Jenny Lindstrom, a glass artist, woodworker, and derby girl from Washington, DC, has been a regular student the last several years. This summer, she took Tom Shields‘s 7th session workshop, Woodworking Without the Lumberyard.
“This is my fifth class at Penland. My first time here was in 2007, with Tim Tate and the Washington Glass School, when they rented out the hot shop in the winter. The next summer, I came back with Tim, as his studio assistant when he co-taught with Michael Janis in the glass studio. The class was Affecting Plate Glass, and we did dry plaster casting and assembled boxes using plate glass – we made the little glass boxes in the wall in front of the Pines. I’ve been here every year since then. All the rest of my classes have been in wood – a spring concentration with Sarah Martin, a class with Gail Fredell and Jacque Allen, and a one-week fall workshop with Sylvie Rosenthal. Up until now, all of my wood classes have been taught by women. That seems somewhat rare, but here, not so much.
“I’m a kiln-formed glass person back at home. I work for a glass artist part time, as her studio assistant, assembling her work – I do a lot of the cutting and cold-working. I also work part-time at a salon, and do roller derby. I play for the Majority Whips, for the DC Rollergirls, and I’m also on their All-Stars team. My derby name is Slam Grier.
“I’ve done work-study almost every time I’ve come. This summer I was very busy and the deadline was off my radar; I ended up on a waiting list for this class and got in at the last minute. I prefer to do work-study, though. It’s great financially and I like the connection you have to other people. I’m slow to make friends; I love people but I tend to be a bit shy at first. With work-study, I get to know people before class starts, and it makes it more fun.
“I like working in wood because I feel more connected to the material. I think if I were a flameworker or glassblower I might feel differently about glass, but with the processes I use, you cut and assemble everything and then the kiln does the magic. With wood, every time I touch the material it is affected. It takes a lot longer to affect glass when you’re coldworking, and there’s usually a machine involved. This class is only using hand tools for woodworking; it’s much harder and I’m finding muscles I didn’t know I had.
“I feel like I can totally get away at Penland – I don’t even think about checking my email when I’m here. Okay, I did today – derby involves a lot of email – but I did it grudgingly, whereas at home it’s one of the first things I do every morning. At home, I don’t make a lot of my own work, so this is my personal time. I love the people. It’s starting to feel like a family – I come back and I’m always excited when people remember me.
“I love Penland. It’s a place where I really feel at home, as much if not more than I do at home. It’s a place where you can really be yourself. Washington, DC, is an industry town – a lot of people work for the government, and everyone seems focused on what you do, focused on climbing, and as an artist it can be very challenging. The first question anyone asks after your name is what you do, and as an artist, it’s tough to answer – people think being an artist is pretty cool, but in the end they ask what you really do. Coming here I can separate from all that and just enjoy being an artist, without having to defend or explain it.”