2nd Year Teaching Chilkat/Ravenstail at Adaka Festival



Louise Baker pays attention to Lily Hope teaching Diane Knopp how to dress her next weaving project on the loom

Ann Smith and I taught our second weaving class together in Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving during the week-long Adaka Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.   Lily Hope assisted for four days (her first time being away from her family!).


Ann Smith drafts out pattern configuration for Ravenstail design

Ann Smith and I were two of Cheryl Samuel’s first students to learn Ravenstail back in 1989.  Since then Ann has woven approximately 5 Ravenstail robes and numerous smaller weavings and has taught classes in Yukon and British Columbia.  Ann was one of my first students in Chilkat weaving back in 1991; in fact, she inspired me to weave robes instead of weaving contemporary pieces of regalia.  Only recently have I decided to incorporate weaving smaller items in my time line!


Clarissa demonstrates the fantastic fingering technique of her teacher/mentor Jennie Thlunaut. L to R: Dan Shorty, Stefanie Sakinya, Diane Knopp, Andra Hunter, Clarissa, Marge Baufeld, Louise Baker, Sally Lutchman, Charlene Baker

Most of the techniques and spiritual information I teach are directly from my apprenticeship with the last of the traditional master weavers, Jennie Thlunaut from Klukwan, Alaska who passed away in July 1986 two months after she taught me.  All students who learn from me are a direct lineage of Jennie’s legacy, the most prolific Chilkat weaver of all time with 50 robes and 8 tunics.


Lily Hope demonstrates weaving techniques on Clarissa’s child-size Chilkat robe to visitors at the Adaka Festival

Lily Hope has been weaving Ravenstail for nearly 10 years.  She started weaving Chilkat weaving 4 years ago when she was an assistant teacher during one of my classes in Juneau; little did anyone know that as she was “student teaching” she was for the first time learning how to weave Chilkat!!!


Louise Baker (Tagish) measures her warp for the child-size headband using Jennie Thlunaut’s old-time technique of cutting a piece of cardboard to the length of the project, wrapping the warp loosely but evenly around the board and then cutting one end, before hanging strands on the loom


The class is fairly full with 10 eager students


Lily demonstrates how to “dress” your loom


Ann helps Marge Beaufeld with her first braids while Nita Clarke whizzes away with happy anticipation of another weaving!


Charlene Baker (Whitehorse) shows Debra Michel (Atlin) the additional weaving she has on her loom – one is her first Chilkat weaving the other is her combination of Chilkat and Ravenstail (of which she is well versed).


Debra Michel weaves her second Chilkat weaving, a dance apron she designed…


Lily helps Zach James (Haines, AK) establish his first row of his Ravenstail pattern while Dan Shorty pays attention


Andra Hunter and her mother, Sally Lutchman contemplate what to do next


Stefanie Sakinya Sidney has begun another weaving project on the other side of her loom…!


Ann Smith (with her granddaughter) have fun with Nita Clarke – (let’s face it people, Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving is a lot of work, but it’s fun work!)


Ann reminds the weavers to be mindful of keeping their “stitches” even


Stefanie, Zach, Lily Sharon and Louise


L to R back row: Debra Michel, Charlene Baker, Diane Knopp, Sharon Shorty, Carver Dempsey Bob, Marge Beaufeld, Nita Clarke – Front row: Clarissa Rizal, Ann Smith, Louise Baker (missing: Lily Hope, Zach James, Sally Lutchman, Andra Hunter)

I am totally impressed with the commitment and dedication of the Yukon weavers.  It is quite an honor for us to teach weavers who are eager to learn and eager to create more dance regalia for their family, friends and community members.  This experience has been an instructor’s dream.  And I know it was Jennie’s dream come true as well.  She was the last traditional weaver; imagine how she must have felt!  Imagine what she would feel if she were to see the number of wanna-be-weavers that have come out of the woodwork to dedicate themselves to a life-long learning process!  I know only a small fraction of what she would feel; it has brought me to my knees with gratitude and compassion to be a part of Jennie’s legacy – to be a part of the traditional Chilkat weavers’ legacy and to be a part of this present-day legacy of this younger generation who will carry this forward.  Can I have an Amen!?  Can I have a Hoo-haa!


Looking through the class window at Clarissa’s yellow “Chilkat mobile” in the parking lot of the KwanlinDun Cultural Center in Whitehorse, Yukon

Thank you to Charlene Alexander, Executive Director of the Adaka Festival (in it’s 4th year), who coordinated another year of this amazing event and once again has invited us to teach weaving!  Thank you to all the weavers who came out to learn more about our traditional weaving styles; Gunalcheesh!

A Lead Singer In Preston’s Band “Khu.eex”


17PerformAOf all the things I have ever aspired to be and do, it’s never been to be a lead singer, or one of the singers in a band!  Though at the request of my friend the glassblower, Preston Singletary, I thought I’d give it a go.  We sing traditional Tlingit songs with the back up of a fantastic sound called funk jazz fusion played by outstanding musicians that practically blew flutist Gene Tagaban and I right off the stage with the very first drumbeats at our very first performance in Seattle the night of June 20th.  We are called “Khu.eex”  (pronounced “koo eeeexch” which in the Tlingit language means “potlatch.”

Preston’s other band is called “Little Big Band” – this band is a totally separate band with a totally different sound from Khu.eex,  You may visit Little Big Band’s website by clicking here at “A Little Big Band.com”

The following are a few photos of “Khu.eex”  taken by Dan Shanks and I:


Let’s introduce you to “Khu.eex” – L to R: drummer from New Orleans Stanton Moore, Clarissa Rizal, keyboard player from New Jersey Bernie Worrell, Seattle musicians: bass player Preston Singletary, flutist/spoken word Gene Tagaban, saxaphonist Skerik, lead guitar Captain Raab, and sound engineer Randall Dunn at Avast! Studios, Seattle.

Read more about the various band members & the recording studio on their websites:

Bernie Worrell, keyboard artist:  http://www.bernieworrell.com

Stanton Moore, drummer:  http://www.stantonmoore.com

Preston Singletary, bass:  http://www.prestonsingletary.com

Gene Tagaban, flutist/spoken word/singer:  http://www.storytellingraven.com/

Clarissa Rizal, singer/spoken word:  http://www.clarissarizal.com

Avast! Recording Studioshttp://www.avastrecording.com/



Preston rounded up Gene, Captain Raab and Clarissa to create the set list.

I thought to myself “man, this is serious, we are really performing for an audience and are no longer in the recording studio…”  like “hello, wake up dearie, we are not in Kansas anymore…!”  The following photos are rehearsal shots:


Preston, Stanton Skerik and Bernie during our one rehearsal directly before the first of two shows on the evening of Thursday, June 19th, Seattle,Washington.

0Rehearsal2 9Skerik 10BernieWorrell 10StantonMoore

8Robert11TatooedPedals13GeneFlutes14RobPresSkerik0Rehearsal216BernieWorrellHere are a few more shots of our performances:

19PerformC18PerformB24KueexHWhen are we going to take this troupe on tour?  Well, a few things have to line up:  First, Preston is working on finalizing the recording sessions and it looks as though there is enough material for two CD’s.  Secondly, Preston’s two kids have to get a little older by about two years so that they can come on tour with us.  Thirdly, we have to do some fundraising (maybe via Kickstarter) to pay for the tour.

And fourthly, for me, now that my throat is pretty much healed from last Winter’s spell of pneumonia, I can continue to take my voice lessons from Brett Manning’s Singing Success.com – click here to find out more about how you can take these fun voice lessons — if I can take voice lessons, you can take voice lessons!  Being a part of Preston’s band, I feel like I have to contribute more than just being able to sing the native tunes; I have to really learn how to sing so my voice is an actual instrument allowing me to be more CREATIVE!!!


Bernie Worrell with Dan Shanks (who was the photographer for most of the photos on this blog post).

Both Bernie and Dan (as well as Gene Tagaban) are part Cherokee — can you see the resemblance?  I can….(elongated shape of skull/face, certain width at bridge of nose, ears are flat to side of head, and the human kind graciousness of their character…)

First Canoe Gathering I’ve Attended

10 canoes gathered at the shores of Sandy Beach in Douglas, Alaska the day before "Celebration" began on Wednesday, June 11, 2014

9 canoes gathered at the shores of Sandy Beach in Douglas, Alaska the day before “Celebration” began on Wednesday, June 11, 2014

There have been numerous canoe gatherings along the Northwest Coast for the past 20 years – they started after I moved inland to Colorado.  Since 2007, I began spending part time in my home state of Alaska and part time in Colorado, Yukon and wherever my work takes me.  This June the timing was right and I made sure I attended this gathering – mainly too because my friend Wayne Price had his first sailing of two traditional dug out canoes that arrived at this gathering – they were the only two traditional canoes; the others were fiberglass.


Michael Jackson from Kake, Alaska with dance staff – little does he know Clarissa has her latest Chilkat robe in her arms

I am sorry I cannot provide all the communities who partook in this event though I know Haines/Klukwan, Kake, Juneau and Yakutat were represented.


Clarissa waits for Wayne Price in his dugout canoe to place the Chilkat robe on him


Paddlers raise their paddles enthusiastically as they have permission to come ashore to their hosts homeland

One of my heroes, Ethel Lund (center) flanked by two friends

One of my heroes, Ethel Lund (center) flanked by two friends


Clarissa with her daughter Lily and grandson, Louis Hope


The tide has gone out, the tour ships are leaving Juneau port and the paddlers are coming ashore!


Village of Kake, Alaska paddlers carry their canoe ashore


Deana Dartt-Newton, Wayne Price and Clarissa Rizal


Backside of the “Resilience” Chilkat robe woven by Clarissa worn by friend and carver, Wayne Price


Wayne and Cherri Price stand beside Wayne’s traditional dugout canoe – their entire crew paddled from Haines, Alaska to Juneau to join in the canoe gathering

The dugout and the any paddles were carved by students under the guidance of Wayne Price

The dugout and the any paddles were carved by students under the guidance of Wayne Price

I dare say I have missed out on all the canoe gatherings in the past 20 years, but hey, better late than never!

Tlingit Graduation Cap

Ursala;s Graduation cap

Our family has “style.”  We are very much into creating our own style of dress, decor, language, etc.  My parents were both very stylish and so are my kids.  So when Ursala said she wanted to paint her graduation cap to wear during the Ft. Lewis College ceremony, how could I be surprised?

Clarissa Rizal quickly sketches the design for her daughter’s graduation cap


One-Day Chilkat Skills Class: Gain Confidence As a Chilkat Weaver

Just finished the eyebrows of the Chilkat face – the “being” can now “express” it’s emotions…

I envision many of you Chilkat weavers have started this year off with a project or two on your loom(s), or you are at least intending to complete the one(s) you have on your loom(s) this year!  I would like to help inspire and assist you to complete your project(s) and gain confidence as a weaver of Chilkat.

I will be conducting a workshop in Chilkat weaving for just one day in Juneau the day AFTER Celebration on Sunday, June 15th.  (Some of you who are from out of town may make arrangements to spend another day to attend this valuable workshop!)    My daughter, Lily Hope will be my assistant.

This workshop is for experienced weavers of all levels. “Experienced” meaning you have at least some basic knowledge of how to warp your loom, how to weave the two strand twine and the three-strand braid, etc.  This workshop is about refining your skills and gaining confidence as a weaver of Chilkat.

It doesn’t matter to me if you learned from another Chilkat weaver or were a student of mine, we are all in the same boat – you are welcomed to attend.

The workshop will focus on tricks-of-the-trade skills learned from Jennie Thlunaut and those that I developed the past 30 years of weaving.  These include (but are not limited to):

  • Jennie’s fingering technique for grace, speed and accuracy  (Weave a Chilkat robe in 5 to 6 months instead of a year!  Yes, this can be your reality!)
  • Why we “open wide”  (no, this has nothing to do with mouths)
  • Why we “give it the finger”  (no, this has nothing to do with behavioral problems)  
  • Jennie’s methods of warp markers, creating square corners with your braids, how to interlock gracefully, etc.  (Learned from the  
  • The importance of paying attention to your braids (like the way you pay attention to your hair braids)
  • Why and where you would use two different shades of weft  (even Museum staff wonder why this technique was used in the old robes)
  • How to weave the various types of noses (let’s make the weaving of noses fun!)
  • Which color is woven first when interlocking on a curve (you wouldn’t think so, but this technique is very important)
  • Turning the corners of your eyes (oh so very, very important; the mainstay of Chilkat eyes!)
  • Splicing (you will know when you are doing this wrong!)
  • the “fast-black” weavers (is it a person, place or thing?)
  • spinning warp tricks-of-trade (fine warp and weft produces fine weave)
  • how to avoid shoulder, neck and back aches  (what!?  As if this is important!?)
  • exercise while weaving  (yep, get on the ball, folks; tone yourself up while you weave!)
  • why it is best to have several weavings going at once  (like I have time to weave more than one weaving!?)
  • And whatever else you need to know!  (Be assertive; create your list of questions now and bring them to class!)


  • Sunday, June 15, 2014  (the day after Celebration ends)   
  • 9am to 3pm

TBA — I have not found a location just yet.  I am looking into this.  The location depends on the number of people who are interested in this workshop.  I may conduct the workshop in someone’s home if we have 10 people or less (because I like having a kitchen so we can eat!), or if we have more than 10,  we conduct the workshop in an office boardroom or possibly the JACC, etc.

If you have a suggestion for a location, please let me know.


  • I will not be supplying any materials and supplies.  You must bring your own loom already “dressed” with your weaving project on it.
  • If you need any warp to start a new project before this class begins,  I will contact our two warp spinners  Ricky Tagaban or Teahonna James; place your orders ASAP.


  • You will need to bring your own weaving project already on your loom; also your own tapestry needle, scissors, twine, notebook, pen/pencil, camera
  • You may take as many photographs as you want though I will not allow video taping.
  • bring food to share (we will be eating our lunch together)


  • bring your own body ball (click here to see what this is)

Deadline for sign up:

  • June 10
  • Maximum # of students:  20


  • $50  cash, check, or visa
  • Make payment by June 10th; the earlier the better to reserve your spot in the class
  • I will be in Juneau by June 10th
  • If you need to pay via visa, we can meet up and I’ll swipe your card on my “Square”; if you pay by check, make it out to “Clarissa Rizal” – and of course, cash keeps things simple and is always welcome!

After Class at 4-5pm:
Directly after class, for about an hour or so, I will be available to talk to those of you who want to be a self-employed artist; those who want to weave, weave and weave, but are wary about making a living at your work.  I know that after 37 years of being a full-time, self-employed artist working in a variety of mediums and raising three kids and a husband all the while, I am a living testament to “it can be done!”   I can help provide you some advice and opportunities which may assist you in working towards this goal.   I will provide you with a list of do’s and don’ts, grant organizations, entrepreneur classes at IAIA, and a couple of methods to make residual income.  There will be no charge for this information.  Let me know if you are interested and I will pencil you in!

if you are interested in taking this one-day class, contact me via phone (970-903-8386) or email (clarissa@www.clarissarizal.com).

Let’s face it, we’re going to have a blast!  (Like “Hello!”  —   imagine a room of weavers “weaving on the ball!”)

Thank you for your time and interest!

Weavers Gather to Demonstate at Clan Conference 2013

Della Cheney and Percy Kunz demonstrates cedar bark weaving at the Weavers’ Gathering demonstration during the Clan Conference in Juneau, 2009

Once again, the Clan Conference will convene in Juneau at Centennial Hall Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 7, 8, & 9th.  This is a time of shared and gained educational experiences from the Native and/or collegiate perspective.   For more information on the details of the Clan Conference and a listing of the lectures, please click here to visit the website.  or click here for the Juneau Empire’s announcement of the Clan Conference.

Chilkat, Ravenstail, Cedar bark and Spruce root weavers will gather together in the lobby of Centennial Hall for the entire three days, 10am to 4pm to share their knowledge.  In 2009, the presentation was a big hit, we’ve been asked to demonstrate again.   Click here to see past photos of the weavers’ demonstration.

We welcome weavers to join us and participate in this fun endeavor!  Contact Clarissa Rizal or Lily Hope  if you are interested!

Past Public Art Projects


The photos in this blog entry represent a few public art created since 1987 to present day.  (No, they’re not in chronological order according to date completed).  Some of these art installations are carved, painted, inlaid; some are beaded sculptures using 4mm and 6mm Czech fire-polished and Austrian crystal beads; and some are hand-sewn wool fabrics with buttons and seed beads.

“Dancing Northern Lights” – Anchorage Senior Living apartment complex atrium, Anchorage, Alaska Czech and Austrian Crystal beads, 4 to 5-foot lengths by 35 feet of beadwork

“Going to the Potlatch” – MV Kennicott cafeteria, Bellingham, Washington – carved, painted, airbrushed, beaded & button work – 4.5 feet high x 15 feet wide

“Salmon Return” – Mt. Roberts Tramway stairwell, Juneau, Alaska – Czech and Austrian crystal beads – 4.5 feet wide x 28 feet long

“Salmon Return” detail

“Shaman With Spirit Guides” – SEARHC (Southeast Alaska Regional Health Corporation) foyer, Sitka, Alaska – carved and painted central panel, hand-sewn applique and mother-of-pearl buttons on wool – 4.5 feet high x 15 feet wide


“Following Our Ancestors’ Trail” – Alaska Native Medical Center hospital 2nd floor entry, Anchorage, Alaska – carved, painted, airbrushed, copper in-lay, mother-of-pearl buttons, brass brads – 9 feet high x 11.5 feet wide


“Following Our Ancestors’ Trail”

the character with the spear represents “..represents .gathering from the sea”

“Following Our Ancestors’ Trail” was the theme for the Sealaska Heritage Institute’s “Celebration” in 1992.  We created a hand-silkscreened poster with this image.  This carving for the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska is on the 2nd floor entry.  It is mounted to the curved wall of the “meditation room.”

copper pennies for the eyes….

the character carrying the “basket of berries” represents “..represents .gathering from the land…”

the character in the center carrying the copper T’naa represents the “…history, culture, arts and wealth…”

…the large character in the center design field’s face has hand-pounded copper eyebrows and eyeballs…the large image represents the face of the sun

the character with dance staff is the “elder leading the way along the ancestors’ trail…”

Mother-of-pearl buttons are nailed down with copper brads.  The humans moving in the same direction as salmon…represents living with the natural cycle of life.

view of the right side of the curved wall mural of “Following Our Ancestors’ Trail…”

the inside of the “meditation room…”

full view of “Following Our Ancestors’ Trail…” – the footprints on a path, the ancestors’ trail and the path of the sun; the humans are the “rays of light” as the sun rises, life everlasting


Bogs in Alaskan Bogs

Childrens’ “Bogs” at the beach

I cannot remember the first time I saw those colorful, clunky, rubber boots called “Bogs” but for sure it was up in Juneau, the rain country.  The brand name of Bogs most likely comes from the fact that these boots are worn where there’s an unlimited supply of water; that would be Southeast Alaska!  There are even Bogs for children, even itty bitty children who are just able to walk, and of course, once little ones learn how to walk, they are vulnerable to wet weather just like we are, but even more so because they are closer to the puddles since they are shorter; see?

Little kid’s bogs next to the latest in Bog style; I call it “Spider Woman’s Bogs!”

I have never desired to wear Bogs – they are too colorful, too bulky and too heavy and I don’t want to be wearing something that suggests that there must be a lot of wet weather.  Let’s say I am in denial of all the rain in Southeast Alaska!  I won’t wear a raincoat; have never owned one.  I won’t use an umbrella; though I’ll use one in Colorado, and I’ve never worn those brown rubber boots that everyone else has worn in Southeast Alaska for at least 50 years!  Nope, not me.

Wore my bogs while blue berry picking up a mountainside in Haines, Alaska

But then one day, I walked into Shoefly shoe store in Juneau and there were these weird-looking, up-to-the-knee boots with a herring-bone pattern; they came in red and black.  I was actually in the market for a pair of “normal” shoes since all I have are either boots or sandals, nothing in between.  Oh well, I tried on these boots and they are like waterproof, thinly-insulated, high-top moccasins!  So dang comfortable that there’s no such thing as “breaking them in.”  I bought them specifically for the wet weather on beaches, in the woods, up the trails, rocky pathways and of course, in the bogs!  That’s right.  These are the truly remarkable, light-weight, stylish “Bogs in Alaska Bogs!”

“Spider Woman Bogs” fishing in Hoonah, Alaska

Go get yourself a pair at $110.  They have inspired me to get my muscles back into shape because I just love walking in them.  They’ve got good grip for boat decks, keep you feet dry no matter what, and golly, I’ve been mistaken for Spider Woman on occasion, and I kinda like being incognito for awhile!

“Spider Woman’s bogs” amongst the skunk cabbage while on the way to nagoon berry patch

In the back of the truck riding through the Hoonah mountain side looking for more berries – notice the bag of blueberries at the left foot of “Spider Woman’s bogs”…


Fishing/Berrypickin’ Labor Day Weekend In Hoonah, Alaska

Humpback whale in Hoonah harbor

After anticipations to teach a weaving class in Hoonah were postponed until next year, I figured I would not be visiting Hoonah during this Summer’s weaving tour – however, a few days before Labor Day, my friend Margie mentioned that she wanted to go to Hoonah, and without a beat I exclaimed “When?…Let’s go!”  We made acommodation arrangements with our mutual friend, Darlene and we were on!

Margaret waits at the dock

I cannot remember when I took a vacation on Labor Day weekend, or if I had ever done one in the past at all!  Golly!  After Margie and I spent the previous week picking berries and preparing them for winter, we jumped the ferry to Hoonah!  Yaaaaah!  We are going after fish and berries!

MV Talatche docked at Hoonah Harbor – it’s for sale

Like all Southeastern Alaska towns, there are various shades of gray:  gray green, gray blue, gray white, gray black, gray yellow,…gray this and that mixed in with a bit of color here and there – the following photos will show you a hint of our color scheme here in our beloved “north country”….

Bull whips mingle amongst the kelp and seaweeds

On our way….

The dock at low tide…

Discovering color…

Darlene heads us out towards Icy Straits

Depth finder and reel

Fishing comrade…

Removing hook from the Coho…

Heading home….(notice the red bogs; Spider Woman!)

Boat 1

Boat 2

Thank you Darlene for taking us out fishing and driving around the mountain sides searching for big blueberries!  We had a great time even if it did rain all weekend!  We Alaskans know that if we waited for good weather to do anything, nothing would get done!  We are born with the color gray!

Boat 3

We brought home the salmon, marinated the strips overnight in a special “Filipino-influenced” brine, ready for the smoker!

Favorite part of smoking salmon is packing the jars before the water bath.