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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: Handmade pottery in use

Sometimes for fun

Jenny Dowd

Sometimes I make silly things that are just for me... these plant pots were demo pots made while teaching youth and adult handbuilding in the spring at the Art Association. The submarine started out like a regular pot, then transformed into something truly silly that I couldn't wait to get into my garden! The whale came along second as a response to the submarine.

It might be rare that I have an excuse to use a cake stand, but it's fun to use them! And I do think they get sad when they go too long without cake (oh, and I get sad too.) This cookies & cream icebox cake was extra yummy since the cake stand was involved!

Sometimes cake stands crack in the kiln- in my garden those turn into plant stands.

I have a few more silly things at work in the studio- starry garlands for my art fair booth and a sea monster paint brush holder... I'm looking forward to putting these to use soon! 

Pottery in Action: The Wild Sage

Jenny Dowd

Here's a behind the scenes look into a project I've been working on for the past few months. I'm currently working on pottery for several Jackson area restaurants (more updates to come!) the latest one is the Wild Sage located in the Rusty Parrot

I've not been great about photographing the work, I was so excited to deliver these pieces that they went straight from the kiln into boxes. That just means that now I have an even better excuse for dinner out! (Besides, pottery always looks better with food.)

Last fall, Chef Travis Catanzaro contacted me to discuss new pottery designs for the restaurant. Since then I've been making sauce bowls, pitchers, ramekins and bread baskets with a stoneware, earth-tone inspired palette. 

One of these forms, the bread basket, is intended to replace the metal woven baskets they have been using. After measuring the existing baskets, my first thought was to find a form that I could slump the clay over. I wasn't terribly excited about the simple oval form that would be created, so I took some time to think.

Eventually, I wondered if the clay could be folded into the squared oval shape that I was seeking. After a few paper test pieces, I was able to make a pattern. Rolling the slab of clay onto burlap gave the outside texture. The walls were folded up and since the baskets are the same size, they also stack. (The first few were pretty wonky, I learned that the template was really important.)

Amazingly, when I sent Travis a photo of the prototype basket, he told me about a bread dough that is wrapped in fabric with texture similar to burlap, the process then transfers the texture to the bread!

These ramekins are a new form for me as well. As an extra challenge I had to find an oven safe clay that could survive the thermal shock delivered from the oven. The dishes are wheel thrown and then slightly pressed on the sides to create the oval shape. When glazing I used 6 glazes in a variety of combinations- you can see by my notes (on the left) how I had to make a plan to keep things organized.

So if you are in Jackson, be sure to stop by the Wild Sage for dinner. I know I can't wait to see these pieces in action!

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!