Erin: What are you curious about?
Jenny: I’m curious about brain development and neurology (apoptosis, neural synapsis, hemispheric specialization, neurogenesis, etc.). Sounds really geeky but outside of my art and work, I love neuroscience.
Erin: Describe your work and describe your process.
Jenny: I make bent wood sculptures and planters.
Each solid wood piece is steam bent to form the shape. High temperatures, moisture and time are the main elements of having a successfully bent piece of solid wood. Variations in the three elements is determined on other factors such as the type of wood and thickness. After the piece is bent to shape, it is allowed to air dry for a duration of time then it is dried again at a higher room temperature before it is finished.
Erin: You saw an article on wood bending. Tell us the yardstick and lobster pot in your kitchen story. That was how I tried out my first bend and got completely hooked.
Jenny: I was reading a very detailed article about the specifics of bending oak and became fascinated.
That same day, I found an old school ruler (ones with the metal side). I pulled out the slip of metal and attempted to bend the ruler over the only thing available to me (my lobster pot steamer). The ruler was a failure of course but it started a minor obsession that turned into a love for woodwork, especially bending wood. The rest is history.
Erin: How much wood have you bent until you stopped breaking it?
Jenny: I never counted in the beginning but I did have a large corner of my room I named my broken wood graveyard.
The breaks depend on many variables (heat, thickness, type of wood, how you cut it, techniques to loosen the lignin bonds, etc.) It is normal to get breaks but the percentage of breakage has decreased significantly as I continue my work.
Erin: Air plants. How did they become the perfect companions to your bent wood creations?
Jenny: The sequence of order is that the plants came first. My passion for growing mesembs and succulents grew to include air plants. Horticulture became a hobby after I was pregnant.
When I started bending, the plants just balanced the piece out when I dropped it in so I kept doing it.
Erin: What is your budget-less dream project?
Jenny: This might sound odd but I would love to build a wooden/metal tree house pod village.
Imagine 10-20 pod-like structures in the trees with connecting bridges and stairs. How cool would that be!
Erin: Are you planning or have you tried bending anything else?
Jenny: I bend metal. Metal is a more forgiving material in my opinion. The process of bending metal is rewarding and correctable in my cases. Welding and metal bending have been great past-times and I plan to revisit them someday.
Erin: If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be with and what would it look like?
Jenny: There are so many artist that I admire but I think it would be fun to work with UK artist Robin Wight. He makes these intricate fantastical human forms that seem light as air but made with metal wiring. Not entirely sure how the final product would look but I can imagine that it would be pretty cool.
Erin: How has becoming a mother affected your work?
Jenny: For me, being a mother has forced me to focus more on being organized and efficient. My pieces have been on the smaller side because they are easier to manage but that is not always the case. I predict as my kids get older and I have more time to reflect, my pieces will change.
Erin: If you had one superpower what would it be?
My superpower would be spontaneous structured benign cellular growth. Why? This awesome super power would allow me to grow extra limbs like two or four pairs of arms to help in my daily work, chores and child raring. Think of how much more “zen” life would be if you were able to multitask in half the time. It would leave more time to frolic in the parks.