Caribou cowhide cotton = squinting

In replace of caribou hide – I am using cowhide for the shield and in replace of caribou hair some use cotton, in a minute you will see what I mean and by the end of this story hope you’re not squinting 😆.

I have been challenged to deal with loose hair that has to be white like cotton!  I disliked (past) dealing with the loose in all directions fur – hair more like a bad hair day with a deadline.

Tried to be creative but dissatisfied
The other day, I seen a row of white folders neatly set with black divider in between each folder and I said out loud,  “I like the set up.”  Eeee I said it out loud.  What?  I realized it have been sewing pieces of black and white.  My first line of sewing was like a nightmare, hair sticking up!  Fluffy!  I thought I should be creative!  I doubted myself and asked my friends online and they all agreed that it wasn’t it.  I am so glad I get feed back!!!

Caribou line sewn, first try
I started all over!  I just got to get through this sloppy stage hand sewing, and My uncle said, ‘sloppy is good.’  My black thread wasn’t cooperating and the caribou hair didn’t care.  I thought of wax, need something sticky or tape or just wrap it and sew it, oh lick it!  I put the caribou hairs in my mouth and smoothed it out – tasted salty and spat out a few strands – it worked!  Just like when your child’s hair on picture day, smooth it out.

Ok, I did my first line like it’s supposed to be done, not exactly!  It was like a bang cut uneven!  My friends said keep trying.  My mom said, you’ll get better and you’ll enjoy it soon.  A friend said, trial and error makes excellent learning.  I have had nothing but positive comments and they all inspire me!  I get frustrated and complain like an out of control bad hair day person!

Don’t give up-keep sewing & find the cotton

When I contemplate while sewing and writing about my experiences – I thank God that he ordered rest!  Resting is important and this summer I had a hard time resting and it is rolling over to fall.  Lately, I sit and sew to rest.

Caribou lines
I want to thank Mr. & Mrs. Hickman  owners of Alaska Precision Taxidermy for donating caribou mane for my project.  I was surprised with the generousity of shareing, as I was looking all over Fairbanks for caribou hair.  Quyana!

Black Fish Tail

Front and back tassels
As soon as I received the caribou hair, I went straight to sewing.  Out of frustration I sewed cotton string on the second try – to my surprise the caribou hair and cotton look so much alike.  I am still working on the lines as you will soon see the process and measurements.  After the squires will be the shield and then the shoulder straps.  I am calling it straps as it rests on the shoulders to the back and front – almost like suspenders.  By the time I am done with this area I should have bifocals to help me see better.

squinting selfie = self portrait
I have enjoyed the process after all 🌸
Check back again for the shields, straps, otter and wolf parts to the Qaliq.  Piurci!

Author: Nasek'taq

Merna Wharton “Nasek’taq” is Yup'ik from Akiacuaq (Akiachak) lives in Anchorage Alaska. Merna is an Alaska Native artist, poet, traditional and contemporary seamstress, carver, gatherer of greens and berries, and loves the outdoors of Alaska! Merna enjoys finding art in natural elements and shares her experiences through her website, Merna crafts to preserve her culture and art and shares her worldview from a remote village Yup’ik girl’s perspective with a glimpse of life in Alaska in her writing and poems. More information about her art can be found at

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