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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: jenny dowd

Soda Firing: Part 1

Jenny Dowd

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I've been building up a lot of pottery over the past year to get ready for soda firing. This is a process that Sam and I both really like, however, it's a lot of work with a crazy amount of steps so we don't do it very often. This time it's been over a year since we've fired this kiln, and we've built up enough work for 3 kiln loads! 

I use porcelain for a smooth white canvas and to ensure bright crisp colors. I start out by layering stains onto the bisque-ware; cobalt oxide (blues) and iron sulfate (browns and golds). These stains end up washy and atmospheric, I have an idea of how they will look but there is a large unknown element which I really appreciate.

After staining, I glaze the inside of the pieces. The soda firing process makes an overall glaze- near the end of the firing, soda ash and water is injected into the kiln. This glaze flies around and makes the final look even more unpredictable, the surfaces end up beautiful and juicy, sometimes lightly textured. Because of this process, wadding must be added to the bottom of the pots so they don't stick to the kiln shelves. (Adding the wadding is aways the point at which I am reminded how much work is ahead.) The wadding lifts the pieces up like little feet and can be knocked off after the firing.

Sam is the one who does all the work firing the kiln, it's a long day but there's something energizing about a fiery kiln. The firing is about 14 hours and then the kiln cools for 2 - 3 days before we open it. 

I'm never super excited about the results after the firing, but I see a lot of potential. The atmospheric quality of the blue and brown stains is exciting, it's a great layer for the next step... stay tuned, they aren't finished!

Whodunnit?

Jenny Dowd

Whodunnit? is my favorite event & fundraiser at the Art Association, and it was last night! This yearly event is a celebration of tiny anonymous art. Around 200 artists create and donate 6x6 inch artworks that are signed on the back.

One reason I like this event so much is that I find the 6x6 inch format difficult. After my usual struggle, the final piece often marks the exploration of a new idea in my studio. The small canvas becomes a sketch for a new path or it helps me figure out a problem to work through an idea I've been mulling over.

I've made several pieces over the past years for this event, but haven't managed to photograph them all. Here's what I found... 

2010

Tooth Fairy Notes

At this time I was trying out some new materials and working to make the canvas feel more like clay. I was also writing some funny little stories and haiku about the Tooth Fairy.

2015

Envy

I think this was the first time I made the "canvas" instead of using the provided canvas. But most importantly, this piece was the first time flowers or little mischevious vases showed up in my sculpture!

2016

Remember when?

I'm still mulling this idea over, of adding depth by combining drawing with sculpture. This was the piece that started me thinking about that idea.

2017

Books

This was a tiny version of a small piece I had made in 2016 for a book arts exhibition at the Laramie County Library. (See that piece Here.) I had lots of leftover little books and wanted to revisit the idea and keep the background open. I added the flowers because as much as I love having flowers around the house, they have to be put up on high shelves or else my cat knocks the vase over. So I'm often finding wilted flowers here and there. 

2018

The flower stage

This time I wanted to make something that would change with different backgrounds (I only made one, but photographed it on a few different papers.) I've been thinking a lot about stages and invented settings. I've also recently discovered that I love working with cardboard and I like showing some of the "how" behind the craft.

I'm still excited about the ideas behind each of these pieces (and the ones I forgot to photograph) and am looking forward to seeing what these ideas lead to!

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!

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!

Penny Lane Cooperative: Update

Jenny Dowd

There is always something new at Penny Lane Cooperative

I have had a space in PLC since the shop opened, nearly 1 1/2 years ago. I change out my pottery inventory often, sometimes including sculpture or drawings, as well as new pottery designs. Some of the items you can find exclusively in this spot are: tooth fairy bowls, pottery sets for kids, lunch plates, and potted succulents.

A lot of new things happened at the start of this month, here's a peek into the spaces:

I am now sharing a space with Jina Kim, aka ColorFreak Jina! Her bright colors and patterns liven up my black & white and sometimes starry patterns.

Carlyn Hunter, Page & Co. Collection, Western Range Clothing Co.

And of course, the shop... cute clothes and accessories thanks to Andi's stylish eye! So, whether you are a regular or haven't visited yet- there is always something new to check out, including fun events!

For more info on the evolution of this shop and the new artists, check out this article from the JH News & Guide

Archive Part 1: Blast from the past

Jenny Dowd

I finally (partially) completed a task I have been putting off for years. It resulted in an empty shelf in a closet. 

All of the artwork I produced and documented during my undergraduate years and first year of graduate school were captured on slides. The digital transition was slowly taking place and by the time I finished college I finally had a good enough / affordable digital camera. I happily said goodbye to the ordeal of slides!

I'm lucky that I only had 4 or so years of my artwork locked up in slide format, still I managed to lug an old slide projector, books and boxes of slides, plus their many many duplicates around the country while putting off sorting and digitizing them.

After dusting off the slide projector and mis-orienting some slides, I spent a few nostalgic afternoons remembering where I started in my ceramic and sculpture career.

This little slab box was the first time I fired clay pierced with metal, and it was my very first piece ever to be accepted into a juried exhibition, I think it was even purchased. Mostly I remember how nervous I was packing the box for shipping. 

There was a lot to relive in this trip down memory lane, including the time, energy, and money spent on this documentation: matching the lightbulbs with the correct tungsten film (film that lived in the produce drawer in my refrigerator) taking rolls of photos, waiting to have them developed, viewing the slides, throwing half of them away, returning to have duplicates made of the good images...

It was really fun to revisit all of this old work, though a little scary and sad when in the end I threw away heaps of slides. So much time and money. 

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I kept 2 small boxes that will be sent off this week to be digitized. The next part of this project will be to organize the images I'm keeping. Soon they will be included in an archive section of my website... stay tuned!

Fall Classes

Jenny Dowd

Fall is approaching and I'm changing my studio focus slightly. This always seems like a good time of year to revisit ideas from before the busy summer while digging into the studio before winter. I'll be teaching 3 classes this fall at the Art Association that cover the basics plus a bit more in drawing and ceramics:

Drawing Essentials

This is a 4-week class and is designed to cover a topic each week, participants can choose to take multiple weeks or drop in for a specific topic. While my drawing is very line based and focuses on telling simple and sometimes funny stories, I truly enjoy the challenges of teaching each of these topics. I also find them helpful for my drawing practice, and am often inspired to incorporate them into sketches and projects.

Oct 10: Line & Shape

Oct 17: Perspective & Space

Oct 24: Value & Depth

Oct 31: Composition

Drawing & Monotype Printmaking

This 4-week drawing class can be approached as an extension of basic drawing, although all levels are welcome. I have been working to incorporate printmaking into some of my work, especially the immediate form of monotype. Slicing up a roasted beet made a neat (although temporary) print on my cutting board. This quick technique can also be a springboard for mixed media drawings- start with a quick print, then work back into it with drawing. This is a truly tactile process, we will work with a variety of materials and will use a press as well as more basic techniques.

4 weeks, Tuesdays, 1 - 4 pm, November 7 - 28

Glaze Chemistry 101

6 weeks, Oct 17 - Nov 21, Tuesdays 6 - 9pm

So, you are looking for a little more in the clay studio? Not super happy with your glaze options or applications? Wondering about the firing process? This is the class for you, a technical course designed to give a peek into the mystery of glazing and kiln firing. We will discuss and explore a variety of firing techniques, learn the basics of glaze materials, and create our own glazes and color variations.

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

A few new locations

Jenny Dowd

It's been a busy whirl of a summer... and it's not over yet! I've been catching up on orders, organizing the studio (and house), trying to catch my breath, and thinking about new projects.

All this hard work has been paying off... my pottery can now be found in two new locations!

A variety of my pottery is now at the gallery shop in the Cabarrus Arts Council in Concord, NC.

My black & white sgraffito work can be found at the 4 Ravens Gallery in Missoula, MT.

For a complete list of the places my pottery can be purchased (or experienced) visit the Locations tab!

Succulent Planter Workshop

Jenny Dowd

This week I will be teaching a clay workshop at Penny Lane Cooperative! Make your own small flowerpot and personalize it with decorations. After I glaze and fire the pots, come back for a planting party! Or stop by and pick up your succulent planting kit.

We will start out with a block of clay- you can shape it to a square, rectangle, even a cylinder. Then scoop out the clay inside, shape the top and carve a saucer. Next step decorate! Add color and design with underglaze.

I will bisque fire the pots and add a clear glaze, making them bright, shiny and ready for plants. When you come back to Penny Lane Cooperative, your planter will be waiting for you- plus a planting kit: soil, sand, succulent, plus notes on care.

Thursday June 29

5 - 7 pm at Penny Lane Cooperative

$40- includes all materials

Come back and pick up your project July 13 or after

Space and supplies are limited, please let Andi at Penny Lane Cooperative know you would like to attend: andi@pennylanecooperative.com or 307-203-2323

Questions? hello@dowdhousestudios.com

Mini Maker Faire

Jenny Dowd

It's time for the Jackson Hole Mini Maker Faire! If you are in town this weekend be sure to stop by the Teton Science School from 12 - 4pm on Saturday where Sam and I will be joining over 30 Makers.

Sam will be teaching basic welding skills, these photos are from last year's booth, check it out and make your own garden tool.

I will be offering the opportunity to squish, squash and form things with clay. Last year I taught basic hand-building techniques and participants contributed to a community still life.

There will be lots to learn, come by and be surprised! 

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!

Card Making Workshop

Jenny Dowd

Mother's Day and Father's Day are coming up!

To help you prepare for these big days, I'll be teaming up with Alissa Davies to teach a workshop at Penny Lane Cooperative.

Stations around the room will be set up to help you make beautiful and creative cards for Mother's Day (May 14) and/or Father's Day (June 18.) Try your hand at collage and painting with fabric, paper and stencils or work with text and learn how to write a haiku.

All supplies are included, this will be a fun evening of art, snacks and drinks. Bring a friend (or sibling) and make something special!

The class will be held on Wednesday May 10 from 5 - 7pm and the cost is $25. (Children are welcome to attend with a parent for free.) And if you have an art making material you'd like to try out, bring it along!

Space is limited, to register call: 307-203-2323 or email: andi@pennylanecooperative.com

 

Update: Chalk & Poetry

Jenny Dowd

Three weeks of sidewalk decorating went by pretty quick! Brittany Hill, my chalky partner in art, and I have been decorating the sidewalk and entrance to the Teton County Library in Jackson in anticipation of the visiting U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera

(Catch up on the first blog post here)

Using a mixture of spray chalk and regular chalk, we added to our designs weekly plus enhanced areas that had faded or washed away in the rain. (Images above: week 1, week 2, week 3)

I added lines from the poem "Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings" around the front walkway, re-working it each week as it washed away. Here you can see some of the process and evolution:

Read the rest of this poem and others by Juan Felipe Herrera here

We added blips and spots for interest and lines to connect.

Last night we both attended a talk by Juan Felipe Herrera at the Center for the Arts, it was the perfect ending to a fun and inspiring project.

Cupcakes & Clay Workshop

Jenny Dowd

Just in time for Valentine's Day... a cupcake workshop! 

Join me for a fun evening at Penny Lane Cooperative, we will make cupcakes and other guilt-free sweets from porcelain. I'll demonstrate simple hand building techniques: pinch, coil and slab, then we will use colorful underglazes to decorate the sweets. 

After the workshop I will add a clear glaze and fire your creations, then you can come back and pick them up- just in time for a Valentines delivery.

For these examples I made my cupcakes as small lidded containers... perfect for a secret message or present!

The class will be held the 8th of February from 5:30 - 7:30pm at Penny Lane Cooperative. The cost is $30 and is open to all ages (bring your child and work as a team!) All materials will be provided. 

Space is limited, so be sure to sign up: call 307-203-2323 or email andi@pennylanecooperative.com

Hope to see you there!

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!