Hand-weaver Linda Borntrager, with a trunk show of her vests, shawls and jackets, is the featured artist from now through March 28 at the Lincoln City Cultural Center Fiber Arts Studio Gallery.
Inspirations for Borntrager’s 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.
“I weave fabrics to be worn every day, not just special occasions, and in the Pacific Northwest, days in every season,” she said. “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.”
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 school 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.” But that fun hobby 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-inch 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. Eventually, her husband realized the “little” weaving business could support the building of an actual weaving studio. In 2004, the construction of a 1,200-square-foot studio space began.
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 more than 2,500 yards of fine and medium weight fabric woven per year.
Although she fondly remembers 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,” Borntrager said.
Now living in Oregon, 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 the 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 Highway 101. The cultural center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Masks and social distancing are required in the building.