We’re interviewing makers from all 50 states. Today we’re featuring Sophie Glenn, a furniture maker and metalworker from Mississippi.
How did you get started woodworking? Who were your mentors?
I became very interested in furniture making about 10 years ago while I was a student at SUNY Purchase College. Though Dennis Fitzgerald (my woodworking professor) was very encouraging, I didn’t have a very strong understanding of or connection to woodworking at first. It wasn’t until I met and took a class from Vivian Beer, a steel furniture maker who was a Windgate Artist in Residence at the time, that I felt I had found a material and practice about which I was truly passionate. While I mostly do metalwork these days, my practice is still greatly informed by woodworking and the history of furniture making, which I would not have been able to learn without the guidance of some incredible makers, such as Wendy Maruyama, Matt Hebert, and Graham Campbell, to name a few.
What do you think is your best or favorite work? What kind of work do you do the most?
As of late, most of my work has been made predominately out of painted and rusted steel, but one wouldn’t know it at first glance. My “Rust Never Sleeps” series has been an ongoing project for the past 4 years, and while it in some way started as a joke, it has really grown into a series of works that’s reflective of my experiences and ideas as a furniture maker and metalworker (although the humor still manages to creep in on occasion). Some of the pieces are quite challenging to execute, such as “Black Sheep” and its steel wool seat, but they end up being some of my favorites for that reason. In short, I love trying new techniques that can make my steel works seem much more believably like the wooden originals.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to start woodworking or pursue it as a profession?
BE PATIENT. This is key in more ways than one. First, it’s impossible to learn everything there is to know about woodworking in one class, one article, etc., so being patient with your education (in whatever form that takes) is important and ultimately valuable. Second, the right opportunity may not always be available right when one wants it, so I think it’s important to understand that because something doesn’t happen right now, doesn’t mean it won’t happen ever. Be patient and keep trying.
With that too, I think it’s always a good idea for an aspiring woodworker/furnituremaker to find the community that helps them to do better and is supportive of their endeavors. Finding the right people can make all the difference.
What’s your best hands-on tip or woodworking technique?
I love making templates out of masonite, because I can use them for both my woodworking and metalworking projects, and for me, they hold up better over time than paper templates. I probably use them most often with a plasma cutter if I need to cut out a complex shape, but in general, making a template is that little bit of prep-work that makes things run a lot smoother.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout-out or recommend we follow? Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be woodworking related, either.)
There were already some great names listed in previous interviews, but here are some others:
– Vivian Beer – my mentor who makes incredible furniture pieces in steel, aluminum, and even concrete
– Eleanor Rose Meineke – maker of beautiful tools and furniture
– A Workshop of Our Own – a great organization with a great cause in Baltimore, MD. A woodshop for women identifying and gender non-conforming makers.
– Rachel David – furniture maker and blacksmith
– Nathaniel Hall – super talented woodworker and great friend.
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