fuego en el desierto

While the paperwork on our property purchase is making it’s way through the system, we’ve been keeping busy at Taller de Terreno creating fires in the desert. The big multi-fuel kiln was fired up last weekend and it was fun to be a supporter during the 15+ hour process of firing it. It took a few days to cool and then we were able to unload it while ooohing and ahhhing at the results.

I was lucky enough to get a few of my pieces into the kiln too. Three large-ish rocks from my Rock Candy Series and two Umbel Series flowers were included. Unfortunately, the rocks got some big stress cracks in them, but the surfaces came out really interesting because of the addition of salt and soda ash to the kiln towards the end of the firing. The Umbel flowers came out fine and it was interesting to see how some of my typical glazes changed in this type of firing. There were a ton of beautiful pots that came out and as always there are some that were destined for the shard pile too. Ceramics is always a lesson in experimentation but this type of kiln firing only adds to the level of chance.

Once the kiln was unloaded, the three potters Christa Assad, Steve Jacobi and Fernanda Cov started to get all of their pots cleaned up, priced and organized for display for an art party sale at the studio. For us it was a great opportunity to meet (socially distanced of course!) a lot of the locals and learn a little more about the community here in Todos Santos. Everyone was really welcoming and it’s been fun to start to view this amazing little pueblo from the locals perspective instead of the tourists.

While the summer is obviously not the ideal time to be camping out in the desert, we definitely can’t complain about the sunsets, long stretches of empty beaches and the night skies.

Hola!

Crossing international borders is pretty much off limits right now, but despite that, we are currently in Mexico. “Why?” You might ask…

Well, about 18 months ago we started the process of purchasing property in Baja Sur and the realtors were ready to close just as Covid hit. We delayed crossing the border since so much was unknown then, but now four months later with masks, hand sanitizer at the ready and things starting to reopen in both California and Baja we felt we could safely cross and travel down in our van to complete our business.

The bonus to this trip is that our new property is adjacent to Taller de Terreno, a ceramic center and architectural wonderland based just north of Todos Santos. We are camped out there with clay friends, enjoying ocean views and desert life while we process our property sale. We arrived just in time for me to put a few sculptures into their multi-fuel kiln firing. Five of us took over 15 hours to haul the work up to the kiln site, wad all the pieces, and load the kiln. When the final brick on the door was placed at 2 am, we were mentally and physically done. I haven’t been a part of a big atmospheric kiln firing since I was in school 20+ years ago, so it was super fun to relearn all the tricks and techniques. Can’t wait to see the results!

a tree grows in wulai

If you followed along with my residency in Taiwan late last year, you may remember seeing me working with a group of kids at a school in the mountain town of Wulai outside of Taipei. We did a number of individual projects but we finished our time together working on a group project. Wulai is in the mountains with waterfalls, hot springs and lush foliage, so I thought it would be great to make a tree of our own for the the school. Each student picked leaves from their neighborhood and brought them to class to use to press into the clay, they carefully cut out each leaf and then they were glazed with a variety of natural colors.

a tree grows in wulai | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

On our last class the students, teachers, the ceramic museum coordinators and myself worked together to assemble the tree in the school’s stairwell. I prepared the trunk and branches in advance using some landscaping cloth twisted into a wire mesh. The kids attached all the leaves and it was hoisted up to attach to the mesh wall of the stairwell. The kids were so proud of their work and the tree was a wonderful symbol of each of us working together to create something new. Photos of this project are now up on the website under the public art section of my portfolio.

go big

With no exhibits or big adventure plans on the docket these days, I’ve been keeping busy in the studio with mostly little projects and one BIG experiment. I figured that this is the best time to play and explore with out the worry of a deadline. So when I mentioned to my husband Nate that I wanted to try to make my hand-held-sized rock candy pieces big, like really big – he jumped on board to help me figure out how.

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | in the field | rock candy series

He came up with a contraption to help support the form and ultimately built one in wood first using the contraption as a support system for each of the panels. We rolled out thick slabs of clay, let them dry until they were stiff and then used the wood panels as templates for each plane of the new rock. We were able to get the whole thing together in a day, and while it’s got a few kinks that need to be worked out, it’s looking pretty good. This piece just barely fits in my kiln corner to corner, but I could go taller and still have it fit in the kiln, so we’re working on another template shape. I’m hoping that I can have a few different base forms that I can modify in the clay version so that they are all unique pieces in the end.

I also made a few medium sized pieces using paper templates. But I found that the paper models were too flexible and I ended up with slightly curved planes instead of flat ones. It’s a work in process, but I’m sure that I can figure out a way to make them this way too.

I’m hoping that the final forms could be used as unique low seating, as architectural elements in a garden, encrusted on a wall or even stacking them up like a totem with a steel rod on the inside, really the possibilities seem endless. But the real question is, what color should this first big baby be??

website updates!

If you have a website, you probably have a similar problem to me, maintaining it, keeping it fresh and at the same time consistent throughout. It may not look like a lot, but it’s days worth of work to create new pages, write content, format images just right and to get that one damn photo to nudge over when it just refuses to be centered. But with time on my hands these days, I’ve decided to attack this project a little at a time.

hive series | objects | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

I’ve found that I’ve got too much content in some area which makes it hard for viewers to find the work they are looking for or to share direct links to past pieces. To solve this, I’ve decided to break up some of the content heavy areas into new categories. It’s been fun going through older pages and revisiting work I hadn’t looked at in a long time! There are videos to watch on a number of the In the Field and Installations pages as well as behind the scenes installation photos. Here’s how it’s now organized…

If you click the portfolio tab on the main page, you can now see work listed as:

In the Field which are my ephemeral outdoor installations

Installations which is mainly gallery or museum exhibits

Objects which are generally smaller individual pieces

Public Art pieces which showcase any permanent or long term installations in public spaces

Collected Works which are selected works in clients homes

Works for Sale which will take you to the online Shop.

Originally, all of that content was on only three pages and you had to scroll through it all, so I hope that this makes it easier for viewers to find what they are looking for. I’ll still be tweaking, adjusting layouts and adding content so check back often to explore more of my works.

If you haven’t checked in on my website in awhile, please do and enjoy exploring!

relic series | objects | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

Sculpture IS: 2020

The one art event of the covid season that you can actually attend in person (with social distancing and a mask of course!) is PVAC’s Sculpture IS: 2020 at Sierra Azul Gardens in Watsonville. The exhibit opens July 1st and the garden will be filled with sculptures and is a wonderful place to stretch your legs as you cruise through the gardens.

relic series | objects | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

There will not be an opening reception this year for obvious reasons, but you can explore the show during normal business hours for Sierra Azul Nursery from July 1st – October 31st. I have 5 pieces from my Relic Series installed; they are ceramic rings tied with sinew and attached to slate bases. There are also just a few pieces from the Umbel Series hidden in the garden as well. Hope that you get a chance to check out my favorite show of the year!