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 after arthritis stopped her from quilting. When she discovered the proddy flower familiar to rug hookers, she turned new found skills into something different by using up her wool scraps, regardless of shape or size. Nan has made over 5,000 pieces, each a little different than the other.
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. Rugs were first used on top of the bed, like a quilt, but ended up on the dirt or stone floor in front of a fireplace or bed. Today, rug hookers hang their work on a wall, or roll them up and stow them under the bed until needed. Although a small mat can be hooked in less than 10 hours, a rug will take 100 hours or more to create — too valuable for daily use in a kitchen or entryway. Nan’s “Rooster for Ric”, shown right, was 200 hours of enjoyment.
“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
Hand-crafted floral pins are Nan’s specialty, and they make beautiful accessories for women of all ages. Customers are attracted to the bright colors, realistic look, soft textures. A typical buyer is confident, independent, makes her own fashion decisions to suit her individuality, and appreciates good workmanship.
Nan spontaneously hand cuts and shapes each flower from assorted scraps of thrift shop woven clothing (washed and dried) or US-milled woolen fabric. She dyes variegated hues or buys complex color combinations custom-dyed for her by specialists in the rug hooking field.
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.”
Nan is the author of Making Flowers from Wool, available from Stackpole Books or Amazon.com. The booklet encourages readers to be creative and not rely on patterns, which limit design potential. She shows how to easily stitch strips of any size into a basic shape, then scissor cut simple leaves and tweak them into something unique. She also describes how to make small accent flowers and buds from tiny fabric scraps.
Nan enjoys teaching her techniques in a hands-on, energetic style. From a kit supplied by Nan, students complete one flower, with accents and leaves, during the class. Nan also addresses what to look for at a thrift store and how to prepare old clothing for use in your creations.