Five Ravens in Five Minutes Each

January 5, 2015

Today's challenge was to make five small sketches, spending no more than 5 minutes on each. I decided to try my hand at one of the iconic images of Alaska: the raven. To be more specific, a raven holding some small red object in its beak—you see this image everywhere. It could represent a berry or salmon egg, but in Tlingit Native Alaskan mythology, Raven would be holding the sun, in a story that tells how he brought light to the world.


I cut five white opaque rectangles measuring 1 3/4" x 1 1/8" and set to work. I first sifted a small amount of black frit powder on the piece, then used a brush and small tool to subtract material until I had the familiar raven head, beak open. I then added some subtle sgraffito touches (eye, nostril, feather texture). That was it, five minutes. These will end up as part of suncatchers, and I will put a little piece of red frit between the beak of each bird to emulate the salmon egg.


It was interesting to see how each tile approximated the same image, but was different. It's hard to put into words the elements that make up the proper aspect of a raven's beak, but I knew when I was working when I had a beak shape that was "too eagle" or "too finch". A raven's beak has a solid thickness, but is also delicate at the end for clever dexterity. Some of these are more "raven" than others, but overall I feel some essence of the bird exists in each tile. It will be fun to see them with the egg fired in place.

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