I am not sure how to interpret naterkaq (the one for the floor?), but I can share what it’s all about. Naterkaq is a product of a bearded seal skin. The hair is removed by aging but I am not sure how or with what. All I know is the seal skin hair and the skin that is black comes off by aging the skin and scraping. I’ll have to share that process at another time.
I am learning about making piluguq/kameksak by trial and lots of error. Naterkaq is for the bottom sole of a boot that is hand made from below the knee to the sole.
Right now I am searching naterkaq to make more piluguq/kameksak. The picture above is few of the piluguq/kameksak I made. It takes lots to measurements and practice to make a good pair. Quyana, to special orders by various people who have entrusted me to make for their loved ones.
I have avoided biting into these skins but I found out that it’s necessary part of the process to soften the seal skin.
There is carving involved too – thinning out the edges of the soles.
I like my daughter’s little uluaq from her Atelli Aiyang (my aunt).
Main fur for this is wolverine that was cut from the leg.
I have several more naterkaq to work with before I run out.
Art comes even during frozen times – Alaska cold has no mercy and our ancestors prepared in every season.
It’s been a busy December and now January is keeping me more busy – taking orders for mostly piluguq or kameksak.
Sewing the seal skin soles are unpredictable when they have been wet. They are easy to crimp when wet. I’ve made mistakes and my mind just can’t except the outcome and so the threads unwind. At times a battle defeated;
Crimping involves tight threads and several tools.
I wasn’t satisfied with this sole, I took apart and soaked it overnight. It flattened to original form.
Water does wonders for these mistakes.
I didn’t thin out the edges enough to make it look sharp and so my trusty little uluaq helped me.
I knew the weathered plank would help me some ways.
There are always adjustments needed to fit a person’s needs. I added some design to widen these kameksak.
I was happy with the result, only because I’ve seen the design in my parent’s matching piluguq.
Special orders comes in many forms and sizes. Relatives from Kwethluk sent their precious crafts to sew in the soles. I was honored to sew them on.
I hear myself think, “I hope they fit these.”
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful Happy New Year!
Several weeks ago, possibly more than two months ago – I forget when; I decided to try my sewing machine with a foot piece that I haven’t used before. I tried to use it but I didn’t know how. I got frustrated and put the sewing machine away without putting the original foot back to the sewing machine.
Multitasking projects keeps me going and not bored. I have random things collected and forgotten but when I finally notice them collected with dust, I think about what I’ll do with them – and then I am off doing something entirely different. I fight with time and time. I made an issranwith hemp that I started over ten years ago and I just need to give it a few more hours and it’s done! When I first started it, I didn’t use weight to help me weave but adjusted my sitting position and worked on it. I once saw a Cup’ig lady working on one with beach grass and noticed a rock inside the issran and thought, “how wonderful!” I asked a few questions and thanked her for a short observation. Once I got home, I took it out and worked on it with a collected rock my mom found. Having a weight made weaving go faster and with better sitting position.
I had a Lake Tahoe wood I carved into an ipuun but I have no idea where it went – it may have ended up used for a hot maqi. I made an uluaq that I started with a help from my mom to design it and my husband to cut the metal. I brought the uluaq to Akiachak for my uncle to touch it up. I am not done with it yet, as I need to design the handle to fit my hand. The items I need help with I usually start with the words, “Do this. I want to make this…” Fishing for salmon; one person does good job fishing from the river, another creates a unique fish cutting fellet and someone else gets the wood to smoke the fish, and most important there is a cook that feeds all the people involved with the fish. Most times, I do my own work and I prefer it that way. But with the uluaq – I wanted my mom, and uncle involved because they know the feel of the tool that helped us for many generations. I thank my husband for graciously helping with the hard part of cutting the metal.
The sewing machine piece is still missing but I replaced it with a piece that doesn’t come apart. Lesson learned, always put the original piece that is important back when the other piece is not working out. My mom and I have used the sewing machine with satisfaction since I replaced the piece.
I’ve received a few requests for piluguq and I’ve been working on them. This weekend I’ll focus on sewing the bottom soles with hairless seal.
My next exciting project will be making Piluguq with caribou or moose leg fur.
I missed posting of October rains. Snow has lightly fallen and it’s staying on the ground. I have just finished an order of pikuguq that was ordered via my website- I was excited to hear and worked on them right away; I have two other piluguqs to work on, ciuqalek piluguq and a child piluguq;
My mom and I have made several trips to a material store to compose some fantastic qaspet (qaspeq plural);
I am going to precut arctic ground squirrels my mom gave to me to reuse that she had sewed years ago for her simple parka. I’ll be keeping you informed of the progress as time allows.
Winter is here and so keep on being who you are! “Piurci!”
I don’t have regrets to over work on a short season of wild Alaskan harvesting season. I still have more to go before the snow crashing down. Here are some delightful photos of my adventures, a few artsy projects I have completed and an amazing story;
I wrote a poem and it’s all about the drive of harvesting what Alaska has in a short season of growth.
My great grandma and her ancestors before her lived solely off the land. Her name was Lizzie Lomack. Last weekend I meet her brother’s two of many grandchildren from Dillingham area. His name was Qugcuun. Qugcuun hiked over to Dillingham area from Kuskokwim River over the mountains in pursuit of food. Growing up I heard we had a big extended family up river and over the mountains to the south. It’s amazing how God introduced us in a peculiar way, in our very pursuit of berries we just love to gather.
I am not crazy enough not to ignore the nature that nourishes our body.
I see the outdoors a time to renew my relationship with the one who created me – and I just want to simply enjoy his creation. I met my dear relatives and I am just so happy to know we are still gathering like our forefathers.
I have not left the cyber world – it’s just a busy work life and harvesting time in Fairbanks Alaska. I have carved out zucchini from my front yard garden, walked the tundra searching for blues and black berries – and accidentally finding cloud berries aka salmon berries and finding eatable mushrooms here and there. I won’t say from where these items were found thru the media but I will tell you to come along. Here are some picturesque adventures I have taken;
Always searching for winter supplies and rain on the horizon.
Searching for berries everywhere and find flowers instead.
Berries I normally don’t pick were found.
Mushroom hunting unintentionally. Berries on my mind but couldn’t resist picking this good one.
Road more traveled but not by me .
Treasures in blue and orange!!! Mmm!
Roots perfected by pressure!
My tools gifted by my father in law in 1999. My art teacher advised me, “Don’t let your husband use them!” I love my husband and he is not allowed to use these what so ever!
Adventures to mountains and flats is worth aches and back pains for mouths to feed. So many reasons to absorb everything about Alaska!
Summer is outdoor every day event in Alaska! The other day, my lunch consisted of wild rhubarb right out of the interior forest, peel and eat! Picking Labrador Tea is a must!! Tea is especially great after a good home cooked food. After a busy day of work; in office or any outdoorsy event – look out the window with a cup of tea is peaceful.
I have been extremely busy not sewing-I feel disconnected from my tasks of sewing but the call of the wild outdoors Alaska is tempting and can’t be ignored. Thanks to my Ilung, Letha- she insisted my mom and I pose for a picture of our hand made Yup’ik traditional parka;
I am on my way to my extended family on the Kuskokwim River. I am looking forward to seeing friends and family – cut fish with them and go out to the tundra to harvest berries and greens. I am bringing with me some ingredients for home made soap to mix with healing plants. I am also bring organic zucchini to make akutaq with black berries with non organic crisco and sugar – 🤣!
Every year I plant zucchini in my front yard. This year I won’t wait til they are humongous to harvest them.
Just yesterday, my mom picked tea and left them in my Tacoma truck. We stepped out for little bit and entered the truck. I tell you, it was an amazing aroma! I would say better than any store bought deodorizer!
Wild Rhubarb is another eatable plant that is a must pick green!! I saw one right in the city limits of Anchorage!
I am looking forward to rain, sunshine, tundra, the smell of delicacy Yup’ik food and seeing family!! Summer means a whole lot more then outdoors-it’s means subsistence til the sun goes down and maqiq til wee morning. Piurci! 🌸