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Journal

News from Dowd House Studios: places to find our pottery, exhibitions, classes & workshops, new forms and exciting projects.

Update: Chalk & Poetry

Jenny Dowd

Three weeks of sidewalk decorating went by pretty quick! Brittany Hill, my chalky partner in art, and I have been decorating the sidewalk and entrance to the Teton County Library in Jackson in anticipation of the visiting U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera

(Catch up on the first blog post here)

Using a mixture of spray chalk and regular chalk, we added to our designs weekly plus enhanced areas that had faded or washed away in the rain. (Images above: week 1, week 2, week 3)

I added lines from the poem "Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings" around the front walkway, re-working it each week as it washed away. Here you can see some of the process and evolution:

Read the rest of this poem and others by Juan Felipe Herrera here

We added blips and spots for interest and lines to connect.

Last night we both attended a talk by Juan Felipe Herrera at the Center for the Arts, it was the perfect ending to a fun and inspiring project.

Summer Classes

Jenny Dowd

The summer class schedule is out at the Art Association! Here is a list of the classes I'll be teaching this summer:

Beginning Drawing Topics

May 24 - June 14 | Wednesdays | 1 - 4pm

An introduction and refresher to drawing skills for the artist who wishes to improve this basic skill set required to become an artist. Four weeks of innovative classical drawing instruction emphasizing observation and eye-hand coordination. Sign up for just one or all weeks!

May 24 - Line & Shape
May 31 - Perspective & Space
June 7 - Value & Depth
June 14 - Composition + Putting it All Together

Some things should not have wheels.

Some things should not have wheels.

3D Drawing

August 9 - 30 | Wednesday | 1 - 4pm

Take mark making to a new level in this mixed media drawing class. Sometimes ideas are better expressed through a blend of drawing and sculpture. Contour drawing and shading techniques will combine with wire and shadow drawings to create interest through depth and atmospheric perspective. Make your drawings come to life and jump right off the page! Weeks are as follows:

August 9 - Line: wire objects
August 16 - Value & Texture: piercing, folding and manipulating paper
August 23 - Shape & Space: mobiles
August 30 - Composition: drawing with found objects

Where the ground meets the sky.

Where the ground meets the sky.

Pottery: Focused Topics

Friday | 2 - 4pm

Each session will address specific aspects in clay usage including: using tools, advanced hand building, troubleshooting your throwing, and discussing design and form. Take one class or all, the sessions are non-sequential. The aim of this class is to make you better at working with clay.

JUNE 16: Cylinder workshop (getting the cup form efficient)

 JUNE 30: Put a handle on mugs and pitchers

 JULY 7: Trimming - bowls and cylinders

 JULY 14: Plates & Wide Bowls

 JULY 21: Sgraffito - carving in color

JULY 28: Paddle, facet & small alterations - with wheel thrown ware

To see a complete list of classes taught by me or Sam, visit the Events Page on our website.

Plus, if you are looking for a whole summer of ceramics, spaces are still available in my Beginning Ceramics Class for Central Wyoming College in Jackson! We will cover throwing on the wheel, hand building, surface techniques and different firing methods. You can take the class for credit or for audit. Class meets Wednesday & Fridays 8 - 10:30am, May 24 - August 4. To sign up contact CWC: jacksoninfo@cwc.edu or 307-733-7425

Chalk & Poetry

Jenny Dowd

Later this month the Teton County Library will host a writing workshop and community program with U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.

In order to prepare for this event, the library asked me to create a chalk art dialogue around the library. I invited printmaker, Brittany Hill, to help me with this multi-week project.

This past Wednesday we tackled the first area with - who knew? - spray chalk! We used regular chalk also for details, but the spray chalk was really fun, offering fast coverage, intense colors and the opportunity to make stencils.

For this first area we chose a line from "Borderbus"

We are everything hermana

Because we come from everything.

-Juan Felipe Herrera

If you are in the area, stop by and see the chalk drawings evolve each week.

For more information on these free community programs visit the Teton County Library

Community Program: We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration

Friday April 21, 7pm at the Center for the Arts (Tickets available at the library)

Writing Workshop: Find your Activist Voice Through Poetry

Saturday April 22, 10:30am - 12:30pm at the Teton County Library

Stay tuned for an update in a few weeks!

Packing for a show

Jenny Dowd

This summer I will be included in an exhibition of artwork by 12 Wyoming women. The exhibition, Place/Settings, will be in Concord, North Carolina at The Galleries, located in the Historic Cabarrus Courthouse and curated by the Cabarrus Arts Council.

In May I will travel to Concord to install my pieces. One is Passages, which has been installed 4 different times in Wyoming since 2009. This flexible sculpture was designed to have several lives and I'm excited for this new chapter in NC.

Passages is made up of over 300 boat forms that are made from welded steel then dipped in Egyptian Paste and kiln fired (See some of the past installation here, plus check out this past blog post about the installation last fall at Persephone Bakery.) Each installation is different and I am looking forward to working within the gallery space and tying my work in to that of my colleagues. 

For this installation, I've packed about 125 boats, 2 spools of wire, a ton of screw eye hooks and some wire snips. Not sure how many boats I'll use, just want to make sure I have options. I've also never shipped this work before. I padded them in tissue paper and packed them tightly in boxes with old sheets and bubble wrap. You can see that Merlin is unsure of this packing method. I think it will be ok.

The other piece I will be installing, Where the ground meets the sky, is a new and also very flexible piece. There are lots of little parts and pieces for this one: silk and velum clouds suspended from pins by silk thread, little porcelain hills plus hills with porcelain and wire flowers. (I lovingly call them hillettes.)

I am equally excited to install this piece as I am to install Passages. And I can't wait to share the process! I had to be really careful in my studio- I found all these little pieces to be particularly attractive to the studio cat, I know he probably thought he was being helpful, but I really didn't need the flowers or clouds to be perforated. Playing with and installing this piece in a cat-free space is much needed.

Now the boxes are headed to NC, I'll see them in a month! (Boxes photographed with large studio cat for scale. Thanks Merlin, always so helpful.)

Stay tuned, I will post details of my installation and also the show!

If you are in the Concord, NC area, be sure to check out the show from May 5 - July 7, 2017

Delivery

Jenny Dowd

So just how does my pottery get from the studio to a shop, restaurant or a home? It can be pretty handy working in a smallish town...

Sometimes I box everything up on a cart and take them across a few streets (pitchers on their way to the Wort Hotel.)

Last week two little teapots came out of the kiln so I walked them over to Healthy Being Juicery

It's not always that easy, usually a car is involved when I'm delivering several boxes or the sidewalks are covered in snow.

And of course, a lot of work is shipped. In that case packages are hand delivered safely to the USPS, FedEx or UPS drop off! (But only after Merlin has inspected the box.)

Process

Jenny Dowd

Sometimes I don't want to think about all the steps it takes to make and finish a piece of pottery. But this process is what I really love.

The past few weeks has found my studio exploding with work, although, nothing is finished. I've been working on 2 bodies of work simultaneously, both porcelain, with drastically different surfaces.

This is just a slice of the process behind what I've been working on:

One set is for a soda firing this weekend (plus a few more in the next month.) The work for the soda kiln is very heavy on process- after the bisque the insides of the pieces are glazed, the outsides stained, the bases wadded (so they don't stick to the kiln shelf.) And that's just the start. (Catch up on the whole process in this blog post from last August.)

Meanwhile, in my home studio, I've been working on another type of porcelain pottery.

This black and white series is a little more straight forward, though still time consuming. While the form is still a little damp, I apply a black underglaze, then scratch through the surface (sgraffito.) Sometimes a funny landscape appears before I finish the design- in the plate on the right the lines made hills and the clay curls turned into m-birds. (It didn't stay this way)

After the bisque firing I apply a clear glaze, which is not clear before it is fired in the kiln. Before the glaze totally dries the black design comes through the glaze just a little, like a shadow.

Whew! And that's only part of it! 

A Milestone

Jenny Dowd

Something big is slowly happening... I opened the Etsy Shop, Dowd House Studios, in 2012. As of today we have had 95 orders!

To celebrate we will be giving something away with orders #99, 100 & 101! Not in any particular order we will be including a bud vase, sauce bowls and a tiny ceramic monster truck.

Clockwise from top left: Soda fired bud vase by Jenny, 2 little dipping bowls (one made by Sam, one made by Jenny), tiny red monster truck made by Sam

WOW!

I am so happy that pottery has officially become my day job. Thank you for the love and support!

Spring Classes

Jenny Dowd

I will be teaching in the next few months at the Art Association, these classes highlight my love for clay and drawing:

Beginning Drawing 

March 2 - 23 | Thursdays | 1 - 4pm

Learn the basics or brush up your skills in this intro to drawing class. We will address: line, shape, perspective, shading and composition. Get comfortable expressing yourself with line, funny or serious!  

Did you see what they did to Frank?

Perpetual Drawing & Monotype Printmaking

April 6 - 27 | Thursdays | 1 - 4pm

Consider this a continuation of beginning drawing, all levels are welcome. Add depth and layers to your drawings by combining processes- monotypes are a way to create interesting one-of-a-kind images using ink and plexiglass. The end result will be layered drawings and exploring different ways to make marks.

Beginning Throwing

April 20 - May 25 | Thursdays | 9:30am - 12:30pm

You know you've always wanted to learn how to throw on the potter's wheel... so join me for this morning class! Learn how to make cups, bowls, pitchers and a little about surface design and glazing.

Putting handles on plastic spray bottles is not usually part of my curriculum... however, sometimes a demo needs to happen and the spray bottle steps up to be a willing subject:

Stay tuned for summer & fall classes! A few are already posted on our calendar

New Designs

Jenny Dowd

The process of developing new ideas, including all the starts and stops, is something I truly enjoy. The frustrations only make me work harder and in turn, the successes are that much sweeter.

About a year ago I made a series of little ink drawings for an invitational exhibition. (Check out the blog post here.) Ever since I've been thinking about how to transfer some of these drawings onto cups and plates.

Thoughts of random objects drawn on my pots turned into drawings of tools and sweets. While discussing surface methods with Sam, the two ideas melted together and I started thinking about objects with hidden elements. Helpful cakes and tools with sweet surprises. 

I started by "drawing" the object using an inlay technique on the leather-hard clay. After bisque I inserted the hidden object (a saw or hammer inside a cupcake, or a cupcake inside a chainsaw.) I had a hard time stopping, it was exciting to finally visualize some of the ideas. I layered several glazes and underglazes and tried a few different applications.

I wasn't terribly happy with the results, but it was a good start and gave me more ideas on how to proceed.

The hidden cupcake inside the chainsaw needs more definition, the glaze outline around the chainsaw doesn't work, but the color contrast is a good idea, the tools are too ghostly inside the cake, the cupcake is just ok... 

At least this gave me enough information for another round of tests:

I'm happier with these results, though there will be a few more rounds before I start making more of these drawings on other forms and producing sets.

This process can be frustrating and exhausting but mostly it is exhilarating. Once I start working on one cup or plate, I think of so many more ideas and processes. I'll wake up at night thinking about new ways to solve the problems.

All the while I'm thinking about what these little drawings mean- is the cupcake being helpful? What about the secret the chainsaw is hiding? Is this about that time someone called me a tough little cupcake? I'm the kind of girl who likes getting tools as gifts, but I know some who don't- so maybe including a cupcake with the gift (that really isn't for her) would be helpful. (Just a thought!) 

Whatever it is, I'm enjoying the experiments and am excited to develop quirky stories for the surface of objects that are meant to be handled and used everyday.

Artist Trade

Jenny Dowd

This week I got a very happy box in the mail! Just when I thought the winter blues couldn't get any bluer, a friend and I decided to do an art trade.

I sent her a box with a few treats, including this ceramic cupcake...

Then Savannah sent me a box with a pack of her awesome hand-lettered cards and my very own hand-stiched kitty! (Lars- loves Indian food, watching scary movies and telling bad jokes... he is going to fit right in to the Dowd House.) Currently, Lars is keeping me company while I'm working on some new ideas in my studio. 

Check out more of Savannah Brady's work at her Etsy Shop and on Facebook

This was the perfect pick-me-up! And an idea I'll remember for future gloomy winters (or whenevers.)

Now I have a Valentine's Box from my parents to savor, so I think I'm in good shape for awhile!

Pottery in Action: Part 2

Jenny Dowd

About this time of year I get a little itchy for the end of winter and start dreaming of summer and my garden. It's Wyoming, there are still a few more months of snow and then mud, so I'd better snap out of my pity-party soon.

To remind myself of what's to come I turned to the weekly web series, Cooking Through a CSA, launched by a friend last summer. Designed to inspire in the kitchen this beautiful series combines the bounty of local organic farms with on-site cooking.

A few of my plates as well as dishes made by Sam and many other local potters make an appearance as well. It feels good to be part of this farm to table circle. 

Check out this series with Chef and Host Eric Wilson and Co-founder Arden Oksanen, read more about their inspiration and watch the whole series at www.foodterra.com 

 

Cupcakes & Clay Workshop

Jenny Dowd

Just in time for Valentine's Day... a cupcake workshop! 

Join me for a fun evening at Penny Lane Cooperative, we will make cupcakes and other guilt-free sweets from porcelain. I'll demonstrate simple hand building techniques: pinch, coil and slab, then we will use colorful underglazes to decorate the sweets. 

After the workshop I will add a clear glaze and fire your creations, then you can come back and pick them up- just in time for a Valentines delivery.

For these examples I made my cupcakes as small lidded containers... perfect for a secret message or present!

The class will be held the 8th of February from 5:30 - 7:30pm at Penny Lane Cooperative. The cost is $30 and is open to all ages (bring your child and work as a team!) All materials will be provided. 

Space is limited, so be sure to sign up: call 307-203-2323 or email andi@pennylanecooperative.com

Hope to see you there!

The Blank Canvas

Jenny Dowd

Often a blank canvas will give pause. 

I set up January as a month full of the dreaded blank canvas- with the challenge of new design ideas in both ceramics and drawing. 

Just over halfway into the month, this week came together as the most productive. I have nothing to show for it, yet. What I do have is a kiln full of test tiles and several damp boxes full of small plates and cups. I also have a clean (ish) drawing studio with (mostly) organized pens, pencils, bottles of ink and new brushes.

I like to have a few projects going at the same time, in this case a new drawing project overlaps a little into the clay studio.

A few years ago I made stacks and stacks of "paper" out of thin sheets of clay. I was teaching at the Interlochen Center for the Arts as the Ceramics Artist in Residence and I had used up the small roll of drawing paper I'd brought with me. At the time I was encouraging my students to use materials in unexpected ways- so I started making my own paper out of porcelain paperclay. 

While the papers have been collecting dust in my studio, I've been rolling around ideas for the past year. It's been a struggle to balance my time between these two studio practices- something I'm working on this year. 

I finally fired the papers and now I'm testing the surface; trying out different inks while thinking about what kind of relationship I want to develop between the canvases and the random objects I'll be filling them with.

These canvases (pots & papers) won't stay blank for long!

Organizing for a New Year

Jenny Dowd

In anticipation of the January blahs I've set aside this month to work on organizing my studio and my thoughts (and spending some time outside.)

I've been focused on drawings, ideas for new work and prototypes for upcoming orders. This creative break has been a nice rest from the production last year ended with.

Working on ink drawings for a very overdue order not only made a great excuse to clean my drawing studio but also offered a chance to revisit the world of objects and furniture. This process brought forward new ideas and experiments, so now that the framing is finished, I'll be setting up for something new.

I've also been spending some time working on administration, trying to clear off my desk and organize that part of my brain. I need to go over my art documents: resume, bio, statements and organize my images in order to work on website updates. Which is totally daunting when I look at it as a list!

If you live in the Jackson area and are struggling with this side of your art business, I'll be teaching a workshop in a few weeks at the Art Association.

Crafting Your Artist Statement will be the first workshop in a series of professional development classes. This short workshop will meet on January 30, 10am - 12pm in the Photography Studio at the Art Association. I'll help define the various forms of the artist statement and offer tips on writing and communicating the meaning behind your art. Plus- this class is free for members of the Art Association and only $5 if you are not!

Give me a shout if you have questions (hello@dowdhousestudios.com) and stay tuned for more from this series.

There is so much to come this year and I still feel overwhelmed from last year. I'm glad I gave myself permission for this short break and I hope to feel more organized by the end of this month.

Ornaments & Cookies

Jenny Dowd

Same process, different outcome!

About a month ago I started making ornaments knowing they would be just in time for absolute last minute Christmas gifts. The ornaments start out a lot like cookies- roll the clay thin, cut with biscuit cutters, add a small hole for hanging. 

The ornaments are for sale at Workshop in Jackson and each one is unique, just like everything in this store. Even the name- some say Jackson Hole and others say Jackson, WY. 

The text is written with an underglaze inlay process; when the clay is almost leather-hard I write the text into the surface with a sharp blade. Watered-down black underglaze is brushed over the surface, then sponged off.

The other side features patterned mountains, this time in a sgraffito process. The entire surface is coated with black underglaze, I wait until it has dried just enough, then scratch through to reveal the clay underneath. Some are glazed partially with a clear glaze while others remain unglazed for a satin finish. 

Needless to say, I've been thinking about cookies since I started this project! 

My ornaments are hanging and the (actual) shortbread cookies are out of the oven... Merry Christmas!

A child's cup

Jenny Dowd

This morning I found a little mug in my damp box that eluded decoration last week. As I started to cover the surface with stars I was reminded of my favorite little cup from childhood.

Just right for my small hands this sweet little mug was highly prized and I treated it as a special object every time I used it.

Whether they are used everyday or just on special occasions, I like the idea of sharing something special from my childhood. What a treat for a child to have a mug, bowl and plate just their size!

I still love tiny cups, perhaps I treat them with more care because of that special little mug I always looked forward to drinking out of.

You can find these dish sets at Penny Lane Cooperative in Jackson, WY and also at my Etsy shop!

Holiday Sales!

Jenny Dowd

It's that special time of year, my days are frantically full of making pottery, finishing orders, and all the time wondering why I didn't get started on everything earlier...

Sam finished a new batch of "2nd chance pots," pilsners and mugs with funny underglaze drawings. The photos below are from right before they went in the kiln. This batch includes Disco Yeti and Skiing Yeti plus the antics of sea serpents, aliens, monsters, crabs and dinosaurs!

We will be in one more Jackson sale this month, so if you are in town come by The Rose for a drink and an evening of shopping!

And of course, if you have your eye on something and can't see us in person, give us a shout. We are happy to ship that perfect pottery gift! Just email me at: hello@dowdhousestudios.com

Water Pitchers

Jenny Dowd

 

Since 2011 I have been making stoneware water pitchers for the rooms in the historic Wort Hotel in Jackson, WY. Yesterday I delivered a new batch for the Silver Dollar Mercantile near the lobby of the hotel. This has been my longest account and I'm happy to have my pitchers featured in the rooms while encouraging less use of plastic water bottles. 

The pitchers and saucers are wheel thrown from stoneware. I usually make them in the ceramics studio at the Art Association where they are also fired in the gas kiln. The Art Association is just down the street from the Wort, so when they are ready I put them on a cart and push it down Glenwood Street. I love deliveries in a small town!

New Pottery at Healthy Being Juicery

Jenny Dowd

I am excited to announce that my pottery is now available at Healthy Being Juicery in Jackson, WY! 

I have been working on a new line of porcelain mugs, teacups & saucers and large bowls to compliment the delicious salads, teas and hot drinks available at the Juicery. Stop in for a nourishing treat, soon the cafe will be serving salads on handmade pottery!

Pottery in Action: Part 1

Jenny Dowd

Just about 2 years ago I had an opportunity that not only changed the way I look at my pottery and how I view myself as a potter but has also opened doors to many more opportunities.

In January of 2015 I met Chef René Stein. He had a vision to create a series of pop-up dinners in Jackson, WY during that winter and spring. Not only was he sourcing local ingredients right down to the salt, creating parings with local wines but he was also looking for local pottery to serve on. After a studio visit, where I was delighted to learn that he was not looking for white dishes, I put together sets of my black & white sgraffito porcelain ware, thinking that this might be a one-time thing.

Luckily, I couldn't have been more wrong. The first event, Pioneer Pop-Up, was held at the Ringholz Gallery just off the square in Jackson. It was amazing with every detail beautifully realized. After a series of pop-up dinners and a wonderful buzz through our community, René became the Executive Chef at The Rose.

The magic continued at The Rose, where my black & white plates became part of every special dinner, an evening of 3 - 7 delicious, locally sourced and creative courses.

René brought me requests for dishes: super flat plates, wide pasta bowls, wide based soup bowls as well as ideas for glaze colors. In the summer of 2015 I made a set of shino glazed plates, bowls and cups (in the photo above and to the left.) Shino glazes are notoriously active and hard to predict, the recipe I used could range from orange to white to charcoal to gold. It made me so happy to see how such an active glaze surface could also be activated and complimented by artistic ingredients and arrangements. 

I learned a different way to look at form; very flat plates being good for meat dishes, wider based soup bowls that would be better for plating. Bowls that have very high sides can be difficult to see into once sat on a table... all the little things that I add to my list of "observations that make for highly functional and pleasing pottery."

This summer I made a series of wide pasta bowls and plates with a curved rim, glazed in snowy satiny white and charcoal. I've enjoyed seeing how René embraces mixing and matching the designs and forms, finding just the right compliment to his creation. The plates may be pretty on their own, but I think they come to life once food touches the surface.

These photos are from a special dinner held last weekend in the gallery of the Art Association. It is a special experience to be present while Chef René is in his element.

René and his family are soon headed to Germany for his next culinary adventure. While I will miss his style, I am grateful for this opportunity that sparked an excitement to be a potter at just the time I needed it most. 

Last night Sam and I enjoyed a final meal at The Rose with Chef René at the helm. What a treat! While I eat off of handmade dishes at home (a collection of many potters, a few of mine and a few of Sam's) it is truly an honor to be served from my own collection. It is also a humbling experience that has solidified my desire as a potter to enhance these daily rituals and continue to learn.

If you are in Jackson or planning to be in the area, I highly recommend treating yourself to a meal at The Rose, where René's vision will continue and my dishes live happily.

Stay tuned, this series has only just begun!