Story last updated at 1:53 p.m. Thursday, July 18, 2002

Ceramic artist customizes craft

Casting for Color

by Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: entertainment
  Photo by Carey James, Homer News
Dali Frazer adds colorful touches to one of several mosaic murals at Cafe Cups on Pioneer Avenue. Once the larger items were in place, Frazer added hundreds of glass chips in between.  
Dali Frazer admits she's a "jump right in" type of person.

When her interest was piqued by a ceramic egg-decorating contest several years ago, she not only became a ceramic artist, she and her husband bought Kachemak Bay Ceramics.

"I didn't know anything about ceramics," she said. "My husband and I immersed ourselves in mud."

The walls of Frazer's shop at the Belmonte Vista buildings on Lake Street are filled with hundreds of colorful painted plates, mugs and platters as well as mosaics and tiles. Halibut platters, which she customizes for lucky fishermen, dot the rafters. In addition to the work in stock, Frazer's art has expanded into perhaps her favorite art form, custom work.

When she and her husband first arrived from San Diego in 1997, Frazer said, she was struck by Alaska's muted palette.

"I said, 'My goodness, this place needs some color,'" she said.

But not inside Frazer's new shop, which she moved to last year. There, every color of the rainbow is represented in at least one spot.

The mystery of ceramic color is part of the allure of the art form, Frazer said.

"I'm so fascinated by the whole adventure of ceramics," she said. "You are never quite sure what you are going to get until it comes out. With acrylics or watercolor, what you see is what you get, but with glazes, when you open the kiln door, it's always a surprise."

Frazer said some of her most popular works are her custom tiles, which she paints in whatever design the customer wants. Last week, a mural of two whales, another of a mermaid and a third of three colorfully dressed women sat waiting for pickup.

The most challenging part about custom work, Frazer said, is communicating with the client to make sure they both understand what the final product should look like. Samples, pictures and lots of discussion help make sure both client and artist are on the same page.

photo: entertainment
  Photo by Carey James, Homer News
Frazer's personalized halibut platters are a popular item for lucky fishermen.  
"So far, I've been really successful," she said. "The challenge is getting the idea out of their head and into mine."

Another area where Frazer has carved a niche in Homer is with her colorful mosaics of glass and pottery. Cafe Cups has had several murals and a bench decorated by Frazer and recently added two outdoor mosaics to each side of the building. The mosaics mix brightly colored stained glass chips with artfully broken plates, mugs and wine bottles to go with the building's culinary purpose.

"It's just candy for the eyes in the middle of winter," Frazer said of the restaurant's colorful exterior.

Sometimes, Frazer said, being a commercial artist can be exhausting, so exhausting in fact that she will put down her paintbrush for several weeks at a time. But then a brightly dressed passerby or a shade in the sunset will catch her eye, and she's off at it again with a new design.

"That's the neat thing about Alaska," she said. "It's inspirational day in and day out."