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Alpine, WY, 83128
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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 Tag: Dowd House Studios

Pottery in Action: Healthy Being Juicery

Jenny Dowd

For the past year I have been making pottery for Healthy Being Juicery in Jackson. The shop features my handmade mugs, bowls, teapots and cups with saucers along with cookbooks, teas, and snacks. My large salad bowls are also used in the cafe for serving beautiful, tasty, and nutritious salads.

I love seeing my pottery in action and I also enjoy the opportunity to create something specific to embrace the spirit of a store or restaurant. In each location the process and outcome is different, but each starts with a conversation. I love making items to compliment the healthy and delicious lifestyle the juicery promotes.

This Friday in celebration of Healthy Being Juicery's 5 Year Anniversary, they are throwing a party! Be sure to stop by for yummy treats, shopping deals, and say hi to their potter... me!

For more details, check out the Facebook invite!

Time for Tea(pots)

Jenny Dowd

I can no longer deny that the weather in Western Wyoming has turned. While I'm sure there will still be plenty of warmish fall days, these cool cloudy mornings have found me and Merlin hanging out close to the fireplace.

Last year when a friend asked me to make her a teapot I started by asking myself why I hadn't been making teapots.

Teapots are complicated and highly specific forms. The tradition is strong, with a million beautiful little details. I enjoy these details yet felt that I should make the teapot that I would use.

I also felt a little ashamed that my favorite teapot is this cute little red commercial teapot. I love this teapot, it reminds me of my first apartment. I'm pretty sure that's when my mom let me pick it out at my favorite tea shop.

This little teapot is just that, simple and highly functional with a removable tea strainer perfect for loose teas. 

With all this in mind, I started making teapots with these characteristics; round and simple, easy to clean, cute. They do not have a strainer inside the spout or a mesh strainer that sits down inside of the lid, instead I use a tea ball infuser. 

I was really excited about designing the cups & saucers. Some inspiration came from using a teacup in a cafe that I felt was too big to hold with one hand.

These cups are small and fit easily in my hand. The saucers provide an interesting canvas for design, I have a lot of fun mixing and matching saucers with cups.

The cup and saucer patterns inspire decoration for the teapots. 

Mmmm... I feel warmer already!

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Details

Jenny Dowd

I spend a lot of time on details. 

When I started this series of black & white sgraffito ware, I found my tight forms with their even rims to be in conflict with my hand-drawn designs. Expression and imperfection are inherent to hand-drawn lines, I felt that this needed to be reflected in the pottery- even if I had to force it.

I use a wire to cut the rim of bowls and plates before removing them from the wheel. Once the piece is dry enough to handle yet still malleable I spend a lot of time smoothing the rims (and the whole piece) with my favorite finishing sponge

The cut rims are very similar, yet when the dishes are stacked the slightly undulating lines are more apparent.

As much as I like these cuts rims, I know it is risky. These piece are more susceptible to cracking and chipping. It's a risk I'm willing to take in order to gain the harmony found between an uneven rim and the hand-drawn images and patterns. 

Cups, mugs, pitchers, and vases are treated similarly- I allow the rim to be uneven as I am throwing the form on the wheel. Sometimes the rims are even, sometimes not, and the result is always very subtle.

New Designs at Workshop

Jenny Dowd

I may be taking a bit of a summer break, but not in the studio!

Lately I have been working on orders for shops and restaurants, as well as building up my inventory for upcoming fairs. One project includes the cute little cupcake stands that I am making for Workshop in Jackson. 

Each cupcake stand is thrown in 2 parts, I make the top (where the cupcake goes) upside down and then throw a cylinder for the stand. After shaping the edge and smoothing out the clay, I attach the 2 pieces.

The surface decoration is an inlay or mishima process. I use a sharp blade to cut into the clay making an interesting pattern, then I brush black underglaze over the cuts. Once it dries I wipe off the extra underglaze with a sponge- leaving delicate lines inlaid in the porcelain.

If you are in Jackson, be sure to stop by and check out Workshop! Everything in the shop is handmade and unique. Each of my items is one-of-a-kind: cupcake stands, bowls, platters, ring cones, and ornaments!

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!

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.

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!

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!

Save the Dates!

Jenny Dowd

Summer is winding down into fall and that means great local sales and events! I've listed a few coming up that are already on my calendar. Check out the Dowd House Studios events calendar to stay up to date on classes, sales and events.

Thanks For Giving

Sunday Nov 6: 11 - 5 at Penny Lane Cooperative

Bring canned food & toiletries to PLC for the Jackson Cupboard, in return receive 15% off store wide. (This includes my pottery and art!) Plus bring the kids- they can make Thanksgiving themed crafts while you shop!

Teton MudPots Holiday Pottery Sale

Thursday & Friday, December 1 & 2: Time TBA, in the Art Association Gallery

This annual pottery sale features work by over 15 local potters. A great place to find utilitarian and decorative pottery made by students as well as teachers. 30% of all sales benefit the ceramics studio at the Art Association of Jackson Hole, where classes are taught to all ages.

Old Wilson Schoolhouse Holiday Gift Show

Saturday December 10: 10 - 3 at the Old Wilson Schoolhouse and Community Center

The perfect place to find gifts made by over 15 local artists; Sam and I will be there with lots of new pottery!

New Pottery at Market

Jenny Dowd

This week I delivered a batch of new pottery to Market, located inside Vertical Harvest in Jackson, WY. Just in time for fall: large soup bowls plus salt jars with little spoons.

Market features lots of locally made products, including a variety of my black & white pottery. And great produce! Be sure to stop by for tomatoes, lettuce, basil...

Shop Updates!

Jenny Dowd

Between waiting for a part to fix my broken wheel and what felt like an abrupt seasonal change, I was prompted this past week to pay some attention to my Etsy Shop: Dowd House Studios. The outdoor art fairs have finished for the year and we have a few months before holiday sales start, so it was a good time to (somewhat) organize the studio and list new items in my shop.

This summer I started working on pottery sets just for kids: little plates, bowls and mugs, all child sized!

Etsy is always a good place to find kitchen organizers, the sponge holder has been my shop's most popular items for the past few years. I love that I'm helping to organize kitchens all over the country!

And now that my wheel is working again, I'm off the computer and back to work in the studio!

Pottery at Paper & Grace

Jenny Dowd

I am excited to announce that Paper & Grace in Jackson, WY is now carrying my pottery. I have been working with them to create the perfect desk organizing items: pencil holders, magnetic bowls and little stuff holders- just the thing to tame the clutter! 

Studio Cat

Jenny Dowd

It's been pretty busy in the studio lately and I think someone has been trying to tell me that he hasn't been getting enough attention. So it's about time I introduce Merlin, the Studio Cat.

Merlin is always close by, helping pack boxes, watching me work and overseeing studio operations. Of course there is also the occasional paw swat. 

Merlin would like for you to think that he is adorable and totally helpful. While he is quite entertaining he also is very good at breaking things (lots of my stuff and luckily only 1 piece made by another artist.) I encouraged Merlin to find another job, but I guess this really is his thing. I just still can't let him into my drawing studio.

Of course there is always the opportunistic nap. Anytime.

So now you know all about my studio helper!

Wonder Cups

Jenny Dowd

Lately I have been working on several interesting projects; special orders and prototypes for local shops. 

This week I finished a special order of little cups for the Center of Wonder in Jackson, WY. Since this organization is dedicated to creating moments of wonder and supporting creativity in our community, it seemed appropriate to make each cup just a little different.

In order to add a bit of personalization, the Wonder Bird logo is on the inside of each cup. This took some trial and error, in the end I made a stencil using contact paper. Simplifying the logo then adding the details made this process a little simpler.

First, using underglaze, I would paint the positive or negative of the simplified bird into the base of the leather hard cup. Next I would peel off the stencil and paint in the details or scratch them out of the black: eye, feet and curly tail.

The finished cups are super cute plus I got more confident with making, using and altering stencils. 

Often these projects help me figure out different ways to approach my craft and sometimes the techniques show up in future work.

Art Fair Jackson Hole

Jenny Dowd

This weekend we are hanging out in Miller Park for Art Fair Jackson Hole!

Come by and check out lots of great art made by artists from all over the country. Sam and I are in booth #159, we have been busy making heaps of new pottery- favorite forms as well as brand new ideas.

In celebration of the fair's 50th Anniversary there will be music by Jazz Foundation of Jackson Hole on Saturday from 3 - 7pm. 

Come by and find that perfect kitchen organizer or a wacky pilsner.

Miller Park, Jackson, WY

Friday July 8: 10 - 6 | Saturday July 9: 10 - 7 | Sunday July 10: 10 - 4

Hope to see you there, we will be back in August too!

Rendezvous in Pinedale

Jenny Dowd

On June 30th the exhibition, Rendezvous, opened at Mystery Print Gallery in Pinedale, WY. The show features the art of Wyoming artists, Christy Anspach, Babs Case and myself.

Given the theme of Rendezvous, I thought of my little furniture sculptures- groupings of objects coming together and often caught in the act of misbehaving.

From left to right: First Kiss | Longing | Time Out | Was it murder? (click on the image to see the whole piece)

I love the color in this gallery, now I want color behind my work all the time!

 "Dearly Beloved" by Christy Anspach  

Each line is a family- a group of pinch pots with similar yet unique features. (Christy's Obvara firing process is totally new to me and something I would like to try.)

This detail and studio photo lends a peek into the intricate collages made by Babs Case. My photos from the show were blurry, so I grabbed these from Mystery Print's Facebook page. 

Continuing the theme of Rendezvous and coming together over a shared meal or drink, Sam and I also have pottery in the gallery.

This show is up until September, so if you are in the Pinedale area be sure to stop by! 

Summer Pottery Sales

Jenny Dowd

Mark your calendars, it's almost summer pottery sale season! 

I've been throwing, trimming, glazing, staining, re-glazing, firing... and there is still so much to do. Pictured below are sponge holders & soap dispensers, cream & sugar sets glazed and headed to the kiln. Everything looks so pastel and dull right now, that will soon change!

The summer sales are starting off with a Jackson local's favorite- the Teton MudPots Summer Sale.

Find lots of treasures from 12 local potters, including me and Sam. I'll be packing up lots of work this week in preparation, come by and find awesome deals on some pieces I consider seconds. Nothing is really wrong with them, just glaze flaws, prototypes or things I'm not 100% happy with.

Look for the tents in the parking lot just outside the ceramics studio at the Art Association. This is a great way to support local artists while sprucing up your home decor. Plus a percentage of each sale goes back to the ceramics studio to help us buy the equipment we need to make cool stuff.

Friday June 24, 10am - 7pm & Saturday June 25, 10am - 5pm 

What's next?

The 2nd weekend of July and the 2nd weekend of August Dowd House Studios will have a booth in Art Fair Jackson Hole, located in Miller Park. We will also be at RiverFest in Lander, WY on the 1st Saturday in August.