Where we have been and what we're doing today...

Steve, a native Bostonian, graduated from the Vesper George School of Art in Boston in 1950 just as the Korean War was getting underway. After a tour of duty with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Korea, he entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1952, where he majored in graphic design and painting, and graduated in 1956. He was awarded a Clarrissa Bartlett Traveling Scholarship to travel in Europe. On his return in 1957, he taught drawing and design at the Museum School in addition to working as an art director in an advertising agency. Happy, who graduated from Smith Collage with a degree in Art History, also worked at the Museum School and they married in 1959.
After their first daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1960, Happy started taking rug hooking lessons from Ethel Bruce, a Pearl McGowan teacher. Happy hooked several McGowan rugs before asking Steve to design a rug for baby Elizabeth. The Alice in Wonderland Rug was created. When Mrs. Bruce suggested that the rug design be sold to a pattern maker, Happy decided we should try to market it ourselves. That is how DiFranza Designs came to be. Our second daughter, Suzanne was born in 1963, and Happy, staying home with the girls, developed a cottage industry with our rug patterns. We have gradually added designs and started publishing catalogs. Over the years, Happy's hooked rugs have won prizes at a number of rug shows and exhibitions.

George Dorr of the Door Mill Store in Guild, NH was instrumental in introducing us to American Home Crafts magazine who featured our designs in a number of articles until it ceased publication in 1978. Steve stopped teaching but continued to work in advertising, devoting some time to painting as well as helping Happy with the rug business. Rug Hooking Magazine has featured DiFranza Designs in a number of issues. Stackpole Publishers asked us to write a book for the beginning rug hooker and "Hooking Fine Gifts" was published in 1992. It is now out of print, but check Alibris.com on the Internet in case someone still has it in stock. Designs from this book were featured in Good Housekeeping Magazine and in the Ann Davies / Emma Tennent book Hooked Rugs published by Museum Quilts, Inc. of London. Our rugs have also appeared in Jessie Turbaynes's Hooked Rug Treasury as well as other publications. Happy has written articles for The Magazine Antiques and taught rug hooking classes in Florida and Kansas as well as at the ATHA rug schools in Farmington and Madison, CT. She also has classes and workshops at our studio.

Steve retired from advertising in 1992 and is now in the DiFranza Design studio on a permanent basis. He is busy with their special custom rug design service, designing, printing and shipping patterns. But he still tries to keep up with his painting. His paintings have been exhibited with the American Federation of Art, The Boston Arts Festival, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and are in private collections in the United States and in Europe.

His volunteer work includes designing the graphics for the North Reading Center Village Historic District and flyers and brochures for the town library. He particularly enjoyed creating posters and program covers for the fall and spring productions of the high school drama club for over 25 years. He has turned over that project to the students, whom he feels, need the experience.

As you can see the DiFranzas keep themselves busy and look upon their trips abroad as a stimulus for "DiFRANZA DESIGNS" to create new and exciting rug hooking projects.

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©2010 DiFranza Designs, Inc.
25 BOW STREET, NORTH READING, MA 01864-2553
TeL. (978) 664-2034 E-mail: difranzadesigns@aol.com
www.difranzadesigns.com