Chilkat Blanket Silkscreen Print Series

This Chilkat Blanket silkscreen print series includes four sets of double prints. Three are in black on white and a fourth is in black and rust on white. All are in varying sizes, including 12.5″ x 17.5″, 17.5″ x 15″, and 15.25″ x 25″. The source of the patterns is a single Northwest Coast Chilkat blanket, dating from the early 20th century. It is woven of mountain goat wool and cedar bark in a classic form line pattern. Animal parts relating to a clan’s crest animal are incorporated within the blanket. Photographed at a Skinner auction, Boston, October 2019.

Chilkat Weaving

Chilkat weaving is a traditional form of weaving practiced by Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and other Northwest Coast people of Alaska and British Columbia. The name derives from the Chilkat tribe in Klukwan, Alaska on the Chilkat River. Tribal members employ this type of weaving for blankets, robes, dance tunics, aprons, leggings, shirts, vests, bags, hats, and wall-hangings. Their clothing features long wool fringe that sways when the wearer dances. High-ranking tribal members wear blankets on civic or ceremonial occasions, including dances. Traditionally, chiefs would wear Chilkat blankets during potlatch (gift giving) ceremonies.

One of the Most Complex Weaving Techniques in the World

Chilkat weaving is one of the most complex weaving techniques in the world. It is unique in that the artist can create curvilinear and circular forms within the weave itself. A Chilkat blanket can take a year to weave. Traditionally, it incorporates mountain goat wool, dog fur, and yellow cedar bark. Today, they might use sheep wool.

The designs use traditional ovoid, U-form, and S-form elements to create highly stylized but representational clan crests and figures from oral history. These often include animals and especially their facial features. Yellow and black are dominant colors, as is the natural buff color of the undyed wool.

Looms used in Chilkat weaving only have a top frame and vertical supports, with no bottom frame, so the warp threads hang freely. The weaver works in vertical sections, as opposed to moving horizontally from end to end. Consequently, many designs are broken into vertical columns. As with most Northwest Coast art, these columns are bilaterally symmetrical.

About This Print Series

The aim of this Chilkat Blanket silkscreen print series was to isolate various elements. This has the effect of removing the bilateral symmetry of the whole. The effect is to disrupt the integrity of the traditional pattern. Thus, new interpretations of the shapes can emerge.