Sea urchin-inspired art made from pencils

Sculptress Jennifer Maestre makes colorful abstract and plant-like pieces using colored pencils. She turns each colored pencil into beads by cutting them into inch-long sections and then drilling a hole in the base, then sharpens and sews hundreds of them together using the peyote stitch. She loves prickly things like sea urchins–they're what inspired her to work in this unusual medium in the first place.

Link (via Moco Loco)

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.)


  1. Very pencilish. Wouldn’t we call the artist a “sculptor”? It seems the ‘tress’ is now out of vogue.

  2. This is very interesting!

    I have to say, though, that I had some uni sushi last week… and it was the singularly most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten. Just looking at this image made me sort of urp a bit.

    In an odd way, I think that’s a compliment.

  3. Lovely stuff.

    I also dislike the use of the term ‘sculptress’. Not only does it needlessly sound all frilly and Victorian, but would you call your female doctor a ‘doctress’?

  4. If I was fabulously rich I’d buy that and use it to store rubbers (pencil erasers) as some sort of Statement about interior weaknesses or impermanence. Also, I can never find a rubber when I need one.

  5. Seems it would be easier to sharpen them before cutting them into one inch long sections. As someone who just had to sharpen a stubbie last night (ahem, I’m talking about PENCILS here) I can’t imagine the frustration of sharpening hundreds of micro pencils.

    1. “Sculptress” has been out of vogue longer than “aviatrix” and “poetess”.

      So, not out of vogue at all in my house. Teresa hates it when I call her a moderatrix because it sounds like she’s wearing nine-inch stiletto heels. I routinely use words like manageress and aviatrix. If we’re trying to eradicate the discernible difference between the sexes in their professional titles, why do we always opt for the male version of the word? As to doctress, it’s not a word. The others are.

  6. I assume the geometry of the pencils affects the end result – perhaps five or seven sided pencils might result in more pronounced patterns like in a sunflower…

  7. @11 Antinous, ‘Doctress’ has fallen out of use but it was a word at one point.

    From Wiki:
    “During the 19th century, attempts to overlay Latin grammar rules onto English required the use of feminine endings in nouns ending with -or. This produced words like doctress and professoress and even lawyeress, all of which have fallen out of use; though waitress, stewardess, and actress are in contemporary use for some speakers.”

    I’m not sure why the masculine moniker always wins out as the more ‘professional’ one. All I know is, just try to refer to someone as a ‘sculptress’ in a professional art setting, and you’ll get hoisted on your own linguistic petard.

  8. Antinous / JustOneGuy / etc:

    I don’t think it’s a case of using the ‘male’ version by default, I think it’s using the base, non-variant version. Presumably it’s because the ‘male’ variety was the original ungendered word (male only by implication), and when required a ‘female’ variant was employed as a way to (unusefully IMO) differentiate.

    For example, the earliest mention of “doctour” in the OED is 1387, whereas the earliest “doctresse” is 1549. Most likely a variant of the standard form, with a female suffix, rather than one day inventing the notion of “doct~” (one who fixes people*) and simultaniously inventing the male and female versions.

    I don’t see a need to differentiate, and find it irritates me when professional terminology is split along gender lines. It feels like a product of old societal norms that just don’t hold anymore.

    * that’s a total fabrication on my part, for the example at hand :)

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