Taught to weave by her late mother and master weaver Clarissa Rizal, artist Lily Hope understands the vital importance of her role in passing on the traditional practice of Chilkat weaving to the next generations. Empowered by and grateful for the teachings of her mother and the mentors before her, she is dedicated to revitalizing and perpetuating this Northwest Coast cultural art form. Hope leads workshops, classes and exhibits her work in the Juneau community, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest, ensuring that those in her community and beyond are exposed to this traditional textile art.
Chilkat weaving is a complex hand-twined weaving style, requiring a great deal of expertise, time, and dedication. A single Chilkat ceremonial robe may take between one to four years to weave. Many contemporary robes are now woven using merino wool, rather than the traditional usage of Alaskan mountain goat hair. It may take up to ten years or longer to collect enough goat hair to weave one Chilkat robe—in addition to the traditional sorting, carding, spinning and dying of the material. Thus, it is estimated that less than a dozen Chilkat weavers exist today who have the time, resources, and knowledge to weave robes. Lily Hope is one of these few artists, and has dedicated her life to weaving, retaining not only the techniques, but is also deeply engaged in the spiritual aspects of weaving, such as fasting, praying, and honoring her teachers’ advice. As she states, “Weaving Chilkat is like breathing with the universal consciousness. All is well in the world when I’m weaving.”
For her 2018 Mentor Artist Fellowship, Hope will pass on every aspect of Chilkat weaving to Anastasia Hobson-George (Tlingit), from the spiritual and emotional beliefs that surround it, to the gathering and preparation of traditional materials, to the completion of a Chilkat weaving. Hobson-George is invested in learning this practice and shows great promise of being able to carry on Hope’s legacy by continuing to weave and teach this art form to others.
We have a responsibility to honor and carry on the teachings, to keep creating to share our version of spirit with others, so when we pass, we’ve left the world more beautiful, through our weavings and through a joyful spirit.
~ Lily Hope
Lily Hope talks about her first Chilkat robe, the materials and techniques used, and the commitments we make as Chilkat weavers.