Food and life in Alaska

It’s been a while since I posted – spring is finally here – the start of a busy summer of harvesting food – on land and water. One of my favorite things to drink that come from the tundra;

There are always some eatable food all around but it requires walk in deep or shallow waters;

Sometimes we are lucky or bust. Even if what your looking is not found it’s always good to roam and look far and wide.

On the tundra going back generations on both my parents side – the tundra is mapped out by memory. Spring calls the migration of the birds and tundra mammals hear the song birds. When snow melts and rivers finally floe freely, its the best time of the year to harvest fresh soul food on the Alaskan land and water.

To my surprise the winter sunlight has bleached the moose hide legs from the fall hunt;

I will make these into kameksak/piluguq. Shorter version like the one my grandma gave to me. I’ll find them somewhere in my craft corner pile;

Not to mention spring and summer, Fairbanks is the capital garage sale in the north. I’ll be searching for a cozy closet for the corner pile. In the meantime – I’ve been in and out of sewing fur. Here are the latest creative ideas;

Left over shaved caribou, caribou fall legs and squirrel purse idea with red thread. I am also working on the toddler squirrel parka;

Sewing on fur side makes it smooth on the other side.

Patching some furs. Measuring and cutting with sharp blade;

The parka will be simple as possible – but ideas are always welcome. I told my mom to bring her simple parka in which it will help me gain ideas.

Springs brings fresh pike dried and roe made into protein dessert, for reals!!!!! My brother and sister in law sent me dried pike and authentic Yupik dessert early spring – quyana;

Thanks to family and friends-past fews days I’ve been energized by neqpiaq (real food) – great company and laughter, quyana for sharing your celebration with me. Cheers to all the graduates with this big pot of tea;

More posts to come. Quyana tailuci, piurci!

The Qaliq is officially complete

Today is a special day in many ways. Many years ago, seems like long ago I was in labor, early induced labor to have our first born child. We didn’t know the sex of the child. We wanted a surprise baby girl or boy. My husband and I enjoyed an Italian lunch in down town Fairbanks Alaska. My regular appointment was in the afternoon. When we went in – they checked my blood pressure and they wheeled me to FMH immediately! I was in a day dream state and surprised with the ride over because they told me to sit down and no walking. My blood pressure was high and they were concerned. We didn’t call family or friends. My child whom I named after my aunt was born half passed midnight over 1 minute. Happy early birthday day. You are loved more than the length of the universe! 🌸

The beads were picked and sewn to the hood. The last tassels were sewn that completes my main project: qaliq.

Quyana Rasmuson Foundation!!! You made my dream come true and touched our lives beyond these threads can measure!

I will post a full picture of the parka soon. Quyana tailuci!

What was munched is repaired

I thought it was ruined but it’s repaired;

The repair is on the left side. It looks like it’s all one calfskin;

I remember wearing kameksak/piluguq as a child. My mom and dad would put my piluguq on me, rap my leg pants tight around my ankles and slide those warm piluguq on to keep my feet warm. They have done the same for my siblings. In fact, pilugut are hand me down items that can be over 40+ years old. These kameksat/pilugut are used for special occasions or worn everyday. I knew when my great grandma was walking into the house by the sound of her piluguq. Children used them to go sliding down hill – trying to go farther or faster.

The way to use them right is gather golden long wild grass. Wrap the grass around your feet and place grass inside the pikuguq and put them on. Golden grass is warmth for survival when you are wet and far from home.

This specific pikuguq is called ciuqalek. They are size 10.5, narrow calf but roomy around the feet for comfy golden grass. They are comfy for any special occasion;

This ciuqalek are for sale. Contact me if interested.

Here is a picture of my dad and I at great uncle (uppa) Uyaquq’s, late Joseph Lomack’s house, I was wearing pikuguq- baby booty;

We all miss you dad every day.

April sewing

There are no April showers, whatever that means. Clear crisp blue sky! Still cold in Fairbanks Alaska. Sewing fur in hot weather does feel suffocating. I look forward to fan creating cool air while pushing needles thru fur/leather, we’ll see.

Repairing what was chomped.

I am learning by sewing.

Cutting the piece out after tracing the chomped dog bite.

I tried several pieces.

Crimping seal soles can make fingers sore and skin sensitive from pulling thread. Front toes still needs crimping & it’ll be done – fingers crossed.

Piurci 🌸

Who ate my work!

I have made a bow tie out of fish skin; a few miniature kameksak/piluguq; leather thimbles; collected moose sinew, cut up pieces fur, leathers and seal skins; and now kameksak. I found most of the list above missing or eaten left over pieces! Dog or dogs had a festive party out of my projects! I am lucky I still have the parkas in-tack! Fingers crossed. Not so lucky the dogs are still roaming in my house and can have festive parties if no humans are around. There is a Yupik story why they have a crimped mouth on the side of their mouths; so they can stop talking. LOL!!!

The dogs won’t tell on each other, they just look at each other – and seemed to hint it’s his fault; no it’s him. As a Yup’ik seamstress I outa un-crimp their mouths with my tools they’ve sniffed and force them to tell me,”Who ate my work!”

Reignite Kameksak

I have taken out the kameksak I started before the sewing of the squirrels into a parka!

These are called, “ciuqalek” which literally translated from Yupigtun. “the one with bangs!” Not the bang when you light a firework but the bangs you have on your forehead. Yupiit, please correct me if I am wrong.

This seal is the newest piece I have ever worked, just so different from older seals I have worked.

It still has that fresh smell of the sea or the process of natural chemicals to remove the hair off the seal. It came frozen and so I placed it my freezer to keep it from drying up too much.

I do have a story to tell you about the older boot on the right based on my mother’s story she told me. When Mr. Elia Sallafie of Bethel passed away my parents received his pair of kameksak. My mom kept them for many years. I am honored to replicate them. Out of curiosity I cut the bottom to peak inside – I didn’t want to but it was already cracked from use – don’t be startled I will replace the bottom with new seal.

They will look new once I perfect the crimping.

I have one side finished and I need to start the other side.

I just need to put in the upper top with woven yarn and sew the tassels on.

This is a side project that allows for me to practice crimping seals for better quality. Quyana to Sallafie family for sharing your dad’s kameksak to my parents. Please correct me if I misinformed the story – I am open for corrections.

Piurci. Thank you ‘Quyana!’

sewing withdrawal, artist block or season transition blues!?!?

I have the plan in my mind the way I should make the toddler parka – I just got to get back in the mood to sew my main project!!! I am currently sewing a child booty at this time;

This season is like the end of the line for my adult parka – I am nearly done with it (putting off few tassels and some bead work). See my line? Lol

when one thread ends a new thread begins;

Few clips of fur and left over material find their way to smaller projects. When I have a request for traditional gear that gives me motivation. I work better under pressure and when I give myself a deadline but who listens to their deadlines- haha!!!

I found that when I have a guest I don’t have the drive to do crafts. I love my sisters and one of them came to visit us. Quyana Myra and Emily my niece.🌸 They brought and used the kameksak and house slippers I made for them. I was happy surprised.

Today is no fool for me but a celebration for the Risen King of kings!! Thank you Jesus for the gift of life. 🌸❤️🌸

I normally get both side booties finished at one time but I have only one side – this is another motivation to finish what I have started. When circumstances happen it’s just another turn of direction – like a short cut or long cut to the finish line – keep going!

I was a day behind my original deadline in finishing the baby booties. Here it is the final product;