Inspired by the beautiful but dangerous sea urchin, referring to an ancient Greek monster made up of
as well as by repeating patterns in nature, Jennifer many parts; and Silkie, a mythological creature that
Maestre has created a powerful body of work from transforms from seal to human and back again.
the most ordinary of materials: nails and pencils. Where do her names come from? “I feel like my
A onetime type designer, Maestre went back to sculptures can’t go off into the world without names,
school to get a fine art degree in her 30s. “I became so I try and find ones that fit,” she says from her
obsessed with trying to make sea urchins, using Concord, Mass., home. “Sometimes it takes as long
nails and window screen. Eventually, I started mak- to name them as to make them, but sometimes
ing larger and larger pieces, because I fell in love I know the name from the first stitch.”
with the textures created by the masses of nails,” When she needs a break, Maestre has a few other
she remembers. When she became frustrated by projects on a back burner; she also creates colorful
limitations, she had a breakthrough. (and glossily smooth) jewelry from pencil cross-
Photography by Dean Powell
Cutting pencils into 1-inch lengths, she drilled a sections, as well as beaded sculptures.
tiny hole in each section, turning the pencil piece “If I’m having a bad day sharpening pencils, I can
into a bead. Using peyote stitch, a common beading put down the sharpener and go make pins,” she
technique that lends itself to sculpture, she was admits. But pencils still hold her attention for now.
able to create forms with incredible texture. The added benefit? “I hear some great pencil stories!”
The shapes are organic from afar, but humorously —Arwen O’Reilly
familiar up close, as you realize that the surface is
made up of hundreds of sharp pencil points.
Maestre’s sculptures undulate and seethe, bearing
names like Asteridae, a botanical subclass; Chimera, >> Jennifer Maestre’s Sculptures: