Seacoast Ruggers of York Maine: Part I

Notes on March 2022 meeting

Seacoast Ruggers has been meeting for over 50 years, most recently at the Fellowship Hall of the First Parish Congregational Church in York. The group has 32 members, with many from Maine but also a few from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. On March 16, 2022, they held their first meeting since a two-year seclusion for the Covid-19 pandemic with about 20 in attendance. Christine was invited to come to the meeting to learn about the group, to photograph rugs brought in by members, and to interview some of the rug makers. She and member rug hooker, Jane Sittnick took the following notes while attempting to photograph several of the 80-100 rugs that members brought in that day.

Peg Santora, South Berwick has been hooking since 2006. She learned her skills from teachers and from workshops and prefers to work with wide strips of torn wool. She finds that floor rugs last really well, and has been cleaning hers in the washing machine. Peg believes that rug hooking has changed over the years as wool has become more scarce and more expensive, yet she believes the craft has grown in popularity. She is pictured hooking the bright red poppies of “Summer Garden,” a pattern designed by Ania Knap.

Jeni Nunnally is a very experienced rug maker, hooking since 2002. She likes the social aspects of hooking with a group and enjoys getting away for weekends occasionally. She has presented work at Portsmouth Library, Bowdoin College, Green Mountain Rug Show, Tin Pedlars and at local fairs and festivals. One of her rugs exhibited during the 1990’s was removed from a gallery because it depicted three people of color. In 2011, her piece “Two Roosters” was given an award at a Green Mountain Rug Hooking Show. Pictured are several of Jeni’s rugs, along with one of a group of women at a retreat hooking rugs in their pajamas.

Faith Webster started hooking in 1985 following her grandmother, Velma Matthews Talpey. Faith brought to the meeting one of her grandmother’s rugs from 1925. Faith waited until the “kids were out of high school” before getting serious about her craft. Her rugs at the meeting included: “Green Woman,” created in the Proddy technique (2021), “Green Man” (1990’s); “The Fish House,” depicting her father’s boat; and “History of the Town of York, Maine,” her original design showing York places with place names inscribed in each border.

Sheila Kilgore has been hooking since about 2014-15. She showed us four pieces: “Owl,” “Cape Elizabeth,” a Santa pillow, and “Fall Leaf.”

Janis Ricker is a very accomplished rug maker hooking since about 2004. She likes to retrace old patterns on linen canvas. Similar to several others in the group, Janis works on “Rescue Rugs”—old rugs that have been partially-finished but abandoned. Reclaiming the rugs involves the skills of matching materials, dyeing wools, and working in the style of the original maker. Janis also designs her own scenes and showed us “Ricker Lobster Company, 2016,” depicting 11 vignettes of her family’s commercial lobster business. The rug was created in a #3-cut to allow for shading and fine detail, and shows a boat, the pound, shore life, lobster pots, a lighthouse, beach roses and a blue lobster (which her husband once caught). “Ocean Swells” was created under the tutelage of her mentor Lois Dugal. Says Janis, “We could hardly breathe when Lois passed away.” Janis often includes a small hummingbird as her signature in her work.

Pat Laska showed “Woman Stringing Peppers,” (Sara Giuliani, designer); “Circle Pocketbook,” (with a label saying, ‘This took forever’); and a three-dimensional stuffed red heart.

Diane Luszcz has been hooking since 2007 and showed an amazing array of beautifully-accomplished rugs. She has designed several pieces of her own and has several very large rugs at home on the floor. She enjoys sewing, dyeing, hooking and smocking, and when asked which was her favorite medium, declined to choose. Diane has had five rugs exhibited at the international Rug Hooking Show at Sauder Village. Her large floral white background rug received “Viewers’ Choice” at Sauder Village in 2013. This amazing heirloom piece (#4-cut) has remained on her bedroom floor for ten years and is still in flawless condition. She also showed us “Lady and Unicorn,” (Happy Difranza, designer); “Sheep and Flowers,” (Carla Girard, designer); and “Owls,” (David Calchutt, designer, taken, with permission, from one of his paintings but done in original colors by Diane that David later saw and admired.”

2 thoughts on “Seacoast Ruggers of York Maine: Part I”

  1. As always, I am stunned by the creativity and beauty in hooked rugs. Christine Macchi has captured wonderful images of just a fraction of the rugs she saw.

    Thank you to Maine Fiberarts for featuring the many artists who work in fiber and live in the beautiful state of Maine!

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  2. Thank-you for such wonderful write up and pictures. As a new club member I learned so much about those I admire. The group is a great inspiration to me. A joy to see so many beautiful works of art just from the York Area.

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