CENTURY OF MOONLIGHT – The F/V Moonlight leaves ANB Harbor on the last day of 2009, under the last moon of the year. It was the second full moon in December, making it a blue moon. The boat was built in Sitka 100 years ago, in 1918. A story on boat building in Sitka is published in today's Sitka Sentinel. (Sentinel File Photo by James Poulson)

December 16, 2015 Community Happenings

 

NW Coast Silver Spoons

On Display at SJ Museum

The Sheldon Jackson Museum’s December Artifacts of the Month are eight 19th century Northwest Coast silver spoons.

Half of the spoons were donated by the late former curator and Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum board member Peter Corey. The examples of Alaska souvenir spoons speak to the insatiable passion and enthusiasm for collecting prevalent among many American Victorian era households and Native silversmiths’ significant contributions to the flatware curio trade and decorative arts. 

All of the spoons are engraved with either bear or salmon figures; some have dates; and six out of the eight have the word “Sitka” engraved on them. The variety in style ranges from realistic-looking designs with only minimal Northwest Coast stylistic elements to significant formline motifs with many ovoids, split u forms, u forms, and geometric triangles, crescents, diamonds, chevrons, and cross hatching. While the salmon have delineated scales, gills, fins and lateral lines, the bear figures are far more stylized, practically grinning, museum staff said. 

Though none of the December Artifacts of the Month were engraved with an artist’s name, five were attributed to Tlingit artist Rudolph Walton by Peter Corey. Corey, a Northwest Coast silver enthusiast, based his attributions on the style of script – Walton frequently separated the letter “a” from the other letters when he engraved the word “Sitka”; the years engraved on the spoons (ranging from 1892 to 1897, all years Walton was active in Sitka); and formline details, including the kinds of hatch marks and slightly rectangular ovoids typically employed by Walton. Also significant are the repousse ears, eyes, brows, nose, and mouths – common in Walton’s work and present in the bears’ faces. 

Silver was not a common traditional material for Alaska Native artists. Copper extracted from along the Copper and Chitina Rivers was the first metal worked by Alaska Natives and trade in the precious metal was controlled by the Tlingit. Silver in the form of Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese coins came to the Northwest Coast in the 1740s and may have been given by foreigners as gifts or special compensation but was generally a very scarce commodity. Once silver became readily available in the 1860s in the form of American silver coins, it was substituted for copper, iron, and brass used earlier, and transformed into silver blanket pins, lip pins, nose rings, and status-conveying bracelets.

The silver spoon was not yet part of the Northwest Coast artist’s repertoire, but came about within decades as steamship tourists, inspired by Victorian romantic misconceptions of “vanishing Indians” and in search of “authentic,” portable souvenirs for the home arrived to the Northwest Coast eager to purchase Native-made curios. 

By the early 1880s, almost every village along the Northwest Coast had Native carvers working silver and crafting jewelry. Setting up shop was relatively easy. To work silver, artisans required only a few simple tools including an anvil, hammer, wooden mold, two or three engraving tools made from pieces of files or knife blades, a whetstone, a piece of dogfish skin for smoothing, and fine clay or deer skin for polishing. 

The Sheldon Jackson Museum has nearly 150 examples of Northwest Coast 19th century silver, including spoons, forks, sugar tongs, butter knives, bracelets, and even a silver napkin ring made by renowned Haida artist Charles Edenshaw. The December Artifacts of the Month will be exhibited until Dec. 31 and can be seen 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is closed Sundays, Mondays and holidays. General admission is $3 and free for those 18 and under or members of either the Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum or Friends of the Alaska State Museum.

 

Green Business

Nominations On

Sitkans can ‘‘give the gift of ‘green’ this Christmas’’ by shopping locally and nominating a local business, agency, not-for-profit group, school or other entity for 2016 Sitka Green Business Awards, says the the Sitka Global Warming Group.

Using “green” business practices, like conserving energy, recycling, carpooling, buying local, serving organic and local foods, or encouraging use of reusable bags, cups, or plates, saves businesses money, increases community sustainability, and benefits the environment, the organization said.

‘‘Whether you are a customer, employee, or business owner, you can recognize and thank a local business for supporting Sitka this past year by filling out a simple nomination form at www.sitkaglobalwarming.org. Nominations are due by Jan. 30, 2016,’’ said Michelle Putz of the SGWG.

Those with questions may call Putz at 747-2708.

 

SNHP Accepting

Applications

Sitka National Historical Park is accepting applications for park guide and park ranger positions for the summer season. The full-time temporary appointments are expected to last from approximately April through September. 

Application packets are available on the door at 103 Monastery Street, by contacting the park at 747-0107, or by downloading the application at http://www.nps.gov/sitk/getinvolved/workwithus.htm. All applications must be postmarked or received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 5. 

 

Christmas Eve

Service at St. Peter’s

St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church invites the community to Christmas Eve worship service on Dec. 24.

The service will begin 6:30 p.m.Dec. 24  with 30 minutes of pre-service musical offerings. The church is located at 611 Lincoln Street.

 

Chronic Pain

Meeting on Tap

December’s monthly meeting of Chronic Pain and Illness Support Group will be noon-1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, in the Sitka Community Hospital downstairs classroom. 

Attendees can take their lunch or purchase one at the hospital’s Bistro Cafeteria. This month’s meeting will focus on how to survive the holiday season, reasonably intact. 

Those who have a friend or family member who suffers from chronic pain can learn how to help and support them through this busy time of the year, organizers said. Help might include writing addresses on Christmas cards for those who have arthritis, cooking and delivering a meal, or shopping for gifts for them to give.

 

Benefit Dinner

For Sitkan Set

A benefit dinner to help Sitka resident Carol Breece with medical expenses is planned 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Sitka Moose Lodge.

Dinner will include pork chop suey, sesame chicken, steamed rice and crispy wontons for $20 a person. It is sponsored by Loyal Order of Moose.

Free delivery may be arranged by calling 747-4655. Events held at the Moose Lodge are for  members and invited guests. 

 

 

 

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