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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

May 16, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Sunshine plus Puget Sound equals red algae

With the warm spring sunshine, a familiar sight is back in Puget Sound: red algae blooms. While experts at the state Department of Ecology could not confirm it without testing, this bloom, spotted by photographer Mark Harrison off the Edmonds ferry dock Thursday morning, is probably Noctiluca, said Sandy Howard, spokeswoman for the state Department of…

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May 2, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Weaving a connection with nature

In reflections on the remarkable life of Fran James, the master Lummi weaver who passed away this week, her friends and family and admirers noted her connection with nature and its cycles, through her mastery of weaving.

As I talked to museum curators who admired her work, and fellow weavers for Mrs. James’ obituary today in the Seattle Times, I learned that weavers, perhaps singly among artists, come to know the natural world of their homeland through the necessity of gathering materials for their work.

Che top ie, her Indian name, knew the surroundings of her home on the Lummi reservation intimately, having grown up on Portage Island and learning the art of weaving and gathering from her grandmother.

With her son, traditional chief Bill James, she would lead gathering trips for materials, remembered Becky Blanchard, co-director at the Stonington Gallery in Seattle, which exhibits and sells Mrs. James’ work.

“The weavers hold such a special base of knowledge for the culture, they are collectors of the materials, the husbandry of materials, when do you go out and get cedar bark,  maidenhair fern, beargrass, the weavers are totally in tune with that,” Blanchard said.

Fran James in the workroom off her kitchen, spinning wool.  Photo by Alan Berner, Seattle Times Staff photographer

Fran James in the workroom off her kitchen, spinning wool. Notice the homemade equipment. Bill and Fran James made nearly all of their tools and equipment themselves, from scraps.
Photo by Alan Berner, Seattle Times Staff photographer

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