umbel update

I’m excited to announce I’ve finally finished fabrication of all of the ceramic elements for A Feast of Fennels and every surface of the studio is covered in parts. Scroll down to see the progress on the metal fabrication happening!

Kirk McNeil and Franco Di Majo working on bending the rods that will create the flowerhead structures. Love the custom jig they made to get each curve just right. Can’t wait to see all these parts start to come together!

umbel updates!

Things are cranking along in the studio with A Feast of Fennels project!

There are over a hundred ceramic flower heads in my studio right now, on practically every surface. They are in varying stages of finishedness; from raw drying clay, to bisque fired pieces, to glazed pieces that haven’t been fired yet and finally to the first batch of finished flowers. I’m really loving how bright and colorful these came out and I can’t wait to see them up and silhouetted against the sky!

About the project: A Feast of Flowers will be six ceramic and steel sculptures inspired by the umbel flower structure of fennel plants. Placed staggered along the sides of the trail and silhouetted against the sky, the installation will create a sense of whimsy and wonder for the thousands of patrons who use the trail as well as bring an awareness to our connection with nature. 

My inspiration for this particular installation comes from my exploration of the natural world, and my curiosity about identifying plants, especially the edible ones. As an amateur forager, every hike in the woods has become like a trip to the grocery store for me. Fennels are one of the most recognized edibles that grow in California, available for the taking, yet there is a tendency to not trust the wild plants. This disconnect we humans have with nature, the loss of knowledge about native plants and how that relates to the global issue of food insecurity are all concepts explored with this project. 

It is also my hope that whimsical oversized flowers will create a fun and dramatic impact for the area, will draw locals and tourists alike outside to connect with nature, learn about local plants and of course take a moment to stop and smell the flowers. 

superbloom in the studio

I’ve been making progress on the ceramic components of ‘A Feast of Flowers’ public art project and it’s starting to take over the studio! I’ve got thousands of flower buds in various stages of being processed taking up every surface of the studio and the thrown ceramic forms they will attach to starting to come to life as well. Now I’ve got to come up with a plan for where all of these flowers are going to live while they dry. Excited to see each flowers personality come out with the subtle uniqueness of each form.

About the project: A Feast of Flowers will be six ceramic and steel sculptures inspired by the umbel flower structure of fennel plants. Placed staggered along the sides of the trail and silhouetted against the sky, the installation will create a sense of whimsy and wonder for the thousands of patrons who use the trail as well as bring an awareness to our connection with nature. 

My inspiration for this particular installation comes from my exploration of the natural world, and my curiosity about identifying plants, especially the edible ones. As an amateur forager, every hike in the woods has become like a trip to the grocery store for me. Fennels are one of the most recognized edibles that grow in California, available for the taking, yet there is a tendency to not trust the wild plants. This disconnect we humans have with nature, the loss of knowledge about native plants and how that relates to the global issue of food insecurity are all concepts explored with this project. 

It is also my hope that whimsical oversized flowers will create a fun and dramatic impact for the area, will draw locals and tourists alike outside to connect with nature, learn about local plants and of course take a moment to stop and smell the flowers. 

Updates on the Rail Trail Project

Excited to start ordering materials and making prototypes for the Feast of Flowers public art project for the Santa Cruz Rail Trail!

Travis Adams came to the studio and threw a few large flower head forms so we could play with the shape and size we will need. Later, he trimmed the forms to round out the shapes. Trying to make them sturdy and strong while keeping the weight of them as light as possible is part of the challenge with these guys, but there are definitely some winners here!

600′ of high temperature wire arrived in the studio this week and I got busy cutting it into manageable 15′ lengths, all of which eventually needs to be cut into 3″ long pieces. Whew… it’s going to be awhile to get through this pile

But check out this first prototype! All this work is totally going to be worth it!

rail trail project updates

Local Sculptor Jenni Ward to install Feast of Flowers along Rail Trail | press | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

I made the Santa Cruz City manager’s weekly newsletter this week with my Umbel project for the rail trail! Wahoo!

I am slowly getting closer and closer to actually starting this project, all the contracts are signed, all the forms are filled out and the invoices have been submitted. I’m now only a few weeks away from having the engineering specs and the initial check in hand. Until then, I’m just working on my detailed materials lists, tweaking the timeline of events and hoping things generally go according to plan- fingers crossed!

Getting very excited to start building these babies!

Read the article here…

Need Art? Yes. Yes you do.

Water Droplets | Shop | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

Have you ever regretted bringing home a new piece of original art? I didn’t think so.

Scans show that viewing art triggered a surge of dopamine, the happy chemical, into the brain, which results in feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. It appeared that the reaction was almost immediate, in that when looking at things we consider to be beautiful, activity in the pleasure reward centre of the brain is increased.

Bridget Watson Payne

hint, hint: I just updated a bunch of stuff and there’s some really sweet pieces in there just waiting to make you happy!

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Featured Art: Framed Bone Series

These four pieces have been around the studio for awhile, and were recently featured in my exhibit Bodies of Water, where they hung against this gorgeous blue wall. They are the original versions of the Bone Series where I was focused on the exploration of bone structures and fibrous hole patterns while playing with concepts of fragility, strength and connectivity. These thoughts led to looking at the skeletal structures of radiolarians and the series evolved. Even though these are older pieces, I still love the shadow play and how the steel cables give geometric structure to the organic clay parts.

The rectangles are 48″ x 24″ x 1″ and the squares are 30″ x 30″ x 1″, they can hang flush to the wall or suspended with cables (as seen here) from any direction. All four pieces are available in the online shop.

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Big News!

If you didn’t see the big announcement in my monthly email…

I’m thrilled to ~finally~ be able to announce I’m starting a new public art project with Santa Cruz City Arts for the Coastal Rail Trail! This has been in the works for nearly two years and I can’t wait to finally get started on it. I’ll be installing six large scale Umbel flowers along the trail on the far westside of Santa Cruz.

February Studio News | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

I’m working with local artists Kirk McNeil who will fabricated the steel structures and Travis Adams who will help me fabricate the ceramic elements. Above is a proposed rendering of the installation, I can’t wait to see these flowers come to life and get planted along the trail. In addition to this good news, I had also applied to win an engineering grant for this project through Berkeley based engineering firm RBHU’s give back grant and I won the grant for pro-bono structural engineering of the installation. So thrilled to work with this creative team.

The studio is about to get super busy so stay tuned!