Susan Pavel

Susan Pavel

Dr. Susan Pavel first learned to weave in the Coast Salish style during the summer of 1996.  Her master teacher was subiyay – Bruce Miller of the Skokomish Nation.  Each summer she would take three full months to produce one ceremonial blanket and then gift it to various elders of the tribe.  By the fourth year it was suggested to sell her creations and she started along that path.  By the seventh year she was invited to teach weaving classes and has taught well over 1000 students to date.  She has participated and later solo exhibited six museum exhibits.   With public and private collectors across the nation she continues to weave, when the spirit calls her to weave – she is obedient to the call.  She celebrates this year of 2016 with jubilation marking 20 Years of Coast Salish Weaving for her and more importantly – SQ3Tsya’yay – Weaver’s Spirit Power.

Traditionally, Salish blankets/clothing are woven using a variety of animal and plant fibers including mountain goat wool, canine hair, hemp, fireweed, milkweed, cattail, cotton grass, and yellow and red cedar bark. Various plants were used to create the colors used in dying the wool. Bark from Oregon grape, stinging nettles, various lichens, and alder bark were some of these plants.

There are three types of techniques used in Coast Salish weaving: twill, twining, and plain. The diagonals are created by the twill weave, where the weft travels under and over the warp. Twining uses two weft yarns twisting around the warp. The plain weave is a simple over and under warp and weft.

Amongst Coast Salish people, blankets made from mountain goat wool are a symbol of wealth and status. During ceremonial occasions objects of wealth are given as gifts, thus leaving the donor in a place of honor and prestige. Woven blankets are distributed during weddings, memorials, naming ceremonies, and as payment to shamans for their services.