Amelie dances “Chilkat Child” 5-piece Tlingit woven ensemble woven by Clarissa Rizal – 2015 – all photographs by Jeff Laydon of Pagosa Photography

In the Summer of 2012, I had a couple of weaving apprentices come live with me for a month.  All three of us started child-size Chilkat robes (with the intention that the child robe could also be worn by an adult as a dance apron).  Over the past 2.5 years with all the other projects, a couple of commissions, travel for weaving classes and gatherings, family, etc., I finally completed this ensemble.  I chart my time; it took a total of 5 months to weave this ensemble.  The only way to make myself get a job done is to give myself a deadline, usually the deadline is an art show, a dance performance, etc.  This time the deadline to complete the entire ensemble was by the Heard Museum Indian Art Fair and Market the weekend of March 6th this year.

Back side of Chilkat Child dance robe – Size 3T – woven by Clarissa Rizal 2015

I used four shades of blues, three were hand-dyed by myself, the variegated blue was dyed by a company in Sitka, Alaska.  I used one shade of blue just for the braids.   To distinguish the braids from the weavers, it was Jennie’s trick-of-the-trade to use two different shade of blues, one for the weaving, one for the braids!  Also, I included curlique shapes in the design form; they represent seaweed, yet also I just wanted to see if I could actually weave the tight curls; they are not necessarily easy to weave, so believe me (which I rarely use that phrase), weaving the curliques in the leggings and the apron were a challenge!

Chilkat Apron & Leggings

Close-up of Chilkat dance apron and Chilkat/Ravenstail dance leggings – Size 3T (fot small child) – woven by Clarissa Rizal – 2015

I also used three different shades of golden yellow and two shades each of the white/off-white and black.  The fringe on the apron, headdress and leggings were trimmed with .22 bullet shells, and all the pieces are trimmed with sea otter fur.  Except for the robe, all the pieces were lined with leather with twisted fringe.


“Chilkat Child” torso (hat and upper front part of Chilkat robe – woven by Clarissa Rizal – 2015

Thank you to my 5-year-old grand-daughter, Amelie Soleil Haas for being such a natural-born model.  She was easy to work with, took instruction well, and made my little “Chilkat Child” look better than ever!


Grand-daughter Amelie models “Chilkat Child”, with the weaver of the ensemble, her Grandma “Rissy” Clarissa Rizal – March 2015

Folks wonder how I get so much done:  Most people who see me out there in the world being friendly and cordial and seemingly always traveling, wonder how I have time to work…well, there’s an explanation for that:  when I hole up inside my studio for about 7 months out of the year, I do nothing else but work, work, work–produce, produce, produce.  I have a zilch social life; I don’t watch TV except Netflix movies while I am preparing bark, splitting wool, spinning or grooming warp, and I don’t entertain because I don’t have facilities or room to entertain.  I tend to be goal-oriented.  I like setting goals and achieving them.  And as any of you who know me well, I have always had many, many goals to achieve, all at once; there are things to take care of, things to design and make, places to go, people to connect with and bills to be paid!  My motto:  “Getterdun!”

However, once I am “out of my rabbit hole” and in the world, I am truly out there, but nevertheless doing work, just a different kind of work.  It’s my “social work” which generally involves helping with the grandchildren, spending time with friends, networking, traveling to do shows, or teach classes or apprentices, buying supplies and equipment.  This life is the way I make a living.  It’s been this way for 39 years, it’s too late to get out of it now!