Tongass." Hanes used Crow beads for the piece, relatively large peasized beads so-named because they were used by Crow Indians in the 1850s.
"Summer in the Tongass" incorporates silver-lined beads, and transparent, opaque and matte-finished beads. Shifting the viewpoint changes the colors and makes certain beads stand out, accentuating some colors and subduing others.
"It depends on the light what beads come out," Hanes said.
Meyer taught himself to throw pots on a home-built wheel, and he's worked as a potter for about 25 years. It's rewarding work - he's his own boss and he's able to see tangible results for his efforts.
He's worked out of his Fifth Street studio for 20 years, and virtually all of his work is sold wholesale. This gallery show offered an opportunity to try some new ideas, to create hand-built as opposed to wheel-thrown work. He's also collaborated with artist Ray Peck on a new technique.
"Some (pieces) are embellished with reproductions of carving by Ray Peck," Meyer said. "It's a relief image, a reproduction of his small carvings, not my typical screen-printed picture."
Meyer has about 40 stoneware pieces for the show - a couple of planters, cups, bowls, a platter and the elusive tiles for two small end tables built by woodworker Gordon Harrison.