“Diving Whale Lovebirds” Chilkat Robe

Clarissa’s latest Chilkat robe “Diving Whale Lovebirds” danced by Wayne Price during the “Weavers’ Dance” at the Adaka Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory – photograph by Ken Kaushansky

Well…I finished this robe on Summer Solstice 2013 in Whitehorse, Yukon just before it was hung as part of the Northwest Coast art exhibit at the Kwaanlin Dun Cultural Center.   The owners of the robe rendevous-ed with me at the Festival to attend the ceremony, meet carver Wayne Price and have the robe placed in their arms.  Again, it was not easy parting from another “child.”

The following photographs show the weaving progression from end to start – yes, sounds backwards don’t it, but just wanted to give you an artistic experience of “thinking backwards!”

In the professional photographer’s studio! (and no I’m not THAT big; the shirt is just big on me…hello!

According to my weaving teacher, the late Jennie Thlunaut, who passed at the age of 96 in 1986, she said that I must NEVER show my weaving-in-progress to the owners if the robe is commissioned.  They are not to see the robe until it is completed.  I never asked “why” because it was futile, I’d be wasting my words.  To the best of my abilities, I did not, and have not, shown the progression of my robes as I have honored Jennie’s request.

Completed weaving the robe June 15th – then there were the side braids to be done – yum, yum, the side braids are the best part of weaving a Chilkat robe!

So now that I have completed the robe, and have delivered it to the rightful owners, I can show you the progression of the robe…

On the Alaska ferry from Juneau to Skagway…

Ursala weaves the side braids; Amelie “helps” too!

Close-up of how I finished the bottom yellow border

Whooooheee – finished the design field of the robe, just need to weave the borders, weave the side braids, weave the signature tie-offs, block the weaving, etc. – (a foreign language?)

One last portion to complete!

Started the form line of the last pair of eyes to weave

Close-up of weaving the borders down to match the left corner of the design field

Three-quarters complete!

A vivacious Chilkat face!

Beginning to weave the bottom of the top and bottom of the beaks – the left one is Eagle and the right one is Raven…of course!

The robe is a bit more than half-way woven….

A few weaving details….now, I have never considered myself a very good weaver, although there are many who say otherwise. In so doing and being, I can say that I am progressing at it…every time I weave I get slightly better…in ways, i get better, my dear,…in ways!

yep, the colors of this robe are brilliant…(unlike the weaver who has lost her brilliancy as she has aged…)

more details…the circles are pretty good…not too bad….not too bad!  Always pay attention to the braids…the braids are what shape the shapes…!

I can say that this Chilkat robe is one-third complete!

No we do not weave straight across; this photo just makes it LOOK like we weave straight across…!

It is still winter time…had to wear my fleece topped by my Japanese quilted jacket with my hand-sewn Ainu headband…weaving, weaving, weaving…

The loom is in the guest room where I am borrowing the space cuz my studio is way too cold to work – it’s gotten down to zero degrees out there! — The plastic transparency “templates” are clipped to the warp…

Well, if you aren’t a friend of mine on Facebook, then you haven’t seen this photo take by my son, the film-maker…

Not a good idea to weave day and night like I can.  Else you get to be a boring person; like I can be.  And then you just want to stare at everything else except the weaving…and the grand-children!  I don’t mind staring at the grandchildren!  heeeheee!

…come to think of it, my eyes rest easy and well on my grandchildren!…so nice to have this one around while weaving…a real treat!

The ravenstail border is completed – yeah!

Bright and white day today…that’s because the spirits know there’s a new robe, a new “skin” that has been “born” most recently. good medicine.

Here’s a sketch of the proposed robe. It’s a ‘Diving Whale Lovebirds”

The preliminary sketch of the Chilkat robe I’m about to start some day soon – I drafted this design just three weeks before my mother passed away…June 2011 – it took me two years to complete this weaving; of course, though I was doing all kinds of other major things as well in that time period (i.e. burying my mother, moving to Santa Fe to attend IAIA for BFA degree, commuting to Colorado to spend time with my daughter and family, an exhibit, taught a couple of classes and three different apprenticeships, not to mention travel, etc. etc. You know, it’s called an “artist’s life.” I would not recommend this lifestyle for the weak of heart…!