“After a lifetime of pursuing various art and craft media, I started rug hooking in 2004 and found my passion. I began by doing portraits of family pets, and developed a style which has been dubbed ‘painting with wool,’ and which I call ‘whimsical reality.’ I am drawn to the aliveness of faces, whether animals or people, but also occasionally do seascapes and florals to reflect the beauty of the natural world which Maine living offers. I hand dye and hand cut my wool, utilizing various widths and textures to give my pieces a unique tactile quality. I live on a secluded salt cove near Popham Beach, where I love to walk and reflect. I occasionally teach in my studio and at Halcyon Yarn, and am very happy being part of the Maine fiber art community.”—Liz Stoyko 1952-2020
Elizabeth Emily (Cox) Stoyko—called “Liz” by family and friends—was born in April of 1952 in Reading, PA. She was only 67 when she passed in February of 2020 (living in PA at the time), and is sorely missed by her fellow hooking friends and family.
Liz hooked well-known historical figures and artists into large colorful pillows which became immensely popular at select shops in both Kansas and in Maine. In March-April 2014, she had a show at Maine Fiberarts called “Town and Country Hooked Rugs” with three other hooking artists: Anne Cox, Roslyn Logsdon, and Mary Ann Schwarcz. Her pillows were also featured in Holiday Exhibitions in 2014, and 2015.
When we selected Maine fiber artists who are no longer with us to commemorate, as part of the story of Maine fiber art during the past half century, many owners of Liz’s pillows loaned their pillows to be photographed for this remembrance page of Liz’s work.
On April 8, 2022, Christine Macchi sat down with two hooked rug makers—Judy Wylie and Pamela Riml of Maine—to reminisce. Here’s how they remembered Liz:
“She would buy gobs of wool and fill her trunk with yarn at Fiber Frolic.”
“She once purchased a Persian lamb coat so that she could make something interesting from the collar.”
“She enjoyed antique hunting, and had a fantastic interest in interior design.”
Judy remembers Liz as “talented, unassuming, special and very creative.” Says Judy, “She had a lot of antiques in her home and loved to travel. She was an amazing draftsman, creating all original designs for her rugs and pillows. She had an acute interest in politics and government, having opinion letters published eleven times in the Wall Street Journal. She was also a trained vocalist, training at Peabody Conservatory and singing soprano in operas. She was a professional macramé artist during the 70’s. She usually hooked at home. While she lived in Phippsburg, we loved walking together on Popham Beach.”
Pamela first saw some of her hooked portrait pillows in Rockland and “flipped out.” She found out who Liz was and immediately called to see if she could take lessons from her, but Liz was not interested in teaching at the time. Eventually, Liz did teach classes at Halcyon Yarn in Bath, Maine.
Pam and Liz became involved in the Wiscasset Rug Hooking Group (now a “fiber art group” profiled on https://www.mainefiberfolio.com/wiscasset-fiber-group/ ) and shared tips and techniques. Pam remembers Liz hosting craftmaking groups at her home which were a lot of fun. She always cooked and served fantastic meals. At Christmastime, Liz would gather ferns, pinecones, boughs, and ribbon for the group to make wreaths. Pam and Liz often dyed wool together, not using any formulas, nor measurements. They would dip a paper towel into the vat to test the color, though the colors could never be replicated.
Throughout her life, Liz lived in Baltimore, MD; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Richmond, VA; and Harrison, Stockton Springs and Phippsburg, ME. It was while she lived in Stockton Springs and Judy Wylie lived in Castine that the two came to know each other. They sometimes traveled to hooked rug meetings together. Elizabeth Stoyko is survived by her husband William Stoyko and her two daughters: Greta Flothmeier of Collegeville, PA and Kira Stoyko of Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Her unique style of hooking may well be studied and emulated by others.