Lily Hope was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska to full-time artists. She is Tlingit Indian, of the Raven moiety. Following her matrilineal line, she’s of her grandmother’s clan, the T’akdeintaan, originating from the Snail House in Hoonah, Alaska.
Lily learned Ravenstail weaving from Clarissa Rizal, and Kay Parker, both of Juneau. She learned Chilkat weaving from Clarissa Rizal as well, who, until her passing in December 2016, was one of the last living apprentices of the late Master Chilkat Weaver, Jennie Thlanaut.
Lily weaves both Ravenstail and Chilkat textiles. Her ensemble, Little Watchman, blends the two styles. Lily teaches both Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving in the Juneau community, in the Yukon Territory, and down the coast of SE Alaska, into Washington and Oregon. She also demonstrates internationally and offers lectures on the spiritual commitments of being a weaver.
Her first Ravenstail ensemble (a collaboration with Clarissa Rizal), Copper Child, had a run of exhibits and shows, winning first place in Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Juried Art Show, 2012. It is now in the permanent collection at Sealaska Heritage.
Lily finished her first adult-size Chilkat robe on May 31, 2017, after 17 months and over 1700 hours at the loom. Please visit Sealaska Heritage Institute’s blog post about the ‘cutting off the loom’ ceremony, held the afternoon before final completion. Lily’s robe, titled the Heritage Robe, now lives in the permanent collection at the Portland Art Museum, Portland Oregon.
Lily lives in Juneau, Alaska, with her husband, author Ishmael Hope, and five children.
I weave to bring order to my thoughts, to converge with the realms beyond our
seeing eye, and to help bring the past into the present, and present into future.
I weave because it makes washing the dishes more enjoyable, the diaper
changing more delightful, and the CD alphabetizing more meaningful (What? You
don’t alphabetize?). When I start my day weaving, I bounce when I walk, sing
as I talk, and smile with everything. Weaving Chilkat is like breathing with
the universal consciousness. All is well in the world when I’m weaving.
I come to my loom and close my eyes. I give thanks for the women who helped
me learn: for Jennie, the last Master Chilkat weaver who taught my mother. I
give thanks for my hands, and for the time and space to weave. I sit with
this gratitude for some time and smile as I remove the embroidered shawl
protecting my weaving from dust. I place my hands in the warp before finding
my weft strands, and silently ask Jennie and previous weavers to help guide
my hands today. I weave on wooden looms my father cut and sanded, fashioned
after Jennie’s looms. The header board runs horizontal to the ground, and my
warp hang vertically loose. My warp is thigh-spun from merino wool (used to
be mountain goat, but my uncle hunters keep dying), and finely split yellow
cedar bark. This spinning combination is rough on my hands, yet offers enough
structure so I may shape eyes, u-forms, ovoids, and more, into my weavings.
The cedar bark also keeps the moths away. I don’t want to spend a year
making something to let moths eat it.
My fine weaver strands of merino wool (formerly mountain goat hair) come in
traditional black, natural/white, and blue and yellow for accent colors. Some
days I’m surprised to spend three hours at the loom and manage only to get my
braids “set” to start shaping eyes. Other days I fly across u-forms and
circles. When my fingers forget how to move through the warp, I throw my arms
up and clear my mind, saying, “Ok, Mama, and Jennie, I need your help,” I exhale and
place my hands back in the warp. Every time, it’s as though they were here,
working right beside me.
That’s what art means. It means our teachers don’t die. It means the spirit
of all things lives on in us, in our art. We have a responsibility to honor
and carry on the teachings, to keep creating, to share our version of spirit
with others, so when we pass, we’ve left the world more beautiful, through
our weavings and through a joyful spirit.