St. Louis "hookers" with a fondness for presidents

By Heidi Glaus

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - In a rather colorful basement on "The Hill," you'll find two of the busiest hookers in the country.

"My husband loves to tell people I'm a hooker," Nola Heidbreder explains.

No, they're not the illegal kind, but rather, rug hookers.

"Dwight Eisenhower, I was not looking forward to doing him," Heidbreder said.

They're women with a rather passionate relationship with the presidents.

"Really loved Reagan, enjoyed him a lot," Heidbreder said.

All 44 of them.

"I don't think people thought we were going to get it done, but we did," said Heidbreder's sister and partner in crime, Linda Pietz.

"I started hooking them the end of October 2012. I finished the last president July 3rd of 2013," Heidbreder said.

They're not just portraits of the men, but a picture that tells you a little bit about the person.

"There's different things like hobbies, food and pets. For example Calvin Coolidge had two raccoons, and believe it or not, they ran through the White House," Pietz said.

Pietz spent hours researching from her home in California.

"Two of our presidents had alligators. Benjamin Harrison had two pet opossums," Pietz said.

She then drew up the patterns and sent them to her sister here in St. Louis who spent about 12 hours a day tugging and trying to mix up the perfect skin tones, eye color and whatever else the 16 by 20 pieces called for.

"So I came up with a lot of dye recipes," Heidbreder said.

All of which the women share in a book that goes hand in hand with the rugs because this is more than a project, it's their life.

"This is an article I wrote on kaleidoscope rugs," Pietz said.

Both of these woman have made fiber art their career which means they have hundreds of pieces in their future. Classes to teach, articles to publish, but after this project they will always have strong ties to the presidents.

The presidential portraits are making their debut this week at Sauder Village, a living history museum in Archbold, Ohio.

To learn more about the classes they teachor patterns they sell check out the related link.


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