I am overwhelmed with gratitude for every person here.
Hannah Jones who made this exhibit so beautiful & Deb Sweet who helped build the weaving programs at BARN.
Dan Hinkley, one of the original Heronswood Founders, who now offers his guidance and expertise as the Port Gamble S’Klallam Foundation breathes life back into the Heronswood Garden.
(These are my “notes” for the March 9th reception at Heronswood. I apologize for my mistakes and for my child-like pronounciation of the S’Klallam language.)
“Haat N’n Sun, Haat N’n Sun C-M” Which in the S’Klallam language means: Thank you, Thank you High Status People
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for being invited by the Port Gamble S’Klallam, who are “The Strong People”, and the owners of Heronswood Garden. I am grateful to Dan Hinkley, Joan Garrow, and Hannah Jones for inviting me to exhibit my work here in the company of other cedar weavers I admire and respect – Darlene Peters, Melissa Streun, Polly Adams Sutton, and Sue Skelly. I especially wish to thank Darlene Peters for welcoming us and helping us all understand that traditional weaving is much more than just thread, that the warps and wefts represent those who have helped us along the way.
I am grateful for all my teachers – Ed Carriere being the foremost – for sharing their knowledge with me. Many of my teachers – from First Peoples communities – taught that practicing traditional skills like weaving with Cedar is part of their oral tradition – You can’t really learn it well from books – It is best to learn by doing – Having a relationship with a teacher that shows you when & where to gather – how to process and store the fibers – how to use them to make objects of beauty and utility.
By practicing the art form in this way there is a teacher – apprentice relationship – an understanding of reciprocity between people, and plants in the landscape is passed from teacher to student as part of a continuum.
Like time capsules – Each piece of art and weaving in this exhibit contains a story – About how we learned – our teachers – who we gathered with – places we went – feelings & events we were living through at the time.
If we have learned well – gathered – dried – stored our materials properly – the materials will last until the impulse comes to use them – a gift needed – a birthday – a graduation – an honoring – a memorial.
We pull out the materials then for final preparation and weaving – and a sensory memory is awakened – we are brought back to places – people – teachers – and all of this is contained in each piece wrapped around you here today.
Brief Timeline Where Cedar has led me:
In the 1980’s, Mary Catherine Kolb invited me to teach basket-weaving to a group of mothers at her Indianola Pre-School. Now our children are grown, but those baskets remain somewhere in our homes.
In the 1990’s, Cedar led me to the Little Boston Canoe Shed with Ed Carriere, to learn with Jake Jones and Duane Pasco, to make tools and carve bentwood boxes, shred cedar bark and to help Ed teach his classes. There I met Betty, later to become Betty Pasco, who just a few years ago wove the first cedar sail to be used on a canoe on the Salish Sea in generations.
In the 2000’s Cedar led me to Linda Strickler & Jennifer Dixon – who led me to IslandWood, where I met Educator’s – LeeAnn Woolery, Makita Wilborn, Denise Dumouchel, Karen Salisbury, Jess Henderson, Ellen Miyasato, and many others who have helped me learn to be a better teacher.
There I also met Skokomish Elder, Bruce Miller, and Vi Hilbert, Upper Skagit Cultural Teacher. Vi Hilbert is the person that inspired me to weave the Wing titled “Kulshan Rainbow”. The words and images of both these elders are documented and preserved by Film-maker Katie Jennings, of New Canoe Media, who I also met at IslandWood. In 2011 she produced the movie “Clam Basket”, a life-long dream for Ed Carriere & me, which you can see playing here, or watch on Vimeo or U-Tube.
The Suquamish Basket Marsh was dedicated at Suquamish Elementary School in the early 2000’s, and there Darlene Peters said: “Weaving has always been a part of the First People’s Traditional culture here. Now it is part of the healing for our people. We are stitching and mending the culture back together.”
Darlene’s words spoke truth to me – because Cedar came to me during a time of personal loss – I understand the healing qualities of working with this material – to touch and smell it – even to hold a basket made with cedar.
It’s like planting a seed – Something inside of you changes – Maybe an openness comes to a new thought – or form, to an old idea – Something good about this tree that people have known for thousands of years comes through – A gratitude grows and blossoms into something we couldn’t have imagined.
In closing I’d like to thank:
My dad, Mel Haug, for teaching me how to use tools at an early age & showing me how to laugh at myself. He is soon to turn 90!
My husband, Paul, & our Sons, Spencer and Jeff, for building me a studio which is my special place of weaving, where I always feel good. (And those who raised the timberframe: James Strickler, Mike Stuntz, Miles Koivu, Mat Helgeson & Dan Nicoles)
My daughter-in-law, Elizabeth – daughter-in-love, Katie – for being the strong women you are – and my grandchildren, Camas, Asha, and Calla, for helping me with my weaving lessons, and crazy art ideas.
All of you – Family – Friends – Fellow artists – Former Students – Plant – Art – Culture Appreciators – You are my community –
Thank you for recognizing us as Cedar Weavers here today.
“Haat N’n Sun C-M”, Thank you High Status People.
And I am Grateful for All of My Teachers Listed Below:
Melinda West 2019
Northwest Plant Fiber Artist
Melinda West lives with her husband in Indianola, Washington. Originally, a pediatric nurse, since 1985 she has studied basketry and plant fiber technology with many excellent teachers, the foremost being Ed Carriere, of the Suquamish Tribe, who is a master at clam baskets, burden baskets, folded bark pouches, cedar garments, cedar weirs & shrimp traps, as well as canoe, post & paddle carving, from Indianola, WA. She has also studied with: wool, cedar, and plant fiber weavers, the late Fran James, her son Bill James, and the late Anna Jefferson, all of the Lummi Nation, near Bellingham, WA; author, teacher, & carver of canoes, house poles, masks & bentwood boxes, Duane Pasco; Betty Pasco, Suquamish master weaver of wool, cedar baskets & maker of the first cedar sail seen in use on the Salish Sea in the last 100 + years; her first basket teacher, Gwen Baughman, of Leavenworth, WA; artist, Karen Mittet, and cedar weaver Patti Canoy, of Poulsbo, WA; tool maker and carver, Loren White, of Port Orchard, WA; cedar, bear grass, and raffia basket weaver, the late Lillian Pullen, of the Quileute Nation, La Push, WA; cedar basket and cape weavers, Melissa Peterson Renault and Deanna Gray, of the Makah Nation, Neah Bay, WA; coiled sweetgrass and raffia basket weaver, the late Richard Cultee, and wool and cedar weaver and cultural teacher, the late Bruce Miller, both of the Skokomish Tribe, WA; cultural and Lushootseed Language speaker, teacher and storyteller, the late Vi Hilbert, Upper Skagit Nation, WA; cultural teacher, singer and storyteller, Johnny Moses, Tulalip and Snoqualmie Nations, WA; cedar basket weaver, Harvest Moon, of the Quinalt Nation, WA; basket weaver and founder of the NW Basketweavers Guild, the late Vi Phillips, and sumi painter, Angie Dixon, Whidbey Island, WA; cedar and plant fiber weaver, Jo Hart, Seabeck, WA; basket weavers, Michelle Berg, Polly Sutton, Pat Peese, the late Phyllis Pearson, Marilyn Moore, Dee Dee Harris, cedar bark cape weaver, Sue English, milestone cement artist, Lynn DiNino, and Hmong bamboo weaver from Laos, Nhia Yia Heu, all based in Seattle, WA; ikebana artist, Barbie Brooking, visual artist, Tony Dattilo, ceramic artist, Bridget Young, acrylic painter, Sydni Sterling, formline design painter, Craig Jacobrown, all of Indianola, WA; cattail and cedar weaver and artist, Pegie Deam, of the Suquamish Nation, Suquamish, WA; visual artist Peggy Vanbianchi, and native plant specialist, Ron Vanbianchi, of Kingston, WA; Ravenstail and Chilkat weaver, Evelyn Vanderhoop, of the Haida Nation, Haida Gwai; spruce root, cedar, Ravenstail, and Chilkat weaver, Deloris Churchill, and cedar weaver, Holly Churchill, Haida, both of Ketchikan, Alaska; Salish wool weaver, student and niece of the late Skokomish culture bearer Bruce Miller, Susan Pavel, of Skokomish, WA; plant fiber weaver and artist, the late Judy Zaffaroni, ethnobotanist and plant fiber weaver, Margaret Mathewson, and basket weaver, Deb Curtis, of Oregon; bamboo artist, Jiro Yanezawa, Japan; paper maker and plant weaver, Sue Smith, from Texas; gut weaver and artist, Judy Dominic, from Ohio; plant fiber weaver and stone sculptor, Dawn Walden, Ojibway, from Michigan; plant fiber weaver, Judy Zugish, and skeined willow weaver, William Roeder, of Marysville, WA; rustic furniture maker, Jeanne Pepper, from B.C., Canada; weaver and paper sculptor, Mary Merkell Hess, from Iowa; alternative materials artist, John Garrett, from New Mexico; willow weaver, Katherine Lewis, of Mt. Vernon, WA; fabric weaver, Caroline Coolie Browne, and wire weaving artist, Kristin Tollefson, from Bainbridge, WA; Suquamish Salish wool weaver, the late Virginia Adams, of Suquamish, WA; cedar hat weaving, Kathey Ervin, Sequim, WA; use of birch bark, Karen Sherwood, Issaquah, WA; Peeta Tinay, wickerwork, Tacoma, WA.
Cedar Pillows by Sue Skelly
Cedar, Ash & Copper Wire by Polly Adams Sutton
Cedar, Ash & Copper Wire by Polly Adams Sutton
Cedar, Ash & Copper Wire by Polly Adams Sutton
Amazing Sculpture by Sue Skelly
Cedar pieces by Melissa Streun, Polly Adams Sutton, & on wall, Sue Skelly
Darlene Peters with old baskets made by her ancestors.
Cedar pieces by Melissa Streun.
A sneak peak at the exhibit with Jackie Abrams & Polly Adams Sutton.
If you made it this far, then you also might enjoy the Brochure that Hannah Jones put together so nicely.