Jennifer describes herself as a “teacher of traditional appliqué and reproduction quilts”. She completed the Advanced Commercial Needlework Diploma with a distinction in 1992 at Dover Heights TAFE. This was followed by a Certificate 4 of Fine Arts at the then Sydney School of Colour and Design. Further study, via embroidery and quilting classes, have been inspirational to Jennifer, as has her extensive library of books she has gathered over the years. “I have sewn all my life, learning from my mother, and I don't think I can remember any time I have not had a needle and thread or knitting needles and wool in my hands,” she says.
Jennifer is greatly inspired by her love of nature and reuses fabrics in her work, giving it that special something. After her move from the Southern Highlands to NSW’s south coast, she expects her work will change from the country and bush, with all the grasses and colours, to the water’s edge, sea life, textures in the sand created by the waves, and rock pools. “I think my colour palette will reflect nature, the subtle changes in the sand, yet the depth of colour in the sea. I plan to use found objects and recycled textiles. I found some baby wraps and clothing while cleaning out mum’s glory box so I will see where they take me. The fabrics just need to be stitched and repaired as they are so old and frail with a story to tell.”
Jennifer's stash of fabrics is sorted into reproductions, brights, commercial prints and hand-dyed, including her own rust and eco-dyed fabrics. There are about six boxes of machine threads sorted into colourways to make it easier to find, although she stores some of her favourite basics in a dish next to her machine. “My hand-embroidery threads — the Stranded — are in boxes in no order but I have boxes of colour ranges of linens, wools, silks, cottons etc — more than I will ever be able to use. Then there are bags and bags of tapestry wools — I keep saying I'm going to get rid of them but the minute I do I will find a use for them!”
Nowadays Jennifer is enjoying using old fabrics and clothes as they have their own story to tell and they are softer to stitch. She is also a keen student of Japanese Boro and this has been an important influence in her life. “I just love the way the Japanese didn't waste fabric, repaired and hand-stitched out of necessity. My love of hand-stitching allows me to add lots of smaller pieces of fabric that would normally be thrown away. The fabric just seems to tell me where to stitch, and I get into a meditative state when stitching with no rules. Boro style has given me so many ideas and unlimited inspiration, and I love watching students understanding and loving the process.”