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Journal

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

Filtering by Category: New Ideas

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.

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!

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!

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.

Display Ideas

Jenny Dowd

One thing I love about making things out of clay, besides ease of use and overall helpfulness, is the challenge of finding solutions for display. I'm always rethinking how to make objects that are helpful and highly functional, plus looking for good ways to display them- I like it when a story can simply be told through the juxtaposition of a few objects. 

A few weeks ago at the August Art Fair Jackson Hole I was across the isle from Sita Sabina. She saw a helpful potential in my "stuff holders." By using these little dishes to display her rings for people to choose from, she also created a beautiful and simple display that offers good ideas for storage (or home display) of precious objects.

Recently metal artist, Jen McNaughton, asked me to make necklace display stands and I got pretty excited about this project. I'd never thought of making ceramic display stands!

I started out by making a cardboard pattern. This template helped me think through the angle which it would sit at as well as size. It also gave me a good visual before cutting into the clay- the necklace needs to stay put on the top and hook somehow into the back, so I came up with a few ideas before getting too far into clay work.

After lots of smoothing and assembling I added a little decoration- like a frame around Jen's pendants. This needed to be simple and not distracting, underglaze inlay seemed to be a good fit. I drew a design into the clay with an xacto, coated it with underglaze, then wiped the excess away.

And the results! The notches at the top hold the necklace in place, while holes in the back supports give options for chain length, plus a little anti-theft. 

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Come to the Takin it to the Streets fair on September 9th on the Jackson Town Square to see these in person. Well, come to see Jen's jewelry, really- you won't even notice the stands! And I'll be a few booth away with my pottery still thinking about new ways to display things.

FoundSpace 2018: Part 2

Jenny Dowd

This week FoundSpace 2018 was unveiled at Emily Steven's Park! This art will be on display until August 8, and there is plenty to explore. I'm one of 5 artists invited by the JH Land Trust and JH Public art to create a temporary installation that will bring awareness to our public wild spaces. At FoundSpace, the challenge is to create something that will help visitors see the space in a different way- and hopefully discover something new every time they visit.

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This awesome map, designed by Cal Brackin, was screen printed onto bandanas by Walt Gerald

FoundPrints by the Sun

Brittany Hill took inspiration from the organic material found in this location to create naturally dyed flags. Each represent a species that has been transferred to the fabric through printmaking processes that rely on the sun.

Looksees

Bronwyn Minton invites viewers to come over and take a looksee. Her large sculptures are hard to resist and each offer spyglass holes- look through and you might just see something.

The Small Village of Treepoli

Bland Hoke enticed the small occupants of Treeopoli to construct a tiny village of hanging houses and rope ladders. Look closely, many details are hidden within the village.

Chronicles of the Introverted Minifauna

Matt Daly and I have created thaumatropes (check out last week's blog post for details) that tell stories about the little critters that are easily overlooked. So far we have installed 4... but keep an eye out, we will be installing more around the park over the next month!

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FoundSpace 2018: Part 1

Jenny Dowd

FoundSpace 2018 is ready to be explored! 

Now in its Fourth year, this project is a collaboration between the JH Land Trust and JH Public Art. FoundSpace offers the opportunity and challenge of interpreting conserved public land in creative and interactive ways. This year FoundSpace is at Emily Steven's Park just outside of Wilson, WY.

Last year I collaborated with Matt Daly, (see our project here) we had such fun that we decided to work together again. Inspired by the optical combination of words and images in thaumatropes, Matt wrote 12 short poems, one for each month, that highlight the overlooked (and often introverted) mini-fauna found in this area. 

I illustrated each poem, which has been challenging since the magic behind the thaumatrope is 3 drawings- one on each side, plus a combination of the 2 when the disk spins.

The image had to be clear enough to read, yet the multiple parts allowed for slightly more information. I was so excited about telling the stories that I missed an important step- the image has to be perfectly registered on each side so that when the disk flips the image is not blurry. Oops.

I drew the image on paper, transferred it to plywood with carbon paper, then registered the image using holes in the side of the disk. (As seen by the highly technical use of drill bits...) 

Each little critter has such personality and imagery created through Matt's words, it was easy to imagine the story and what I wanted to visualize. I am so excited to be part of this project and to work in collaboration with another creative who sees the world from a different angle. I'm already learning a lot about some of the mini-fauna that I was not aware of! 

The thaumatrope is made cut disks from plywood in a diameter to fit discarded bike wheels that Matt scavenged. I drew and painted on the primed surfaces and made cranks so they can be turned by hand. The stands were made by Matt from discarded fence posts, and all stand at different heights.

We've started with 4 thaumatropes, and will install all 12 within the next month. So stay tuned for updates, and if Emily Steven's Park is part of your normal routine be sure to check back periodically.

There are 3 more artists who have installed artwork in the park: Bronwyn Minton, Bland Hoke, and Brittany Hill. Check back for my post on Saturday June 9th for a full update!

And if you are in the area, stop by Thursday June 7th from 5-8pm for the opening event. (You'll be able to make your very own small thaumatrope!)

Ensemble

Jenny Dowd

It's time for the Laramie County Library annual book arts exhibition, Inspiration and the Artist Book. As usual, this year's theme left me stumped for a few months: Ensemble. I rolled the idea around in my head as I worked on other projects and brainstormed with my dad (now you know my secret!)

This time I went tiny, deciding to make an ensemble of clothing. But it's not just any clothing- these items are made from the pages of an old book.

I started out by making tiny patterns and testing how to fold the paper with the fewest number of folds or overlaps. 

I really wanted a hat as part of this wardrobe, it took me a few tries to figure out how to display it. At first I made a stand-alone hat rack, but that seemed too complicated. In the end I added a little hook onto the clothing stand so all the little pieces would be together.

The clothing rack and hangers are made from black wire. I like the gestural line quality and felt it fit well with the pages of text.

The final piece is very small, 8 inches tall by 10 inches long.

Book Jackets

Each person is a book. We are each an ensemble of ideas, information, fact, fiction, stories, dreams and musings. In order to face the day we wrap ourselves in what we have, leaving space in the wardrobe for more items and changing styles.

By mixing and matching we create a story to be presented to the world, adding and sharing pages and pieces through conversation, reading, living, and researching.

This tiny delicate piece was also a challenge to pack for shipping. In the end it occupied a much larger box than I would have imagined for such a small piece... but the box only weighed 4 pounds!

Visit this book sculpture in person and see how all the other artists interpreted "Ensemble." The show will be on display at the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne, WY from June 8 - August 8, 2018.

Catching Up

Jenny Dowd

So much is happening right now! Which is funny, since I have been feeling like I'm not doing anything interesting or worth talking about. I'm at the start of several new things, desperately behind on some others, and thinking about a huge change to my studio by adding a new clay / decoration / firing temperature. I think it's realistic to say that I've been overwhelmed. 

So what has been happening?

A few sculpture projects are in the works. More on these to come in the next weeks...

I've been teaching a lot of clay classes at the Art Association, both adult and youth. And making some funny things as examples... like this submarine flower pot (next up, garden gnomes!)

I just finished a project at the Kelly Elementary with the 2nd & 3rd grade class. For this project I worked with pARTners- an organization that bring local artists into the schools to help with special projects. The class was studying the Pacific Northwest, so I worked with the students to make their own totem poles. Each section tells a story, about the maker as well as family, past and present. 

I've been working on a new mug design for the General Store at Menors Ferry in Grand Teton National Park:

And... I'm a new vendor at Uncommon Goods! Visit my page and read the story here

I'm moving in a lot of directions right now and every day is different. It's good to take time to reflect, this is a nice reminder that I'm doing a lot of interesting things. (And even a better reminder to keep carving out time to sit and read!)

 

 

Catching Up

Jenny Dowd

Well, I've been taking a little break, only from regularly posting in my journal though. 

I meant for January to be a month of organizing and updating while planning for the year... instead I've been working in the studio and settling into my winter teaching schedule. Maybe I'll do those other things in February.

For possibly the first time ever I thought ahead about small, sweet gifts for Valentine's Day. This translated into snowy night bud vases and small pots with saucers with succulents or small plants in mind. In both cases- it looks like I'm subtly thinking about spring with little flowers and new growth... spring is just around the corner even though it doesn't feel like it yet in Wyoming!

For the little flower pots, I stuck with a wintery theme and decorated them with white underglaze, drawing through to show off my not-so-bright-white-porcelain underneath. I drew some little succulents with ink to demonstrate how nice of a home these pots can be!

The bud vases and plant pots are part of my new year refresh at Penny Lane Cooperative. I like to change up my inventory in this space regularly, while keeping lots of favorites on hand.

If you haven't stopped by Penny Lane lately, put it on your list New artists in the cooperative and as always lots of cute clothing options- cuddly items for winter and a few hints of spring! This is a great place to find a treat for your Valentine and yourself!

3D Drawing

Jenny Dowd

For some time I have been thinking about the relationship between drawing and sculpture. 

Drawing was my first love in art, and although I work mostly as a potter and sculptor, drawing has continued to drive the spirit behind my work. 

When I learned how to weld with an oxy-acetylene torch I have a vivid memory of my teacher comparing bending the welding rod to contour drawing. This image stuck and resurfaced years later when I was frustrated by an idea that I felt would not work on paper.

A series of small furniture in human settings emerged from that frustration. I like the feeling of actually drawing in space, as well as the ability to move the figures around to create different scenarios. Plus, there is a bonus drawing in shadow.

These sculptures are small, each piece no taller than 10 inches. Check out more from this series here.

This is a detail from Passages, a sculpture I have installed several times in different locations. Once again I'm playing with shadow and using the wire to draw lines.

Most recently I have been employing multiple objects to create environments, using thread, wire, fabric, and porcelain to build something that just barely pops off the wall.

These experiments have led me to think about a class that exists both on and off the page- 3D Drawing. Usually when I propose a class I have a pretty good sense of where it will go and what the outcome will be. This time I have lots of ideas but am excited that the class will be an experiment. It may go in directions that will offer new ideas and solutions.

The class starts in a few weeks. 3D Drawing will be held at the Art Association in Jackson, WY. Each week focuses on a topic that we will explore on paper and also in 3D space.

This class is set up as a drop-in, you can choose the topics/weeks you like or you can sign up for all 4 weeks:

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

For more information, check out the class description here.

Stay tuned, there is much to say on this topic and I will post updates from the class in a few weeks! 

Flowers still grow

Jenny Dowd

Earlier this year I was invited to participate in the Laramie County Library's summer exhibition, Inspiration and the Artist Book. I was especially excited partly because this exhibition has a yearly theme. This is a challenge I look forward to, knowing that it will take me out of my current box. The 2017 exhibition, curated by Sue Sommers, is Utopia/Dystopia. 

Since I don't usually make art with a theme in mind, I find this addition at first jarring and then liberating. I must pass through a few stages:

1. Shock: What?? How do I do That? 

2. Acceptance: Hmmm... but it could mean this... or it could mean that...

3. Problem solving: I've looked at several angles, now how do I say what I want to say within this frame?

4. Grateful: I've stretched, learned a bit, and have made something that I would not have come up with otherwise.

While thinking about how to interpret Utopia/Dystopia I kept coming back to books and information, and not only because this show is in a library! I thought about the porcelain books I used to make (see them here) and thought about what a dystopian landscape would look like to me: a heavily censored world with nothing to read.

In order to execute this idea, I decided to alter a book. I recognize that this is a weird process. I love the tactile feeling of books. They offer escape and education all in one place, so destroying a book seems like the last thing I would want to do. However, I see this an an opportunity to redirect the life of an object that has been produced in multiples and has been discarded. (This book was found at the Teton County Library where I have taught book altering classes in the past, they let me pilfer the collection of books that will be in an upcoming book sale.)

For this project I found a particular sized book with a black, hard cover. After distressing the cover I went to work cutting away the interior to create a niche for my hidden utopia.

I made hills out of the discarded pages and used correction tape to obscure any words with meaning, leaving behind only a few pronouns, articles, and indirect objects. 

Gluing everything together was interesting: 

When I was finished, I had a little fun making a stop-action video:

Flowers still grow

One book is an infinite, hand-held universe. It has the ability to introduce unknown places and ideas with questions, experiences, and thoughts. Just one book is capable of leading a reader on a lifetime of learning and searching.

This book represents a dystopian world of redacted and heavily censored information. While this could be a diagram for the ideal, utopian meadow, it still contains an element of dread. Set like a stage with delicate clouds hanging from thread over rhythmic hills, the subject of the book remains unknown and creates a suspiciously dull scene.

White flowers reflect what little nutrients are available to be gleaned from sanitized, stripped soil, but they are growing. Hope and the ability to evolve will always be found where something grows.

The exhibition will be at the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne, Wyoming from June 9 - August 7, 2017. If you are in the area be sure to stop by and see how several artists interpreted this theme!

Place/Settings: Part 1

Jenny Dowd

This past week I traveled to Concord, North Carolina to install my sculpture in the exhibition Place/Settings. Co-curators Connie Norman and Do Palma invited 12 Wyoming artists to explore the theme of place in our artwork. How do these settings or childhood memories shape our outlook or artistic spirit?

The show is hosted by The Cabarrus Arts Council and is on display at The Galleries, in the Historic Cabarrus County Courthouse from May 5 - July 7, 2017. The Artist Reception will be on June 9th. 

Cabarrus County Historic Courthouse, Concord, NC

Cabarrus County Historic Courthouse, Concord, NC

I am so excited to be included in this beautiful exhibition and honored to be in such good company. The exhibition includes artwork by: Wendy Bredehoft, Ashley Hope Carlisle, Leah Hardy, Bronwyn Minton, Susan Moldenhauer, Connie Norman, Do Palma, Dandee Pattee, Jennifer Rife, Georgia Rowswell and Sue Sommers.

Check back next week for details and images from the whole exhibition. Since there is so much to say about this show I've decided to split it into 2 posts.

My thoughts on Place/Settings led me to explore the dream-like moments that follow me wherever I am. Thinking back to childhood, I spent a lot of time reading and living in my imagination- and still do. Lately I have been trying to define these dreamy moments without pinning them down too much.

My travel schedule allowed 3 days to install my work, luckily everything arrived safely. (To see how I packed and shipped my pieces, check out this blog entry from April.)

Where the ground meets the sky

Experimenting is a large part of my process. Where the ground meets the sky only lived in my head before last week. I worked with porcelain, silk and vellum to create a subtle palette and relied on shadows to add depth and attract attention. The silk and vellum clouds hang from thread attached to entomology pins, creating a deliberately orchestrated scene. While I'm not sure if this is a real place or not, it is important that it seem hauntingly familiar. The clouds flutter as people walk by, attracting attention and sometimes creating a weather pattern- big gusts cause some serious tangling, which I hadn't expected but really like. (Although, now the piece needs to be de-tangled regularly!) 

Where the ground meets the sky is made of porcelain, wire, silk, vellum, silk thread and entomology pins. In this installation it is 7 feet wide.

Passages

Passages is a flexible sculpture that I have been working on since 2009. I had an idea of a piece that could change over time in response to display in a variety of spaces. With each installation I learn more about these pieces and try different solutions. This is the 5th installation of Passages, and it's first trip outside of Wyoming. (Last fall Passages was installed outside in the courtyard of Persephone Bakery in Jackson, WY, check out the blog post here.)

The installation process is both exciting and nerve-wracking. I enjoy working around different site obstacles and allow them to shape the course of the piece. For this installation I had limited time (which is a great way to make me focus and commit to decisions!)

This time there were lighting fixtures to work around and a plaster ceiling which made adding extra hooks difficult, plus I wanted to make sure I was not distracting from the other artist's work in the space. All of these "obstacles" are actually what makes installing this piece fun, I think of it as adding to a good conversation.

Even though Passages and Where the ground meets the sky are 3-dimensional, I also see them as drawings.

Heavy anchor wire attaches the boats and allows them to visually move through their environment. This wire makes a beautiful line and I feel that I am drawing in space. I compare the cluster of boats to leaves, a flock of birds or school of fish and the shadows expand the space they occupy. I also see these pieces as something familiar, though not quite recognizable, seen just out of periphery. 

In this installation, Passages, is made up of 120 (ish) welded steel boats dipped in Egyptian Paste.

On May 4th Curator Rebecca Collins held a gallery talk to discuss the artwork and show concept with the docents. On the left she is discussing Ashley Hope Carlisle's piece Carried Away. I spoke about my pieces and answered questions. I never think I want to talk about new artwork, especially when it is so fresh, but it is actually very insightful as it helps me put my ideas into words. 

I am grateful to the amazing staff at the Cabarrus Arts Council for all of their help and for allowing me such freedom to experiment!

To make the whole experience even better, my parents met up with me in NC and attended the gallery talk! Here they are trying to figure out what I did.

Check back next week for more images from the exhibition as well as photos of all the other artwork!

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

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.

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.

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!