Sealaska Heritage organized a frontlet carving workshop led by Ray Watkins in April and May as part of its Haa Latseen Community Project. About 10 students took the class, held at the Gajaa Hit building in Juneau.
They began with fresh-cut alder blanks.
Tlingit artist and SHI staff member Donald Héendei Gregory created a Beaver frontlet with abalone inlay.
Gregory said he intends to give the completed piece to a member of the Xootsnoowu Dachaxanx’i Yan (Grandchildren of Angoon) dance group in June.
“I’m going to watch their performance during Celebration and whoever dances the hardest, I’m going to give it to them… I’m making it so it can come out and dance.”
Class member Douglas Gray created two Wolf frontlets for his wife and son. The design shows a mother wolf with a baby wolf in its belly. His wife and son, who are Kaagwaantaan of the Burnt Box House, plan to wear them during their Celebration performance.
Here instructor Ray Watkins helps Doug adjust his design.
Class participant Henry Hopkins created two Thunderbird frontlets.
Henry is an adopted member of the Thunderbird Clan.
Class participant Rick Gottardi created a Raven frontlet (right, with copper inlays). Here he compares his design to that of class instructor Watkins (with abalone inlay, left).
Here Rick traces a wing design using tracing paper so he can match the design on the other side.
Class member Jeffrey Isturis worked on a Beaver frontlet.
Here Jeffrey gets advice from Ray on the crosshatching for his Beaver tail.
Carver Jno Didrickson created a Raven frontlet with copper inlays on the eyes and wings.
Jno used liver of sulfite to oxidize the copper and create a patina.
Here Jno scribes out a section of the top of the frontlet prior to cutting.
Instructor Ray Watkins’ tools.
Frontlet class in progress, with everybody hard at work. Members of the class not shown in these photos include Larry Reiger, Elijah Marks, Armando DeAsis, and others.
The Haa Latseen Community Project is a Sealaska Heritage Institute program, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alaska State Council on the Arts, and the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, in partnership with Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority and Lemon Creek Correctional Center, with additional support from the Sealaska Carving program, the Juneau Re-entry Coalition, and the City and Borough of Juneau. The Formline workshop is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Alaska Native Education Program. (Photos by Brian Wallace)