Beth McCubbin

Steps to making a clay tile….from a wet block of clay to a hard beautiful stone tile

Rolling out a block of clay;
Side boards are used to ensure the rolled tile will have an even thickness all over;
Tracing out the tile using the wood template;
Taking away the extra clay;
Carving the design into the wet clay;
Applying under-glaze paints to colour the tiles;
Nancy with her finished wet tile;
Tile completely dried after 5 days;
Tile with a clear glaze applied over top;
Tiles loaded into the kiln before firing;
Electric kiln fires for 10 hours reaching 2500 degrees fahrenheit;
Finished tiles….still burning hot in the kiln:

Nancy’s beautiful finished tile!

Beth McCubbin

Finished tiles from 510 Rideau

In Inuktituk nuna, ᓄᓇ means earth, nature, land.
Really nice version of the medicine wheel and the four directions…with a feather.
The syllabics ᓄᓇᕗᑦ means Nunavut.
Kawennihes is the tile makers Mohawk name. The Iroquois Confederacy symbol is also seen.

A representation of the original Two Row Wampum treaty belt. A Wampum is a traditional shell bead that was often kept on strings and used in storytelling, ceremonial gifts, and recording important treaties and historical events. In 1613 a mutual treaty between the Dutch Government and the Five Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) was recorded on The Two Row Wampum treaty belt. The agreement is considered by the Haudenosaunee to be the basis of all of their subsequent treaties with European and North American governments.

This wampum records the meaning of the agreement, which declared peaceful coexistence between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers in the area. The pattern of the belt consists of two rows of purple wampum beads against a background of white beads. The purple beads signify the courses of two vessels — a Haudenosaunee canoe and a European ship — traveling down the river of life together, parallel but never touching.  The three white stripes denote peace and friendship.


Beth McCubbin

Workshop at the Shawenjeagamik Centre

This was a great workshop, the Shawenjeagamik Centre at 510 Rideau is a really nice place. It is an outreach, drop-in centre branch of Odawa Native Friendship Centre. Unfortunately we planned our day on the same weekend as the big June Pow Wow at Vincent Massey Park in Ottawa…so attendance was not as we expected. But the folks who came made up for the numbers in enthusiasm! Thank so much to Carrie and Jamie for organizing the workshop with 510 Rideau…and to Nancy who made it all so worthwhile!

17.1 (1)
Showing Nancy how to ‘erase’ mistakes on a wet tile. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander
Making and designing tiles. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander
Transferring an image onto the wet clay. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander
Pressing an image into the wet clay. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander
Painting finished design. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander
Beth McCubbin

Aanii !

9.1                Ojibwe; Aanii – Greetings! Hi!

This workshop introduced me to just how diverse the Minwaashin Lodge community can be. There was a wide variety in ages again at the workshop, but only one of the participants was Indigenous, an Ojibwe elder woman. The others were made up of women and children who were drawn to the community centre for what it stands for, for the traditional way of life and values it represents. The conversation which occurred while the participants were all working on their tiles was very interesting. One of the women grew up right next to a reserve in northern Ontario where her and her family had always respected and learned from the traditional practices of the First Peoples living in the area. And the other woman, invited by her friend to come along, was of European descent, strong in her own traditions.

The woman from northern Ontario spoke of a number of Indigenous traditional teas and medicines which she still uses from her childhood, and the Ojibwe woman spoke of her past and upbringing too. She had attended a residential school and was never taught the ways nor language of her people. She is now in the process of learning her Native language, Ojibwe. As an adult she had worked as a teacher and has always been very proud of her heritage. Her tile, seen above, represents this for her…Aanii !

9.2A memory of northern Ontario maybe?
9.3 This is the logo for Minwaashin Lodge.  In their large community room where the clay workshops are held at the centre, there is a lovely textile hanging that was the inspiration for this tile.
 Life-Cycle Service Model from Minwaashin Lodge website
9.5some nice little colourful hands…
9.6                  fingerprints, hand prints and carefully drawn marks and little flowers
9.7After struggling with carving the wet clay, difficult and new for many participants, this young girl carefully painted a tile with under-glazes…


Although I absolutely love every single tile that I’ve seen so far, this tile is definitely one of my favourites, watching its process was fantastic! It was inspired by the crack/wrinkle in the clay which can be seen in the middle of the tile, which became the nose of this wonderful face. The discussion between the young boy and myself when I was asked to help him mix the proper colour for the skin tone was incredible. In the end he told me that I had gotten it exactly right, Phew!

 The Tile Project, Beth McCubbin, September 26


Beth McCubbin

Sharing a Meal and Then a Second Workshop

Sharing a meal with the participants in the workshops is such a brilliant idea. All of us were hungry at noon and ate heartily. The afternoon workshop participants were able to snack on food as needed, this being especially beneficial to the children who ate everything in sight!

Two people were signed up for the afternoon workshop; neither of them came…but by 1:30 there were a large number of people who had gathered! Ages ranged from a 3-year-old to a couple of elder grandmothers. I didn’t bring enough rolling mats with me as I expected lower numbers so had to quickly improvise…it all worked out fantastically. All enjoyed the film; actually we watched it twice as 5 more people showed up late. All of them were happy to carve their tiles, some adding colour with the under-glazes others wishing to leave them unglazed. The youngest boy just wanted to paint with the under-glazes so I was able to provide him with two previously cut and dried tiles.

At the beginning of the workshop I always describe how the intent of the project is to create a community mural where each of the tiles made by each participant will hang together to create one big artwork. Everyone is usually very pleased with this idea, and when asked all wish for the final mural to be hung in a very accessible and public place where all peoples are welcome. The young boy who painted two tiles, also agreed with this; but at the end of the workshop came up to me and asked very seriously if I could at least hang his tiles at the bottom of the mural so that he could see them very easily when he went to visit them hanging in the mural. Yes, of course I can!

8.1another beautiful flower image, such an interesting design!
8.2one of the little boys painted tiles; a desert island with a single palm tree, surrounded by water
8.3one of the elder’s tiles; seemingly simple but a very powerful design
8.5this tile was filled with symbolism according to its maker; each of the images in the tile represent different members in her family. A lot of who were also at the workshop making tiles
8.6this tile tells a story about a never-ending river and the paths which are made by those who travel along and across it
8.7a tile made by a young teen, when asked by her mother whether that was a bear paw in the center, she replied that she didn’t know, I liked that answer very much
8.8this tile was made by an older teen boy who prior to the workshop beginning had described to me his favorite art form was making mosaics out of little pieces of glass…this is his clay/glass mosaic
8.9this tile was made an another elder in the group, she wanted very much to represent the textures found in nature…I think she did an excellent job and made this tile seem so soft
8.10this is the second painted tile from the young boy; all the members in his family



  • Beth McCubbin, September 20, 2017
Beth McCubbin

First Morning at Minwaashin Lodge!

Two mothers and three children. One boy maybe 9 and two little girls, 5. The little girls liked the video (as did the others) and even asked to watch it again! Success = Not a boring video that only clay nuts would appreciate.

All of them were eager to carve and paint their tiles…the boy used paper to design his and the two little girls just jumped right in! All of the finished tiles are so beautiful and meaningful to each participant! One of the little girls asked me quite earnestly if I was Native, I said no, that I was mostly Scottish, she seemed happy with that answer.

7.1dried and under-glazed tile, still yet to be coated with a clear glaze and fired


7.2dried and under-glazed tile, still yet to be coated in a clear glaze and fired


7.3               the very carefully crafted young boy’s tile, Tawodi, dried and under-glazed


7.4by using the technique of pointillism, making an image out of dots, or in this case pinholes, this tile looks so much like it has been beaded!!


7.5 this tile is also beautifully highlighted with the use of little dots. Little did I know how popular the use of flower imagery was going to be; so nice that the natural world is constantly represented in these tiles!

– Beth McCubbin, September 20, 2017