Totemic beadwork created at Harborview

Posted: Friday, June 01, 2001

A sparkling beadwork panel with a Tlingit totemic design has been created by 420 students in grades kindergarten through fifth at Harborview Elementary School.

Juneau beadwork artist Salty Hanes, proprietor of Spirit Beads, worked as coordinator of the project through the Artists in the Schools program. By using 15 different hand beading looms, Hanes was able to have each student work on the project at least once. The finished piece is an impressive 22 inches long and 14 inches high, with its title and details of its origin worked in letters at top and bottom.

The panel, called "Eagle Raven Mural," was formally presented to the school today at the year's final assembly. It will hang in a window on a public staircase on the northwest side of the school, in order to let natural light flow through it and show off the 17,000 seed beads to best advantage.

"Dave Haas, a teacher at Harborview, contacted me in December, and he and I worked the whole month of February scheduling it, figuring it out, and I started with the kids in March," Hanes said. "We beaded March into April during 40-minute sessions which were considered art classes. I had anywhere from eight to 14 kids at a time."

What Hanes calls a "mural" uses beads from size 6 to size 12, with the predominant colors of black, red, gray iris and blue. A circular opening in the center mimics the door of a traditional Tlingit plank house, with a medallion or sun catcher suspended in the opening.

The dangling sun catcher is beaded in an Eagle/Raven design created by the late Scott Douglas, and contributed to the project by his widow, Nancy Douglas, an Indian studies teacher.

"I came up with the idea of the sun catcher in the middle, but Nancy was very generous," Hanes said.

Hanes has been working with bead looms since she was 7 or 8 years old, but this is the first time she has participated in the Artists in the Schools program and she gave it her all.

"I would come early and let kids who were in the Rally Program bead until 8 a.m. It's fun to do an extra project, and they could bead as much as they wanted," Hanes said.

"It was a great project," said Harborview principal Robert Dye. "Salty really did a nice job working with all of the students and giving them all a part. If the opportunity arises, we would love to work with her again."

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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