video: work in progress: Spore Patterns Installation

I ~think~ I have enough parts for my site specific Spore Patterns installation at the Price Sculpture Forest on Whidbey Island in Washington. I’ve lost the official count of parts but there’s definitely more than 300 pieces here, some are still raw clay, some glazed but not fired and most are finished. Next steps are to start working on the steel rods that will support the ceramic pieces to get them floating off the ground. Getting excited!

closing up shop…but just for a little bit!

Just a heads up that the studio will be closed for just a few weeks!

I’ll be heading south to work on some projects on our property in Baja. Looking forward to some desert adventures, warm ocean waters and catching up with my south of the border friends.

I’ll still be available via email if you need me, the online shop is open 24/7 (shipments will go out when I return but local pickup can be arranged sooner) and all in process projects will still finish on time- promise! I’ll post here on the dirt occasionally to keep you updated.

hasta luego amigos!

why i work on five million things at once

It’s really about a dozen different things but sometimes it feels like five million.

When I shared three work-in-progress posts in a row and they were all on different projects, I realized that it might be hard for y’all to keep up with what’s been going on in the studio. Sorry about that. I really like to use my blog, emails and social media accounts to share all the behind the scenes triumphs and failures of life in the studio, but it doesn’t work well when I’m all over the place.

It made me start thinking about my process and why I work like this. And for better or worse, I realized that there’s a few reasons for the madness.

a portion of my 8’x8′ studio table with parts for four different projects in all stages of design and fabrication

One, I get bored easily. I like challenges, problem solving and trying new ideas out. But, that is only one part of studio life and the art making process. So, I have to mix it up and keep moving from task to task.

Two, I like to work. I will gladly spend all day, every day in my studio. (But don’t worry, I play just as hard as I work!)

Three, clay can be slow. It seems like I’m always waiting for something to dry, something to be fired or a kiln to cool off. So it’s good to have different projects to bounce between while you’re waiting for another.

Four, I get excited about new projects. Which kind of means I’ll almost always say yes to a collaboration, exhibition, or project. But I’m good with follow through too, so it doesn’t mean other projects get dropped from the roster, the to-do list just gets longer….and longer.

And five, sometimes, I just get inspired to make something that’s not on the list of projects. And I have to follow that inspiration, trust it, and make time for it.

Is this good for my art practice? I don’t know. Maybe I’d make better work if I focused on one thing at a time. I just don’t know, this is just how I roll. Yet, I will also try my best to slow down and share as much as I can with you. Thanks for being along on the journey with me.

Video: Work In Progress | Porcelain in Resin

I’ve been slowly plugging away at these pieces, trouble shooting and learning as I go. This batch was the best yet and honestly they look so much better in person than photographed but hope you can get a sense of their potential.

There’s of course still some kinks to work out with the resin, the frames, and the lighting but I’m really excited about them and I know that when I dial it in, they are going to be amazing. If you missed the last post, read here first, but otherwise enjoy this quick video of creating these pieces one layer at a time.

work in progress: lichen installation

Just a quick update on the Lichen Series: Spore Pattern installation that’s going to be installed in the Price Sculpture Forest this summer. I’ve been steadily building pieces in the studio and decided that I had enough to start laying them out on the floor of the studio. These are all in various stages of drying, firing and glazing but laying them out gives me a good idea of how many more I need to make and what the final piece will look like.

work in progress: lichen installation | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

The large circle in the center photo above is about 10 feet across with a 1 foot center opening and there are almost 200 pieces placed down. I’d like the final piece to be about 2 feet wider, and there are still some holes to fill with parts, so I’m estimating that I’ll need to double the amount of parts but I’m getting closer to the finish line. Can’t wait to see it all together and installed!

Work in Progress: Bling!

I’m finally ready to reveal a fun collaboration with sculptors Lucia Bruer and Franco Di Majo entitled Bling!

It all started with the pile of Rock Candy pieces in the studio. Lucia was visiting the studio one day and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if they were gigantic jewelry?’. We both looked at each other and knew we had to see this idea through.

We decided to make two rings, that would appear to be stuck into the ground at the bottom and have their big gems crowning above.

Lucia enlisted the help of Franco and they started planning out the logistics of making the structure for band of the ring. Then we designed the layout of the band so that it mimicked the shapes of the ceramic rock candy. We also designed the bezel it would sit in with similar angles. Next up, there’s a lot of welding to do but it was really exciting to get a vision of what it would look like assembled.

We’re hoping these rings will be installed at Sierra Azul Sculpture Garden early summer, details to follow.

work in progress: lichen installations

Last week, I announced my opportunity to create a large scale public art installation for the Price Sculpture Forest in Washington State. My studio is filling up with parts for this project, so I wanted to share my progress. (if you missed last weeks post, here’s the link!)

These pieces are in various stages of being built. I cut out all the shapes intuitively so that each piece is unique and there are a variety of sizes. The far left image shows the shapes but all the edges have yet to be attached. It’s important to let the panels of each piece set up a little before they are attached so that they hold their shape as they are handled and moved around. Once they are attached, they are left to dry a bit more and then they get a final wipe down before they are left to dry completely.

Once all of the pieces are bisque fired, they are ready for glazing. Each piece is glazed on all sides with a white matte glaze that is reminiscent of the shelf fungus color they are inspired by. Then each top edge gets a stripe of dark glaze that when fired is metallic colored where it is thicker and fades to a mossy green where it blends with the white glaze underneath. Now these guys are all ready to go for a ride in the kiln!

This batch of pieces totals to somewhere around 50 or 60 parts, but I’m estimating that I will need about 8 times that for this project- maybe more! Eventually every surface in the studio will probably be covered by these pieces, exciting times!

Video: Porcelain Nachos

Just a quick behind the scenes video showing just how strong these very thin pieces of porcelain actually are. When I put them in the kiln, I just pile them up, but because of the vitreousness of the clay, they stick together just a little, kinda like porcelain nachos. Then they need to be popped apart so I can use these pieces in other projects. Enjoy!

Work in Progress: Porcelain in Resin

These pieces have literally been years in the making, but I think I’m finally rounding a corner with them and wanted to share my progress. I had some success with my initial resin pours but still had a few things to tweak. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of micro bubbles in the resin, I found out that’s due to it curing too cold and possibly some air escaping from the pores of the ceramic parts. The edges of the molds aren’t as even as I’d hoped since the silicone molds had squished a bit in shipping, so I need to come up with a better frame solution. I also knew that my first experiments with led lights were really exciting and I needed to pursue that further even if it meant putting on my novice electricians hat. Some steps forward and some steps sideways, more problems to solve, and way more parts to make.

I decided to create stainless steel frames and pour directly into them so that I didn’t need to pop them out of a mold later. I wanted these frames to be versatile for both wall hanging and as suspended pieces, so I added a fender washer as the hanger to create a modern, industrial look. A metal fabricator neighbor welded them together for me and then I started working on the lighting components.

I’ve learned way more than I ever wanted to about led lighting, but in the end, I found that getting some waterproof strip lighting, a few connectors and being creative, I could get the frames lit on the insides and eventually embedded in the resin. I had small holes drilled in the sides of the frames for the wires to exit from which will ultimately connect to a power source, which for now is 9v battery to make sure that my connections actually work.

I’m ~almost~ ready to start pouring my (fingers crossed) first batch of keepers. My next steps are to coat the ceramic parts in a thin layer of resin, to seal them from leaking any air bubbles. To waterproof the end connections of my led lights and adhere them in place to the inner edges of the frames. And then I need to set everything up in a warm, dust free area to start the pouring, layering and curing of the resin, one eighth of an inch at a time. Step by step… stay tuned!