The Queue: Janne Peltokangas

The Queue: Janne Peltokangas

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.

Published on Monday, September 5, 2022.
blog post cover graphic for the queue featuring janne peltokangas
cover of the fall 2022 issue of American Craft magazine

Welcome to the Gather series of The Queue.
A biweekly roundup for and by the craft community, The Queue introduces you to the artists, curators, organizers, and more featured in American Craft. Our Fall 2022 issue is centered on the theme "Gather" and is out now! Join now to reserve your copy. In The Queue, we invite the inspiring individuals featured in this issue to share personally about their lives and work as well as what's inspiring them right now.

Janne Peltokangas forms hot metal into sculptures inspired by his ancestral lands.
Janne Peltokangas draws upon his Sámi heritage and homelands in his raw, inventive metalwork. As a child, he made his own toys out of wood and helped his family repair buildings and fishing nets. But when he tried blacksmithing, he says, “I fell in love when I hit that hot metal with a hammer and saw it change shape.” Using traditional blacksmithing techniques, Peltokangas shapes iron from old engines into new forms reflecting the Arctic landscape that surrounds his home and studio in Finnish Lapland. His iron sculpture Sieidi No. 8 is featured in “Fine Folds” in the Fall 2022 issue of American Craft. | @jannepeltokangas

ash colored metal sculpture featuring fine folds and crags with rust accent color reminiscent of leftover coal of a burned log
portrait of janne peltokangas

LEFT: Janne Peltokangas, 2021, Sieidi No. 7, iron and silica, 28 x 14 x 14 cm. Photo courtesy of the artist. RIGHT: Janne Peltokangas. Portrait by Leo Palmer.

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
I’m a material-based artist whose work is influenced by my Sámi roots and the nature of Lapland. I use traditional blacksmithing techniques to create work that is made from salvaged iron.

Many of our American readers may not be familiar with Sámi culture or homelands. Tell us about where you’re from.
I’m from northwest of Finnish Lapland, about 14 miles from the Swedish border. It’s the southern part of Sápmi land. My house and workshop are on an island that is surrounded by fells and rivers. My family has lived on this island for well over 500 years.

ash colored metal sculpture with many fine folds reminscent of a coiled root

LEFT: Janne Peltokangas, 2021, Sieidi No. 10, iron and silica, 18 x 27 x 24 cm. Photo courtesy of the artist. RIGHT: Janne Peltokangas, 2021, Sieidi Cikna No. 3, iron and silica, 3.4 x 1.4 x 5.3 cm. Photo courtesy of the artist.

sculptural metal ring in pentagon shape with folded crags and textured surface

In the Fall 2022 issue of American Craft, you say, “I use the plasticity of hot iron to create multilayered forms that relate to my Sámi ancestry and my home region’s flora.” Give us an example of how you do that.
I forge-weld stacks of iron together and forge them into a shape that follows the movement of iron throughout the process. Intuition and memories will tell me when I have reached the end and I can lay down my hammer. Pretty much by not thinking when I work.

What’s one of your go-to / favorite tools in your tool kit that the world should know about?
My forging hammer that I made for myself after the rehabilitation of my arm. I designed it for my measurements and style of working.

ash colored metal sculpture featuring fine folds in rectangular shape reminscent of a burned piece of wood

LEFT: Janne Peltokangas, 2019, Sieidi No. 1, iron and silica, 17 x 16 x 5 cm. Photo courtesy of the artist. RIGHT: Janne Peltokangas. Portrait by Leo Palmer.

portrait of janne peltokangas in studio holding hammer

If today you could have any craft artist’s work for your home or studio, whose would it be and why?
Dmitry Zhukov’s Personal Universe No. 5. It has beauty, depth, roughness, solitude, peace, and pure presence in it that I haven’t seen in any other artwork so far. Zhukov’s work is an endless source of inspiration and hope for me.

large rust colored metal sculpture featuring many twists and folds on view in park in winter time
large rust colored metal sculpture featuring many twists and folds on view in park in autumn time

Dmitry Zhukov, Personal Universe No. 5, 2016, steel, 2.5 m x 2.8 m. Photos courtesy of Nikola-Lenivets Art Park.

Which artists, craft exhibitions, or projects do you think the world should know about, and why?
Again, Dmitry Zhukov, Rick Smith, Zdzislaw Beksinski, and Urmas Lüüs. These people are elevating art and craft to new heights and showing what is possible if you dare to dance with your muse.

stack of four issues of american craft with the fall 2022 issue on top

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