Jan started braiding in 1995, taking a beginner class from a local and crafted braider Rita jane Davis. Rita, well known in the New England arts and crafts league, became her mentor and wonderful friend. It was Rita’s passion for braiding that encouraged her students to enter their rugs in the Deerfield Fair. She loved the competition of rug braiders between Maine and New Hampshire back in the day. Jan entered her first student rug, a 2X3ft oval, and was awarded a red ribbon in 1996. She became hooked on braiding and it is still her favorite craft. Her second rug was a 7-foot round, of which she won a blue ribbon and best of show in 1997 at the Deerfield Fair.
Jan’s braiding became a passion, curious and excited about patterns, designs, colors and the history of braiding, the dwindling wool yardage supply with the impact on the look of braided rugs today and the shift from function to art, craft designs and innovations with multiple braid strands. Jan has made many rugs big and small, pet beds, utility baskets, trivets, pocketbooks, tote bags, table runners, doll house miniatures and hearts, entering in the Deerfield Fair every year. She has received many blue-ribbon awards, Best of Show, Best teacher, People’s choice and a special award for her equine saddle pad.
Like Rita did, Jan loves to share her braiding, transitioning into teaching. She assisted with some of Rita’s presentations and demonstrations, and started dabbling with informal teaching out of her home in 1998. Classes became more organized, always on Tuesday evenings, all year long. As more students started, more stayed on, spilling into other rooms with a pot of coffee going. Jan’s home outgrew all the people and rugs, so Tuesday night braiding began meeting at the Northwood Community Center, in Northwood NH. Out of the group of students, including Jan, we became founding members of The Braiders of the Lost Art braiding guild formed in 2015. The guild name was registered with the state of New Hampshire in 2016. The guild’s mission is to share the camaraderie to keep this beautiful craft alive, welcoming anyone to join. Jan herself, the guild members and group of braiders have been featured in the New Hampshire To Do magazine in 2008. The Manchester Union Leader at Home Section January 2010.
Jan did a presentation on the history of rug braiding at the Northwood NH Historical Society, demonstrated at Canterbury’s Shaker Village Wool Days, taught at Concord NH School District community education from 2008-2011. She continues to teach Tuesday evenings at the Northwood Community Center.
Jan lives in an antique cape home that inspired her to start making rugs, continues to work as a Physical Therapist in Pelvic health and enjoys tending to her 6 acres of trails behind her house. She would love to compile current and future research into a book that coordinates the history of wool and present textile availability, with the impact on rug design past and present.