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Journal

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

Park(ing) Day 2019

Jenny Dowd

PARK(ing) Day happened on September 20th in Jackson. This is a day (all over the country) where artists reimagine parking spaces into places of possibility. This was the 5th year Jackson has been involved, organized by Jackson Hole Public Art, and my first year participating.

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Check out last week’s Journal entry to see how I built my cart…

Once the cart was finished, I could focus on the final touches. A fabric canopy was made to provide shade, I kept this simple by sewing a piece of fabric then drawing a little embellishment on the edge. It’s rather rickety - so at this point I started hoping for a day without wind.

I’ve been making flowers for the cart all summer, some even came from past projects. I put my dad to work cutting stems (wire) for the clay flowers. Each type of flower made from porcelain.

After bisque firing the flower, the stem is attached, then it gets bathed with color… I used a mix of acrylic and whiting (calcium carbonate) and then layers of watercolor.

The finished flowers were poked into the styrofoam inserts that line the cart, and after a test of the awning, plus the addition of signs, it was ready for a parking space!

On a wet, cold, rainy Friday morning Jeny’s Flower Cart opened! I had to set up a tent over my parking space so it wouldn’t melt. I was located in front of Hand Fire Pizza on a very busy Cache Street.

The gloomy, cold day was made cheerful as I invited people walking by to make flower bouquets for free! I have no idea how many flowers I made, and no idea how many I gave away, but I probably went home with less than half of what was started with.

For a little history on the flower cart…

In 2016 I was invited to create an artwork for a Tiny Art Show curated by JH Public Art. Since the show was featured at the People’s Market (a farm & art market in Jackson) I thought a tiny flower stand would be welcome. I made a little cardboard shelf that would hang on the wall and filled it with clay flowers, bouquets, and vases.

A year later after Penny Lane Cooperative opened on Scott Lane, the businesses on that block had a “Midtown Throw-Down” and invited artists to sell their work during the evening event. Since I was already selling my pottery in Penny Lane, I decided to make a concessioner’s tray full of flowers, and walked around during the event selling flowers.

It seemed that the next logical step would be a flower cart, it took me a few years to find the right venue and to plan and build the cart.

Not sure what’s next, but I’m looking forward to a break from making flowers!

Flower: Factory & Cart

Jenny Dowd

I am working on a mound of pottery orders… but first, flowery public art events!

Last week I was invited to participate in a Town Square Takeover. This artist space was created by Wildly Creative Jackson Hole and the Center for the Arts. 6 artists showcased what they do during 3 afternoon takeovers on the Jackson Town Square. Read all about it here.

My takeover was on Friday September 6th and I invited people to participate in a Flower Factory.

I made lots of signs out of cardboard, and collected some safety equipment, since safety is a big concern in the Flower Factory.

7 stations explained how to make a crepe paper flower - the type of flower the factory was producing on that particular day. Many participants came by and safely made flowers, I’m happy to say there were no incidents of lost time and flowers were produced and distributed to nearby people.

Another type of flower factory is currently in the works - I am participating in PARKing Day on September 20th. For this event, artists and designers are invited to take over a parking space in Jackson (and all over the country!) from 10am - 6pm.

I am creating a flower cart that will be parked in my space where flowers and bundles of flowers will be distributed (free!) to all who would like them. So, to get ready for this event, I am making a flower cart out of cardboard. This project is currently taking over the clay studio… and Merlin is not a happy studio cat.

The start was pretty simple, then the wheels and handles got a bit tricky…

Each wheel does spin on an axle, but I just couldn’t figure out how to make this happen from the start in my small space. So each wheel is fitted on a short tube that allows it to spin and also provides a place to attach. To connect the wheel, I made a thick triangular shaped piece that the tube could fit through and is also connected to the base of the cart. Once the triangular shape was connected, the wheels spun but needed a little more support. A longer tube / axle was used to connect the wheels. Now the cart can move on the wheels… but I doubt it would hold up for much of a journey!

The handles also posed a small challenge. I didn’t want them to be flimsy and also wanted to avoid getting things hung up on them before the event. Deciding to make them somewhat detachable, shorter inserts were attached to the cart, allowing longer handles to slide over. It’s not a big difference, but it does take up a tiny bit less room in my space and offers more strength to the handle. This should make transporting the cart a little easier next week.

Tons of measuring yet still rather wonky. The inside is fitted with pieces of styrofoam that will hold the flowers. So hopefully the rest is the fun part… signs, an awning, and lots and lots of tiny flowers…

Visit me on September 20th, 10am - 6pm in front of Hand Fire Pizza on Cache Street in Jackson. And I’ll publish an update next weekend showing how the cart got finished!

Clouds & Cupcakes: Part 2

Jenny Dowd

Clouds & Cupcakes opened this past week at Mystery Print Gallery and Frame in Pinedale, WY. I was so excited about the show that I completely forgot to take any photos - so thank you to everyone who photographed the work and posted it on Facebook! Now I have another excuse to travel back to the gallery and see the work… next time I’ll remember to photograph it.

In my last post, Clouds & Cupcakes: Part 1, I showed some process behind my work for the show. Here, all the work by Shannon Troxler, Matt Daly, and Connie Wieneke come together and for sweet and cloudy conversations.

I turned the window into a bake shop, plus covered another gallery table with porcelain sweets - cakes, petit fours, cherries, and fortune cookies. Scattered in are a few small paintings of sweets and clouds by Shannon.

Shannon captured the fleeting nature of clouds with oils, which also look as if they will change any second.

Matt projected cloud fortunes onto layers of silk hanging in the middle of the space, the projected words and light passing through the layers and onto the walls with cloud-like ripples. The fortunes are the type he imagines clouds would receive if they went out to dinner together and received fortune cookies at the end of the meal.

As a bonus, the light caused extra shadows in the cloud studies that hang below.

Connie wrote a cloud ephemeris, inspired by the human need to pin things down, and to feel like we know what will happen - despite the nature of the ephemeral.

At the end of the gallery I hung a bulletin board with little drawings of photos of memories of clouds. More cloud studies in shadow boxes hang next to Shannon’s oil paintings of clouds - these float off the wall just above a silver leaf background.

The fortune cookies do contain fortunes - though most will have to be broken in order to be read. I see this as potential. A fortune cookie holds many possibilities, in this case, perhaps they will sit and wait, to be opened and read at just the right time.

I’ll be back to take more photographs soon. And the show is on display until November 1. Check it out if you are in the area, gallery details can be found at the Facebook page for Mystery Print Gallery & Frame

Clouds & Cupcakes: Part 1

Jenny Dowd

Clouds & Cupcakes has been in the works for over a year - and as usual, most of the physical work has happened in the past few months. I’m always happy to have a show deadline on the calendar, it seems so far off with endless possibilities. Even though the final few months is always a scramble - it’s actually a carefully controlled chaos of a scramble because there has been so much time to think, and plan, and test, and dream.

Clouds & Cupcakes will open at Mystery Print Gallery & Frame in Pinedale on September 5 and will be on display until November 1. If you are in the area stop by for the opening reception from 5 - 7, with an artist talk at 6.

This is a show I’ve been turning over in the back of my head for close to 2 years and initially invited painter Shannon Troxler to tackle the space with me. The title didn’t emerge until this past very snowy cold January, and came from a specific feeling that I’ve found difficult to put into a few words. We started talking about this dreamy idea of clouds & cakes and that led to inviting poets Matt Daly and Connie Wieneke to join.

Today we are installing the show and I can’t wait to see all the work come together. I’ll publish the second half of this entry next Saturday with all the work in the gallery space. For now here is more on my process and how the show idea evolved…

I had an idea for prints, but something happened before I could even start them. While teaching a monotype class in the early spring I accidentally got a drop of white ink on my brayer that was already rolled up with blue ink. I proceeded with my demo - thinking this would be a good example of why you should keep a clean station - and ended up so excited and completely drawn down a tunnel of mark making. The small prints ended up with a lot of depth and wispy cloud-like forms. They were interesting on their own but also called for something more sculptural.

I like the idea of adding an element that can cast a shadow or move in a breeze, so after making a bunch of little porcelain clouds, I pinned them to the prints or hung them in the shadowbox frames.

While everything else was swirling around in my head, the prints anchored my thoughts for the show. Shannon and I met at Persephone Bakery one morning for sweet treats and brainstorming - which led to a desire to make the gallery window into a sweet shop.

Very flexible and thin porcelain paperclay was ideal for making fortune cookies. The paper here was just to help hold a side open during the firing. They fired an icy white and make a satisfying crunch when broken. Which, yes, you might just have to break the cookie to get to the fortune inside - each unique fortune written by Matt Daly.

My studio turned into a bakery as I made layer cakes that I could only dream of in a real kitchen. Each decorated with cloudy patterns and and perched atop handmade cardboard stands.

Another element came into place slowly over the summer while out walking. I started really noticing cloud shapes and tried to remember them.

You didn’t see that?

Oh. Well, since you missed it

I drew a photo

Stay tuned next week to see how the show comes together, I can’t wait to share the work created by the other artists!

What follows is my inspiration for this show and how the title came about…

Each year in the deepest moment of winter the same thing happens. Looking around, I think that I can’t stand one more day of the winter landscape. Too much white, too much snow, too much work and planning to get around. Within a few days this feverish feeling breaks. Suddenly the landscape is surreal; the clouds have combined forces with the snowy ground and I’m no longer sure where one begins and the other ends.

Indescribable shapes plus impossible shadows swirled with soft colors leave me unsure of what is concealed… and I’m reminded of frosty icing and the delicate sweetness of cake. Is the ground a cake and the sky frosting? Is it actually the other way around?

Conversely, in the middle of summer, the memory of winter is entirely out of place. The lush green plants growing as fast as possible in the short summer months, the river near my house that I ski over in the winter and paddleboard on in the summer - it’s just too much for me to comprehend. It’s odd, but somehow every summer I forget how high the snow piles and every winter I forget how green the land becomes.

Cupcakes & Clouds is an attempt to wrangle all those nebulous cloudy and wintery thoughts and memories into one space. Shannon Troxler, Matt Daly, and Connie Wieneke have joined me in describing the sweet cloudy mood of our skyscapes.

Making a Puppet: Part 2

Jenny Dowd

More from behind the scenes of making a giant pole puppet, plus the puppet in action!

(Check out my past journal entry Making a puppet to see how this all started)

Trying to reduce added weight, we decided to make the scales for the armadillo-ish beast out of cardboard. Strategically painting the scales with silver, black, and white helped mimic metal. I also made some special scales that were covered in shiny, scaly looking fabrics.

The scales were stitched on with wire, directly onto the fabric covering the armature. After connecting the neck, head, and tail to the body, the shiny scales went on as a transition. I ran out of time while attaching the big sequins, or more accurately, underestimated how long everything would take. However, in this case I think less is more. It was good to constantly remind myself that this very large creature would be seen from a distance, a little sparkle was better than none.

I had a little help… my parents arrived for a visit and were promptly put to work on the final details of the beast. (Thanks!)

And finally! The beast all put together. We designed it to be operated by 3 people: 1 person at the head, 1 at the body, 1 at the tail. In the end only 2 people were needed, the tail was stuffed so it would flop around with the movement of the body.

The performance happened on the lawn at the Center for the Arts where dancers from Dancers’ Workshop were joined by visiting artists from David Dorfman Dance.

There were 5 beasts featuring the Chinese elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. I regret that I did not get great photos of them in action.

In a beautiful and touching performance, the beasts were compelled to work together in order to solve a problem.

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What a process and what a performance! I’m honored to have been part of this, I learned a lot and hope this is not my first & last puppet. But next time I might go a tad smaller…

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Chalky Characters & Helpful Objects

Jenny Dowd

Last week I tackled my largest canvas yet… the Town Enclosure Pavilion on the lawn of the Center for the Arts in Jackson. This temporary structure was installed last year by Carney Logan Burke Architects with the intention to be a space for performances, gatherings, and also to offer creative space for visual artists.

Jackson Hole Public Art asked me to consider drawing on the panels using chalk. The pavilion can be walked around and through, with the panels changing with movement almost like an optical illusion, so this became an inspiration. I made a rough plan and then just decided to go for it.

Before starting the drawings I could not comprehend the size of the panels. Once a ladder was in place and I could only reach as far as my arms would stretch - I just had to go for it and make the shape fit the space. Suddenly I found it easy to run out of room and wishing the panels were larger!

It was an equally freeing and terrifying feeling to freehand draw these characters and objects. I used both hands to draw and went up and down the ladder and walked back and forth to the street to get a better view.

Some characters feature furniture acting out human scenarios (Bad lamp) and others are embracing their helpful nature - Super chair! (This chair swoops in just when you really need to sit down but there are no chairs nearby.) And the lamp saying “I really like you” to the other lamp. So careful and hesitant, ready to go out on that limb, just not quite ready for the other L-word.

Other helpful and awkward objects include the giant watering can and umbrella. The placement of the panels inspired the watering can and flowers, while walking past the water drops line up so the flowers are getting a good drink.

I’m inspired by the awkward feeling of ladders and nets, as if they are stretching and helping to reach that far-away object.

This was such a fun project! The chalk drawings will remain for a week or so - depends on rain. So if you are in the area be sure to walk by.

Making a puppet

Jenny Dowd

It can be difficult to share process photos and explain projects that are still mostly living in my head. However, I’m finding that this is a helpful part of my process, plus I’m excited to share this project.

Sam and I are currently working on a huge project - we are making a pole puppet! In June we had the opportunity to work with Eric and Ines Bass from Sandglass Theater in a collaboration with Dancers’ Workshop. This project will culminate with a parade and performance on August 16. (Stay tuned!) Our puppet is 1 of 5 beasts, each based on one of the Chinese Five Elements: Earth, Water, Metal, Wood, Fire. Our beast is Metal, and is loosely based on an armadillo.

The Chinese Five Elements contain a lot of interesting layers; Metal also refers to the emotion: sadness, color: white, and flavor: pungent.

We spent 4 days working on the body structure, the tail and head will be added later.

The base of the creature was made out of cardboard, with the double layers helping to keep the reed armature in place. After shaping the vertical hoops, I attached the horizontal reeds with tightly tied bike tubes. I really wanted the puppet body to articulate in two directions - up and down and side to side. However, after attaching a fabric hinge and trying to move the creature, I discovered that it was too bulky to have that much movement. Up and down was more important, so the hinges were remade to easily shift the mass up and down - as seen in the bottom right image.

Poles were installed under the base - they are fitted to the backpack worn by the puppeteer. A pole was inserted into the front half so the body will articulate up and down. Both me and Sam tried on the backpack to make these adjustments.

So, now that the structure is nearly complete, it’s time for the details! Although, these are still complicated and require a bit of engineering and careful thought. This is just the body of the puppet - the head and tail are still seperate at this point and will each have their own pole and puppeteer. Our beast will be operated by 3 people!

I’ve started covering the armature with fabric, including the soft underbelly of the beast, in silver and metallic blue. Next, the scaly armor will be attached, plus a neck, head, and tail.

Remember that the Chinese element Metal also includes the color white? My plan is for the colors to fade from deep metallic blue on the inside to silver and white as they progress from the body.

A few of the details here - Sam is gluing nostrils onto the head and I’ve started sewing the tip of the tail. I think we are over halfway finished, but there is still lots to be done.

Stay tuned for more updates and information on the performance and parade on August 16th in Jackson!

Made for MADE

Jenny Dowd

Mugs, Mugs, Mugs! And one tuckered out studio cat…. because it’s tough work overseeing this kind of action.

So, what’s going on?

For the past few months I’ve been testing mugs for MADE in Jackson. This shop features handmade, unique goods from all over the country. The difficult part of the task: create a design to be produced exclusively for this shop, make it unique from the mugs I make for other shops in the area. Oh, and something I would not get sick of making.

To keep things simple, each mug has an outline of the Tetons - a striking landmark from this area. Each are filled with a variety of patterns, each a little similar yet different. This mug shape is also one that I have not made in awhile. My hope is that it will appeal to both men and women, making for a useful and perhaps, favorite gift.

Carving into the wet clay means that I’m left with a deep texture of the mountains and patterns. There are 2 versions of this mug, creamy ivory and black. For the black design the glaze is applied to the carved lines and wiped off - image on the above left. Then the mountains are coated with wax so that the color is protected when the whole mug gets dipped in the white glaze. (It looks totally different before firing!)

The wax burns off leaving the black glaze inlaid into the surface… here is a photo from a peek into the still hot kiln. And the black glaze is inlaid in the same way (minus the wax) on the bottom - to show off the “Made in Jackson Hole” stamp.

Finished mugs! The glazes, once wiped away around the mountains, leave a little halo of color. Something else that makes each one unique.

Find these mugs in Jackson at MADE or in their online shop!

FoundSpace

Jenny Dowd

For the past few years I’ve been a participant in FoundSpace - a public art initiative co-sponsored by the JH Land Trust and JH Public Art. This project invites artists to interact and activate public land, you can check out my projects from 2017 and 2018, each a collaboration with writer Matt Daly.

I thought it would be fun to check in on what is happening this year for FoundSpace at Rendezvous Park (or R Park)

After citing strange noises and sightings in the park, the staff of R Park brought in Observator R. Park to investigate.

Not much is known about Observator, however, their passion for discovery and documentation is apparent. Observator seems perfect for the job of discovering the secret lives of the imaginary creatures that call R Park home.

In order to aid in the task of documentation, Observator has set up a field station at the entrance to the park and is inviting visitors to help discover and catalogue the mysterious creatures inhabiting the park.

From the sounds of it, this field station will be at R Park all summer - so if you are in the area, check it out. Be sure to take a look at the field guide, located in one of the lockers, as it contains all notes and descriptions of creatures found so far in the park.

This Friday the 21st is a Solstice Celebration at R Park, this event will be from 5-8pm. I’m sure Observator will be eager to share some of their discoveries and will also recruit explorers to help throughout what looks to be a busy summer.

Observator R. Park seems to be easier to find online than in person - though, they are often at R Park studying specimens - the discoveries can be followed on Facebook and Instagram at @rparkobservator and also YouTube

Or send Observator an email with questions or information / images / video of your own discoveries in R Park: rparkobservator@gmail.com

Here are short videos of 2 creatures that have been found so far, I grabbed these off Observator’s YouTube channel - since they are busy out in the field I thought I’d help get the word out:

A Kiln Full of New

Jenny Dowd

In between orders and catching up on inventory for local shops, I’ve been dreaming up some new designs. It seems I’ve been a fan of black and white for a long time, and while I’m still a fan, it’s time for a little color.

This kiln load is just the start, I’ll be adding new forms soon. For now I’m continuing with a star catching theme with little cups. The prototype plates and bowls have potential. The kiln shelf cracked during this firing and I was lucky it didn’t cause any damage. It’s a bummer to lose a shelf, but I don’t feel the loss quite as much right now since this was such a happy load!

Most of this work features drawings with underglaze pencil, I like how the line fuzzes in the firing. The plate and bowl have more crisp lines- from an inlay technique. I’m excited to play with these processes and combine them.

Also some new extra-cute tooth fairy bowls! I asked my dentist about this once, after a thoughtful look she said that they would “reduce bedside fumbling.”

I’m looking forward to the next batch, it’s nice to have something new and to finally see it happening!

So many mugs

Jenny Dowd

I’m really in a mug phase right now.

Lately I’ve been working on mugs for shops, mugs for upcoming sales, and mugs for special projects. The biggest challenge is coming up with a unique design for each location, at the same time this is the best part - an excuse to stretch and come up with something different while maintaining my voice and style. I love that within each of these projects the mugs are unique yet similar…

This Jackson Hole mug was created as a custom design for Workshop; I’ve been making them for a few years and on this last round gave them a minor tweak. Lowercase metal letter stamps - the result is so much more playful! Each letter is hand-stamped and the mountains and lines are incised. Each different yet similar.

Penny Lane is opening at a brand new location tomorrow! I’ve made a collection just for this space, ivory glazed mugs of all shapes & sizes. Each incised with little details.

This year I have been working on another custom mug, this time exclusively for MADE. Each features the Tetons while varying slightly in pattern. I’m still tweaking this design, trying a batch made from porcelain… coming soon!

In the soda kiln right now… lots of mugs! I’m never totally sure how these pots will turn out (check out these past Journal entries for details on this firing process: Part 1 & Part 2) Here I’m applying stains to the surface of the clay, this will react in the firing and make something interesting.

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And finally! I’ve been invited to participate in the first year of Wyoming Art Drop. This project features artwork by 6 Wyoming artists. Order an Art Drop and you’ll get a box of curated artwork delivered to your door in December. This Wyoming Night Mug is my prototype for this project, I’m excited to represent my state!

Wait for it

Jenny Dowd

Most of the time art requires a vast amount of patience. Sometimes the patience is totally surprising.

In 2004 I was invited to participate in the public art event, Art Inside the Park, in Jefferson City, MO. I made tons of porcelain stacks - a sort of growth formation / pancake stack. There were probably hundreds of stacks of the bright white fired porcelain pieces, installed in a wide meadow and between the trees. They were meant to seem almost natural, as if perhaps they actually grew there. I remember standing back at the opening of the park, watching as some people did a double-take when they noticed “Growth,” while others walked on by without noticing. Both reactions totally perfect.

After the exhibition was over, the pieces were packed up and a friend took some for her garden, my parents took some for their yard, and I probably threw some away.

So here it is, spring 2019. Every time I visit my parents I’m reminded of these pieces. My dad has patiently placed them in the yard, tucking the stacks between rocks, plants, and trees. He glues them together in an attempt to prevent a squirrel from knocking them over (I think the squirrel is winning.)

The best thing is that I always forget about these pieces. Every single time. I look out in the backyard and think about how peaceful it is and how the trees and plant have grown so much over the years. Then suddenly… what? What is that? During the most recent visit in April I actually got about a foot away from them before I recognized what they were. Sitting outside for 15 years has resulted in a surface I could only have ever dreamed of. The somewhat porous clay has been stained and is growing the most beautiful moss. It’s a different piece than it was in that park, bright white against the green grass.

It’s a good lesson to let go. I loved the piece when it was installed because it was exactly what I imagined. After the show was over I felt no attachment to these pieces as they had served their purpose. Once again I am reminded that patience wins the day and the things beyond imagination are often better than the rigid ideas in my head.

Market Update

Jenny Dowd

Last week I showed a bit of the process behind the pottery I’m making exclusively for Market. I opened the kiln on Monday to find that for once, everything in the kiln looked great! (See last week’s post here)

Garden themed pots: Swiss chard cups, cherry tomato salad bowls, plus a salt cellar and garlic keeper.

Before this load could be fired, I had to solve another problem. The shelves were in serious need of care, the bottoms of the pots had been sticking - leaving behind tiny shards of fired clay. Not only is it annoying to constantly clean the kiln shelves, but it meant that a lot of my pots had bits of clay missing from the feet and it just looked bad.

Fixing this means another step, but one that is worth it. I’m now coating the foot of each pot with a mixture of brushable wax and alumina. This ensures that nothing will stick to the kiln shelf and the foot of each pot will look how it should! I also scraped each shelf, and coated it with fresh kiln wash - which dried out in front of the space heater with a little help from Merlin’s studio water dish.

I’m also making ornaments specifically for Market, with the Vertical Harvest logo on one side, and a ripe juicy tomato on the other. The logo is hand drawn onto the porcelain disk using an underglaze pencil. I found that I can go over the lines with a little water on a brush to make it look more painterly.

It’s a few months away, but now I can’t wait until I can grow Swiss Chard and cherry tomatoes in my own garden, right outside of my studio!

New Work for Market

Jenny Dowd

Lately these quiet snowy days have been helpful in the studio, where I’ve been working to design a new line of pottery to be sold exclusively at Market. This shop is inside Vertical Harvest, the amazing greenhouse that grows beautiful greens and tomatoes all year in Jackson, Wyoming.

This project has taken since last spring, working through sketches, testing glazes, and mostly just thinking about how to make colorful garden themed designs - while working on all the projects that kept me busy last year. My goal was to make garden themed pots for dining: cups & pitchers, serving & salad bowls, as well as helpful items for the kitchen: garlic keepers & salt cellars. It’s been nice thinking about garden parties during this ultra-snowy winter!

In January I finally made some actual pieces. New ideas don’t usually take this long, but this time the process is such a departure from my usual, and I was a little stumped. Usually I decorate the surfaces while the pots are still wet, using inlay and sgraffito techniques. But what was bugging me was that I wanted these images to have a gestural line feel, more like drawing. So I bisque fired the test pieces and ordered a few underglaze pencils.

A neat trick when working on bisque fired pottery is that a design can be worked out with a graphite pencil - any unwanted graphite can be washed off with a sponge but it will also burn away in the kiln. So I worked out some of my drawings with a pencil first. Then went over them with the underglaze pencil. (Which is a very cool decorating tool - it looks sketchy like a pencil and yet will fire to a permanent line!)

I drew Swiss Chard on the cups & pitchers, tomatoes on the bowls, micro-greens on the salt cellars, and garlic on the garlic keepers. Then started in with glaze - only using copper green and red right now; colorful, but not too colorful. Similar to the first colors of spring. The glazing is a bit tedious - starting with the greens, once the leaves are brushed on I went over them with wax resist. This way I can glaze with the second color right up next to the first color. Red goes on next, then wax over that, finally clear over everything.

This is how the prototypes turned out and I’ve got a whole kiln load right now that I can’t wait to see. So stay tuned for an update!

Sketch to Life

Jenny Dowd

My sketching process is really messy, sketchbooks get torn up and little scraps of paper usually hold the best ideas. Often I can’t figure out how to define the idea on paper and the sketch becomes 3D - clay or wire, and then gets recycled.

The past few weeks I’ve been cleaning and organizing my studio space as well as attempting to wrangle art images into files and onto my websites. This is a good way to find odd things and reminders of past projects. Here are 2 of the most vague sketches I found and their resulting sculptures…

Believe it or not this was the final sketch for a ceramic and steel chandelier made for a project in 2016. It was just enough information on paper for me to move on to clay. I remember showing this drawing to a few people who seemed to understand it and were really excited… maybe my verbal description was more coherent, or maybe they were just being polite. Either way, this is what the sketch turned into:

Wyoming Sky Lantern was commissioned by Agnes Bourne for the foyer of the Designer Show House at the 2016 Western Design Conference. Read all about this project in this past Journal entry. The chandelier is now permanently living in a private home, the owner shared these images and I absolutely love them. I never would have guessed how the porcelain would change color with the lighting and environment. Maybe that is why my sketches are so vague?

This sketch was from a project last summer, I collaborated with Matt Daly to make 12 thaumatropes that were installed around Emily Steven’s Pond. This project was part of FoundSpace, a project designed by Jackson Hole Public Art and the Jackson Hole Land Trust. Once again, a very simple sketch became something quite complicated.

Read more about this project and see images of all the thaumatropes on my website.

Jackson Hole History

Jenny Dowd

Recently the Jackson Hole Historical Museum asked me to create an illustration that would embellish the text accompanying their new exhibition: the History Co-op Corner. This exhibition asks the community as well as visitors to share their Jackson Hole History.

The final illustration is 11 feet long, definitely quite a bit larger than I’m used to working!

This was a challenge to wrap my mind around. A small and very, very rough draft helped me visualize the scale and subject. The drawings needed to add to the text, yet not distract.

I started by thinking in terms of seasons and easily recognizable land formations - from left to right: Winter / Saddle Butte, Spring / Tetons, Summer / Sleeping Indian Mountain, Fall / Snow King.

Since history is past, present, and future I knew it would be important to mix together the contemporary and historical nature of Jackson Hole. After making a list of landmarks, activities, and a few interesting historical objects I translated each into a small cut-out drawing. This gave me something to move around under the text so I could play with relationship and readability.

The scale was a challenge, but since the final image would be scanned, printed onto vinyl and then applied to the wall - I did not need to make the drawing 11 feet long. Instead I made the drawing in 4 sections, at half the size of the final product. The text was printed out and pieced together - so I would roughly know how much space was available around it for the drawings.

After moving around my little cut out drawings I was able to edit and figure out which images made the cut. This was tough - there are so many recognizable images that can be used to illustrate Jackson, plus many activities that people travel to this area for. In the end I had to choose images that would read well from a distance and that could be drawn in silhouette.

I really love this photograph of Jackson’s original school bus, it was one of the first images that I knew needed to be included. It may not be easily recognized as a school bus, however it doesn’t take much research at the Historical Museum to find out what it is!

A few challenges included keeping the line of images from becoming static - I wanted some of the images to break into the space around the letters. Also, there were plenty of items that I had to look up for reference, such as the bus used in Yellowstone National Park.

This is the final drawing with lettering laid over top. And the final version in the museum…

This exhibition invites interaction by asking the community and visitors to participate through answering the question “What is your Jackson Hole History?”

Local Elementary students were asked to draw and write about their Jackson histories and High School students researched and shared an oral history of their families. Postcards are also available for visitors and locals to include their histories in this evolving exhibition.

There is much to explore in this exhibition and it is best experienced in person. I’m honored to have my artwork be part of this display! If you are in the area be sure to stop by and participate.

Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum

225 N Cache, Jackson, WY

Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pm

Winter Classes

Jenny Dowd

I’ve been taking a bit of a break to recharge - it was needed because all of a sudden I can’t wait to work in the studio and start teaching classes again!

Already a lot is happening in the studio (new stuff coming soon!) and classes begin this week at the Art Association.

Clay Surfaces: Color, Glaze & Pattern

Jan 10 - Feb 7 | 11:30am - 2pm

This class will cover lots of surface techniques - texture & stamping as well as the many ways to use underglaze and slip: sgraffito, inlay & mishima, stencils, transfers, wax etching… This class is the place to find or enhance your style!

Monotype, Chine-collé, and Hand-sewn Techniques

2 different sessions:

Feb 6 & 13 | 1 - 4pm

April 17 & 24 | 6 - 9pm

Learn the basics of monotype printmaking, a process that can be quick or layered. We will explore techniques to make marks using an etching press as well as techniques that you can do at home without a press.

Monotypes are one-time prints that I find truly special and sometimes haunting. Whether you love to draw & paint or are a little intimidated by paper - you will make interesting designs, patterns, and images that are exciting and one-of-a-kind.

We will also add to the layers of our prints with chine-collé and collage techniques.

Daytime Beginning Throwing

2 different sessions:

Feb 14 - March 21 | 11:30am - 2pm

April 18 - May 23 | 11:30am - 2pm

How does a lump of clay become a mug? Learn all the basics in this daytime throwing class. It will be awkward and messy at first, but you’ll have something you can eat out of by the end of the class!

Drawing Topics

2 different sessions:

Feb 20 - March 13 | 1 - 4pm

May 8 - 28 | 6 - 9pm

I think that drawing is a really important way to communicate. Whether you are doodling while waiting or are giving someone instructions that need a little visual component or you desire to make a realistic drawing of an object - drawing is useful. Learn confidence during this 4-week class as we work through the basics and a variety of techniques to get you started to brush up your skills.

Check out the Events page on the website to see Sam’s classes, and dates for shows and other events as we know them!

Special, Special Orders

Jenny Dowd

Just about every time I think that I’ve got too much to do and shouldn’t take on any more special orders - I get the most amazing requests. These are the things that, although they take me off my path, they make me realize that my path can (and should be) be wider than originally thought.

Just this past week I finished and delivered two of the most special orders. Each were commissioned by someone as a gift for another person or family, each very personal.

The pitcher and cups are for someone who has just moved into a new home that she has named “The Sunny Spot.” This inspired me to made a few little wall tiles with whimsical little hills, and a path to the sun and stars. Luckily, Sam and I had planned a soda firing and I was able to make these pieces and get them into the kiln in time. (This is a laborious process that we love but only do a few times each year. For the whole story on how these pieces happen check out my past journal entry here.)

This teapot and cup set is also extremely whimsical, full of special meaning, and commissioned as a gift. While working on these pieces I fell in love with the clouds - I’ve put these on succulent planters in the past, but this time it was if I saw them differently…. and they will be showing up in the future.

Every order, every piece of pottery that finds a new home, each one is a gift. When I stop to think about my work out there in the wild making people happy, it floors me and energizes me at the same time.

1 week, 2 shows

Jenny Dowd

Sometimes it works out this way, I have work in 2 exhibitions and they both have receptions this week…

Animal Shelter opens on November 1st at Mystery Print Gallery in Pinedale, WY. For this invitational exhibition artists were tasked with interpreting the theme of animal shelter - how do animals find shelter, especially in the shared spaces occupied by humans, other animals, etc?

I focused on the tiny: snake, spider, bird, mouse. These critters can be seen as pests or pets, and I like the idea of them having flexible found shelter - each has an indoor option and an outdoor option.

The little critters are made from porcelain, multiples were made in case someone lost a tail or beak. The little drawings were done in a local coffee shop- another reason I like to work small!

4 tiny sculptures resulted. I’m looking forward to seeing how the other artists interpreted the theme. This show will be on display until the end of the year, so check it out if you are in the area.

The cookbook project, a year in the making, is now an actual printed cookbook! (Check out my past post Illustration project sneak peek for some behind the scenes.) The cookbook is available to purchase in the Jackson CWC office in the Center for the Arts.

I never imagined that my sketch - how to butcher an onion - would make the cover! (I took a knife skills class a few years ago, a short evening class through CWC. Learning how to chop an onion blew my mind! Plus… I’ve only cut myself in the kitchen a few times since this class.)

All of the original illustrations are on display and available for purchase in the Theater Gallery located in the Center for the Arts in Jackson until November 5th.

This Friday November 3rd, from 5:30 - 7:30, the culinary arts students will be serving tastes from the cookbook at the reception. Come by to see (and taste) the recipes that inspired drawings by me, Jocelyn Slack, and Cal Brackin.

Illustration project sneak peek

Jenny Dowd

I’m excited to share a peek into a project that has been in the works since late last year…

In collaboration with the Culinary Arts Program at Central Wyoming College, located at the Jackson campus and illustrators Jocelyn Slack and Cal Brackin, I’ve been working on a cookbook! The three of us have been illustrating a collection of recipes developed by the culinary arts students.

The end result will be a published cookbook and an exhibition with some of the original illustrations as well as actual recipes made and served during the opening by the students.

Wrapping my head around how to create illustrations for the recipes was a challenge. It didn’t take long to realize that composing the image right there on a piece of paper was causing me to stall out and I would be more confident if working dimensionally.

I thought about the story each recipe told and how to best give visual instructions, then drew the components. After cutting the pieces out I was able to play with the composition and relationship of each object. Some images came from memory, while some- the 1950’s pink convertible- needed a source image.

After the initial composition on scrap paper, I moved onto ink on drawing paper. The next part seemed the most scary- I don’t usually use much color and rarely use watercolor. I had a few drawing drafts that didn’t work out, so they became confidence building practice pieces.

Pictured here- how to chop lemongrass for Thai Masala Squash Soup, Taco Soup, and Asparagus Soup with Cream- for that one I imagined a budding romance between asparagus and a pitcher of cream. (I got sick of my brushes rolling around on the table and making a wet mess, so I made a quick brush holder with foam and push pins. I made a sea monster brush holder out of clay earlier in the summer, but haven’t glazed it yet.)

For some recipes, I picked out a few key ingredients, like a shallot and mint for the Cucumber Mint Salad. Some are more visual how-to’s, like the middle illustration- Winter Vegetable Hash (Scrub veggies before peeling, do not rinse after!) and some are about telling a story- Thai Coconut Rice- gateway to the taste of another country.

The Cuban Chicken recipe was influenced by the grandmother of the chef… so I couldn’t resist a 1950’s pink caddy being driven by a chicken on a mission! The Singapore Fruit Salad made me think of a market full of exotic fruits which led to fruit eager to travel the world. Mixing pasta dough like a volcano of flour filled with eggs… well, that’s my visual definition anyway.

Some recipes got more color than others, I still love the simple black line of pen on paper, so I highlighted that in a few of these drawings. Especially the Meatball Sub- the meatballs are waiting for the toast to be perfect.

I still have several more illustrations to finish, so stay tuned for an update! And if you are in Jackson, be sure to stop by the Theater Gallery in the Center for the Arts to see the exhibition. The work will be on display from October 20 - November 5. The opening reception will be November 2 from 5:30 - 7:30pm. And the cookbook will be available at that time too!