Lead full dress Lead full dress, side Lead full dress, back large stage tunic with sleeves fully dressed figure ravenstail robe round bag two aprons two aprons detail of apron left corner hats red and black case small case medicine bags touch me objects small stage sun tunic sun tunic moon tunic moon tunic leggings
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Kay Parker: Playing with Lightning, Ravenstail Weaving
at the Alaska State Museum
April 5, 2013 to October 12, 2013

Ravenstail weaving is an ancient form of twining used to create robes with bold and dazzling geometric designs. By the late 18th century, this geometric style had become highly developed, but then seems to have disappeared with the emergence of Chilkat weaving, a technique used to create curvilinear “formline” crests on robes and regalia. By the early 1800s, Ravenstail’s historic form and techniques were absent from the northern Northwest Coast and Alaska.

Two centuries later, teacher-researcher and fiber artist Cheryl Samuel studied the surviving Ravenstail robes in museum collections, reverse-engineering the technique in the process. She proceeded to return this traditional knowledge to the coast, and over the past two decades, Cheryl and her students have helped Ravenstail weaving become part of the living culture, once again held esteemed among the arts of the Northwest Coast. Through shows and demonstrations, a new generation is encouraged to participate in the weaving and dancing community, thereby fostering a respect for Native cultural traditions. In honoring ceremonial regalia of the Native culture, I hope to foster respect among diverse cultures.

I enjoy the challenge and excitement of the “research and development” necessary to apply traditional techniques in the weaving of new, original objects, like hats woven in the round, as well as traditional objects, like a tunic with sleeves. I also invest my time in making the art of Ravenstail accessible as a living art form through teaching at the University of Alaska Southeast and in communities around Alaska, and by creating weaving materials.

“Playing with Lightning” has been my passion, pastime and entertainment with my latest weavings. I find the “Lightning” pattern to be the most exciting of the old patterns that were given to us in the few remaining examples of this style of weaving.

Kay Field Parker
2013

Photographs by Sara Boesser

“Mirrored Lightning to Diamonds” compact twined dance headdress

Design – Lightning and Diamond
Merino warp and weft, white mink, rhinestone stars, Ultrasuede.
2007

Black/white/yellow with black border “Lightning Reflection” Dance Bib

Leather, beaver fur and beads.
2010
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
1993

“Lightning Diamond” five-sided dance apron

Central design – Mirrored Lightning to Diamond
Merino warp and weft, white mink fur, abalone buttons and tin cones.
2007

“Haida Tattoo” compact dance leggings

Top/bottom border – Lightning pattern Central design – Tattoo pattern Merino warp and weft, abalone buttons, deer hooves and leather. Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff.
2006

“Lightning/Tattoo” robe

Compact style robe
Top/bottom border – Ancestors pattern
Side border – Reflection of the Tree
Central design – Lightning pattern and Tattoo pattern on a Haida Spider Web Skip Stitch background
Merino warp and weft
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff.
1995

“Lightning/Tattoo” robe

Detailed view of the robe.

Compact style robe
Top/bottom border – Ancestors pattern
Side border – Reflection of the Tree
Central design – Lightning pattern and Tattoo pattern on a Haida Spider Web Skip Stitch background
Merino warp and weft
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
1995

The large stage in the Governor’s Gallery, as seen from the north entrance.

“Mirrored Lightning to Diamonds” compact twined dance headdress

Design – Lightning and Diamond
Merino warp and weft, mother-of-pearl buttons and Ultrasuede
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
2006

“Expanded Lightning” tunic with sleeves

Front – Expanded Lightning pattern
Back – Wave pattern, Checkerboard pattern
Bottom edge – Wrap over Wooden Dowels
Sleeve patterns – Chilkat Blocks and Lightning pattern
Merino warp and weft, abalone buttons and velvet.
2012

“Lightning Reflection to Diamond” tapered compact dance leggings

Central design – Mirrored Lightning to Diamond
Merino warp and weft, leather and beaver fur
2012

“Mirrored Lightning to Diamonds” compact twined dance headdress

Design – Lightning and Diamond
Merino warp and weft, white mink, abalone buttons and Ultrasuede
2007

Black/white/yellow “Lightning Reflection” dance bib

Leather, beaver fur and beads
2009

“Double Around the Cross” rectangular dance apron

Top border/bottom border – Spiraling Lightning
Central design – Double Around the Cross
Side borders – Spiral Weft Zig Zag pattern
Merino warp and weft, and leather
2010

“Double Around the Cross” space twined dance leggings

Top border – Lightning pattern
Central design – Double Around the Cross
Bottom border – Spiral Lightning pattern
Merino warp and weft, deer hooves and leather
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
1994

“Tattoo” robe

Space twined dance robe
Top/bottom border – Ancestors pattern
Side border – Spiral Weft – Scoop Net pattern
Central design – Tattoo pattern
Merino warp and weft
Sea otter Fur by Vicki Soboleff
1993

“Double Around the Cross” robe

Space twined dance robe
Top border – Lightning pattern
Bottom border – Spiraling Lightning pattern
Side border – Spiral Weft – Mouth Track of the Woodworm

White “Lightning” compact twined purse

Central design – Lightning pattern
Top Skip Stitch border – Haida Spider Web
Top border – Haida Bands
Leather, silk lining and beaver fur
2009

Collection of the Alaska State Museum

“Ancestors/Lightning” curved dance apron

Top border/bottom border – Ancestors
Middle borders – Lightning
Middle pattern bands – Boxes within Boxes on a Haida Spider Web pattern
Side borders – Reflection of the Tree
Merino warp and weft, leather, white mink fur,
metal cones and deer hooves
2012

“Lightning Diamond” five-sided dance apron

Central design – Mirrored Lightning to Diamond
Merino warp and weft, abalone buttons, leather fringe and metal cones
2005

Collection of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum

“Tattoo Lightning-Swirling Lightning” curved dance apron

Top border/bottom border – Lightning pattern
Middle borders – Spiraling Lightning
Middle pattern bands – Tattoo pattern on a Haida Spider Web pattern
Side borders – Reflection of the Tree
Merino warp and weft, leather, beaver fur and deer hooves
2013

“Voices from the Ice” curved dance apron

Top border – Returning Salmon pattern
Vertical borders – Reflection of the Tree
Side panels – Glacial Ice Skip Stitch pattern
Central design – Top: Drum Beat of a “Welcome Song”
Middle: The Glacier
Bottom: People Coming Out Under the Glacier
Leather, metal cones and deer hooves

Woven as a collaborative project for the Alaska State Museum

1994

Showing detail of the

“Tattoo Lightning-Swirling Lightning” curved dance apron

Middle borders – Spiraling Lightning

Middle pattern bands – Tattoo pattern on a Haida Spider Web pattern

Hat case and Red and Black case.

Hats (left to right)

Top row

Inverted black/blue “Lightning”

Wool top, Ultrasuede, leather and silk lining
2007

White/black/yellow “All Weavers Intertwined”

Wool top, Ultrasuede, leather and silk lining
2006

White/blue/yellow “Chilkat Triangles”

Ultrasuede top, leather and silk lining
2012

White/black/yellow “Lightning”

Wool top, Ultrasuede, leather and silk lining
2011

Middle row

Red/black “Lightning”

Wool top, Ultrasuede, leather and silk lining
2010

White/black/yellow “All Weavers Intertwined” variation

Wool top, Ultrasuede, leather and silk lining
2006

Red/black “Lightning”

Wool top, Ultrasuede, leather and silk lining
2010

Bottom row

White/black/yellow “Lightning”

Wool top, Ultrasuede, leather and silk lining
2011

Circular – Black/blue/yellow “Chilkat Triangles”

Ultrasuede, wool top, leather and silk lining
2012

White/black “Spirit Dancers”

Ultrasuede top, leather and beaver fur
2013

Light blue/dark blue “Lightning”

Ultrasuede, leather and silk lining
Collection of the Alaska State Museum
2007

Tunic

“Lightning” vest
Mirrored Lightning pattern
Background pattern – Haida Spider Web Skip Stitch
Merino warp and weft, gold lamé yarn, leather, metal cones and deer hooves
2009

White/black Butterfly tunic
Top pattern – Chilkat Triangles
Bottom pattern – Butterfly pattern
Background – Haida Spider Web Skip Stitch pattern
Merino warp and weft, leather, beaver fur, metal cones and deer hooves
2010

Medicine Bag

“Lightning” pattern
Merino warp and weft, leather and beaver fur
2008

Headband

“All Weavers Intertwined” compact twined headband
Merino warp and weft, beaver fur, leather, cotton lining, beads and metal cones
2010

Hat – All Merino Warp and Weft

Red/black “Bear Tracks and Spirit Dancer” variation
Ultrasuede, leather and beaver fur
2013

Pocket Purses

“Lightning” round zippered bag
Merino warp and weft, Ultrasuede, zipper and silk brocade lining
2004

“Lightning” pattern checkbook cover
Merino warp and weft, mother-of-pearl buttons and leather
1997

Pocket Purses

“Lightning” pattern pocket purse
Merino warp and weft, mother-of-pearl buttons and leather lining
2010

“Lightning” pattern tri-fold pocket purse
Merino warp and weft, mother-of-pearl beads and leather
2000

Round Purse

Red/Black “Lightning” compact twined purse
Central design – Lightning pattern
Top Skip Stitch pattern – Haida Spider Web
Top border – Lattice pattern, Leather, silk lining and beaver fur
2010

Medicine Bag

“Haida Tattoo” pattern
Merino warp and weft, leather and beaver fur
2008

top to bottom

Wool Collar

White/black/yellow “Diamond/Box within a Box”
Beaver fur and mother-of-pearl buttons/beads (teaching project designed by Cheryl Samuel)
1992

Hat – All Merino Warp and Weft

Light blue/pink/white “Lightning”
Ultrasuede top and silk lining
2008

Pocket Purse

“Lightning” pattern tri-fold pocket purse
Merino warp and weft, mother-of-pearl beads and leather
2000

Medicine Bags

left to right


“Box within a Box” patterns
Merino warp and weft and sea otter fur
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
1993



“Diamond” patterns Merino warp and weft, beaver fur and deer hooves
1992

“Box within a Box” patterns Merino warp and weft, beaver fur and metal cones
1992

“Diamond” patterns Merino warp and weft and sea otter fur
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
1993

Touch-me Bag

“Box within a Box/Diamond” patterns
Merino warp and weft and beaver fur
1995

Touch-me Rattle
Deer toes and devil’s club
2013

These objects allow visitors to feel the weaving and to hear the rattling sound of the deer toes used to decorate many of the aprons and leggings in the show.

left to right

“Sun Woman” tunic

“Lightning” compact dance leggings (top)
Top/bottom white border – Haida Spider Web Skip Stitch pattern
Top/bottom two color border – Lattice pattern
Central design – Lightning pattern
Merino warp and weft, deer hooves and leather
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
Teaching project designed by Cheryl Samuel
2004

“Mirrored Lightning” compact dance leggings (middle)
Central design – Mirrored Lightning
Merino warp and weft, Ultrasuede, abalone buttons and beaver fur
2009

“Flying Geese” compact dance leggings (bottom)
Top/bottom white border – Summer Grasses Skip Stitch pattern
Top/bottom border – Half Head of the Salmon Berry pattern
Central design – Flying Geese
Merino warp and weft, deer hooves and leather
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
1992

“Moon Woman” tunic

“Lightning Reflection” tapered compact dance leggings (top)
Central design – Mirrored Lighting to Diamonds
Merino warp and weft, abalone buttons, metal cones, deer hooves, beaver and marten fur
(Collection of the Alaska State Museum)
2007

“Box within a Box and Diamond” space twined dance leggings (middle)
Top/bottom border – Diamond pattern
Merino warp and weft, leather, gold lamé, beads and beaver fur
2007

“Tattoo Ancestors” space twined dance leggings (bottom)
Top/bottom border – Ancestors pattern
Central design – Tattoo pattern
Side borders – Spiral Weft pattern
Merino warp and weft, leather and deer hooves
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
1993

White/black “Butterfly” tunic
Top pattern – Chilkat Triangles
Bottom pattern – Butterfly pattern
Background – Haida Spider Web Skip Stitch pattern
Merino warp and weft, leather, beaver fur, metal cones and deer hooves
2010

White/Black “Ancestors” medicine bags
Merino warp and weft, leather and sea otter fur
Sea otter fur by Vicki Soboleff
2007

“Sun Woman” tunic

Sun Woman design on a Haida Spider Web Skip Stitch background
Merino warp and weft, Ultrasuede, mother-of-pearl buttons, leather, deer hooves, ermine and metal cones
2010

Detail of “Sun Woman” tunic

“Moon Woman” tunic

Moon Woman design on a Haida Spider Web Skip Stitch background

Merino warp and weft, Ultrasuede, abalone buttons, leather and metal cones
2013

Detail of “Moon Woman” tunic

“Lightning Reflection” tapered compact dance leggings

Central design – Mirrored Lighting to Diamonds
Merino warp and weft, abalone buttons, metal cones, deer hooves, beaver and marten fur
(Collection of the Alaska State Museum)
2007