MAWS Living Treasure Awards
Living Treasure Program
The MAWS Living Treasure Award is designed to recognize and honor MAWS members who have made outstanding contributions in the field of fiber arts. The award is bestowed biennially on a fiber artist who has demonstrated excellence in craftsmanship, provided leadership or has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to others, or who has contributed to the betterment and development of the fiber arts at the local, state, regional or national level. It is these Montana “treasures” to whom we wish to pay tribute.
JoAnne Setzer become a Living Treasure in 2018 after an outpouring of support from weavers in both Yellowstone and Gallatin counties. She has been a member of both the Billings and Bozeman Weavers Guilds and presents annual programs in each. She is a popular teacher at MAWS and Fiber Fest, and has the ability to teach a 10-year-old or an 80-year-old the joys of weaving. She is a published author, including in the Handwoven Sept/Oct 2006 titled, “Doggie Bags – for dogs?”. JoAnne began weaving on her Larry Keller table loom and traveled to learn new techniques all over the nation. She received her teaching certificate from the Colorado Women’s College with a minor in art, and an “Apprentice in Weaving” certificate from the State of Connecticut. Her pieces grace local business offices in Billings. She has operated “The Loomery” since 1985, which is both her studio and an area she shares with others for the purpose of teaching and supporting the weaving community.
Her passion for weaving and teaching weaving is unsurpassed. Her energy and time are generously given: she makes house calls and helps people locate, fix, and learn everything about looms and the art of weaving. One young student of JoAnne’s mentioned how she brings a passion to not only weaving but, in all pursuits, as she always has a listening ear and a bit of advice to help a person achieve personal dreams and success. Her pieces are colorful, original and she is always testing new products and patterns as well as techniques, again, always in order to share with others.
Nadine has demonstrated excellence in craftsmanship, provided leadership or has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to others, or who has contributed to the betterment and development of the fiber arts at the local, state, regional or national level. Nadine has been weaving since 1978. She is a prolific craftsperson creating wall hangings, household textiles and clothing. Her wonderful color sense leads to exciting works of art and lovely textiles of all types. She was active in the Montana Arts Council Weaving group and then became a founding member of MAWS in the early 1980’s. She and her late husband, Bud Shafer, watercolorist, were also instrumental in founding and fundraising for the Holter Museum of Art in Helena. Prize winning pieces from Electrum and other galleries form her collection. Her contributions to the arts have been numerous and her assistance to other weavers, generous. She has taught many workshops and held several offices in the local Helena Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild. She is an inspiration and motivator for fellow weavers both locally and statewide.
Susan’s fiber rich life began at age 9 sewing Barbie clothes on an old Elna. She learned to weave in 1978 while her babies crawled underneath her loom. She has joyfully woven, knit, sewn and gardened her way through life. Her favorite quote is, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” –Annie Dillard
Linda Shelhamer spins, dyes, knits, and weaves in Billings. A fiber artist since 1983, she is very active in her local guilds, the Prairie Handspinners and Billings Weavers Guild. Guild members have called her the glue that holds things together. She organizes many of the guilds workshops and often hosts the teachers in her home. She has taught many people to spin both independently and through the local yarn store and has taught spinning and dyeing at the state and national level and in Canada. She was Conference Chair of MAWS 2010 and Treasurer of MAWS 1998. She has served on the MAWS Board many times including stints as President, Newsletter Editor and currently as Treasurer. She also serves as a board member of the Yellowstone Art Museum. For many years she has taught dyeing, sun painting, etc. at a 2-day festival Summerfair. Linda designs knitting patterns, particularly enjoying using her own and others’ hand dyed yarns. Her enthusiasm for the fiber arts and willingness to share are remarkable.
"I became a Living Treasure because Vanetta and Jenne nominated me (grin). I learned many things about weavers guilds during my 30 years of living in Seattle. I was able to bring what I learned with me to Missoula, and have watched Missoula Weavers Guild double in size and enjoy stimulating programs and workshops. We have been able to donate to several worthy groups that help weavers in need funded by The Plaid Llama Sale. Next month our guild will select programs and workshops for the coming year. I have several ideas up my sleeve. (I am program chair for the guild, and they have let it be known it is a lifetime position)(another grin).
Annette is very well known in Montana’s fiber community. Her guild members agree that her enthusiasm for weaving is utterly contagious and energizing. She is recognized for her fine weaving skill, and not only does she excel at her craft, but she also collects and honors the fiber art of others, displaying it in her home.
Her contributions to the Montana fiber arts community have had a major impact over many years. She is recognized mainly for her continual encouragement of others and for her organization of workshops, classes, conferences and all activities fiber related.
She is also a guild superstar; having served as president and traveled through that revolving door of guild offices for the past 35 years. She plans the annual program calendar, keeps track of a huge library and inventory of equipment (at her home!), organizes spinning and weaving demonstrations, teaches guild workshops, and never misses the chance to learn new techniques by attending workshops. She has chaired a MAWS conference, not once but twice! Her guild, now 55 members strong, is successful primarily due to her hard work, enthusiasm and involvement.
“My passion for fiber arts definitely started with raising the animals that produce the fiber. After years of dabbling in spinning, knitting and weaving, felting really captured my interest. I try to felt everyday because I have so many ideas floating around in my head. The possibilities seem endless and there is always something more to learn. I love it!”
Judith has spent a life surrounded and enriched by farm and fiber. For the last thirty or more years, her fiber journey has taken her from keeping goats, to breeding and raising sheep, champion Shetland, blue-faced Leicester and Gotland crosses. She has one of the original Shetland flocks, North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association flock number 43. She joined the Blue Faced Leicester Union in 2002 as one of its founding members.
Experience in spinning and dyeing wool eventually led her to experimentation with felt, which has become her passion. Her felted body of work is extensive and diverse and includes everything from seat covers to very stylish and professionally made hats. She exhibits her work in numerous galleries from Florida to Montana. She also teaches felting classes and has been instrumental in bringing international instructors to Montana to teach.
Montana became the lucky winner when in the 1980’s this spinner along with some friends decided to put together a fun fiber gathering. Eventually that event became the Big Sky Fiber Arts Festival.
MAWS has recognized these amazing individuals as "Living Treasures"
2016 Linda Shelhamer, Susan Lohmuller and Bonnie Tarses
2014 Judith Colvin and Annette Cade
2012 Joan Contraman and Judie Overbeek
2010 Marge Ferrin and Mary Melander
2008 Marian Stratton and Karen Utzinger
2006 Barbara McMullen and Carol Roehm
2004 Betty Alexander and Milly Dover
2002 Coby Johnson and Karla Long
2000 Vernice Myers and Lois Howell
1998 Em Kolstad, Berta Morrison and Jay Sire
1996 Joanne Hall and Marian Ornelles
1994 Margaret Whitney
1992 Katherine Bradbury, Margaret Burlew,
Margaret Post, and Phillys Murdock