Video Clip of Clarissa’s Chilkat Mask Dancing Celebration 2016

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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!

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An Award Winner at SHI’s Juried Art Show 2016

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Clarissa Rizal’s 5-piece dance ensemble “Chilkat Child” wins Best of Weavings category at the Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Juried Art Show — Below the ensemble is Clarissa’s daughter, Lily Hope’s Chilkat dance apron — June 2016

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Surrounded by a painting by Alison Bremner, a carved and painted dance stafff by Archie Cavanaugh, Clarissa Rizal’s button robe “Northwest by Southwest II” wins Best of Sewing category at the Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Juried Art Show — June 2016

 

“Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat/Ravenstail Community Robe Update

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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.

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Georgia Bennett’s 5×5 recently arrived; She calls it her interpretation of “a humpback whale bubble net.” Photo courtesy Georgia Bennett — June 2016

 

 

 

Tlingit Clothing Designers Take Off on SHI Runway

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L to R:  Models Ursala Hudson, Miah Lager with designers Deanna Lampe and Lily Hope; Sealaska Heritage Institute’s 1st Annual Native Fashion Show — June 2016

Surprisingly, yet not surprisingly enough, my youngest sister Deanna Lampe and daughter Lily Hope created 3 ensembles for the 1st Annual Native Fashion Show sponsored by Sealaska Heritage Institute at the Walter Soboleff Center in downtown Juneau, Alaska last night.  Deanna has been a beadwork and needle-point designer and artist for nearly 30 years; Lily has been a Ravenstail and Chilkat weaver for the past 10 years.  Both decided they wanted to try their hand at clothing design.  Deanna and Lily were two of the nearly 15 clothing designers in this first-of-its-kind fashion show in Juneau.

Costume design and fashion has always been an interest of nearly all my life.  My earliest memory of “dress-up” was when I was 6 years old; if the sun was shining first thing in the morning, I’d slip on a pair of my mother’s high heels and put on one of her dresses and I’d stand in the middle of the street saluting the sun!  I learned to sew when I was 15, with the guidance from Harry K. Bremner, Sr.  I made my first Tlingit dance tunics.  I sewed all my own clothing and then eventually sewed most of the clothing for my young family.  I was costume designer for two theatre companies in Juneau:  Perseverance Theatre and Tricycle Theatre and then in Colorado for the Pagosa Pretenders Family Theatre.  When attending the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, my work was selected for several fashion shows.  In the past 30 years I have also been a designer and maker of Tlingit ceremonial regalia, which in its own way, is also “fashion design” though none of us would admit to it!

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The back sides: My daughters Ursala Hudson, Lily Hope and their childhood friend, Miah Lager; Ursala wears a wolf fur collar above a black/white  geometric summer dress trimmed with Ravenstail warp tipped with cones; Lily wears a brilliant blue satin dress trimmed with mother-of-pearl buttons and a cedar bark obi; Miah wears a jeans jacket with 2 large, beaded daisies at each lapel and a beaded Chilkat face back center, with a red wool skirt trimmed at the bottom with M.O.P. buttons  — Sealaska Heritage Institute 1st Annual Native Fashion Show, Juneau, Alaska — June 2016

Due to health issues that required my immediate attention this past Spring, along with other major pressing deadlines, I had to bow out of this show.  I intended on having three contemporary ensembles and was almost done with them, but all is not lost; I shall complete them for my exhibit with Sho Sho Esquiro this coming mid-October at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver!

 

 

Making Kits for the “Weavers Across the Waters” Robe

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Lily checks the measurement of the warp to make sure the length is correct — June 2016

Staying up till 3 this morning, Lily Hope, Deanna Lampe, Miah Lager and Ursala Hudson worked on making the 5×5 weaver kits to be made available for the class later on this morning starting at 9; these are for those who want an easier start for their contribution to the “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat/Ravenstail Community Canoe Robe.  (For info on this project, see previous blog entry by clicking here)

These 5×5 kits include:  12 yards of Chilkat warp measured to correct length and width already attached to the “head board” (the ruler), the weft yarns including an ounce of black, an ounce of white, half-ounce of yellow and/or blue, a large-eye tapestry needle, and a 5×5 project instruction sheet.

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Measuring the warp by wrapping it around a book and cutting the warp at one end, our natural-born comedian, Deanna questions Miah of why the photographer would want to take photos of this process — June 2016

Two years ago, Lily created the Northwest Coast Weavers Supply to provide Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers easier access to the weaving materials we need.  The merino weft yarns is spun by a company called Louet and not always are they hard to find at any yarn shop; the Chilkat warp is spun by Ricky Tagaban or Alena Mountford and the Ravenstail warp is supplied by Kay Parker.

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The precut warp is hung on the weaving loom “header board” made of 12″ wooden rulers

The ingenuity of these kits is this:  because of the rubber band “lashing”, these “looms” can be placed around the back of a chair, around a purse (as shown below), the steering wheel of your car (when you are not driving, of course), and the tray table in its upright/locked position on board the jets.

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Secured by a couple of heavy duty rubber bands around the back side and a large paper clip, this “weaving loom” can attach to a leather handbag (The COACH bag for example); the small balls of black, yellow, white and blue weft, scissors, tapestry needle and pattern, are or course conveniently placed inside the bag — These are handbags of Deanna Lampe and her niece, Lily Hope — June 2016

With the convenience of these ingenious “weaving looms” there is no excuse for not being able to weave small projects!  There shall be no excuse for the lack of time to weave Chilkat and Ravenstail in a weavers’ life.

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There’s something about staying up real late making kits for the weavers of this community robe project…!

I am so excited about these little “weaving looms” I might have to buy an upright bag so I can weave while waiting for my food at the restaurant, or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, or while I am babysitting and the kids are asleep, or sitting at the beach enjoying the sunset, or out on the boat fishing, or on a camp trip, or, or, or….c’mon people use your imagination…!

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The line-up of completed weaving kits for the 5×5 “Weavers Across the Waters” Chilkat/Ravenstail Community Robe Project — June 2016

 

 

Calling All Chilkat and Ravenstail Weavers

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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:

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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:  clarissa@clarissarizal.com   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):  clarissa@clarissarizal.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!

The “Chilkat Mask”

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“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!

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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

 

“Chilkat Storyteller” Doll

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“Chilkat Storyteller” soft sculpture doll recently completed by Clarissa Rizal — copyright 2016

My “Chilkat Storyteller” is my donation for an exhibit of contemporary Alaska Native art opening in France on June 24th.  It was inspired by the pueblo storyteller dolls made of their local clay.  The first contemporary storyteller was made by Helen Cordero of the Cochiti Pueblo in 1964 in honor of her grandfather, who was a tribal storyteller.  It is basically a figure of a storyteller, usually a man or a woman and always with its mouth open.  It is surrounded by figurines of children (and sometimes other things) which represent those who are listening to the storyteller.

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back view of “Chilkat Storyteller” wearing miniature Ravenstail/Chilkat robe — by Clarissa Rizal — copyright 2016

My “Chilkat Storyteller” is a self-portrait with my 7 grandchildren.  Though instead of clay figurines, the main body of the doll is made with shreds of yellow cedar bark interior with black felted merino wool exterior.  She sits approximately 7″ high and wears a miniature Ravenstail/Chilkat robe.  All 7 of her grandchildren are felted wool in our traditional colors of black, natural, yellow and blue.  Made with lots of love, I laughed while creating each figurine knowing the personality of each child, affectionately I called out my knick names while making each:

* The black one on bottom right is the oldest, SikiKwaan  (Lily’s oldest daughter); very thoughtful, protective one

*  The blue one on top right is second oldest, Andoopoo (Kahlil’s daughter); the adventurer outdoors gal

*  The white one on the bottom left is third oldest, Ashuwa (Ursala’s oldest daughter); kind, caretaking artist

*  The yellow one on the left arm is fourth, Ajuju (Lily’s 2nd child; only grandson); the compassionate one

*  The white one on top of the head, Wasichu (Lily’s adopted child); spirits rebellious

*  The blue one on bottom left, Bulleit (Ursala’s youngest); no fear, dare devil innocence

*  The yellow one on bottom right, OneFootOneKnee or Inipi (Lily’s youngest); quiet, independent sweetness

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top view looking down at “Chilkat Storyteller” doll by Clarissa Rizal — copyright 2016

Helen Watkins “Walked Into the Woods”

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Subsistence gatherer Helen Watkins’ – the photos to her right are her relatives including her mother, grandmother and an image of the cabin off of Mud Bay Road in Haines, Alaska where she would spend the Summers gathering the abundant variety of indigenous foods — April 2011

Almost a year ago, I began weaving a Chilkat robe for Tlingit elder Helen Watkins from the Shungukeidi Thunderbird Clan; the robe is called “Egyptian Thunderbird.”  She was going to dance the robe this coming June during opening ceremonies of the biennial gathering of clans in Juneau called “Celebration.”  Looks like she will be dancing the robe in spirit; Helen “walked into the woods” last night.

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The “Egyptian Thunderbird” Chilkat robe by Clarissa Rizal (June 2016) commissioned by Susan Hunter-Joerns in honor of Helen Watkins — modeled by Helen Watkin’s niece, Rhonda Mann

Helen was the happiest when she gathered foods from the land and sea with her big family and friends.  Back in 2011, I attended one of her presentations on the Native subsistence foods and posted a blog about it.  Check it out at:  http://clarissarizal.com/blog/subsistence-presentation-by-helen-watkins/

Her obituary is at:  http://www.legacyalaska.com/obituaries/Helen-Abbott-Watkins/#!/Obituary

You’ve got a lot of family, relatives and friends who are going to miss you greatly, dear Helen!