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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.

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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! 

Soda Firing: Part 2

Jenny Dowd

Soda Firing: Part 1 was just the beginning! Here's the rest of the story behind this labor intensive work:

While Sam and I both have work in this kiln and use some of the same materials, our results are totally different. One thing we both like about this process is that sometimes the pieces come out of the soda kiln awesome and sometimes - Meh. It may be a lot of uncertainty, but it's worth it. This is what I am always telling my ceramics students - there is always another step, and almost always another chance.

Sam calls these "2nd chance pots."

After they come out of the kiln we draw onto the surface with underglaze. Sam doesn't know what the drawings will depict until he sees the pieces after the soda firing, then he reacts to the surface and glaze oddities.

I try to be loose with my designs, reacting to the atmospheric effects from the stains, though I have an idea of what will happen from the beginning. Sometimes there are strange glaze or surface flaws that I can work in (shooting star on right.) This is pretty loose for me, but my drawings are always tighter than Sam's crazy ideas.

Still not done! Now that the underglaze drawings are dry, it's time to re-fire the pieces. Remember how we had to add wadding to the base of the pots so they wouldn't stick to the kiln shelf? Well, that has to happen again. This keeps the pieces lifted up so the residual soda doesn't stick to the shelf when it remelts during the firing. I keep the bits of wadding so I can save time and resources by reusing them. 

Here are a few, still warm from the kiln! All the work, all the little steps... totally worth it. I'll be adding a new tiny cup with a star to my cabinet today.

New Mugs at Workshop

Jenny Dowd

I'm starting the year out with more custom projects! This Jackson Hole mug is now available exclusively at Workshop, just off the square in Jackson.

The design is made using an inlay technique. I hand stamp the letters, which makes them a little wonky, and score the damp clay with an xacto blade. The surface is coated with black underglaze and then sponged off, leaving narrow lines inlaid in the clay. 

While similar, each design is a little different. The variety is fun for me and also makes for sets of interesting mugs- all related but still unique.

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Find my mugs, platters, bowls, and cake stands at Workshop, along with lots of unique handmade items- a perfect place to find a gift, for you or someone you love!

There's still time, right?

Jenny Dowd

Every year I think I have tons of time to make pottery for all the December holiday sales... and every year I have lots of unfinished work greeting me in the studio in January. I'm still in denial, it's only December 3rd, I still have tons of time, right?

The studio had a little set back- one kiln needed new elements. Terrible timing, but luckily Sam had Merlin to oversee the repair job.

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I still have a platter to trim, lots of mugs and bowls to decorate, stuff holders to glaze... some of these items might be seen at the 2 upcoming sales I'll be part of in Wilson and Jackson:

And in celebration of the last minute, though really, we do still have lots of time, I'm offering free shipping on Etsy purchases from Dec 4 - 18. I'll be adding a few new things to the shop inventory this week as well. This window will allow orders to arrive in time for Christmas! At checkout use the offer code PLENTYOFTIME for free domestic US shipping.

So to all of us procrastinators out there, happy December!

The Studios

Jenny Dowd

It seems I've got a lot of projects going on.

To keep things somewhat orderly, I have been spliting my time between two studios. I work in the ceramics studio at the Art Association in Jackson to produce stoneware projects, and my home studio in Alpine for porcelain. (That way I don't have to worry about splattering the porcelain with brown stoneware... and I don't have to clean my home wheel as much.)

The studio at the Art Association is public, so I spread out when I can and condense when there are more people using the space.

The stoneware plates and bowls here are part of the dishes I have been producing for the White Buffalo Club in Jackson (more on that soon!) I use the wheels at the Art Association for these stoneware dishes and also fire the work in the gas kiln. Some of my porcelain work is also glazed and fired in Jackson. These black and white teapots & cups are available for sale at Healthy Being Juicery and the large salad bowls are used in their cafe.

On the days I'm not in Jackson, I'm in my home studio. Most of this work is fired in my electric kiln, and decorated with sgraffito or inlay techniques. (Home is also where I work on non-pottery projects: sculpture, drawing, and soon... a printmaking studio!)

At home I'm shadowed by Merlin, the studio cat / Dowd House Studios Quality Control Overseer. Merlin is not very helpful, but he does let me know when I've been working for too long / ignoring him. So when he starts staring at me or attacking my work I know it's time to take a break.

I feel a bit spread out, but this seems to work! Mid-week I get to switch gears and work on different projects while I consider problems I've left behind in the other studio. 

Product Testing

Jenny Dowd

I take my job seriously.

As a potter I make dishes that are meant to be used daily. These items add something special to our daily rituals. And it's a tough job but someone has to make sure that everything works.

So have no doubt, I test my pottery thoroughly.

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Will this little plate hold cookies? How many? Even if they are warm from the oven?

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Wine cups. Yes, but do they work? 

Busy studio day? No matter, it's still important to test that coffee mug to make sure it can do it's job. The coffee pour overs always get tested, this is a form I'm still tweaking, I don't want that tricky design to get the best of me! (And nearly every day I use my favorite mug- a puff fish made just for me by Sam.)

I lost some sleep worrying over this one, but rest assured, when I finally settled on a vanilla lavender cupcake- I meticulously tested the cupcake stand. In fact, it worked so well the poor little cupcake didn't even make it off the stand.

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I even had lunch this week at Healthy Being Juicery to make sure my big salad bowls were doing their job. (This tasty Baja Salad totally made my day!)

I work hard to make the pots and will continue to make sure they work, it's a difficult job, but I'm up for the challenge! 

Takin' it to the Streets

Jenny Dowd

Here it is, the last minute... I've been working on some new forms to replenish my pottery inventory and get ready for the fair on Sunday! Tomorrow is Takin' it to the Streets, a local's art fair on the Jackson town square and Sam and I will be there with lots of pottery. And teapots fresh from the kiln... 

This fair is part of Jackson's Fall Arts Festival, so there's lots going on. The fair is made up of over 40 local artists and will be on the street around the town square. Meanwhile there are a few yummy options also happening in the square. Taste of the Tetons is one of my favorite events of the year- local chefs create awesome culinary treats, it's always fun to try their new and favorite items! Plus, the Rotary Supper Club hosts "Sips on the Square," wine tasting and silent auction. 

It's a great day, if you are in Jackson, we hope to see you there. Grab a little food, a little wine and a little art!

Jackson Town Square, 10 - 4, Sunday September 10th

Art Fair Jackson Hole!

Jenny Dowd

It's almost here, and I've been working super hard to get ready for the August Art Fair! Hosted by the Art Association the fair will take over Miller Park with 160+ artists from all over the country.

Stop by and say hi, we are in booth #156

Friday Aug 11: 10 - 6

Saturday Aug 12: 10 - 6

Sunday Aug 13: 10 - 4

Sam and I both have lots of our favorite forms and designs, plus some new ideas... read on for a sneak peek...

I just loaded a kiln with a big batch of soup bowls, teacups and saucers... no matter how much time I have before an event, I'll always be working up till the last minute.

Sam made a fleet of funny new animal mugs, they have some great personalities! And I've been working on some new design ideas: octopus + clouds + UFO = succulent planters. I just potted a few to get them ready for the fair.

Plus... sneak peek! I've been making Jackson Hole ornaments exclusively for Workshop, and I'm making a limited edition run of ornaments commemorating the upcoming eclipse. I'll have some of these at the fair, then they will head back to Workshop.

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!

A child's cup

Jenny Dowd

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Sales!

Jenny Dowd

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

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

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

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

Water Pitchers

Jenny Dowd

 

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

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