Meet the White Otter Tile Collaboration

Relief tiles inspired by traditional beadwork, family, and land

by Clay Imports

At Clay Imports, we specialize in collaborating with artists who have a deep connection to their medium, enhancing our tile collections with original designs. One such collaboration is with Jaymie Campbell, renowned for her traditional beadwork at White Otter Design. Her intricate and meaningful artistry is now transferred onto tile, and we couldn’t be prouder to share this collaboration with you. This partnership honors Jaymie’s Anishnaabe roots, land, and family, as well as our commitment to sustainable and unconventional tile designs.

The artist behind White Otter Design

Jamye Campbell is an Anishnaabe artist and writer from Curve Lake First Nation, who currently resides on unceded Sinixt territory in British Columbia. She began White Otter Design Co. in 2018, as a way to “explore my relationships to materials, my family story and reclaim some of our traditional practices.”

Jaymie Campbell from White Otter Desing CoJaymie Campbell, from White Otter Design Co.


Jaymie spent the earlier years of her career working on consultation, negotiation, capacity building and protection of land: It was here I discovered my passion for policy, governance and capacity building within our communities. I had the great fortune of being mentored by elders and traditional knowledge keepers of this community and others, also discovering my deeper calling to artistry and design.”

This is reflected in the beadwork she creates; not only are the designs a remnant of her culture, but the materials and techniques also explore the relationship between traditional methods and contemporary expression; her craft embodies a collaborative approach: “Each piece that is created is touched by many hands – hunters to hide tanners, quill harvesters and dyers, the storying of exquisite vintage and antique beads and only finally into my hands that are shaped by generations of skill development. A big part of the responsibility of creating this work is to educate and grow the visibility and respect for these ancient art forms.”

White Otter Bead earringsMy work strives to capture internal pushing and pulling, stretching and molding, strength and adaptability. My practice is a way to remain a cultural bearer of story. - Jaymie Campbell

White Otter collaboration with Clay Imports

The passion to share and help other artists has led Jaymie into building The Aunte: an indigenous residency that supports artists and writers whose practices embody contemporary and traditional forms of artistic expression. Located in Interior BC, The Aunte is committed to strengthening the Indigenous art sector by supporting artists in capacity building and expanding their skills and knowledge within their practices to build strong authenticity, integrity and community.

So, when the time to tile came, she knew exactly who to call: “I had started following Clay Imports online several years ago. I really loved the aesthetic and the work I saw on my feed all the time. I have been very intentional about how the space is being designed [and] I knew right away I wanted to include Clay Imports tile, but thought I would ask if there was any possibility of collaborating on a special design or two - luckily they said yes!

 

 

The fascination for design is mutual and we wanted to help Jaymie achieve the best of her capabilities while working for the first time with clay: It was just such a seamless and wonderful experience. There was a lot of willingness to learn and understand what was important to both parties and what it was important to try and achieve. It was just such a cool and enriching experience to not only design something so new to me, but also to learn so much in the process and be guided by really wonderful and caring experts in their field.”

Relief tiles by White Otter DesignI was very supported by a strong design team that helped me take my sketches and ideas and turn them into something really reflective of me but also of the relief-tile style.

Relief tiles by White Otter

Over the years, Jaymie confirms that the creation of things in community, by the people who are experts in those fields and through relationships and partnerships that combine different cultures and mediums can lead to really special collaborations.

Of course, working with tiles is different from working with fabrics: Fabric and beads are very malleable - flexible, whereas the tile is so rigid and uniform. I love that the pieces being handmade, in either medium, allow for this imperfection - this humanness - to come through the pieces. Working in a more specific geometric space and understanding how they would need to repeat in a space was totally new for my creative mind.

This collaboration gave us two fantastic new relief designs in a 6x6 handmade clay tile. Jaymie wanted to include Anishnaabe floral motifs within tile making and the result was even better than she could have expected: “It is better! I did not expect the vibrancy and have so much respect for the collective knowledge that brought these to life. The whole experience was fantastic and the tiles are so stunning. It makes me quite emotional to hold them in my hands!”

The first design is Mnookmi Primavera, which translates to “spring” in both Spanish and Anishinaabemowin. These tiles feature guava pink matte floral design complemented by bomber jacket green matte and a touch of mango yellow gloss, perfect for brightening up any space that receives a lot of natural light.

Relief tiles by White Otter Design
Relief tiles by White Otter
The other design, Dgwaagi Otoño, which translates to “fall” in both Spanish and Anishinaabemowin is a contrasting design with bold and vibrant vino red gloss with forest gloss  and mango yellow  motifs, created specifically to shine on its own. If you are looking for a relief tile to be the centerpiece of your next renovation, look no further than this beautiful piece.
Relief tiles by White Otter Design
Relief tiles by White Otter
These tiles are handmade and as such, they exhibit natural variations, which are inherent traits of the natural materials they are made. Variations in color, texture and sheen are not defects but rather a natural part of the product. We highly recommend ordering samples before making a final purchase to confirm and appreciate these natural variations in each tile.

Why should you use relief tiles?

This has been one of the most personal collaborations we have done and we couldn’t thank Jaymie more for her thoughtful and beautiful work. You can visit her designs through the White Otter Instagram profile and you can check her online catalog on the White Otter Web site. Chi miigwech, Jaymie.

And remember, if you have any questions or want to have a collaboration with us, reach out to us at contact@clayimports.com