May 18, 1945 – Oct. 12, 2015
Elaine M. Polvinen, an internationally known professor of fashion and textile technology at SUNY Buffalo State, died Oct. 13 in Buffalo General Medical Center. She was 70.
Born on Buffalo’s East Side, she had been a Clarence resident since 1964. She ran the Three Crown Motel and Finnlock’s Cafe, creating and incorporating her original artwork to enhance the atmosphere at both businesses.
Ms. Polvinen was passionate about her art, and enjoyed working in pottery, macrame and painting.
“Weaving gave her the biggest joy,” said her son, Steven. “I remember helping her load giant warps onto her looms as a child.”
She purchased wool from local farmers, and then would card and spin the wool into yarn, and weave the yarn into coats and ponchos. She exhibited throughout New York State, which eventually led her to teaching fashion design at Buffalo State.
Ms. Polvinen earned a master of fine arts degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, and had been teaching at Buffalo State since 1991. She also had served as an instructor at the University at Buffalo, Empire State College and Syracuse University.
“Elaine was instrumental in the development of this department,” said Lynn Boorady, associate professor and chairwoman of the fashion and textile technology program at Buffalo State.
Ms. Polvinen founded Runway, the department’s annual showcase of student-designed fashion, in 2008.
She continued to create innovative designs in textiles, fabric and apparel. She also embraced technology and was instrumental in upgrades to Buffalo State’s computer-aided design equipment and software that provided students with hands-on experience using industry technology. She negotiated partnership agreements that resulted in Buffalo State acquiring $2.5 million in software donations for the fashion and textile technology program, and she received 10 grants totaling almost $200,000.
In addition to her son, she is survived by her daughter, Alana Zotara; her sister, Diane Habarth; and two granddaughters.
A memorial visitation will be conducted from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Shepard Brothers Funeral Home, 10690 Main St., Clarence.