Handweaver Linda Borntrager, with a trunk show of her vests, shawls, and jackets, is the Featured Artist Feb. 4-March 28, 2021, at the Lincoln City Cultural Center Fiber Arts Studio Gallery.
Inspirations for her hand woven textiles often come from nature where colors and light are so masterfully combined. Inspiration leads to selection of fiber and weave structure and then the vision of the possibilities for the end use of the woven fabric. The creativity of combining all these elements carries Borntrager through each step of the process. Remember, “one has to be warped to weave!”
“I weave fabrics to be worn every day, not just special occasions, and in the Pacific Northwest, days in every season. I design simple, classic garments to flatter real people with real shapes and real lives. These are amazing when tried on but not so much on hangers so I encourage every one to try on every garment. The proof will be in the smiles and surprises.”
Linda Borntrager’s focus is weaving fabric for garments and utilitarian pieces. Textiles have always captivated her interest. Already busy as a young mother and full time elementary teacher, she purchased her first loom at age 30. At the time, an isolated, rural Eastern Montana ranch home did not offer much for aspiring weavers so Handwoven Magazine became a great resource to explore many weaving drafts, fibers, patterns, and structures. Her children grew up thinking looms and spinning wheels were normal in every household.
At that time, she said, “I will never get involved in production weaving. I just want to weave for fun!” Well, never say “never.” The fun hobby weaving expanded into production weaving the year one of her former elementary students approached her about a possible summer job, as she wanted to begin saving money for college. That was the year “Weave Montana” was officially established with the purchase of a 60” 16 shaft AVL loom (think baby grand piano size) and she secured contracts from clothing and interior designers for custom yardage production.
Before long, several more AVL looms found themselves in her weaving studio (aka husband’s garage). Weaving was a summer-only enterprise as Borntrager was still teaching grades 4-8 at the local two room schoolhouse. Population density in Eastern Montana was low, perhaps only three people per square mile and out-numbered greatly by cattle and rabbits. Job opportunities were few and far between so Weave Montana filled a need and soon became a busy studio with up to five weavers during the summer months. Eventually, her husband realized the “little” weaving business could support the building of an actual weaving studio. In 2004 the construction of the 1200 square foot studio space began. Clearly, he realized it was the only way he would get the looms, weaving, fiber, and people out of his garage.
Gradually the “weaving season” began earlier in the spring and extended later into the fall to meet the demands of the designers and willingness of the weavers. The employees had changed from youth in the area to local ladies and even a mother-daughter team. During peak production, 100–120 yard warps were put on the looms and woven with a variety of wefts to change the colors and fabric, producing over 2500 yards of fine and medium weight fabric woven per year.
Although she fondly remember that era as the “golden age,” the weaving business, Weave Montana, has survived a major move; fluctuating contracts with a variety of designers and venues; seasons of illness and life’s challenges; and a wide range of employees. “All has added to the “texture” of this adventure.”
Now living in Oregon, a new custom designed weaving studio includes four looms (a 60” 16-shaft AVL, a 30” 24-shaft AVL, a David Louet and a Jane Louet), a couple of spinning wheels, vast quantities of fiber, raw wool, and all the other assorted necessary equipment to create original fabric and weavings. The warps are a bit shorter these days and each garment is one of a kind, but the enthusiasm and love of weaving continues.
Currently, with Weave Montana, Borntrager has developed her own fabrics, patterns, and garments and sells in boutiques, shows, events, and by special orders. She is showing a small sampling trunk show for sale in our Fiber Arts Studio Gallery.
The new Fiber Arts Studio Gallery is just opposite the main entrance from the Chessman Gallery inside the Lincoln City Cultural Center at 540 NE Hwy. 101, in Lincoln City. Lincoln City Cultural Center is open: 10 to 4, Thursday through Sunday. Masks and social distancing required in the building.