Interview with Instructor Janet Conner

Janice Conner is a talented instructor who’s classes have sold out each year she has taught at the College.  The most frequent comments we receive on the instructor evaluations are: “fun!” “enthusiastic, gifted and so very patient!” “makes things so clear and inspires me to do more and look at the world differently.”

This year she will be teaching Penny Rugs on Friday at 2:00PM and Hooked Rugs on Saturday at 12:30.  We sent her a set of basic interview questions, and Janet responded:

 

  1. We know that interest in textiles and fibers evolve over time.  What is your current passion? Rug Hooking, penny rugs and spinning, knitting, punch needle hooking–anything with wool! Did you start directly with this form of the art or did you progress through a series of interests? I love all kinds of art, art history and travel. Working with wool, and restoring antique rugs combine all my interests…
  2. What or who fired your initial flames of artistry?

In 1982, I inherited my husband’s great uncle Ralph’s rug hooking tools, wools and patterns.  While i have never hooked any of his printed patterns, preferring to design my own, I certainly have been inspired by all his heirloom wool fabrics.  Rug hooking combines all my skills: drawing and painting, art history and Americana, folk art and design.

 

  1. Where do you find your inspiration?  Travel, gardens, museums, children’s paintings…My most consistent source of inspiration is antique hooked rugs.  I study all the publications, museum collections and also the beautiful antique pieces that i restore for museums and private collections.  I also use images from trips–see my 2008 Irish series, and my 2007 Van Gogh pieces, following trips to Holland and Ireland.
  2. What’s your biggest challenge?  Time, studio space, money, recognition…All of the above! but overall, I feel very lucky to have a chance to do what I really love, and to share my skills through teaching and inspiring others.
  3. What’s the biggest payoff?

I am thrilled when I can interpret someone’s dreams and images in custom designed pieces, when i can bring a tired and broken antique rug back to life, and most of all, when i can get beginners to try rug hooking and end up LOVING it!

 

  1. Emotions are a major driver of our passions…does your art make you satisfied from the moment you start or are there moments of anxiety as the process evolves…do you see the finished product differently as time passes? My favorite piece is usually the one I have just finished. I always move through periods of doubt and frustration during the process.
  2. What best describes your personal learning style? I need to usually skip the directions and simply practice with my own hands. I learn best independently. Your personal teaching style? Because of my 30yr career as an elementary art teacher, I am  able to present material quickly and easily, using every different learning modality: spoken, written, experiential…I use diagrams, analogies and demonstrations.  Ninety percent of every class is simply hands on hooking.  Every student is successful!
  3. What would a perfect fiber shop look like? In my home, filled with wool, lots of snacks around, coffee pot going, hundreds of books and pictures and comfortable chairs under good lights! Do you have any favorite haunts that come close? Searsport Rug Hooking.
  4. How will those who wander through the Fiber College grounds best recognize you? I will be laughing and giggling with my students and surrounded by messy piles of beautiful wool.
  5. In a perfect world, how would you spend your time?  I would simply have MORE time.  Where would your passions take you if there were no restraints? Every year, I would rent a different villa somewhere on some ocean, and invite all my fiber friends to study, work, sight-see, and eat great meals together.

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