making pots

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | making pots


When new students come to my studio for classes, typically the first thing they want to do is learn how to throw on the wheel. I don’t blame them, its messy, fun and frustrating and it was the first thing I wanted to do with clay too. In the beginning, I thought I would try to make a living selling mugs but when I realized all the possibilities of hand-building, I never went back to the wheel. And if it wasn’t for my students, I’d get rid of the two wheels in my studio altogether.

A lot of times my students ask me if I’ve made all of my dishes and mugs and the truth is that I’ve hardly got any handmade ware in my cupboards- WHAT?!?- the pottery community gasps! But, when traveling to NCECA this year and staying with my college roommate, I found this cute little thrown mug in her bathroom that I’d made when I was in school. Its got a beautiful pink blush from a soda or salt kiln and a not so bad handle on it, the lip could be a little fatter and the piece a lot lighter but the fun in finding this relic from the past brought me back to a time when I did (attempt) to make pots and I thought I’d share. Enjoy!




Art imitates Life

This year Nate and I decided to try having backyard chickens, mainly because we wanted organic, pastured, nutritionally dense beautiful eggs from these happy birds. If you’re not up on your politically correct foodie speak, ‘pastured’ means chickens that run around in the grass eating bugs, slugs and plants as a major part of their diet. This makes for healthier, tastier eggs and is a big step up from cage-free. It’s been a great experience raising cute fluffy chicks into egg laying hens.

We coop them up at night for safety and during the day they roam the fenced garden area, which they clearly love. But, there is also a down side to not being in a cage all the time, in a word: predators. Where we live there are a lot of them, from foxes to mountain lions, our chickens really are vulnerable to it all not to mention our own dog who is infatuated with them. Over the past year, we’ve lost 2 birds to a predator, probably a bobcat. Since then, we’ve caged the birds for most of the day and only let them out when we’re around- which is kinda sad for the birds and also defeats the purpose of having pastured chickens.

It seems like a silly dilemma, obviously we should keep our birds safe from harm, but at what cost? The concept of caging is an idea I’ve been exploring for years through my nest series and a dilemma that we all feel. We want to be safe in our homes with locks and alarms but at the same time we’ve trapped ourselves in our own cages. And freedom is a beautiful and exciting venture, but we are left vulnerable to the elements. My work tries to explore the balance of this concept while I try to put it to practice in my own life.

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | life imitates art
caged chickens
Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | life imitates art
nest series detail
Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | life imitates art
new baby chicks









new work

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | new work


When I start out with new pieces, I feel like I have to get to know them for a while before I figure out what I’m doing with them. These pieces are pinched flanges with wide bases and range in size have a feeling of fungus growth or mushroom gills which is probably inspired by my hikes through the redwood forests this time of year when the mushrooms are flourishing. The pieces are very reminiscent of my Lichen Series too but I’m not exactly sure yet how similar they will end up. I really like the look of how they layer when stacked next to each other, it reminds me of a mountainous landscape with each ridge line creating a new horizon.  I’m designing them to be wall mounted for an indoor installation, but I’m also thinking about where I might arrange them for an in the field installation as well. Stay tuned and we’ll see where this creative journey goes…


spending time in nature

Feeling grateful, recharged and inspired.
I got to spend the weekend backpacking in Big Sur, laughing with my friend and playing with my dog, does it get any better?
Now, back to the studio…
Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | spending time with natureJenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | spending time with natureJenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | spending time with nature








photos: Amanda Luu

Tower of London Poppy Installation

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | Tower of London poppy installationFor a while, images of the Tower of London covered in red poppies swarmed the internet and social media, the installation was impressive from any standpoint. Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, included 888,246 ceramic poppies pouring out of a window in the Tower of London and progressively filled the Tower’s famous moat, each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war. You can see images and learn more about this installation here…

When the installation was taken down, all of the poppy flowers were sold and the money raised was divided among charities. One of my amazing clay students was able to buy a few of the poppies before they were all sold and I was so lucky to receive one from her as a gift! How cool is that??

The packaging and documentation that came along with the flower was impressive as well. I just love this installation and I’m so excited to have a little bit of it at my studio now!

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | Tower of London poppy installation

Rock Candy River Installation

Today, with the help of my artist friend Susana Arias and the staff at Pacific Edge Climbing Gym, I installed my Rock Candy River sculpture. I’ve spent at least two days a week at the climbing gym for years now, and its a place where I’ve found friendships, challenges and trust. I’m so excited to share this new installation Rock Candy River with the community of climbers who use this space. The installation is inspired by the flow of water and how it shapes the land. The hard angled shapes juxtapose the curvy flow of the form to create a dynamic visual engagement. And yes, it’s also inspired by my time grabbing colorful holds at Pacific Edge too!  More pics to come soon….Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | rock candy river installation

Photo shoot day

I got the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite homes in Santa Cruz in order to shoot some work that has lived there for quite a few years now. Its modern, earthy, cozy, minimalist and filled with art… I could move in tomorrow!  Enjoy some pics from the photo shoot in my Residential Installations portfolio…

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | photo shoot day

My Art, Your Space: Goldstein Family

I asked for you to send me photos of my art in your space, thanks to all of you that did! I’ll slowly be sharing them as posts in The Dirt. I love seeing where my art ends up and hearing why you connect with a piece. Thanks for sharing!

Here’s this weeks share from the Goldstein Family:
Jenni’s forms are very happy in our living room. They look like they were created just for our space.

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | My Art, Your Space: Goldstein Family

Mulberry Gallery

Mulberry Gallery in the heart of Aptos Village is an art frame company and gallery dedicated to the inspiration of art lovers, collectors and home owners. Run by husband and wife team Del & Barbara Crawford, the pair has provided clients from all over the bay area family portraits, framing services and art work while also supporting the arts in Aptos. In November of 2014 the gallery hosted the Aptos Artwalk, which was the first of many future events intended to bond Aptos Village in its love of food, art, wine and culture. I’m so excited to announce that they have chosen to host my work in their gallery space. Please take the time to cross the parking lot when you’re getting your Starbucks or waiting for a table at Cafe Sparrow and drop into the gallery. Del & Barbara will be happy to welcome you into their space and help you find the perfect piece for your collection.

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | Mulberry Gallery

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | Mulberry Gallery

Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | the dirt | Mulberry Gallery