Earth Art Studio Students Shine at the SC County Fair!

So proud of my students from my summer workshops who all exhibited a piece of art at the Santa Cruz County Fair this year. I just picked up the work and was so impressed to see the number of ribbons on their work. In the category of ceramics or sculpture we had SEVEN 1st place winners, SIX 2nd place winners, THREE 3rd place winners, SIX honorable mentions and TWO special awards; one for excellence in originality and one for excellence in technique! Amazing amounts of talent coming out of the studio! Hope that you all had a chance to walk through the Fine Arts building at the fair this year and check out the work. See ya next year at the fair!
Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | Earth Art Studio Students Shine at the SC County Fair!

Inspiration Through Exploration

I’m back! Nearly 3 weeks on the road traveling through Morocco, Gibraltar and Spain has been an epic adventure of inspiration. Time working in the studio is intense and solitary for me, I’m focused on building and being thoughtful about my work so I find its important to balance that with ventures out into world with unknown outcomes and explorations of new cultures and people. Nothing refuels my passion for creating like these explorations. Below is a short slide show of some of the colors, textures and spaces that inspire me. I was also able to visit a production pottery studio in Fez Morocco and learned that they fuel their wood kiln with olive pits- how amazing is that? I hope these images inspire your own wonderlust!

Studio’s Closed ( just for a few weeks!)

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | Studio's Closed (just for a few weeks)Just wanted to let you know that you won’t receive The Dirt in your inbox for the next few weeks as I’ll be on the road exploring through Spain and Morocco — Wahoo! I promise to share my adventures and photos of all the amazing Gaudi art and ceramic tile work as soon as I return- Inspiration through Exploration!

Also, just a reminder that the studio will re-open for classes the week of Sept 28th. Adult classes will be offered on Tues nights from 7 – 9pm and Thurs mornings from 10 – 12pm. Private classes for kids, families and home-school groups are also available, but space is limited.

And mark your calendars for Open Studios 2015!
October 10, 11, 17 & 18
Studio is open 11- 5

Giving Back: A school in Port-au-Prince

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | projects | HaitiI have been helping with philanthropic projects in Haiti for many years now and have made 6 trips there since the earthquake in January 2010. I have met incredible people, doing incredible things to help the Haitians thrive but one of the most amazing people I have met there is a man named Winter.  He lives in the middle of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Port-Au-Prince and has been working tirelessly for years to provide a free school for the children who live there. He is a firm believer that education is still the best way to improve someone’s lot in life. It has been an honor to know him, visit his school and donate supplies whenever I can.

Winter’s school, named Rajepre, has grown enough over the past few years to now require nine teachers, all of whom have been working for free ever since they began. Not surprisingly, the teachers are not certain they can continue this for one more year, and the school will have to close if they leave for paying jobs. Winter would like to pay each teacher $120 for one month’s work, so it will take $3240 to keep the school running for the rest of this year. (A new plan will be considered for next year.)

My friend Kathy Barbro has organized a Go Fund Me page to Keep Winter’s School Open, please consider donating to this drive as every dollar has the potential to be life changing for a child in Haiti. Thank you for supporting education in Haiti!


Making Tools

Even with all of the gadgets, gizmos and tools you just have to have out there sometimes, you can’t find just what you need and you have to make your own. I’ve seen artists use everything from pool noodles to pipes as they support their work in the wet building stages, but my work needed support in the kiln, which means I needed something that could survive the firing process.

I’ve been firing flanged pieces from my bone series with some good results but I often get a small crack line along the length of the pieces during the glaze firing process. I realized that some more support might be what’s needed to help them survive the firing process with a higher success rate. So I started building some angled clay shapes for the sculptures to rest on. But because the glaze can’t touch anything during the firing, I added short lengths of heavy gauge nichrome wire pins poking out of the clay everywhere. So the glazed piece rests on the pinpoints instead of on the clay support. The result looks like some crazy torture device but so far so good, my new tool appears to have worked its magic. Making the tools to make the art makes artists inventors as well as creators!
Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | making tools Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | making toolsJenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | making tools

Driftwood hunting

In search of some driftwood for an upcoming art installation, I spent the morning driving up the coast on Highway 1 to a remote area where I thought I might discover some good finds. Typically the driftwood piles up on our local beaches in winter storms but with the two year drought in full effect, winter storms have been non existent and driftwood has been sparse. As normal as its become for me to see the amazing vistas the coast road has to offer, I’m still in awe of being steps away from a major road and just 30 miles from large cities and yet in the middle of summer, there is no one on this stretch of beach. Spending a quiet morning with my dog meandering along, searching for whatever gifts the sea has washed up is a good way to start the day. If you have never driven the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), you need to add this to your bucket list. I’ve lived here over 15 years and it never gets old, the wild open spaces of California enamor me again and again.

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | driftwood huntingJenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | driftwood hunting Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | driftwood hunting

Fingers Crossed

Off it goes! 200 pieces that make up my Hive Series installation are on the road destined for Artprize 2015. The piece will be showcased at the Calvin College (106) Gallery in downtown Grand Rapids Michigan. Fingers crossed that everything arrives safely AND that it finds a happy home in Michigan, so I don’t have to ship it back!

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | fingers crossedJenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | fingers crossed Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | fingers crossed

Flashback Art Attack: newish stuff

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | flashback art attack: newish stuff
As my 3 weeks on the east coast visiting friends and family wind down to the final hours, here are just a few more images of art from my parents house, minus the stuff I’m just too embarrassed to claim I made and they won’t get rid of. Sometimes its good to see a retrospective of how your art has evolved over time and where influences have been injected into your work and sometimes, not so much. The top image is a silhouette of small pieces from my Sprout Series, I love the way these pieces look against the sky. Below are pieces from my more recent Nest Series and Linked Series, both focus on the connections between organic shapes. Enjoy!
Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | flashback art attack: newish stuff Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | flashback art attack: newish stuff