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I’m an artist who thrives on colour

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Joan Aspinall didn't start taking art seriously until she became an adult.

She honed her talent at the Art Students League in New York and also had the privilege of training under Leslie Tillet, a famed textile designer.

Ms Aspinall created her own textile collection but lost it all to Hurricane Fabian in 2003.

More than a decade later, she's back in the saddle.

How did you come up with the idea to create these tiles?

I have been in the screen printing business since 1980. My business started off printing one-off or personalised images, such as photos of children, on ceramic tiles and mugs years ago.

We were introduced to the sublimation process during a convention as far back as the early 80s but didn't use it much considering Bermuda's high humidity. It would have caused cartridges to clog unless the machine worked every day in a climate-controlled atmosphere. Our screen printing facility was also in a warehouse on the water and was not the ideal place for it. However, since then, the evolution of this printing method has skyrocketed due to the advancement of ink cartridge systems, the standards of dyes used, and the digital age.

Was it much different from your projects in the past illustrating books? How so?

Book illustration, book production, and my portfolio of images stem from my screen printing experience. One of the reasons I went into book production was the amount of artwork originally created for screen printing that I had on hand. [My] Tuppie the Cat series is a perfect example. The series contains the collection of my Bermuda scenic images. It was very easy to add a cat to each scene from St George's to Somerset then link them up with simpler pages of text and minor art. With most book production, writing a story comes first and creating illustrations comes second.

With this it was the opposite way around.

The images already told the story.

Regarding the tile production, I used the same established images from my books, thus it was a matter of selecting the images I liked best.

Were there any challenges involved?

The printing process was simple, but the challenge was learning the right temperature and pressure for printing.

Under too much pressure, tiles will crack, and this happened to half of our experimental stock. Unlike production runs of ceramic tiles coming in from factories abroad, this process is designed for one-of-a-kind art tiles.

It is not only labour intensive, the raw materials are expensive.

Each tile requires eight minutes of printing time and, unlike regular printed goods using ink systems, this technique uses dyes.

The high heat in a printing press converts the dye into a gas, and it is the gas that prints the image on the tile.

What was the reward?

The reward, of course, comes in the satisfaction of seeing one's art displayed on such a vast range of items, and the ability of producing this same art over and over again in a multiple of sizes on multiple products.

What artist would not like this capability at their fingertips? Since I'm an artist who thrives on colour, this technique enhances the brilliance and intensity of my art.

The tiles are currently available through Brown & Co in Hamilton, and the Craft Market, Bermuda Arts Centre and Hand Made stores in Dockyard. For more information visit: www.cahoot.bm

Joan Aspinall's 'Moongate' on tile.
Joan Aspinall's 'I am an Island' on tile.
Joan Aspinall's 'Tuppie's House' on tile.
Joan Aspinall's 'Baby Humpback Whale' on tile.

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Published December 23, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 23, 2014 at 12:23 am)

I’m an artist who thrives on colour

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