Woman's skill weaves a story of American cottage industry
Many of the looms were manufactured when weaving was a popular cottage industry.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
EAST FAIRFIELD -- A basket-weaving class at Hiram College in the late 1980s led Linda Bertanzetti to buy her first loom.
She now has 40 -- and counting.
"There's nothing like this anywhere," Bertanzetti said of her Fairfield Township weaving studio. "Nobody else is this crazy."
After buying her initial loom, she learned to weave from friends and by reading many books on the subject. Developing her skills leads to a desire for looms of different models and sizes, she said.
Many of her looms and antique weaving implements simply find their way to her.
"People just call me when they see something they think I'd want," she said.
Many of the looms were manufactured when weaving was a popular cottage industry, and Bertanzetti now has a cottage industry of her own, LAMB Handwoven Rugs. LAMB is an acronym for her initials. Her full name is Linda Anna Marie Bertanzetti.
Although she has beagles, chickens, a few geese and several cats on the farm, there are no sheep. Rather than spun wool, she uses many types of fabric -- including wool -- for her rugs, table runners and place mats.
Bertanzetti said she loves weaving, because she loves the feel of the fabric and the antique looms. She points out the worn places on looms from the late 1800s and says each loom has its own story to tell.
Among Bertanzetti's collection of loom- and weaving-related items is a photograph that shows Viola Gentry, a contemporary of Amelia Earhart's, working at a loom as part of her occupational therapy in a New York hospital. An undated press release states that Gentry was injured in a plane crash that killed pilot Jack Ashcraft on June 28, 1929, and was convalescing in the New York Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled on East 42nd Street.
The July 5, 1929, issue of The Protection Post, the newspaper of Protection, Kan., said Ashcraft, who was from Protection, was "instantly killed in the crackup of the plane." The Post reported Ashcraft was making a forced landing in fog at Roosevelt Flying Field near New York, and that "noted aviatrix" Gentry, in the rear seat of the plane, was seriously injured.
Bertanzetti has looms similar to the one shown in the photograph of Gentry. She said weaving on looms was used as occupational therapy in hospitals for many years, and she has bought some of her looms from hospitals that no longer used them.
Among her collection are looms by Reed Manufacturing, Springfield, Ohio; Union Loom Works of Boonville, N.Y.; Newcomb Loom Co., Davenport, Iowa; Deen Loom Co. of Harlan, Iowa; and Eureka, a Grand Rapids company that manufactured looms designed by a medical doctor.
Bertanzetti does custom work to match rugs and table runners to furniture or wallpaper. She also will also use family items such as bedspreads or children's blue jeans to create a woven item.
Both Bertanzetti and her husband, Ralph, are retired and able to devote time to the weaving studio. He repairs and restores the looms and also designed her studio.
Linda Bertanzetti said, however, that although she has "loom fever" and spends several hours each day weaving, she won't allow the operation to get too big.
"It's a hobby," she said. "I don't want to do this eight hours a day."
Reflecting on the history that surrounds her, she said, "Hundreds of hands have worked these looms, and more will work them after me."
For more information about looms and weaving, Linda Bertanzetti can be reached at (330) 457-7551.