A birthday gift weaving loom from her daughter Lily, Clarissa weaves a Chilkat/Ravenstail neck “scarf” while fishing with friends; a beautiful partly sunny day on the east side of Shelter Island, Juneau, Alaska — June 2016
No matter what size my weaving loom, be it 7ft. wide, 4ft. wide, 3ft, 2 ft. or 1ft., all my looms are portable. They have to be. I am always on the move.
The gallery and the fishing pole are proof, Clarissa is weaving while friends are fishing…a glorious place to weave as long as we keep the fish separate from the weaving!!!
For the past two years, I have been weaving four ensembles for my very first, and most likely my last, exhibit of weavings. I’ve had financial support from several funding organizations that have helped pay nearly all of my personal and business expenses; this support has been a luxury.
The following are the organizations that have provided me grants to do this exhibit:
* 2015 Native Arts and Culture Foundation Fellowship Grant, Vancouver, Washington State
* 2015 1st People’s Fund Creative Capital Grant, Rapid City, South Dakota
* 2016 Tulsa Artist Residency, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Clarissa’s weaving in the hotel room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida — September 2016
I have been traveling a lot this year; all of it has been business-related where I squeeze in family visits when I can. Portable weaving looms and financial support have enabled me to continue doing my other business-related work such as doing a presentation of my work during the NACF Board Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood, Florida, and the following week to attend the annual Las Vegas Souvenir and Gift Show.
With a refreshing treat of a small bowl of cherries, Clarissa gives herself a foot bath while weaving…
I’m teaching myself how to “relax” in the midst of movement, creativity, business and sometimes chaos. Listen up weavers; if I can do it, so can you!
One of three completed woven strips to be a part of an ensemble entitled “Girl Gaucho” — the ensemble is part of an exhibit “Layers of Love” opening at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
I am living proof that we Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers can get our work done in the midst of movement!
L to R: Marsha Hotch, Michelle Gray, Debra O’Gara, Douglas Gray, Irene J. Lampe, Catrina Mitchell, Karen Taug, Nila Rinehart, Laine Rinehart, Crystal Nelson, Yarrow Vaara, Lily Hope (with her two children, Louis and Eleanor), and Clarissa Rizal (missing: Della Cheney, Vicki Soboleff, Kay Parker, Gabrielle and Shgen George) — August 2016
On Sunday, August 28, all the weavers just in the Juneau area who contributed a 5×5 towards the “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat/Ravenstail robe gathered together for a picnic at Auke Bay Recreation area. It was the first time everyone was able to see the robe (nearly) completed for the first time since they had submitted their pieces over a month prior. Exciting, rewarding and quite touching, the shear pleasure of being in the presence of the robe with everyone brought so much pride and unity.
Marsha Hotch made an interesting statement, which I most quote here:
“…It’s actually history in the making. In ancient days robes were cut apart and distributed to leaders new items created from the cut pieces or just put away because they felt it was too valuable, or only to later be found tucked in archival in museums or displayed. This robe was put together from many different people, from many walks of life, different tribes, different clans, different communities, but a people who treasure the ancient skill of weaving.
Many of the woven old robes are in museums. The history and story may not be told anymore but we definitely continue to make history, changes. Congratulations to Clarissa and all the weavers. I can’t wait to see what events this robe will be brought out.”
For more information and continued immediate updates on the this robe, we welcome you to please join the “Weavers Across the Waters” Facebook page.
For past updates of this robe on my blog, click the following links:
Weaving the borders and laying out the 5×5’s — August 2016
The call for 5×5 entries — April 2016
Clarissa models the “Egyptian Thunderbird” Chilkat robe she recently completed in June 2016 — photo by NEA Photographer Tom Pich at Eagle Beach, Juneau, Alaska, with the southern end of the Chilkat Range in the far distance
This photograph was not tampered with Photoshop. Tom Pich, the professional photographer for the National Endowment for the Arts fellows for the past 25 years, used his camera settings to capture the colors. Tom used no additional lights, no gadgets, nothing. Just his knowledge, talent and keen eye! — Thank you, Tom, for a beautiful rendition of one of my most favorite robes in a beautiful country; it was a great outing!
Grand-daughters Simone and Amelie Haas always made a daily check-up on the status of the hanging slip knots; it’s good to allow the little people to come visit and “play” with the yarns (under supervision of course). Clarissa’s Chilkat weaving teacher and mentor, Jennie Thlunaut had told Clarissa the story about how when she was 5 years old, she would “play” with her mother’s warp and weft as it hung on the loom. Whatever children play with and enjoy when they are young is most likely what they will do for a living when they are adults
A month ago, I finally began weaving the borders that will frame the “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat/Ravenstail robe. I did not wait for all the 5×5 squares to arrive, though I had received more than half of the 54 committed donations then. The following is a photo essay of the process:
Using the traditional warp stick (fashioned after Jennie Thlunaut’s), Clarissa measures out the length of the strands for the side borders
Clarissa uses the length of a book that measures (close to the) exact length she needs for the top border of the robe
Inspired by Teahonna James’ 5×5, here is the first color combo of the top border of the “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat and Ravenstail ceremonial robe
The top border of the ‘Weavers Across the Waters’ Chilkat/Ravenstail robe
The beginning of the yellow border (Traditionally, a black border was woven and the a yellow border; Clarissa took the liberty of “jazzing up” the black and yellow borders. Notice there are no horizontal braids between the yellow and black borders. Clarissa plans on replacing the horizontal braids with a row of white Mother-of-Pearl buttons instead
Prepared slip knotted strands hang from the lightly-stablizing cross bar; instead of using your good weaving hours to make slip knots, it’s always best to prepare the strands while visiting with folks, or while taking a bath, and choose a discreet seat when you make slip knots at a funeral
Notice the laptop close at hand, along with the basket of yarns and of course when you need to remind yourself of certain tasks, or you have an idea of another project or you just remembered your grocery list, keep your notebooks (daily planner, sketch book, pocket notebook, etc.) at hand at all times near your weaving loom
Three generations of weavers begin weaving the side borders of the “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat and Ravenstail robe: Ursala demonstrates her innovative fingering techniques to her daughter, Amelie and her mother, Clarissa.
The borders of the “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat and Ravenstail robe; the small white diamonds were a suggestion by my daughter, weaver Lily Hope
Clarissa and Ursala weave the side borders of the “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat/Ravenstail robe
Teahonna James weaves the last couple of inches of the side borders
The side borders required hours of commitment. Clarissa measured her length of time to the inch; it takes her 1 hour to weave 1 inch. This translates to an estimate of 1-1/2” hours per inch for Ursala and/or Teahonna to achieve. In the foreground are all the squares being sewn together by Clarissa
For the initial project launch, invite, purpose, design specs and who are the ‘weavers across the waters’ who have volunteered to be a part of this project, please visit previous blog posts on my website, at:
Click here for Recent update before this current blog post
Click here for the launch, invite, design specs
As of June 9th, 2016, these are the very first 5×5 contributions from the following weavers: Stephany Anderson, Kay Parker, Willy White, Alfreda Lang, Sandy Gagnon, and Dolly Garza
Being the creator (or “mastermind as my Mother would have put it) of this community-based project, would I had known that when I have receive each of these priceless 5×5 woven Chilkat and Ravenstail weavings, I would feel such honor and a privilege to hold each one in the palm of my hands!? Would I have known that I would feel such pure and raw power in each simple image!? And would I have known that I would feel such intense protectiveness as I hand-carried these in my carry-on luggage; like worse than when I am transporting a robe that I have designed and made!?!? — In the purity of this power, I feel immense grace and lovingness; I feel such excitement and peace; I feel strength and healing; I feel the connectedness of all beings through the anticipation of connecting all of these weavers’ weavings together. This is already a powerful robe. My goodness, we share in the excitement and most likely all of what I feel too in the completion of this robe!
As of today, July 13, 2016, we have 23 total contributions received from (top to bottom, L to R): Della Cheney, Margaret Woods, Douglas Gray, Lily Hope, Nila Rinehart, Kay Parker, Stephanie Andersen, William White, Karen Taug, Courtney Jensen, Alfreda Lang, Chloe French, Dolly Garza, Georgia Bennett, Rainy Kasko, John Beard, Michelle Gray, Marilee Peterson, Annie Ross, Sandy Gagnon, Pearl Innes, Veronica Ryan and Crystal Nelson
The past couple of nights since my return to Tulsa, which is where I will be working day and night on putting this robe together for the next month, I put a cloth cover over all the little weavings who lay side by side with one another, like the way we cover our weavings for the night. Already these little ones have become dear. —- Thank you to all our present-day weavers who have contributed their talent through a piece of their spirit to become unified as one in this special, ceremonial robe. We look forward to receiving the other 31 pieces due by the extended deadline of July 19th!
Remember to mail your contribution insured to me at: Clarissa Rizal, 40 East Cameron Street #207, Tulsa, OK 74103
For more information on the mission and purpose of this robe, please visit the initial “invitational” blog post by clicking this link: http://clarissarizal.com/blog/calling-all-chilkat-and-ravenstail-weavers/
Clarissa Rizal’s Chilkat mask in the making; no eyeballs were woven for the allowance of the black warp to be cut so the wearer of the mask can see out — April 2016
Initially I wove this Chilkat mask with the intention of putting it in the Stonington Gallery’s show of Northwest Coast masks which opened on June 2nd; however, due to attending to immediate health issues this past Spring and other significant deadlines, I did not complete the mask in time. Yet, I was determined to have the mask at least dance during Celebration, so during my few hours manning our booth at the Art Market, I finished the second part of the mask which was the headdress.
Click on the video clip (below) showing the dancing of the mask/headdress during David Boxley, Sr.’s dance group singing a great song and beat of their Exit song during Celebration 2016, June 11th. Thank you, Stephanie Maddock for the video clip!
Lily Hope and Clarissa Rizal hold up the first 6 of 54 5×5 squares — June 2016 — photo by Ursala Hudson
The Weavers’ Symposium 5×5 Weaving Class was held June 9th at the Walter Soboleff Building in Juneau, Alaska, 6 weavers (of the 54 total weavers) had already completed their 5″x5″ Chilkat or Ravenstail weaving for the “Weavers Across the Waters” Community Ceremonial Robe. Those six weavers are as follows (L to R): Stephany Anderson, Kay Parker, William White, Alfreda Lang, Sandy Gagnon and Dolly Garza, and below, Georgia Bennett!
Huge gratitude to all 54 Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers who are coming together to contribute their unique 5×5 for this exciting, historical project!
For detailed information on the “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat/Ravenstail Community robe, please click here.
Georgia Bennett’s 5×5 recently arrived; She calls it her interpretation of “a humpback whale bubble net.” Photo courtesy Georgia Bennett — June 2016
Clarissa’s first two chalk pastels on canvas board — May 2016 — working in chalk pastel is new to Clarissa; she experimented with the medium first on the large canvas before tackling the smaller canvas (foreground)
It’s been the custom for me over the past few years that I donate some piece of artwork to a non-profit for a worthy cause; usually it’s a painting, or a print, but this time I tried my hand at something different because I had left all my paints, charcoals, etc. in my studio attic in Colorado. I’d never worked with chalk pastels, and I was intimidated because I didn’t know if I could pull of creating something that I liked; Imagine that? I doubted myself? But, I didn’t have time to lose; I volunteered to donate an art piece for the Tulsa Artists’ Coalitions’ 5×5 Show and Sale and the deadline for submissions was in just two hours! These two images I did in a matter of two hours. The larger took about half hour; the smaller one took about one and a half hours!!!
So what is the Tulsa Artists’ Coaltion’s 5×5 Show and Sale?
“Toasting the Saguaro” (or “Wendat Tlingit Visit Saguaro” — pastel by Clarissa Rizal — May 2016
Since 1999, the 5×5 has shined as an example of artists supporting artists–last year over 250 pieces measuring 5″x5″ in a variety of media were generously donated by artists from around the region and across the country.
On the day of the even, art buyers line up early outside the TAC Gallery for the opportunity to purchase their favorite 5×5 creation for $55. At 5:55pm, doors open and the fun begins! The show opens tonight, Friday, May 6th at the TAC Gallery in the Brady Arts District in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma!
(There’s always a big long line for a couple of hours before the show opens, I kid you not. Now for us Alaskans, waiting for a couple of hours before an art show opens is NOT in our DNA! If we waited in line outdoors for any event, we’d be soaked to the bone, or freeze to death, or even possibly eaten by a bear, so we are not conditioned to stand in line for nothing!!!)
The excitement and support from artists and the art-buying public for this unique event has been tremendous. IN addition to raising critical funding for TAC, the 5×5 provides buyers with an opportunity purchase, quality, affordable art while providing artists the opportunity to display their talents before the thousands of art patrons who visit the Brady Arts District each month.
100%of the proceeds from the 5×5 directly benefits local artists through the TAC Gallery.
About TAC: TAC has supported local artists for 30 years by providing exhibit opportunities for emerging artists and artists who work may not fit into a traditional commerial gallery. TAC is proud to be a pioneer in the Brady Arts District—one of a handful of independent artists and art groups that initially established the neighborhood as an arts district. TAC has held opening receptions Frist Friday since 1996 and worked with the Brady Arts District Business Association in establishing what is now known as the First Friday Art Crawl.
TAC is an all-volunteer, independent non-profit arts organiaation, with the majority of funding from memberships and the 5×5 event.
Invitational design specifications for the “patchwork quilt” or “Granny Square” Chilkat/Ravenstail Robe Project — Collaborative community design concept by Clarissa Rizal; Canoe Community concept by Suzi Vaara Williams
Dear Northwest Coast Chilkat and Ravenstail Weavers:
We invite you to participate in a very unique project which will provide a Chilkat/Ravenstail ceremonial robe to be worn by a dignitary of a hosting community for NWC Canoe Gatherings and/or also to be worn in ceremony during the maiden launch of a traditional dugout canoe. Imagine this robe will be worn for many generations of canoe gatherings and maiden voyages! When the robe is not traveling, it will be housed in its own private, glass case in the new “Weavers’ Studio” at the Evergreen Longhouse campus in Olympia, Washington State. Longhouse Executive Director Tina Kuckkhan-Miller, and Assistant Director Laura Grabhorn are very excited about this project.
If you are interested in participating and donating your time to weave a 5″ x 5″ square, the above illustration provides you with the visual concept. The information below provides you with clear instructions:
Project: A NWC Weavers’ Invitational to create a collaborative and unique Chilkat/Ravenstail robe for the NWC communities who host Canoe Gatherings and/or are launching the maiden voyage of a traditional dugout canoe in Washington State, British Columbia, Southeast Alaska and Yukon Territory.
Who is Invited: This invitational is open to all Indigenous Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers representing all the distinctive tribes of the Northwest Coast. The invitational is also open to non-Indigenous weavers who are clan members of a NWC tribe via adoption and/or marriage. Weavers of all levels of experience, from beginner to expert, are invited to contribute! There are only 54 sections on this unique, one-of-a-kind, Chilkat/Ravenstail robe; if you want to be a part of this historical event, jump in now while you can and commit via email, text or Facebook to Clarissa Rizal by May 15, 2016! Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or text her at: (970)903-8386 or Facebook: Clarissa Rizal
Limited number of weavers: There will be 54 5-inch squares which = 54 separate weavers. 45 of the 54 squares will have 1″ fringe at the bottom. 9 of the 54 squares will have 18″ fringe; these 9 squares will be placed at the very bottom edge of the robe. If you want to be one of the 9 squares with the 18″ fringe, let me know. Please refer to the illustration for visual image. The borders of the entire robe will be woven by Clarissa Rizal after she has laid out the entire 54 squares and sewn them together. Total approximately measurements of the robe will be 68″ wide x 56″ high (includes fringe)
The Warp: You will need approximately 12 yards of Chilkat warp. To keep the thickness and body of the robe consistent, use only Chilkat warp (w/bark), natural color and spun to size 10 e.p.i. Please DO NOT USE Ravenstail warp.
The Heading Cord: Instead of a leather cord (like we use in Chilkat weaving), use two strands of your Chilkat warp, this 2-strands of warp instead of leather cord is a technique used in Ravenstail weaving. The Chilkat warp heading cord will then become a part of your weaving so in this way we avoid any tied knots on the top left and right of your heading cord.
The Weft: merino or mountain goat wool, size 2/6 fingering weight, in any shades of the traditional colors of black, natural, yellow and blue
The Design: Weave anything to do with the canoe world; suggestions are to weave symbols of nature, animals, mankind (i.e. mountains, ocean, rivers, lakes, canoes, paddles, faces, claws (though no human hands: Instead of four fingers, weave three fingers and a thumb)
In addition with your weaving, please provide two things: 1) a brief 100-word max Bio in Word Document and, 2) a photo of yourself with your weaving either finished or in progress (200 d.p.i./5″ x 7″) —- I will be providing this information to the Evergreen Longhouse who will be housing this robe when it is not traveling. I also imagine there may be a small publication (of the robe with all the weavers ) someday printed for each one of us; and why not!? It would be fun!
DEADLINE to commit: Extended to May 15, 2016 Email Clarissa with your commitment (suggestions, etc. are welcome too, especially at this time): email@example.com or text her: 970-903-8386 (yes, area code is 970)
DEADLINE for completion: Postmarked by July 15, 2016 Remember: Along with your weaving, please include the brief bio and a photo of you and your weaving. (see specs above) If you complete your weaving by the dates of “Celebration” and you are in Juneau, you may hand-deliver your weaving to Clarissa anytime during the month of June, otherwise mail your weaving insured to Clarissa’s address:
Clarissa Rizal, 40 East Cameron St #207, Tulsa, OK 74103
“TOUR” SCHEDULE (for the robe) 2016:
1). Hoonah, Alaska: Master carver of dugout canoes, Wayne Price from Haines, Alaska is carving two dugout canoes for the Hoonah Indian Association. The opening ceremonies will be the maiden voyage of both canoes from Hoonah to Glacier Bay for the dedication of the recently built longhouse on the shores of Glacier Bay on Wednesday, August 24th.
2). Sitka, Alaska: Master carver Steve Brown and the Gallanin Brothers are carving a dugout in Sitka, Alaska.
3). Vancouver, B.C.: Robe will be part of an exhibit for four months at Sho Sho Esquiro and Clarissa Rizal’s exhibit called “Worth Our Wait In Gold” at the Bill Reid Gallery, Vancouver, B.C., opening Tuesday, October 18th
If you have any information on definite dates for canoe gatherings and maiden voyage of a traditional dugout canoe, please contact Clarissa or Evergreen Longhouse in Olympia, Washington.
NAME OF THIS ROBE: “Weavers Across the Water” — Thank you, Catrina Mitchell…!
THE ROBE’S HOME: As I mentioned above, when the robe is not traveling, it will be housed in its own private, glass case in the new “Weavers’ Studio” at the Evergreen Longhouse campus in Olympia, Washington State. Longhouse Executive Director Tina Kuckkhan-Miller, and Assistant Director Laura Grabhorn will be the travel coordinator’s for this special robe.
COMPENSATION: As of May 2nd, nearly 40 weavers have committed to this project. Not one of them asked about compensation. This is remarkable; it shows the purity of our weavers’ intentions and commitment to our identity and cultural heritage. Though, I am looking into finding a benefactor who is willing to help support this project. I’ll keep everyone posted.
SUGGESTIONS, COMMENTS, IDEAS, ETC.: I encourage and solicit your input. Please be brave and just communicate with me; no worries. AND if you want to partake, this is “our” robe!
How did this idea sprout? Well you gotta know about Suzi and Clarissa chats: This project was an idea which stemmed from a chat between Suzi Vaara Williams and I on March 4th. I mentioned that I kept seeing everything in “Chilkat”; and Suzi was talking about all the knitting and weaving projects she has got going and asked if I remembered the crocheted “Granny Square” blankets from the 60’s. Immediately instead of crocheted colors of yarn, I saw a different kind of “Granny Square” blanket — I saw the Chilkat and Ravenstail woven ceremonial blanket! And when I exclaimed to Suzi my vision, right away she added with glee: “Oh, oh, ohhhh! And the robe will be worn during the canoe gatherings up and down the coast!”
We hope you join us in creating this one-of-a-kind ceremonial robe woven by present-day weavers for our present-day canoe gatherings and traditional dugout canoe maiden launches. This robe will travel for many generations. Please represent your community and be a part of this historical project. We appreciate your time, energy and talent! Truly, Gunalcheesh!
“Chilkat Mask” in shades of blue — Clarissa Rizal — 2016
During my “spring break”, for the first time ever, I actually took a real spring break, like an actual, much-needed vacation. During the vacation I hugged and played with my grandchildren, visited my kids, romped around the desert with my friend Rene, and in between when nobody was looking, I wove this Chilkat Mask! Yep, it can be worn as an actual mask. I wove it with the same shades of blue weft yarns I dyed a couple of years ago and I am using the main bulk of the blue yarns for my most recent Chilkat robe called “Egyptian Thunderbird.” This mask will be in an exhibit of Northwest Coast Native masks at the Stonington Gallery in Seattle, Washington opening Thursday, June 2nd. Most of the masks at this show will be in carved wood, or in jewelry, and I doubt very much there will be a mask like this one that is woven; we’ll see. My “Chilkat Mask” may be the first of its kind, I don’t know. Come on down to the Stonington and let’s see! I’ll be there!
cloth-covered wires were inserted, hanging down with the warp, only in the central part of the Chilkat mask …this is to give the mask some structure with flexible capabilities to form to any human face — “Chilkat Mask” by Clarissa Rizal — 2016