Handmade Alaska Souvenirs

While in Homer, Alaska, last week, I bought myself a couple of souvenirs handmade by local artists.


The bracelet is carved from birch. It was made by artist George Overpeck. He spends his summers commercial fishing in Bristol Bay and kitesurfing on Kachemak Bay. His winters are occupied with woodturning in Homer.

birch bracelet handmade alaska

Most of his work is done with the Betula kenaica, a variety of white birch that is unique to the Kenai peninsula. The bracelet is amazingly light and I love how clear the patterning in the wood is.

scrimshaw mammoth tuxk necklace alaska

The necklace is scrimshawed by artist Brian Burns on a piece of ancient mammoth tusk. Scrimshaw is a type of etching in a which a line is scratched onto the piece then filled by pigment. Brian Burns practices his art and works on boats in Homer, Alaska. He is an avid hiker and explorer and collects many of the materials he uses in his work.

mammoth tusk striations

Being mammoth ivory, it means that this is 15,000+ years old. Wow. It kind of boggles my mind. I was told that you can tell it is from the elephant family because of the striation pattern on the bottom.

alaskan native handmade slippers
My mom bought a pair of slippers while we were in Talkeetna. They are moosehide with beaver fur and beadwork by Lilly Killbear, an Athabascan Native. I saw many beautiful pieces of clothing, accessories, and artwork made from leather, hide, and fur. While I typically disapprove of fur in fashion, it strikes me as different and appropriate when it’s part of a native tradition or when it’s salvaged from an animal hunted for food. In Alaska, it’s also a very practical way to deal with such cold temperatures.
beaded alaskan slippers
I really like the fact that if you look closely at the slipper, you can see the pen outline of where the artist sketched her beading pattern. It’s little imperfections like this that make it clear it’s a handmade work of art and not something from a factory in another country.

Comments 1

  1. See, this is what I like about traveling – finding those unique pieces that no one else will have when you return to your city and pieces that have a memory or story attached to it.

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