A field trip to the museum with master weaver Delores Churchill
Sealaska Heritage is sponsoring a spruce-root weaving mentor apprenticeship program in an effort to revitalize this ancient but endangered art form of spruce root weaving. Students this week visited the Father Andrew P. Kashevarof State Library, Archives and Museum with master Haida weaver Delores Churchill to view the state’s extensive collection of traditional baskets.
The visit began with a walk through the museum gallery with Churchill and Curator of Collections Steve Henrikson … and continued with a visit to the museum vault.
Delores Churchill describes the weaving techniques used in two baskets found in archeological excavations at South Baranov Island (4-5000 yrs old) and Thorne River (approx. 5-6,000 yrs old.) Steve’s wife Janice Criswell helped excavate the Thorn River Basket. The “new” basket in the middle is a replica of the Thorne River Basket that was recreated by Delores Churchill. She says she thinks it was created by a beginner because some of the warp is thick, and some is thin.
Clan hat display in the clan house area of the museum.
Steve Henrikson looks at baskets with Delores Churchill.
Debbie McLavey, Delores Churchill and Steve Henrikson.
Spruce root baskets. The on the left was purchased on eBay for $75. The one on the right shows examples of false embroidery.
Debbie McLavey, Delores Churchill, and Kathy Marvin examine spruce root baskets while Yolanda Fulmer, Hans Chester and Mary Bernhardt look at which baskets they may want a closer look at.
Delores Churchill, Corinne Parker, Yolanda Fulmer, Hans Chester, Kathy Marvin take a closer look at a spruce root woven (cup?)
Delores Churchill, Corinne Parker, and Hans Chester.
Delores Churchill, Corinne Parker, Yolanda Fulmer, Hans Chester, Kari Groven take a closer look while taking photos of a spruce root basket
Delores Churchill and Yolanda Fulmer.
Hans Chester, Corinne Parker, Delores Churchill, Kari Groven, Debbie McLavey, Yolanda Fulmer.
Hans Chester and Delores Churchill.
Kathy Marvin, Delores Churchill, Has Chester, Yolanda Fulmer, Debbie McLavey, Kari Groven, Janice Criswell, and Corinne Parker.
Hans Chester takes a closer look at a large harvesting basket woven by Delores’ mother Selena Peratrovich
Corinne Parker takes photos of spruce root woven over glass vases and bottles.
More spruce root baskets.
Steve Henrikson, Delores Churchill, and Corinne Parker look at a spruce root basket with a geese flying pattern false embroidered with maidenhair fern.
Group shot. Earlier in the project, students learned to gather and process spruce roots with Mary Lou King and Janice Criswell. Churchill, who is internationally recognized for her mastery of spruce-root weaving, will teach apprentices to weave over two sessions through the end of the year.
Anyone interested in studying items in the museum's collection can contact their staff and schedule some research time. (Photos by Davina Cole)