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Hereford Artisan Honored by Early American Life Magazine
Written by Gabby Glinsky Correspondent

The hand of Kay Leisey works meticulously at weaving strips of cut wool into the backing material of a rug. The technique she uses dates back to the 1850.

        Local artisan Kay Leisey, owner of Homespun Woolens in Hereford, was listed in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts in Early American Life magazine.

        Leisey, a crafter of traditional wool hooked rugs, has been crafting rugs for 13 years; creating rugs ranging anywhere in size from a foot wide to about four feet wide. Her largest piece, being a bed runner rug that took almost a year to complete. Leisey draws inspiration out of traditional pieces and incorporates her own "whimsical" style.

        The Directory of Traditional American Crafts, run by a panel of national experts, is a special listing of artists using traditional methods to make items ranging from textiles, to furniture and weapons. The list allows museums, historians and producers find items that would work with their production or venue. Leisey shared that she submitted several photos of her artwork.

        "The judges look for authentic design and workmanship, whether the piece is a faithful reproduction or the artisan's interpretation of period style," said Tess Rosch, publisher of Early American Life. "Scholarship, as well as use of period tools and techniques, is particularly valued in this competition."

        "It's a big deal to make it onto the directory," Leisey stated on the Directory's high standards. "They are very choosey about who makes it."

        Leisey hopes that the nomination promotes her business and gives her more opportunities to teach.

        Some of Leisey's other work was previously featured in Early American Life; a pattern for a 3D wool sheep was placed in the 2015 Christmas Edition.

        Before retiring to her crafting career, Leisey worked for the County of Berks in Adult Probation and for Green Mill Parks and Recreation Department. Now Leisey teaches classes at Homespun and often travels to teach hooked rug classes and attend artisan guild events. She will soon be traveling to Cape May to teach.

         Leisey, a fan of history, enjoys promoting her hobby through the rich history surrounding her craft and the 1860 renowned building where she established her shop. She upkeeps the building's interior from when it was a restaurant.

        Leisey stated that the rug hooking technique started in 1850 by a man who traveled around New England selling rug patterns. Women used to cut up old wool clothing to create the rugs.

        Along with her created rugs, Leisey sells hooked rug kits and sewing antiques in her shop. The hooked rug kits, with pre-cut wool and a handmade pattern, allows interested crafters to explore the traditional technique.

        "To me, it's all about making things with your hands and being able to use them in your home," Leisey stated on why she promotes her hobby to others.

        Homespun is located on Star Road in Hereford. The shop is open from Thursday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

        The August 2016 issue of Early American Life, on newsstands June 21, lists all of the artisans selected for the Directory as well as contact information for those wanting to own their work.






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