Locals Heading to Helsinki to Examine Alutiiq Sewing
Monday, 17 September 2012
Staff and volunteers at the Alutiiq Museum will travel abroad in January to learn the fine art of skin and fur stitching. The museum recently received a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to send Museum Director Sven Haakanson and five local skin sewers to Helsinki, Finland. Haakanson joined master sewer Susan Malutin and Museum Manager Katie St. John on KMXT’s Talk of the Rock on Tuesday to discuss the new grant and other happenings at the museum.
While Finland may seem like a far trek to learn about Alutiiq sewing techniques, Haakanson said it’s actually a remarkable opportunity to examine items in Helsinki’s museum.
-- (Sewing Skin Grant 1 :32 “Well the wonderful
thing with Finland is they’ve invited us over to examine the collection.
They have the second largest collection of Alutiiq material in the
world. The first largest is in Russia. And so they have I think ground
squirrel, cormorant, eider, caribou and hopefully we might find some
other things that we haven’t really paid attention to while we’re there
in terms of the skin sewing. But I think for us the importance is having
access to an original piece where we can study it and then learn that
Malutin, who has been studying the art of
skin sewing for about 30 years, said the information that they gather in
Finland will help with a collaborative project to recreate a
traditional Alutiiq parka. The parka project is a partnership between
the museum and Koniag, Inc. Malutin said she and other sewers who visit
Finland will travel to the villages to help construct portions of the
parka that will eventually be sewn together with the sewing techniques
they learn in Helsinki.
-- (Sewing Skin Grant 2 : 31
“And each of the village participants, mostly the youth, will be
making a piece of that parka. And we’ll also be indoctrinating them into
the techniques of sewing, how the items are made, what resources are
used, and then those pieces will ultimately come back here to Kodiak,
which we will be utilizing in a sewing circle. And we’ll have those
individuals will meet once a week and complete the parka so that will be
a complete garment when we get done.”)
When finished, the
parka will be on display at the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak. Malutin said
the trip to Finland is a chance to learn skin sewing skills that have
been lost through the generations on Kodiak.
Skin Grant 3 : 32 “And it really has helped to travel to other
areas, particularly museums that have these items of clothing because
as I began many years ago there weren’t any skin sewers here, especially
elders who remembered doing the skin sewing. So it was very hard to try
and find those techniques. And as I traveled it allowed me the chance
to meet other elder ladies who sewed and so I picked up techniques from
them. And so it’s going to be extremely interesting to see original
pieces and how they are originally put together. ”)
The Institute of Museum and Library Services grant was just shy of
$50,000 and will be put toward the parka recreation project. The museum
will select additional sewers for the trip to Finland during a
competitive application process this fall.