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Issue Date: August 2013

Fair Play: Magic Carpets

Sibyl Osicka has been demonstrating her rug-making technique at the Cuyahoga County Fair for more than 30 years. Fairgoers can pull up a chair to watch her work  she always keeps a couple seats handy for visitors. 

I went to the Cuyahoga County Fair in the early 1980s, and I saw a photo album of completed rugs. I said, Oh, I could probably do that myself. I was already a professional upholsterer. For my fifth rug, I made a 7-by-9-foot Victorian-style rug, which is still on the floor in my living room. Wool wears like iron.

I'm known for fine detail, fine shading. After supper, I will sit down and hook in my family room on a floor frame, maybe from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. My thumbs are pretty well shot — I can't open up jars too well, because of holding the hook, holding the wool, the same repetition.

People at the fair, they're familiar with latch hooking. In rug hooking, you're working with 100 percent wool fabric. I buy it from the mill, dye it on two stoves in my basement and use a machine like a noodle machine to cut it into 12-inch strips.

I started demonstrating at the Cuyahoga County Fair in 1982, and I haven't missed a year. I'm selfish: I'm trying to educate the public. They're used to all art forms, except for this. A lot of people want to call it a silly craft, and that it is not. as told to Amber Matheson

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