Joseph Mahoskey's pastime is weaving piecework rugs on a pedal-driven loom in the garage of his split-level home in Loyalsock Township. He works in a tradition practiced by his father for decades.
"My father worked at Morse Run coal mine," Mahoskey said. "The exposure went off and he was blinded. He spent two months in the hospital. When he came home, they got the loom."
After the 1950 accident, Mahoskey's parents worked out a system so that his father could produce the rugs. His mother acquired the material and planned each piece. His father did the weaving.
"By feeling, he could tell if any of the strings were broken," said Joseph, demonstrating how one would weave without sight on his own loom.
After a heart attack in 1980, Mahoskey retired from Avco Lycoming, now Textron. He then bought his own loom from Orco, a company based in Lima, Ohio.
"Once I ordered it I waited a month for it," Mahoskey said.
The weaving takes a great deal of sensitivity and time. The weaver pulls several dozen strings of "warp" from a spool and attaches them to the loom at a high tension.
Then the weaver inserts strips of material by hand between the warp strings. Then he uses a "shuttle" to bring across the "werf," the string perpendicular to the warp that secures the material into the rug.
"If the (warp strings) break, you have to tie them together again," Mahoskey said. "Then you have to sew them over."
Much of the challenge, though, is in acquiring the material. Warp has become more expensive in recent years, said Mahoskey.
Mahoskey often goes to yard sales to find his material. He uses wool, polyester and denim, or whatever else he can find.
"Those old folks, they have a lot of rags around," he said. "But they don't always want to give them up."
"The polyester is nice because they wash well. Wool you have to watch out with, but they do feel nice."
When Mahoskey's wife, Betty, worked at Trimtex in downtown Williamsport, she often acquired warp for him from the braiding factory.
Many of his rugs have long fringes on the end, where the strings are loose. These require plenty of knotting.
"When it's cold in the winter and you have nothing else to do, you're tying fringes," said Mahoskey.
Mahoskey has had steady customers over the years, although his craft has never become a full-time profession.
"There's a lady in Blossburg who would buy them and use them and give them away as gifts," Mahoskey said. "She had 10 kids, so they used a lot; I'd take 16 or 18 of them up there and she'll buy them all. She still delivers the Sun-Gazette up there."
He follows no special pattern in making his rugs, but he will take orders, Mahoskey said.
"I used to deliver them. Sometimes I just make a crazy carpet, depending on what I have."
"I don't do as many as I used to," said Mahoskey, standing in a basement utility room with rugs stacked waist-high.
The inclination for artistic creation was passed down to the Mahoskeys' son, Mark, who is an artist and professor at Kutztown University.
Mark has had shows in New York City and Philadelphia, and several of his paintings hang in wooden handcrafted frames in Joseph and Betty's home.