Nan Loncharich applies skills learned from many needle arts, crafts, and painting to working with wool, be it hooking or making flowers. She began rug hooking when arthritis stopped her from quilting, releasing her from the anxiety of failing to get perfectly matched corners aligning hundreds of fabric squares. When she discovered the proddy flower, she turned new found skills into something different: creating flowers with hand-dyed scraps of wool clothing. Nan has made over 5,000 pieces, each a little different than the other.
Nan’s Rug Hooking
Since the 18th century, people cut long, narrow strips from tattered wool clothing, and looped them through heavy burlap from coffee and grain bags to make hooked rugs. Nan’s parents grew up during the Depression and the family routinely re-purposed clothing for rags and braided rugs. As a child, rolling fabric strips into balls kept Nan busy and happy during evenings before the invention of television.
Nan’s favorite pastime continues to be doing something useful — and creative — with her hands. Rather than using a tiny quilting needle for hand-stitched quilts, her hands are now better suited to grasping a thick rug hook. And, since hooked rugs are regarded as primitive, she can create informal designs without getting corners perfectly straight!
“A thick rug hook is comfortable to hold in my hand, and when I learned how easy it is to work with woven woolen fabrics, my creativity just went into high gear.”
Nan’s Handcrafted Wool Flowers
Nan spontaneously hand cuts and shapes each flower from assorted scraps of thrift shop woven clothing. She accents the flowers with buttons, creates buds from knots, rolls flower centers from seam allowances. . . making every flower different in its own way.
Nan is at work in her studio daily, making flower pins to supply Pittsburgh area museums and specialty shops. She also regularly appears at area fiber and craft festivals, and teaches at a local community college.
“I’ve adapted many techniques learned from the past to flower-making. I especially enjoy finding vintage fabrics in thrift shops because the vintage fabrics are so soft to work with once they’ve been cleaned and felted. I also buy new yardage from a U.S. mill to dye into great colors.”