Skexe Blanket Panels
In this show, Friday debuts his panel series “Skexe”. To the Coast Salish people, blankets have always been an integral part of daily life. Friday writes that they were often used “to pay off debts, to show gratitude, or to indicate status. A blanket is one of the most honored gifts to receive, not just because of the amount of time it takes to make, but also its ability to keep you in warmth and in health for the long winter.”
Historically, Native blankets were made from woven plant fibers, animal hides and fur, and eventually from fabric woven by hand from wool or cotton. Unique to the Northwest is the use of the fur from the Skexe or the Coast Salish woolly dog.
The Salish woolly dog was a small, white, long-haired dog with prick ears, curled tail, fox-like face, and a thick coat. When Captain George Vancouver observed the Salish woolly dog around the Puget Sound in 1792, he thought that it looked like a larger version of a Pomeranian. It is thought that dog hair was mainly used in textiles woven before 1862, when sheep wool became common causing the woolly dog to go extinct. Researchers are only aware of one surviving blanket of primarily dog hair. This blanket is housed at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Washington.
Friday’s “Skexe” panels reimagine this textile through the medium of glass. He creates these panels in a similar method to his “woven” glass baskets. A mosaic of glass cane is arranged flat, and heated. A layer of clear glass is added to the mosaic, and it can be picked up and rolled into a cylinder (shown in process photo). The cylinder is then slit open and laid back down and cooled, and eventually sandblasted on the back side.