“Alaskan Lady” Sea otter dress vest
2017 Santa Fe Market “First Place Ribbon” in diversified arts.
2017 Santa Fe Market “Best of Show” in a fashion contest.
2017 Cherokee Art market “3rd Place Ribbon” in textiles.
It has taken me 2 years of hunting to find the three perfect hides to make this sea otter dress vest. The whole vest is made of six large pieces, which require flawless matching hides. Sea otters are very aggressive and mate all year round; which can damage their hides.
The otter population is booming in Alaska and we would subsistence hunt more, but the lack of good quality tanneries has limited our abilities to create our fashions. Sea otters can be “Native tanned”, but the fur is the densest in the world and cannot be thoroughly cleaned with just these practices alone. And sea otters are BIG, 100-pound animals that eat everything in the sea. Not an easy animal to tan!
The art of proper “Build Up” of fur apparel materials consists of lining, hem tape, muslin wool, horsehair cloth, collar wire tape, covered hooks eyes, and pocket material. It took five years to find a skilled amazing furrier willing to teach me the trade secrets of “build up”. Because of this secret, the art of fur sewing is quickly disappearing in the U.S.
The “Alaskan Lady” collar is made up of 72 individual Alaskan fur pieces. I could have lined the collar underneath, but decided to use a leather paint to seal it and show the intricacies of fur sewing. I took it one-step farther and labeled the fur pieces with the correct fur name. Please take a look? I hunted the stellar sea lion and sea otters locally. The other furs are labeled as such; Kotzebue lynx, Prince of Whales beaver, and Pribilof fur seal.