photoshoot in the studio

I was lucky enough to get a studio visit from photographer Crystal Birns for a photoshoot of the current status of my studio. Be sure to come by the studio this October for my 18th and last Open Studios in Santa Cruz and see this crazy space for yourself!

Here are a few of my favorites that she got…

another umbel update!

Freedom Forge is going full steam ahead with umbel production! All of the flowerhead parts have been fabricated and now we’re tweaking the angles to adjust for just the right amount of organic movement in each flower, allowing them to be uniform and unique all at the same time. The big stems are coming up next and then there will be an adventure to the galvanizer in the very near future!

This project is sponsored by:

A Feast of Flowers | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

metal fabrication is in full swing

I’m loving seeing the process of making the metal parts for A Feast of Flowers and luckily Kirk McNeill’s studio is right around the corner from mine, so I can pop over to see what Kirk and his team are up to.

In my last post, the flower head ‘arms’ were bent for the outer ring of flowers and now those arms are being riveted and welded to the base plate. Eventually the inner layers of flowers will be made the same way and stacked on top of this larger base plate. This is only one layer and they’re already looking so cool! More to come, stay tuned!

This project is sponsored by:

A Feast of Flowers | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

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!

This project is sponsored by:

A Feast of Flowers | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

hello? can you hear me?

Apparently my blog feed has gotten stuck here on my website for the past month for unknown reasons and you have not been receiving your weekly The Dirt emails from me. Grrr…

I ~think~ I’ve fixed the issue and if the stars align, you should receive your regularly scheduled email on Friday morning. It should give you links to all the posts that got stuck or you might just get this post or possibly once again nothing at all will hit your inbox. sigh…

Thanks for your patience and fingers crossed we’ll be up and running again soon. You can always check out what I’m up to by navigating to The Dirt here. Including a scene from the studio here so you get a preview of what’s been going on!

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. 

This project is sponsored by:

A Feast of Flowers | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

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!

This project is sponsored by:

A Feast of Flowers | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

A Year in Review

I’ll be taking the final weeks of the year off from writing blog posts as I let this year settle and start exciting plans for 2023 but I wanted to take the time to do a quick look back at all that has happened this year.

I participated in 6 exhibitions including one solo show and one show I co-created and co-curated. I created a large public art piece and have another in the works. I made ~literally~ thousands of porcelain pieces inspired by plankton and I still have a million ideas for more. And on a personal note, I swam dozens of miles this year in the open ocean, and hiked more miles than I could keep track of. Working hard, playing hard. I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

As a reminder, the online shop is always open so take a peek to find something special for yourself or your art loving friends and family. And once again, thank you for your support, it takes a village to raise an artist and I’m grateful that you are my village. Happy Happy, Merry Merry.

making progress…

If feel as though I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole the past week, busily making what feels like a million parts for my upcoming exhibit, Bodies of Water this September at the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery at UCSC. Working with gallery director Tauna Coulson, we’ve been choosing paint colors to turn the gallery into an ocean, creating templates for a nearly 2000 part site specific installation, selecting work, organizing pedestals, designing the layout and of course making parts.

I hit a point where it seemed daunting, but now I’m rounding the corner and can visualize it all coming together and I’m getting really excited about it. I also l.o.v.e. the color blue we chose for the gallery walls, can’t wait for you to see it!

Making all the art is one part of the job but installing them is a whole other task. I’ve started getting things boxed up to bring them up to the gallery in the coming weeks and start the process. Luckily I’ve got a long lead time since the gallery is technically closed for summer, so I can use that to my advantage and not have to rush installation. Phew! Hope to see you all at the opening September 24th 5-8pm where all these parts will magically transform into a plankton filled ocean gallery!

Bodies of Water | Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery UCSC | Sept 20th – Dec 3rd | Opening reception Sept 24th 5-8pm