Jan French is fiber artist and member of Triangle Weavers Guild currently weaving small hand woven strips and collaborating with others on larger woven projects in the Triangle.
Although she has no art degrees, she incorporates experience in other media learned from local artists including color theory from watercolor painting, weaving vessels and rigid structures from basketry, as well as the twining of grasses and other short materials. She was formally trained in landscape architecture, ecology and environmental issues, receiving graduate degrees at Duke and NCSU School of Design. She often seeks out and experiments with the wide range or natural fibers as well as discarded materials. While her son was in school she learned traditional techniques of wool, cotton and flax fiber preparation, spinning, needle felting, wet felting, and dyeing which has enabled her to make and alter fibers. As her one friend says, she weaves “that which can be woven.”
French is currently weaving a series of small pieces shown below, entitled New Business Casual: Introducing Novelty to a Structure, all woven on handmade rigid heddle loom with a backstrap that fits in her pocket! Each piece, executed in plain weave over a week, records in time the varying of the fiber color and texture as well as the tension from the backstrap and pulling tension of each pick. The weaver rarely uses large quantities of any single yarn preferring to cull from nature, mixed bags of fibers, leftovers from other projects, and trash diverted from the landfill. The warp persists until the end holding together the overall composition of these seemingly random elements.
Understanding the duration of weaving something large, French enlists the help of others while teaching and building of connections to others. Her collaborative works capture the energy and dexterity of her students.