2023 ARTShop Selena "Mikngayaq" Malone
Sunshine Ruff Making

The ARTShops program is a collaboration between The CIRI Foundation, the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Established in 2016, ARTShops support emerging Alaska Native arts leaders to develop their skills in leading community-based arts programs.

Riley Malone (Selena's daughter) working on her sunshine ruff.

For my ARTShop project, I was able to source materials and supplies and work with an experienced skin seamstress (Nasugraq Lane) to help guide and instruct me in the sunshine ruff making process. My daughters and I learned how to choose the proper hides, what to look for in each hide, how to prepare the hides for cutting, the importance of stretching the hide before you cut it, how to determine where to cut the hides and how to piece all materials together to sew for the final product. While I’ve done little skin sewing in the past, it had been a while since I had made anything so this project helped me rebuild my sewing skills and regain confidence in skin sewing with the mindset that anything is possible.

My daughters and I benefited greatly from this project as it gave me confidence in skin sewing and it gave them insight into the lengthy process. It not only taught us the entire process of preparing and actually making, but it forced us to be patient and allow ourselves some grace, to understand that we are human, imperfect and that it takes time to develop skin sewing skills. While working on this project, we often reflected on how our ancestors made such beautiful yet functional attire with far fewer resources than we had.

With the skills I learned, I would like to make three additional ruffs for my family. This will allow me the chance to further develop and improve my skills so that I can pass on the knowledge to others.

Read more about ARTShops