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Amazing Pencil Art Sculptures by Jennifer Maestre

Posted on 29 September 2009 by Tim

Artist Jennifer Maestre creates dazzling sculptures out of pencils. It is some of the most interesting art I’ve seen in a very long time. Not only is it a unique way to use a pencil but the designs themselves are enjoyable to contemplate.

Lets find out more about Jennifer’s work…

Interview with Jennifer Maestre:

What drew you to colored pencils as the medium for your art?

At first, I was just trying to replicate sea urchins, and made my sculptures with nails of all sorts. I was using a pretty nasty liquid rubber glue to construct the nail sculptures, and thought to myself (with what brain cells were left) what other pointy objects can I find in large and inexpensive quantities to create that lovely spiky texture? Ah Ha! Pencils!


Basically, the pencils were pointy and cheap. I didn’t start using them for any conceptual reason. I’ve always loved tiny pencils though, don’t get me wrong! I’m one of those people who used pencils down to the nub, even before I started making my sculptures.

How did you become interested in sea urchins and why do they inspire you?

When I was in art school, I saw a poster for a jewelry contest. The design had to include a pearl. I was making a lot a bandsaw boxes at the time, and intrigued with the idea of secret compartments. So, I had an idea to make a silver box, shaped like a sea urchin. It would have a secret compartment that held the pearl. I never did make the bow (I didn’t have the skills), but the idea of the form of the sea urchin as a vessel containing something precious stuck, and I started making them sculptures based on that idea.

Your sculptures convey a variety of emotions from warm and inviting to startling and slightly scary. Do you find that your mood influences the way a piece turns out?

Not really – the sculptures take so long to make, that I can go through many, many moods before I finish one.

About how long does it take for you to create a sculpture?

Anywhere from a week or two to a month. I hate to time myself, because that would make my art almost unbearable to make. One of the best quotes I ever read about beadwork was that it proceeds at a glacial pace. This doesn’t even take into account the time it takes to make the ‘beads’.

How did you come up with the idea of making the pencils into “beads” and stitching them together?

I’d already taught myself sculptural beading techniques, using seed beads- since I wanted to get away from the nasty glues, I thought of turning the pencil stubs into ‘beads’. Asteridae-small

For your larger sculptures, do you use any other material to provide a supportive framework?

I don’t make any armatures for my sculptures- the only ingredients are pencils and thread. I will make struts out of pencils to stabilize a piece, but they are usually hidden in the interior. You can’t see them unless you turn the sculpture upside down.

Occasionally, a pencil will split while I am constructing a sculpture- rather than take the whole row apart back to the split pencil, I will use a bit of glue and clamp the pencil stub back together.

Most of your sculptures seem to use a very small portion of the colored pencil. How do you use the left overs?

I use the entire pencil. I cut them into sections, and sharpen each section. I even make collages out of the shavings sometimes, I have bags of shavings saved!

Have you ever had to scrap a sculpture because it just wasn’t working or do you tend to find ways to salvage it and move in a new direction?

This happens more often than I’d like! I’ll work on something for a long time, and realize it just doesn’t make sense, so I’ll take it all apart and start over. It is ok, though, since sometimes the scraps inspire me to create something I hadn’t thought of before.

Tiamat-small Do you hand cut all the pencils yourself or do you have an assistant?

I do ocassionally have someone help me with drilling and sharpening. but it isn’t easy to find someone as detail oriented and patient with the work as I am. If someone doesn’t drill the holes correctly, I can’t use the pencils, so it is a waste. (I do save all the pieces, though- I’ve just sent a box of them to another artist who needed some pencils stubs for a special project.)

If someone is interested in purchasing a sculpture or other piece of art, where can they go?

They can contact Mobilia gallery in Cambridge, MA. Or, they can contact me, as not all of my work is at Mobilia.

Jennifer Maestre on Etsy!

Read More About Jennifer:

Jennifer Maestre’s Background:

According to her resume, Jennifer was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She currently resides in Massachusetts where she is represented by Mobilia Gallery. Maestre earned her BFA in 1997 and has been doing shows since 1996. Her work has mainly been on display in Massachusetts although exhibitions have taken place in Wyoming, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Italy, among others.

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Jars of Cute: Adorable Arts and Crafts

Posted on 11 August 2009 by Tim

Hello & welcome to the daily blog of an artsy girl who likes it cute, modish and a bit quirky! – Jars of Cute

Please Note: Jars of Cute is now called Lushlee.

About Jars of Cute

Ange says her site, “Started as a virtual space to collect cute inspiration, Jars Of Cute is now an online cute catalog, updated daily with visually endearing and interesting finds.” JoC receives over 45,000 unique visits per month [Quantcast] and is one of the few sites focused entirely on cute arts and crafts.

Without further ado, here’s my interview with Ange from Jars of Cute!

You’ve been blogging for just over one year now and I’d say you’ve been quite successful. What made you decide to start blogging and how did you get into the cute niche?

jars of cute I actually started my personal blog in 2005 and was actively blogging on that up until 2008. However, after 3 years of personal blogging, I started to feel a lack of motivation and purpose with that blog, and at the same time, I found that I was increasingly putting up posts that were similar to what you see on Jars Of Cute today, and not so many “personal” posts. And since I’ve enjoyed collecting “cute things” since I was kid, it made sense to me to morph my personal blog into Jars Of Cute. So in November 2008, I closed down my personal blog, bought the www.jarsofcute.com domain, and put my focus on Jars Of Cute instead!

Do you run Jars of Cute as a business or a hobby?

I’d consider it a hobby today, but one that I’d like to turn into a business someday if possible.

Which three posts would you recommend to a new Jars of Cute reader?

Oooo…that’s a tough one for me because I have so many favorites! Also, even though Jars Of Cute is one of the only few blogs that focuses exclusively on cute stuff, there’s quite a wide range included in that. And so, 3 posts might not be enough to give a full indication of everything it has to offer. But anyway, here goes my 5:

The site focuses on “cute art, craft, and design”, are you a crafter yourself?

I don’t sell crafts but I like to do crafting for my own enjoyment, things like paper crafting, knitting, crocheting, and sewing. I also do digital illustrations and have done freelance web design in the past.

Are the items you post generally hand-made by individual crafters or are they a mix of commercial and independent items?

They are a mix of commercial and indie products. I don’t have a specific preference so long as it catches my fancy and is cute enough to be featured on Jars Of Cute!

The layout of Jars of Cute is really nice. I especially like the related post thumbnails you have. What plugin are you using for that or is that custom?

It’s a standard plugin called YARPP (Yet Another Related Post Plugin) that I customized to fit my purposes.

Do you get reader participation in recommending cute things to write about?

Yes! My inbox is flooded daily with submissions. Unfortunately, I don’t always have time to review every single one as much as I’d love to. There are definitely plenty of good ideas in there, but I can only feature items that are a good fit for Jars Of Cute.

I noticed you’re using Twitter, has it been useful for your blog?

I started to use Twitter for Jars Of Cute in early 2009, and overall have definitely found that if I tweet regularly, it does bring in traffic. I find Twitter to be a great tool for recommending cute stuff and links to my followers without having to write a full blog post. I’d love to tweet more but of late haven’t been able to keep up with it too much. That said, it’d be great to let your readers know, if they are interested in cute stuff, to follow me on Twitter.

Ange, thanks for sharing your site!

cupcake-burgers-t Wow! Where else could you find something as unique as hamburger cupcakes? Or as delicate as the paper sculpture pictured below? Only at Jars of Cute!

If you’re into arts and crafts, then you will want to subscribe to the JoC feed now. If you enjoyed this interview, please leave a comment below! Thanks!


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Kanzashi in Bloom by Diane Gilleland

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Tim

Diane Gilleland, of CraftyPod.com and DIYalert.com, wrote a nifty book about a craft style she enjoys called kanzashi. As you can see, her book is titled Kanzashi in Bloom. I noticed Diane’s book signing from Powell’s Books event calendar and although I was a bit out of place in the crowd, I’m glad I went.

In fact, Diane noticed me and came over to introduce herself, which caught me a bit off guard but was a pleasant surprise. She politely listened as I stumbled through explaining why I was there.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re dying to know what the heck kanzashi is! So let’s get rolling…

What is Kanzashi?

Diane explained that kanzashi is an ancient craft from Japan that started in 1600 during the Edo period. It began as a decorative addition to the elaborate hairstyles of geisha. Later this style was adopted by geisha-in-training known as maiko. Traditionally, kanzashi utilizes silk cloth. However, a variety of materials can be used including precious metals, wood and tortoise shell.



Unfortunately, kanzashi is a dying art. According to Diane, there are only 5 masters in the world! She met one of the masters and, at the book signing, passed around an elaborate hair pin with a small bloom and flowing petals to demonstrate the fine craftsmanship. I have to say, it was pretty impressive. I’m quite sure my big clumsy man-fingers couldn’t fold such intricate patterns!

If you’re interested in more of the history of kanzashi go here.

Kanzashi in Bloom

Diane’s book demonstrates in full-colored detail how to make 20 Simple Fold-and-Sew Projects to Wear and Give. Kanzashi in Bloom shows you how to create the floral patterns with a plethora of quality photographs, taken by Diane’s mother, along with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions.

The method of crafting these floral designs has been simplified from traditional processes to make it easier to learn. Diane also modified the process to account for different material types, since most crafters will not be using silk or other pricey material.

Diane has made crafting kanzashi so easy (and fun) that everyone in the audience at Powell’s, including me, successfully made two different flower petals. The picture to the left here are the two I made. Not too bad, right?

After you’ve made a bunch of petals then you can take a needle and thread to string them together. Then arrange the petals into a flower shape and add any additional decorations.

Take a look at what readers have made from Diane’s book!

If you’ve read the book, and tried out the designs, let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Thanks!

Made by Tim


Kanzashi in Bloom - Thumb

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Jeff Johnson on His New Book Tattoo Machine

Posted on 29 July 2009 by Tim

“Rich and horrifying” is how Portland, Oregon based tattoo artist Jeff Johnson describes his first experience tattooing a customer. Jeff is an interesting guy and a natural storyteller. He is co-owner of the Sea Tramp Tattoo Co. and has been a tattoo artist for over 18 years. Although we weren’t able to see during his speaking event at Powell’s Books, Jeff is not only an artist but a customer and he cracked a few jokes at his own expense about how wimpy he is when getting a tattoo.

TIME magazine says, “…the Portland-based inkman shares some of the weirdest, wackiest and most disgusting details of his profession, from cleaning up after chudders (look it up) to the time he tattooed a serial killer (he thinks).

Jeff Johnson author of Tattoo Machine

Jeff’s Book: Tattoo Machine

Jeff introduced his book talking about the day he received his brand new tattoo machine and the excitement which he could barely contain as he opened the package and laid everything out in the kitchen. He goes on to point out an interesting tradition where the artist tattoos their inner right thigh. Apparently, it’s a great place to hide that first (read: amateurish) tattoo. Then, in order to test out the equipment, Jeff called up one of his buddies and invited him over the check out the new equipment. After a few drinks, his friend Miguel ended up leaving with his first tatt – the Star Trek logo.

In the book, there is much more about Jeff on the road to becoming a tattoo artist. But, another funny story Jeff shared from his book was about his foray into tattooed portraits. He grabbed some magazines and sketched up some samples for customers to see. Although no one decided to buy any of the portraits Jeff had posted, one guy asked if there were any tattoos he could get for free. Seizing on the moment, Jeff offered to do a portrait. The satisfied customer was soon sporting a portrait of Bill Murray, from the movie Ghostbusters. Soon after, another guy comes in looking for the same portrait. Jeff later found out that these two were prison inmates on a weekend pass.

Before opening up for questions, Jeff read a part from his book about a tattoo gone wrong. One lady came in, a few days before her wedding to get her husbands name tattooed on her shoulder. No one knew that the woman incorrectly wrote down her husbands last name which was fairly long and of Greek origin. After the session was complete, the woman was beaming with loving pride at the tattoo. At least until her mother-in-law saw it and mentioned that the spelling was wrong. Jeffs description of this tragedy was hilarious. One of many chuckle-friendly stories you’ll find in Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink.

From Random House:

In Tattoo Machine, Johnson lifts the curtain on an art form that has undergone rebirth and illuminates a world where art, drama, and commerce come together in highly entertaining theater. A tattoo shop is no longer a den of social outcasts and degenerates–it’s a workshop where committed and schooled artists who paint on living canvases develop close bonds and bitter rivalries, where tattoo legends and innovators are equally revered, and where the potential for disaster lurks in every corner.

The book signing went really well. The audience at the event was a diverse group – young, old, tattooed, and the curious alike. Everyone enjoyed the friendly, conversational atmosphere and Jeff’s humorous style.

Around the Web:

Jeff Johnson Author of Tattoo Machine

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