I first became aware of Mary Jane when while vacationing in Sarasota last winter. I opened one of the national knitting magazines and saw a tam that made my fingers itch…the colors were superb and I needed one of my own…and then I saw that the designer was from a town just 15 minutes from Fiber College in Maine.
But cold call a published designer? It took forever to get my nerve up to even try. Long story short, what a waste of worry…Mary Jane is warm, funny, quirky and oh so very human! She’s had a wide background in art and knows about color, photography, design and knitting. There were so many classes she could teach we had trouble narrowing down the possibilities but finally we decided that her understanding of photography and textiles made her class, Photographing Your Work, the perfect choice and the students who spend time with her will consider themselves very lucky. At the moment she has 4 spaces left in her class.
Mary Jane answered our interview questions the other day…
1. We know that interest in textiles and fibers evolve over time. What is your currant passion? Did you start directly with this form of the art or did you progress through a series of interests? I always messed around with fiber arts, from the very earliest age making doll clothes, later embroidering my overalls in high school, making clothes for my college projects instead of writing papers or painting, I really learned to knit during a year in Santa Barabara after college, my jobs have included painting silk for Oscar de la Renta and studio manager for Elizabeth Eakins a noted rug maker, whose rugs at that time were all hand woven or hooked in the NYC area. Photography is a recent vocation for me, though I have for many years been behind the camera styling. I think my awareness of the process of making a textile helps determine the way I compose a picture of it.
2. What or who fired your initial flames of artistry? My mom was an art major in college as was my grandmother so I continued the legacy!
3. Where do you find your inspiration? Travel, gardens, museums, children’s paintings…Inspiration for me is everywhere! The commute to work is a big one, the colors and textures I see by the side of the road! The Quilts of Gee’s Bend books were big influence for some projects last year. On Photography, I’m constantly analyzing photographs to understand what it is that makes me like them, the composition, color,
clarity or lack of clarity? Some of my favorites are
4. What’s your biggest challenge? Time, studio space, money, recognition… For me the biggest challenge is finding the time to do my own work. I’m fortunate to work in the field of photography with a job that I love. I only wish there were more hours in day
5. What’s the biggest payoff? For me it is the process, the enjoyment of doing. I love to knit and I love to take pictures. I love to analyze and change an idea to make something completely different.
6. 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? Ha! definitely moments of anxiety! I feel like I’m in over my head and want to quit but don’t dare. Later I realize I was worried about nothing. I very often hate the thing I’ve just made, but leave it alone for a while and when I come back to it I like it.
8. What best describes your personal learning style? Your personal teaching style? I feel like I’m learning all the time. I really don’t know my learning style…plunge right in perhaps? Teaching, I like to present the ideas, and ask questions to understand my students a little and tailor my guidance to their needs.
9. What would a perfect fiber shop look like? Do you have any favorite haunts that come close? Well I love Helen’s yarn shop in Belfast. I suppose if you crossed it with Chases with some big comfy couches it would be about perfect!
10. How will those who wander through the Fiber College grounds best recognize you? Hmmmm, I’ll be walking fast and then stopping short if I think I see a cool image to take a picture of!
11. In a perfect world, how would you spend your time? Where would your passions take you if there were no restraints? I would knit and draw and take pictures, right at home, here in Maine. I’d like to travel to my hometown Seattle once a year and maybe visit somewhere exotic like the Shetland Islands and South America both noted for traditional knitting.