Jennifer Maestre

Naiad, pencils, 2007

Blue Spine, pencils, 2008

Circumbendibus, pencils, 2003

Dyad, pencils, 2003

Limbo, pencils, 2003

Materialize, pencils, 2005

Tiamat, pencils, 2006


The wood I use in my work has already been processed, and transformed into pencils. I process the pencils further, using what is normally a tool to create art into the art itself.

My sculptures were originally inspired by the form and function of the sea urchin. The spines of the urchin, so dangerous yet beautiful, serve as an explicit warning against contact. The alluring texture of the spines draws the touch in spite of the possible consequences. The tension unveiled, we feel push and pull, desire and repulsion. The sections of pencils present aspects of sharp and smooth for two very different textural and aesthetic experiences. Paradox and surprise are integral in my choice of materials. Quantities of industrially manufactured objects are used to create flexible forms reminiscent of the organic shapes of animals and nature. Pencils are common objects, here, these anonymous objects become the structure. There is true a fragility to the sometimes brutal aspect of the sculptures, vulnerability that is belied by the fearsome texture.

To make the pencil sculptures, I take hundreds of pencils, cut them into 1-inch sections, drill a hole in each section (to turn them into beads), sharpen them all and sew them together. The beading technique I rely on most is peyote stitch.


Born 1959 in Johannesburg, South Africa, currently residing and working in Maynard, MA.

Jennifer Maestre is best known for her pencil point sculptures.  The sculptures are created by sewing together thousands of drilled and sharpened pencils using a beading technique commonly known as “peyote stitch”.

Maestre studied Fine Arts at Wellesley College (’81) and majored in Glass at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (’97).  After graduating with honors from Mass Art, she started creating work inspired by sea urchins, first from nails, and then from pencils. She is also inspired by the drawings of Ernst Haeckel and Odilon Redon.

She exhibits nationally and internationally. Recent sculptures are at sea on the cruise ship TUI Atlantik.

She has won numerous awards, including a 2007 Mass Cultural Council grant.

Her commissions include sculptures for the cruise ship TUI Atlantik, a Men’s Fashion Week window display for Bottega Veneta in Milan, Italy, and sculpture for Boeringer Ingelheim, Germany.

She has work in the permanent collections of the Decordova Museum, Krannert Art Museum, New Britain Museum of American Art, and Faber-Castell.

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