Posted by R. John Howe on 11-03-2003 07:32 PM:

Chilkat Dancing Blanket Weaver Responds

Dear folks -

As I indicated previously my ACOR 7 materials indicated that Clarissa Hudson, a weaver of Chilkat items, will demonstrate this kind of weaving during the conference. And there will be an exhibition of Chilkat dancing blankets.

I pursued the organizers of ACOR 7, obtained Ms. Hudson's email address and wrote her telling of our salon discussion and inviting her to contribute.

Tonight she sent me the following email which I am quoting:

"I read your entire summary.

"It was good to read; fascinating comparison with the Turkman's weavings.

"I especially liked the very last image; absolutely a beautiful piece; it may inspire my present weaving as i have another robe on the loom. (I usually have a robe on the loom, as it is almost a "sin" to have an empty robe loom.)

"I have a few things to add to your essay, since you did invite me to comment....

"Chilkat weaving originated from the Nass River in B.C. The tribe of people who inhabited the Nass River, and continue to do so today, are called the Nisga'a. The anthropologists, at one time, grouped all of the people of a certain area into one tribal category, and called them Tsimpshian. the tsimpshian inhabit the Skeena River and surrounding areas. There is much controversy today among the the two tribes claiming ownership to where Chilkat weaving originated...........I tend
to go along with the story that has travelled for many years up and down the coastline: ".....Chilkat weaving came from the Nass
River.....a Chilkat woman was married to a Nisga'a man and went to the Nass river to live with him there; years later, upon her death, the husband's family presented a Chilkat apron, which was woven by her, to her family in the village of Klukwan. It was the relatives of the woman, the Raven clan women, who unravelled the apron to discover how it was woven, and then re-wove this day, that apron exists."

"Just this summer I taught Chilkat weaving to a Nisga'a woman from the Nass River. This story has been in her family.

"Yes, it is true, the gathering of mountain goat wool does indeed come from the hide of dead goats; as there is no way we can domesticate the wild creatures even if we wanted to. Yet, none of us want to because it is not our nature to do so. Sometimes, we can gather the wool off of the low bushes up in the high country----if we know where to go and it is not too treacherous! the mountain goats have methods for shedding their winter coats in mid-summer; one technique is by running through the low-lying bushes---hikers/hunters see the amazing fluffy white bushes seemingly blooming wool! Oh, and such delight to pick the
wool off of the bushes--so much easier than pulling it off of the hide!

"There are very few people who know how to design for chilkat robes; it is true the men generally design the robes, and there are only a handful out there, but there are a few women like myself who can draw, weave and design! whoa! Rare combo! I didn't know how rare it was until I was in it....!

"Thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute.



My thanks to Clarissa in turn for her comments here. I told her we look forward to meeting her next March in Seattle.


R. John Howe

Posted by Steve Price on 11-04-2003 05:10 AM:

Hi John

Thank Clarissa for me, too. Her contribution is fabulous - we don't see comments directly from weavers of traditional textiles very often (I can't recall any in the oriental rug literature). This is the crown jewel on your Salon. It leaves me grasping for words. I'm not finding them.

Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 11-04-2003 06:18 AM:

Well, I do have a few words. A question, actually: could she comment about the interpretation of designs presented on the "Chilkat Distributed Abstraction Evaluated" thread?
Many thanks and regards to Clarissa,


Posted by R. John Howe on 11-04-2003 07:14 AM:

Hi Filiberto -

Yes, I was hoping that she might comment on that too, and I'll ask her. I think she may have read the salon essay but it would be understandable if she found the additional task of reading all the discussion posts, daunting.

She may be one of those people who would prefer to weave than to talk. Imagine that.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 11-05-2003 06:37 AM:

Additional Information About Clarissa Hudson

Dear folks -

Filiberto has asked a further question of Clarissa Hudson, the Chilkat weaver who has provided a comment in our salon here.

She may still respond before the salon closes tonight, but regardless there is actually quite a bit of information about her on the Internet.

Here is a bio link that gives her background and her picture.

And here is the home page of her own web site that contains lots of information about her work.



R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 11-05-2003 06:50 AM:

Dear folks -

And here is a link in which a modern writer talks about how the Chilkat weaver approaches her work.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 11-05-2003 06:56 AM:

Dear folks -

Here is one more link, one that tells how Clarissa Hudson came to be a Chilkat weaver. It also indicates that Cheryl Samuel was herself a weaver of the textiles she wrote about and conducted the original workshop in which Hudson was introduced to this sort of weaving.

So with Ms. Hudson's comment, we come full circle to the author of the book that triggered this salon.


R. John Howe