puffin beaks created by three-dimensional printing.
A twenty-first century technology has helped a group of skin
sewers achieve a dream, the creation of a traditionally styled caribou-skin
parka. A team of seamstresses supported by Kodiaks Alutiiq
Museum spent the past two years developing this garment. Their aim
was to revitalize ancestral sewing arts while creating a parka for
their tribal cultural center. The final step was to add decorative
elements. Inspired the intricate handwork of an ancestral parka,
they appliquéd, embroidered, fringed, and tasseled the modern
garment, but they were not able to add puffin beaks.
Puffins, chubby seabirds with large colorful beaks, are common
residents of the Kodiak Archipelago. For millennia, Kodiaks
Native residents harvested these birds for food and material. Puffin
beaks were commonly suspended from Alutiiq clothing for decoration
and to honor the close ties between people and birds. Today, however,
the Migratory Bird Act of 1918 protects puffins and their parts.
School wears a Caribou Skin Parka she helped to construct
as a member of Kodiak Alutiiq New Sewers Club, with Cathy
Cordry, Teri Schneider, Marya Halvorsen, and Susan Malutin.
To complete their vision, the sewers turned to three-dimensional
printing. Master skin sewer and group leader Susan Malutin worked
with Kodiak High School technology teacher Barry Altenhof to create
a set of faux beaks. Using an image of a beak and ABS plastic, three-dimensional
printers built twenty-four replicas for use on the parka. Three
volunteers then painted the beaks, which have been tied to the elaborate,
hand-stitched garment. The result is a masterpiece of modern skin
sewing and a fusion of ancient and modern technologies.
Production of the caribou skin garment was supported by a grant
from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and contributions
from the Fulford Family, Kodiak Island Borough School District Enliven
Program, Port Lions Tribal Council, Larsen Bay Tribal Council, Kodiak
Island Housing Authority, Dr. Gordon Pullar, Native Village of Afognak,
and the Alutiiq Heritage Foundation.
The Alutiiq Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to
preserving and sharing the cultural traditions of the Alutiiq, an
Alaska Native tribal people. Representatives of Kodiak Alutiiq organizations
govern the museum with funding from charitable contributions, memberships,
grants, contracts, and sales.