COLUMBIANA, Ohio – The looms in Linda Ann Marie Bertanzetti’s weaving studio stand in quiet rows. Colorful spools and shuttles of warp are stored around the room and bright fabrics are stacked in the corner. Each loom is warped, ready to play its in role in the creation of a new rug.
Bertanzetti is the only weaver in the room, but it’s easy to imagine the clacks and bangs of all 40 looms, the way they would’ve sounded 100 years ago with a skilled weaver in every seat.
Each loom in the room is different and each one has been restored to working condition. On these looms, Bertanzetti has created thousands of rugs, table runners, bath mats, full-stair runners and bench covers.
In her genes. Weaving runs in Bertanzetti’s blood. Her grandfather was a basket maker and some of her father’s relatives worked in English woolen mills as spinners and weavers.
Bertanzetti started weaving in the mid-1980s after moving to a farm in Columbiana County. While taking a workshop on basket weaving, she heard her classmates talking about weaving looms.
“It just really spurred my interest,” she said.
It took the weaver a lot of phone calls and even more patience to find that first loom, but once she did, it wasn’t long until she realized she needed another.
“I knew I needed a second one because I wanted a different color,” she said. “Then I needed another one because I wanted a different width.”
Bertanzetti gleaned most of her weaving knowledge from books and, of course, other weavers.
“You just kind of learn by doing,” she said. “You learn the basics, then you learn the tricks.”
And it’s those tricks that make a weaver’s work unique.
“Everybody’s got their own techniques; nobody weaves the same,” the weaver said.
Wool. Bertanzetti can make a rug from any kind of material, but she likes working with wool the most because of its vivid colors.
“There’s just nothing like a natural fiber,” she said.
Bertanzetti’s enthusiasm for wool seems inherent if you look at her initials, which she used to name her business – LAMB Handwoven Rugs.
Lots of looms. As Bertanzetti’s craft grew, so did her collection of looms.
“It got more and more interesting as I started getting things,” she said.
Now, Bertanzetti is a loom rescuer of sorts, often salvaging old looms from barns, basements, attics and auctions.
Her husband, Ralph, restores every loom and the couple recently constructed a building to house the loom museum and sales office on their farm.
Bertanzetti has no trouble tracking down looms now. In fact, they track her down.
“They just kind of seem to find their way to me,” she said.
While the weaving is the best part, according to Bertanzetti, the most important part of her work is really the restoration.
“By restoring them, they’re going to be around for another 100 years,” she said.
Dream come true. Since retiring from her job as a supervisor at GMAC nine years ago, Bertanzetti has been able to do what she’s always wanted. She weaves every day, making custom orders and general pieces for her store.
Bertanzetti has a variety of looms, some of which were made more than 100 years ago. Her 40 loom widths range from 12 to 100 inches and have two to eight harnesses. Some have treadles, some don’t. Some have center cogs and some have automatic advances. One is electric, the others aren’t. One needs two weavers to operate, the rest need just one. Some are older and some are newer.
But for Bertanzetti, it’s not the kind of loom or the type of material. Weaving is a way to do something for others, a way to share her passion.
“I love to do the weaving,” she said. “That’s my main thing, is to do what someone else wants.”
Part of history. When she’s at her looms, Bertanzetti often thinks of the weavers who were there before her, creating many of the same pieces Bertanzetti makes today. She also thinks about the weavers who will come after her and she knows she’s only part of a loom’s history.
But for now, the looms stand in their quiet rows, one lone weaver working steadily and the clack of a single loom echoing around the studio.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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