Chilkat Apprentices Complete Chilkat Apron


The older Chilkat apron, most likely started by Doris Kyber-Gruber in the early 70s is held in front of the new Chilkat apron started by Doris’ friend, Dodie Gannet in the late 80s — The folks have finished the newer apron! They are (LtoR): Sally Ishikawa, Jodi Zimmerman, Margaret Jeppesen, Margaret Woods, Stephany Anderson and their consultant Ravenstail weaver extraordinaire, John Beard — December 2014

The “Apron Apprentices” (as they call themselves) have completed the Chilkat apron!  Congratulations!  The dedication is commendable!  Here is a video clip showing the removal-of-the-apron-from-the-loom today by Ann Carlson –

Here’s an earlier blog post from December 2014 when I helped guide these weavers with a few more tricks of the trade in Chilkat weaving and this post also provides a story about how this apron came into the hands of these fiber artists/weavers in Oregon:

Thank you to Deana Dartt, Curator of Native American art at the Portland Art Museum for providing financial support in helping these weavers to complete this apron.  The apron will become part of their permanent collection, which is befitting because of the lineage of Chilkat weavings that PAM has in its collection.  We believe that there is no other institution that has the lineage of teacher/student/teacher/student, etc. as the following:

*  Chilkat robe woven by Jennie Thlunaut’s auntie who taught Jennie how to weave

*  Chilkat tunic woven by Jennie

*  Chilkat robe woven by Clarissa, apprentice to Jennie

*  Chilkat aprons:  the older unfinished one woven by Doris (a student of Jennie’s in the late 60s/early 70s); the most recently completed apron started by Doris’ friend Dodie Gannett (who was learning from Doris), eventually completed 30 years later by the “Apron Apprentices.”

*  Commissioned Chilkat robe woven by Lily Hope, apprentice to Clarissa — this robe will be completed by January 2017

Creating Living Legacies


Gusts of wind at Monument Valley, near Kayenta, New Mexico — March 2016 — photo by Rene Sioui Labelle

When we are young, many of us do not think in terms of the legacy we leave behind for our children, friends, family, community and the world.  When we are young we are looking forward to all that life has to offer and we make choices based on our desires; this is natural way to think and be.  Then one day, when we are much older than young (and for each individual that age varies), we reflect upon our lives; all those who we have come to love, the places we have lived, the work we have done, and our basic yet evolving character.  We think about our pending mortality.  We think about what we will do, and where we will be with whatever time we have left.  We think about who we have become and what we have accomplished and the who, what, and where these things will be when we pass.  Yesterday my daughter, Lily wrote me a touching letter of gratitude for showing her the way and life of Chilkat weaving.  The following is my response to her:

My Lily Lalanya:

With each of my children and their children, I leave a part of my legacy; it’s the who and what I am about.

With Kahlil, I leave a variety of my artwork:  painting, collage, weaving

With Ursala, I leave my home, studio, garden

With you, I leave my teachings of spirituality, values and technique of  the spiritual/artistic life in Chilkat weaving

Know and come to understand fully all these things are rooted in love.  Everything I co-create is created from love and the best of these creations are my children; my children are my greatest legacy.   In love you were created and creation continues to create you in love.  Look about you and all that you are and be; look at all that you have co-created as you will never create any of what you are and have by yourself — all of creation is co-created…we never create alone. 

We are a culmination of all that has been before, what is now and the future all at once in one small creation:  the I of who we are in this very moment.  All of us are legacies of everyone who has come before us.

It is well you, my dear Lily, are in the love and power of Chilkat; let it continue to guide you in goodness and wellness for many, many years to come.  

Yo Mamma love

Skirting the Saguaros


Red Ocotillo blossoms amongst Saguaros — all photos by Rene Sioui LaBelle and Clarissa Rizal– copyright 2016 — (photograph hint::  all photos with depth of field are Rene’s)

Even two days ago I did not know I would be amongst these amazing “people”…the Saguaros of Southern Arizona.  I was planning on taking my friend, Rene to the Sonoran desert so he can take photos of the flowering desert, alas, but once we arrived here we found out from the Visitor’s Center that the cactus flowers did not bloom as profusely this mid-March because the area had a warm spell back in February.  So instead, since we were in the area, we visited the Saguaro National Park.  Being amongst these “people” was a happy experience.  It’s only obvious these “people” welcome us with open (upward swing) arms!  Like what does that say to us:  “Welcome to our land…!”


“Welcome to our country!  Let us direct you this way…!”

The saguaro has been called monarch of the Sonoran Desert, supreme symbol of the American Southwest, and a plant with personality.  It is renowned for the variety of odd, all-too-human shapes it assumes—shapes that inspire wild and fanciful imaginings.  Since 1933 this extraordinary giant cactus has been protected within Saguaro National Park.  Preserved within it are other members of the Sonoran Desert community:  other cacti, desert trees and shrubs, and animals.  In lushness and variety of life, the Sonoran Desert far surpasses all other North American deserts.  And yet it is one of the hottest and driest regions on the continent.


Rene takes a moment to pose for the sunset

Summer midday temperatures commonly climb above 100 degrees, although our visit was a mild 75 degrees in late March.  Less than 12 inches of rain falls in a typical year.  Between the summer and wintery seasons it’s not unusual for months to pass without a drop of rain.  Plants and animals able to survive in this environment, with adaptations specially designed for desert survival, make up one of the most interesting and unusual ecosystems in the United States.


Smokey Blue Tucson Mountains

This world awaits you in the desert plains, mountains and foothills of Saguaro National Park.  So what are you waiting for!?!?!  After 24 years of living in the Four Corners area of the U.S., how come it has taken me that long to finally visit these people and their land!?  Readers, if you are in the Phoenix/Tuscon area, please take a day and get your boost of happiness and peace!  Forget paying a shrink for your emotional problems; just get out on the land and run, sit, relax, have a picnic, play music, take photos and hymn with the silence.  It is here you can bury any sorrows or unpleasant memories.  The Saguaro are a happy and people; allow them to be your compassionate hosts!


First real outing with the CX-90 Volvo

There are two parts to the Saguaro National Park:  Saguaro East–Rincon Mountain District and Saguaro West–Tucson Mountain District.  We visited the latter with the background of the Tucson Mountains.  The park is open daily except Christmas Day.  It’s a normal park with its Visitor Center, self-guiding trails, picnic tables, pit toilets, campground and even back-country campsites (only in the East Rincon District).  If you are a star gazer such as I, hanging out here during the full moon would be exquisite, however, the park closes their gates directly after sunset (no matter what time of year).  Other than your camera(s), make sure you bring plenty of water (for you, your pet, your vehicle, etc.), first aid kit, food, flashlight and a blanket (just in case you break park rules and spend the night under the stars!).


Rene scopes

Rene and I spent the day here.   I took a few photos upon arrival, but I was compelled to play my flute, sing chants and then run amongst the rock, variety of cactus and the sun to my west, leaving Rene to several hours to himself and his camera.  All photos posted are by Rene Sioui LaBelle and myself.   Let these images inspire you to visit the famous Saguaro soon; they live no where else on this planet!


Families catch the last rays of the day


Cholla cactus blossoms


Clarissa runs



More Cholla cactus blossoms


Golden land






Good night!  Buenas Noches!  Bon Soir!

Visiting 1000’s at the Botanical Gardens


Checking out the most delicate of trees — photos by Rene Sioui LaBelle and Clarissa Rizal — copyright March 2016

Nature naturally inspires the human being to become more than cave folk, huddlums and geeks.  The Great Creator God wanted to speed up all of creativity because God was impatient to experience more of what is and will become and needed more “hands” so voile’, humans were born!   Everything we create is God-born and bred, even our messes, catastrophes, and you name it, violent.  Nature is consistently violated, yet nature too is violent.   Nature and God work hand in hand; we have one born of another, the Great Creator.  The duality of the glorified magnificence and the degenerating demise of Nature, mankind and all of creation is the IS.   Let’s experiment with our perceptions:  The eyes in which we see our Creator are the same eyes our Creator sees us.  If we were to think this upon everything we see, then how would we be perceived by every plant, bug, animal, human and the Creator?

The following photographs are mine and Rene’s photos taken during our day trip to the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona.  As we saw all that we saw, how was it for the rest of this creation to see us?

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In Memory of Louise Dangeli

Louise Dangeli weaves Chilkat -- 1991

Louise Dangeli weaves Chilkat — 1991

Every late night

He would take himself down

off the cross

tucking the nails neatly

into the chambers of creation

breathing in the earth

through His feet

a tender smile

accentuated His grace

as He touched what She touched

as He saw what She saw

as He heard what She prayed each day

for the love and safety and peace

for Her family, friends and all She knew

near and far

He answered with His blessing

and presence

by dawn He would climb back up

to His position

though with a lighter heart

knowing fully well Her world

They created

was good

Louise Dangeli “walked into the woods” on Valentine’s Day.  She was one of my very first Chilkat weaving students 25 years ago in 1991, with her daughter Arlene and Carol McCormick (grand-daughter of the McCormick herbs/spices).   She was one of the most outspoken women I have met who did so with soft-spoken, firm grace, so when I found out that one of her clan emblems is the Beaver, that said everything.  I have noticed that grace is a trait of those born in the Beaver clan.  We will miss you, Louise, though many of us are learning your grace.

Helen Watkins “Walked Into the Woods”


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.


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:

Her obituary is at:!/Obituary

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


Artists-in-Residence Have Officially Landed in Tulsa


Nine of the 12 chosen for the inaugural Tulsa Artists Fellowships during a reception at 108 Contemporary in the Brady District in Tulsa, OK, Jan. 8, 2016. (front, from left) Molly Dilworth, Chris Ramsay, Alice Leora Briggs, Nick Vaughan (back, from left) Clarissa Rizal, Eric Sall, Akiko Jackson, Rena Detrixhe and Crystal Z. Campbell. Not pictured are Gary Kachadourian, Monty Little and Nathan Young. Photo courtesy: Michael Wyke/Tulsa World

Now that we have been caught on camera and advertised in the local newspaper “Tulsa World”, everyone can agree that we have officially landed in Tulsa!  Click here to read about the inaugural Tulsa Artist Residency 2016

Checking Out the Philbrook Museum


We rode the trolley to the Phibrook Museum

Only recently in the past few years have I come to appreciate museums.  We must understand that I was not born to a culture who kept old objects staging stagnant in an old building.  In fact, when I was a child, I literally thought museums were haunted houses.  They were dark, windowless, lifeless nooks and crannies where all the objects collected dust which made the pieces even look older and scarier!


The ceiling of the Philbrook entry

Fortunately, with every generation of new directors and curators, we have evolved to where we are today with museums being much more active, inviting locals and visitors alike to partake in rotating exhibits and special events in spaces that have included much more light!

The Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma is an art museum housed in part in a 1920s villa, situated on 23 acres of formal and informal gardens.  The original structure is the former home of Oklahoma oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve (Elliott) Phillips.

The museum opened October 25, 1939. It was known as the Philbrook Art Center until 1987, when the name was changed to Philbrook Museum of Art.[2] The collection housed at the Philbrook Museum of Art includes works fromGiovanni Bellini,[3] William-Adolphe Bouguereau, William Merritt Chase, Leonardo Drew, Arturo Herrera, Charles Loloma,Maria Martinez, Thomas Moran, Pablo Picasso, Fritz Scholder, Tanzio da Varallo, Rachel Whiteread, and Andrew Wyeth. A satellite facility, Philbrook Downtown, opened on June 14, 2013 in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District.


Curator of Modern Art at the Philbrook, Sienna Brown, introduces the “Camoflauge” hand-silkscreened prints by Andy Warhol

The Philbrook Museum is beautiful.  How come; did anyone warn me about its beauty?  I don’t remember.  The history of this museum is just as fascinating as the Gilcrease Museum here in Tulsa too (of which I will include a blog post about when I go visit the Gilcrease (


The outdoor garden of the Philbrook Museum, Tulsa, OK — the fountains were fantastic!

I am always fascinated by the design of buildings.  I especially enjoy old architecture influenced by Europe, especially Italy.  Instead of posting photos of some of the beautiful art in the Philbrook Collection, I have posted a few shots of this building.  You must visit the collection of art in the Philbrook.

Click here to read about the fascinating history of the Philbrook Museum


The Italian-style architecture of the Philbrook

In the near future, I intend on doing a couple of presentations/demonstrations in Chilkat weaving both at the Gilcrease and at the Philbrook.  I just have to get settled into the vibe of Tulsa, talk to the directors, and set the date(s).


Christina Burke explains the old dance floor that changed colors every few seconds in the Philbrook Museum

Notice the dance floor colors in these three photos.  Golly, I’d love to design and build a home/studio/ballroom that has a dance floor with changing colors!

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Making That Move


The U-Haul was packed by a team of movers under the guidance of musician Eric Wade (the tall one)…

It’s not a rumor; I am moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a “job” for the entire year of 2016.   Selected as 1 of 12 inaugural artists from across the nation, the newly-formed Tulsa Artist Residency provides me a one-bedroom apartment which also serves as my studio and TAR provides me a monthly stipend that pretty much pays all my personal bills.  I call TAR my modern-day “sugar daddy” — total support while I do my art and living my life!


With a landmark like this, know we’re in Texas !

Yes, I actually hired movers to pack my U-Haul for me; this is the very first time I’ve ever hired help to do the heavy lifting.  All the times I have moved across this continent and have never thought of hiring out.  Being too old to move heavy objects is what got my mind to think properly:  hire someone else to do the heavy work!


The contractors did not have the elevator completely installed yet, so the movers hauled everything up two flights of stairs…!

These three guys at “Two Guys and a Truck” were my movers.  Very professional, efficient and cordial; check them out on Facebook!  Left to Right:  Jacob, Jerry, and Cory…


“Two Guys & A Truck” Moving Company — The owner Jerry (Center) with his two guys Jacob (L) and Cory (R) — For a tip, I gave them each one of my prints of their choosing…!

I’ve officially landed in Tulsa!


“Two Men and a Truck” — Tulsa, Oklahoma—The three guys took 3.5 hours to unload…!


Grandma Leaves Home at 60


The beginning of a White Christmas


She places white teacups into incubation

For two


Good omen: A single raven flies over the house towards me as I snap this shot

22 years I have lived and worked in this home away from home.   The U-Haul is packed.  Getting the last remnants of possessions tucked into the cabby.  Cleaning up the studio that will be used by my daughter and her husband.  I leave this studio with no intentions of ever living here again.  I go to Tulsa for at least a year to live and work being totally supported by the Tulsa Artist Residency program.  Like awesome Alaska, it is not easy to leave beautiful Colorado.  The hardest part is leaving behind my young grand-daughters and my kids.


Clarissa’s favorite trellised walkway


Clarissa’s Winter Wonderland


Clarissa’s Colorado Studio out back has served her well especially for the past 4.5 years


Clarissa’s Latest Button Blanket Robe: “The River Robe”

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“The River Robe” — latest button blanket robe by Clarissa Rizal in memory of her mother, father and brother — December 2015

When we were kids fishing with our mother at Fish Creek out North Douglas Highway near Eaglecrest in Juneau, Alaska, (this was back in the late 60’s), our mother recalled a memory from her childhood as she looked upon the shallow creek of a few salmon running upstream, and said:  “…In the olden days there were fish so thick we could walk across their backs to the other side…” — This is the name and meaning of this button robe.


Using dark Mother-of-Pearl buttons, antique fishing lures and 100% wool appliqued on wool, Clarissa added Czech crystal beads to the tips of the hooks…for safety purposes!

Back in the mid-90’s, I began collecting antique fishing lures.  I bought some from an elderly Swedish man at a garage sale on Saltspring Island, bought some from a garage sale in Juneau, bought some at antique stores wherever I happen to be and whenever I thought of it: in Oregon, Washington State, California and Colorado.  I had every intention of designing and creating a series of button robes embellished with the antique lures. In my vision, the button robes were in honor of all our fishermen from any culture out there in the open ocean, big and small rivers and tiny creeks, all fishing for their supper, their families, and for putting up for winter.


The border of Mother-of-Pearl “salmon eggs” and MOP simulated “fishing hooks” and antique fishing lures — copyright 2015, Clarissa Rizal

Finally, 4 weeks later, I completed the robe today!  The entire time I worked on this robe, I thought of my father and my two older brothers who all were commercial fisherman and fished for themselves, family, friends and community.  And of course, I thought of my mother whose statement she made over 50 years ago was still remembered by her eldest daughter who just had to name a robe in honor of her childhood recollection.  Here’s to my Mom, Dad, Brothers, and all who love salmon fishing!