Thursday, July 26, 2012


I have been home about a week now from an Alaska cruise. This was a last minute event...tho one that had been discussed back in February. The person that we wanted to see in Anchorage died in a tragic car accident so we didn't think about going there again.

When my wife was checking out travel deals on the Internet she came across a cruise to Alaska, 14 days yet, for an unbelievable price that we decided to check it out. After confirming this deal with the AAA agent here in CA, we booked the cruise, got a deal on the airfare and seven days later boarded out flight to Seattle to board our "love boat."

Growing up in Portland, I was always aware of the artistic styles of the Northwest Indians. Back in the day, we called them Eskimos. Now there are a variety of names and the one we heard the most in Alaska was First Nations. The artistic styles are very similar and after doing a variety of Pennsylvania Dutch designs, I was ready to branch out. (Anyone looking at my store on ETSY might wonder if I am indeed ADD. There are now many styles!)

One of them, in my "Crazy Quilt Series" won a national voting award through a contest held by DecoArt, one of the premier vendors in the craft world. I heard about that docking July 2 and was stunned! I mean, who would have thought such a crazy idea, trying to copy fabrics in paint, would win in a national contest?

As we saw and met more and more First Nations peoples, I began to question the style and motifs that were used. No one could give me a definitive answer. It was near the end of the cruise, at a stop in Sitka, AK,  that we wandered the town after a tour. Along the way back to the boat was a book store and on a wild whim we stopped in. Looking at the books I found one that was a design book that explained the styles, motifs and how to create them better than even the native peoples could. There were two volumes and while the first one seemed complete, am glad I bought them both.

After reading the first volume on the boat, I couldn't wait to get home and try the designs out. In my mind, I had already formulated what I wanted to do. So, after consulting the book to make sure I had the idea right, and there is plenty of leeway I discovered, here is the result.

The design is basically of salmon...the front is a full view of the salmon, the back just its head. I used the motif of a human face, front and back, and hands on the side to signify that it took humans with hands to catch the fish. While it may take awhile to achieve the extraordinary detail of the people there, I was amazed at how close I came. Using the nesting hole for birds in the middle of my fish, I solved many problems and didn't seem to effect the design features at all.

This is the beginning of what I hope will be an interesting series. It appears the First Nations people decorating just about everything. So....

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