when old ideas become new ideas

Circa 2012, I had an idea to create a curved circular structure that would be covered with ceramic cone shaped pieces. I was calling this piece the Lens Series because it had the shape of a parabolic lens and my intention was to set it up in a variety of scenes; in snow, in a river, a forest, the beach etc… and conceptually the Lens would give you a new way of seeing each of those environments. So I went ahead and starting making the cone shaped pieces and they piled up on my shelves by the hundreds. But my problem was engineering the structure that would hold all the ceramic pieces at just the right angle and just the right curve and make it mobile and easy to set up/take down and basically the math just became overwhelming and so the project sat on the shelves and collected dust until last year…

The pieces were first unboxed for their exhibition debut at the UCSC Arboretum for the Environmental Installations exhibit. They were placed in a small grove where they encircled the tree trunks and were renamed the Tree Pools. I loved the contrast of the bright blues and purples in the middle of the garden, it gave this installation a really quiet and contemplative spot. But despite a lot of interest in visitors purchasing these for their own trees, I resisted the urge to sell them because I still thought that someday in the future my Lens Series would actually happen.

when old ideas become new ideas | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

In addition to the Tree Pools installation at the Arboretum, I also made a large scale installation of Umbel flowers for the same exhibit, umbels are a flower structure that that blossoms into an umbrella shape and this was a structure that I’d really fallen in love with. I had done quite a bit of research on the structures of umbels and thought it would be interesting to try to go larger with the shape. And so with my husband Nate off work for two days due to rain, we designed and he welded together some starburst shaped umbel structures for me that are about 2.5′ in diameter and we will install them on 12′ tall steel pipe for the stems. I plan to attach the cone shaped pieces that were originally intended for the Lens Series as the flower buds for these new Umbels. The idea is that you will be able to walk under them as they will blow and move in the wind like crazy sputnik style dandelions, I think they’ll be pretty fun to make and engage with in the garden.

when old ideas become new ideas | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

So sometimes, it’s a good idea to let go of an okay idea. I admit now that the Lens Series may never happen, but I’m glad that I invested in an idea that led me down a long path to create these new pieces. Also really glad to have a talented husband to weld for me!

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