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Kasaan | Carving Shed Details

We learned a new word while chatting with the carvers here in Kasaan the other day. It’s a German word that means “making something worse while attempting to make it better.” The word is: verschlimmbessern. They’d just learned it from Thomas, a man we met (while paddling the Haida canoe yesterday!). He’s visiting Kasaan from Germany for the celebration. Verschlimmbessern is a concept every artist and craftsperson knows intimately, and I love that there’s a word for it.

Anyway, we did a bunch of work in the morning yesterday on Airship and then wandered into the village to have some lunch at the Totem Trail Cafe. The food was excellent!! We shared a BLT and a Reuben (the Reuben won but both were great). After lunch we wandered over to the carving shed to hang out and chat some more with the carvers (and get another look at the in-progress totem pole). I took a few more photos of some of the details. Here’s the design for this totem pole, with sections from top to bottom depicting Future, Present, and Past:


You can see the texture well in this light:


The male and female figures at the top of the totem pole, representing the family of the future (there is one child on either side, inside the ears (see design drawing up top). Love the fingernail detail!


Detail of the clam shell. The clam and the crab are part of the Present section of the design:


Rope ties all three sections together, running throughout the entire design:


I love how the grain of the wood works with the design of this face (well, and how the design works with the grain, of course):


The canoes will be arriving today (how many? don’t know. from where? also don’t know. but we’re told there will be canoes), so I’ll try to capture some images of that. So far we’re the only “tourist” boat here at the dock, but town is bustling with quite a few people. (Also, the Port-a-Potties arrived yesterday…the sign of a real “Event”.) Kasaan is connected by road to the towns of Klawock (44 miles) and Craig (50 miles) and the Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA) goes between Ketchikan and Hollis. Here’s a map, if you want to see the route to/from Craig, Hollis, and the relationship to Ketchikan, lower right corner:

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I think we need to take the boat to Craig next summer.

Oh yeah, last night at sunset, I took photos of the light on the shore too:


But see why it’s so hard to turn around? Just look at what’s going on in the other directions!!

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It’s even gorgeous in the boring direction!!!