Imagine having a studio so large that it could hold hundreds of pounds of cones of rug yarn AND bolts and bolts of fabric! Our featured fiber artist this week, Rose Ann Hunter, has JUST that kind of studio. She mixes a passion for history with a love of fabric, yarn, and embellishments to create one-of-a-kind historically inspired masterpieces. Rose Ann will teach an intriguing class at Fiber College this year that will honor our special guests from Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Let’s meet Rose Ann Hunter!
What does this year’s Fiber College theme “Do It Your Way!” mean to you from your perspective as a fiber artist and teacher?
I have always done it my way, starting back in Junior High School. I never use a pattern. I design something in my mind, pick up yarn and knitting needles and a crochet hook and off I go to work on and complete a project.
How did you decide to become an artist?
I decided to become an artist when I realized my work was really different and I wanted to share it. I have been teaching at large conferences, guilds, and museums and have enjoyed that aha moment with all the ladies, something so simple but so powerful in the finished project.
How do you develop your own style? What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
I develop my own style by studying the past. For the last 10 years my work has been traditional rug making 1790 to 1850. I like to take those techniques and bring them forward to present day to create something really different. Old becomes new again. I like to take an historic technique and push myself to make it my own and create something useful.
How does your early work differ from what you are doing now? How do you imagine your work might change in the next five years?
My early work differs because now I am combining techniques you wouldn’t have thought possible to get dramatic results. I mix knitting with sewn stitches and set my work on edge. I have combined rug hooking with many other stitches like yarn sewing, and several forms of shirring to make my work textural. Over the coming years, by doing more research into the past, my work should continue to have depth and a lot more definition.
Tell us about a proud moment you’ve had as a result of your students’ efforts.
I give my students an idea to run with and they come up with ways of manipulating knitting that I have never thought of and I actually learn from them.
You’ve just run into an old friend from high school. How do you answer the question, “What do YOU do?”
I do traditional rug making 1790 to 1850 which are rugs that are knitted, crocheted, or sewn or a combination of techniques to create a ewenique piece.
As an instructor, what would be the best advice you could give to a student?
Be passionate about what you do.
Who has had the greatest influence on your work as an artist?
Valentina Devine and Kathryn Alexander and others who think totally out of the box.
Tell us about your studio space and how you work.
My studio space is quite large. I have hundreds of pounds of cones of rug yarns in shades of many deep colors, bolts and bolts of woolen fabric of different weights that I use for the shirred rugs, and a lot of canvas for laying out hooked rugs mostly in primitive designs. My projects tend to take over the house and I have a space to teach at home base as well.
How do you ensure plenty of time to be an artist?
You need to prioritize your day; I don’t feel complete if I can’t be creative. Currently, I am trying to set aside time to work on a presentation show of my body of work. That has become a goal for me.
What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned as a fiber artist?
How relaxing a project can be, and when people say, ‘Oh my, so much work!’….It is not at all; it is a pleasure.
What’s the most important thing that you want potential students to know about you?
That my classes are light and fun, and there is no right and no wrong. The best way to do something is your way. The tools I give you make your creativity go way beyond where you ever thought it would.