Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kuspuks. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kuspuks. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kuspuks Go to the Capitol



As part of our ongoing Kuspuks adventure, Gastineau Elementary School's second grade classroom was not only featured in the Anchorage KTUU television news with a wonderful segment on the parallel traditions of Kuspuk Friday..both in the capitol building in Juneau by members of the State Legislature, but on Fridays in the classroom of my sister-in-law, Paula Savikko.

It has been such a fun adventure participating in not only helping the children rip out the pieces for their kuspuks (alternate spellings: quaspeg, qaspeg, quspug...all pronounced kuss-puck), but also being able to actually help sew (my third year on this project) them on our sewing machines set up daily for a week's lesson on the art, culture, and the use of non-standard math and measurement.

Once completed, the kuspuks hang on a special display rack in the classroom, and are worn for special occasions...Kuspuk Fridays, original classroom plays, or for programs or other cultural celebrations.

One such special event was our field trip to the Governor's Mansion in Juneau, Alaska..just across the Gastineau Channel from our school located on Douglas Island.

Loading our students (all wearing their brightly colored kuspuks) onto the school bus, we began our fun filled day with a drive to Juneau and a knock on the new Alaskan Governor's door.

Alaska's 10th and newest governor, Governor Sean Parnell, now resides in Juneau, with his wife, Sandy, and daughters Grace, and Rachel..... and a wonderful dog, named Annie.

The First Lady was lovely, gracious, and welcoming (as were the two beautiful teen-aged daughters) and truly made us feel as if this was, indeed, Alaska's home. We were allowed to visit all of the public downstairs rooms, including the library, conservatory, ballroom, and dining room. And while I may have cringed at the children playing the grand piano (those with previous lessons, of course), finger printing the dining table, and sitting on the elegant sofa, all were made to feel truly welcome.

We played memory games with state facts and history, played with Annie (the State Dog) and signed the elegantly displayed guest book...one by one. We left with official embossed napkins and a homemade cookie... and of course, with big smiles on all of our faces!

We also visited the State Historical Archives and viewed photos of our city of Douglas' past...our school, our town, and our original and unique traditions. A reminder to all of us of the importance of culture and history....both then and being made, now...in all of our lives.

Links to Making Kuspuks in 2010:
Kuspuks Go to the Capitol

Kuspuk Fridays, KTUU, Anchorage News...our classroom featured as State Legislators wear their own kuspuks on Fridays!

Links to Making Kuspuks in 2008:
How to make a kuspuk
Kuspuks Make Front Page News
Juneau Empire Photos: Parka party 01/18/08 video

Links to Making Kuspuks in 2009
Sewing Kuspuks Again!
Kuspuks



Note 2018 Updated YouTube link as newspaper site is no longer archived and avaulable.

Making Kuspuks
https://youtu.be/DwN9bj5DFbghttps://youtu.be/DwN9bj5DFbg
(via www.with-heart-and-hands)

The following day, a Juneau Empire videographer joined us. She video taped the class, all of the children now wearing their own newly created kuspuks, as we were rejoined by Theresa John, our gifted Yupik Eskimo cultural student, teacher, and doctoral candidate from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Theresa led us in Yupik song and dance, this time we were all wearing our completed kuspuks and we performed the dance several times to the delight of the children, as well as the visitors. The link will be available, online, in the Juneau Empire video archives.






The children dearly loved the entire experience and we celebrated afterwards with small cups of chamomile tea and graham crackers. Perhaps, not culturally traditional, but certainly appreciated and enjoyed!

Kuspuks are done! Such fun, a lot of work and many, many rewards!
How to make a kuspuk
Kuspuks Make Front Page News
Juneau Empire Photos: Parka party 01/18/08
video


 Links to Making Kuspuks in 2009
Fun But Frenzied Frugality: Sewing Kuspuks Again!
Kuspuks and Friday Finishes

5 comments:

  1. Michele, this is a wonderful concept, a wonderful project, wonderful coverage , and wonderful of you to share it. Thank you.
    ReplyDelete
  2. What a delightful addition to your "busman's holiday" ... something that you'll treasure long after you return home. Thank you (!!) for sharing.
    ReplyDelete
  3. thanks for letting us share in the fun, you famous Kuspuk Maker you! It's great working with young people like this-good for you.
    ReplyDelete
  4. Congrats! That's great!
    ReplyDelete
  5. You are having quite an adventure! What a wonderful event to share. All of you will be grinning for a long time when a Kuspuk is mentioned. You are not going to want to go home, lol.
    ReplyDelete
Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.


On My Design Wall
Working on a kuspuk pattern/directions... for those who keep asking!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kuspuks and Friday Finishes




 After a hyper intensive period of sewing kuspuks with a classroom of children, the class was visited by Mary Nelson, a Y'upik Eskimo native who brought her own kuspuk collection to share and display,and taught us all a Y'upik dance and song.

Like Theresa John, who came and shared Making Kuspuks with us last year, Mary also has rich roots in native traditions, culture and lore. With slightly different customs and kuspuk styling, both she and Theresa John's Y'upik kuspuks had both similarities and differences.

Mary taught us that in the modernized version, women are now wearing the male version of kuspuk...without the skirt ruffle and more like a pullover jacket. Some had zippers, some double pockets and one ...the first one in the line-up...had the most intricate quilted braid done in a tiny miniature form.


Having done Seminole patchworking in the past, I know the intricacies involved in the detail but to see it in such a tiny form was amazing. The native sewer who had created Mary's kuspuks sews, with 6 sewing machines and 1 serger, and mass produces them for sale.

While the 2nd graders loved seeing the new kuspuks and loved Mary Nelson and her stories and her beautiful Y'upik drum and fans, they loved their own chance to participate even more. While one student drummed and two others used the dance fans, all learned a new dance and chant. And wearing their own brightly colored kuspuks, (that we had helped them to make) it was such fun to join in and learn the dance, as well.

These photos showcase what will be a Friday Kuspuk Day....where innovative teacher and my sister-in-law, Paula Savikko, gives her students the opportunity to learn to sew...by hand and with a machine...and to help make their own kuspuks. The class will have a chance to showcase their kuspuks (and hopefully their song and danc) before an assembly and/or in the hallways of Gastineau Elementary School...here in Douglas, Alaska.

Combining the love of learning new skills, of sharing, and of teaching...this kuspuk project, like the one in 2008, reminds me of the rich cultures of native peoples.....nd the joy of being able to participate in them.



As I end my final week of this month in Alaska, and my second chance to work with this project, I am exhausted by the process of combining the care taking of my parents in their island home, with my own interests and heart felt need to volunteer and share with others, and filled with gratitude that in that sharing, each and every time, I learn the depths of my own ability to create new energies, new abilities, and a strengthened endurance to continue on.

Just as the fans and the drums of the Y'upik and the Tlingit peoples have inspired me with their magic rhythm,so too is there a rhythm to my own dance in this lifetime.




I look ahead and to my journey home to Salem, Oregon and see it all...all the magic, the power, the hard and challenging experiences, but I also see the joy of deep connection...to children, to sisterhood, to other cultures, to family and friends. And I am so grateful to have had so many wonderful opportunities to help me through the hardship of other challenges.




Links to Making Kuspuks in 2008:
How to make a kuspuk
Kuspuks Make Front Page News
Juneau Empire Photos: Parka party 01/18/08 video

Links to Making Kuspuks in 2009
Sewing Kuspuks Again!
Kuspuks


Links to Making Kuspuks 2010
Kuspuks Go Capitol


With Heart and Hands
© Michele (Savikko) Bilyeu
April 2009

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Making Kuspuks







I have been privileged to work all this week with award-winning teacher, Paula Savikko, and her second grade class at Gastineau Elementary School in Douglas, Alaska. I have been as equally privileged to witness the extra-ordinary gifts of Yup'ik Cultural Instructor, Theresa John, as she shared her knowledge of the Yup'ik Eskimos of Nelson Island and their traditions from the Tooksok Bay area of western Alaska.

Theresa is a doctoral candidate at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and a gifted teacher, versed in the traditional arts of song and native dance of the Yupiks and their rich cultural heritage. She taught the class words in Yupik and described how different the original culture was from ours today. She did an amazing job of working with the children and teaching them Yupik terminology, history and geography. With word, song and dance she created a magical learning experience for all of us and one that I felt truly blessed to experience.




Theresa also taught us all how to make kuspuks. A kuspuk is a traditional native Alaskan garment, usually made of cotton fabric that is worn over a fur parka in the winter, and as an outdoor garment in the summer...over pants, leggings or jeans.















 Creating a kuspuk (alternate spellings: quaspeg, qaspeg, quspug...all pronounced 'cuss-puck') in the original native Yupik way, involves simply measuring the body from armpit to armpit (across the rounding of the chest) and ripping off this width. (scissors needed for that first cut on our modern fabric with selvages on the sides!)





Using this piece we then measured it from neck to hem length and ripped that off to size. We followed with ripping sleeve lengths by widths and hood lengths and widths to sizing of the head followed by adding a skirt section for the girls(double the width of the body) and a pocket as pictured, for all.

Using more traditional sewing methods, we shaped hoods or pocket pieces as needed. Diagrams are pictured here for those looking for directions or a free kuspuk pattern. Click on them to go to their site, click again to enlarge with the magnifying glass, right click to download and save for your use!



Each day, students would sew with the help of myself or another volunteer. The students pinned pieces together, were taught the basics mechanics of a sewing machine and showed how to feed the fabric under the feed dogs and how to hold it as the machine sewed with the help of an adult's foot on the power pedal. They were delighted with this unique opportunity and truly loved being able to sew, especially something that they were so personally involved with from start to finish.


Rick rack trim was added to the pockets, the cuffs and (if desired) to the bottom section of the body of the girl's kuspuks. The boys' kuspuks, by tradition, are kept in neutral, plain fabrics and not adorned with rickrack. The girls' kuspuks are usually made with bright colored calicos and adorned with rickrack or embroidery trims on edges of pockets and sleeves. Each kuspuk (made from start to finish) takes about 4 hours to make.

The joy of creation coupled with the delight of the children makes the time spent not only worthwhile...but truly fun! These were experiences, as well as wonderful children, that I will remember forever and I am deeply grateful to have been a part of this unique experience!

My other links:

How to make a kuspuk

Juneau Empire newspaper link is no longer available on their site, but here is the youtube video taken that day:
Creating Kuspuks with Theresa John and classroom teacher, Paula Savikko at Gastinesu Elementary School, Douglas Island, Alaska.

2018 Update:
Gastineau Elementary is now officially called "Saye'ik Gastineau".



Links to Making Kuspuks in 2009
Fun But Frenzied Frugality: Sewing Kuspuks Again!
Kuspuks and Friday Finishes


Search engine links for this article:

How to make a kuspukKuspuks Make Front Page News
Juneau Empire Photos: Parka party 01/18/08
video



Note 2018 Updated YouTube link as newspaper site is no longer archived and avaulable.

Making Kuspuks
https://youtu.be/DwN9bj5DFbghttps://youtu.be/DwN9bj5DFbg
(via www.with-heart-and-hands)

The following day, a Juneau Empire videographer joined us. She video taped the class, all of the children now wearing their own newly created kuspuks, as we were rejoined by Theresa John, our gifted Yupik Eskimo cultural student, teacher, and doctoral candidate from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Theresa led us in Yupik song and dance, this time we were all wearing our completed kuspuks and we performed the dance several times to the delight of the children, as well as the visitors. The link will be available, online, in the Juneau Empire video archives.






The children dearly loved the entire experience and we celebrated afterwards with small cups of chamomile tea and graham crackers. Perhaps, not culturally traditional, but certainly appreciated and enjoyed!

Kuspuks are done! Such fun, a lot of work and many, many rewards!
How to make a kuspuk
Kuspuks Make Front Page News
Juneau Empire Photos: Parka party 01/18/08
video


 Links to Making Kuspuks in 2009
Fun But Frenzied Frugality: Sewing Kuspuks Again!
Kuspuks and Friday Finishes

5 comments:

  1. Michele, this is a wonderful concept, a wonderful project, wonderful coverage , and wonderful of you to share it. Thank you.
    ReplyDelete
  2. What a delightful addition to your "busman's holiday" ... something that you'll treasure long after you return home. Thank you (!!) for sharing.
    ReplyDelete
  3. thanks for letting us share in the fun, you famous Kuspuk Maker you! It's great working with young people like this-good for you.
    ReplyDelete
  4. Congrats! That's great!
    ReplyDelete
  5. You are having quite an adventure! What a wonderful event to share. All of you will be grinning for a long time when a Kuspuk is mentioned. You are not going to want to go home, lol.
    ReplyDelete
Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.



Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt at a time!




Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kuspuks Make Front Page News





Our Gastineau Elementary School project of Making Kuspuks, with Yup'ik Eskimo cultural instructor, Theresa John, and second grade teacher Paula Savikko, of Douglas, Alaska made the Juneau Daily Empire's front page news.



News reporter, Brian Wallace, of Juneau came in and spent a half an hour with us profiling the children's efforts and how we used non-standard math measurements to rip out the kuspuk(also quaspeg or qaspeg,all pronounced 'cuss-puck' ) patterns the original Yup'ik or native Eskimo way. Photos were taken of children being measured, showing how they ripped fabric pieces to size based on these physical measurements and then sewing the kuspuks pieces together, with the help of volunteers. We were delighted to discover that not only did we make the news but were placed on the front page with large photos.



Archived link: Photos: Parka party 01/18/08

Note 2018 Updated YouTube link as newspaper site is no longer archived and avaulable.

Making Kuspuks
https://youtu.be/DwN9bj5DFbghttps://youtu.be/DwN9bj5DFbg
(via www.with-heart-and-hands) 

The following day, a Juneau Empire videographer joined us. She video taped the class, all of the children now wearing their own newly created kuspuks, as we were rejoined by Theresa John, our gifted Yupik Eskimo cultural student, teacher, and doctoral candidate from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Theresa led us in Yupik song and dance, this time we were all wearing our completed kuspuks and we performed the dance several times to the delight of the children, as well as the visitors. The link will be available, online, in the Juneau Empire video archives.






The children dearly loved the entire experience and we celebrated afterwards with small cups of chamomile tea and graham crackers. Perhaps, not culturally traditional, but certainly appreciated and enjoyed!

Kuspuks are done! Such fun, a lot of work and many, many rewards!
How to make a kuspuk
Kuspuks Make Front Page News
Juneau Empire Photos: Parka party 01/18/08
video


 Links to Making Kuspuks in 2009
Fun But Frenzied Frugality: Sewing Kuspuks Again!
Kuspuks and Friday Finishes