Alaskan ivory carverCha worked in rare and exotic materials such as fossilized walrus tusks, teeth and prehistoric bones from extinct animals such as the wooly mammoth, saber-tooth tiger, cave bear and super bison for 35 years. The bones range in age from 5, 000 to hundreds of thousands of years old.Some of her most interesting carvings are done on these ancient materials.
Cha is famous for her carved ivory wearable art such as ‘Sitka roses, ‘ ‘tooth-faces, ‘ and ‘Alaskan cameos.’ She has also created split-artifact and trade-bead necklaces on buckskin, which emanate ancient Alaskan history. She is also noted for her portraits of the Tlingit and Eskimo peoples done from her research of authentic faces from photo archives around the state. The resulting ivory portraits are mounted on rare woods, which set off the detailed, sure-handed carving that is typical of her work.
Smaller faces emerge from old mineralized walrus teeth. The naturally brown, weathered exterior is incorporated skillfully into their design becoming a distinctive basket hat, Russian cap or hair. The pale interior becomes skin.
It takes considerable muscle to carve this dense ancient bone and ivory, but you would never know it in Cha’s finished pieces. Delicate lines and a silken polish communicate subtle sentiments, whether they appear as owls, hearts embellished with gold nuggets, Eskimo Angels, or necklaces of whales and even gorgeous contemporary Asian ‘Ojimies, ‘ a traditional small3/4″ bead. She has carved more than 50, 000 pieces in her carving career! Select ivory designs of flowers, faces and animals are caste in gold as stunning fine jewelry pieces.
Cha is a native of New Mexico.She moved to Alaska in 1974, where she learned to create gold nugget jewelry. The task of making the same piece day after day did not appeal to the independent-minded artist, especially after she discovered the wealth of raw materials available. Inspired, she branched out on her own to a long and successful career as an artist and gallery owner!
Although she has recently moved to glass as her medium of choice, she is still well-known for her large sculptures in mammoth bone, and other large ancient bones.Often she combined many such materials and mounted ivory musk-oxen on large chunks of mammoth bone.They seemed to grace across a haunting landscape emerging from somewhere deep within Alaska’s past.Cha’s instinctive taste makes her work unique and instantly recognizable.
Many fine examples are still available! Just visit her beautiful online gallery or come into the store and see for yourself.Each piece is exquisite, is a pleasure to wear and view, and is truly a quality investment for the future!
As you make your way through this website, you will see how I have used my favorite carvings to represent characters in my book series, “Voice of the Ancients.” Working with such old ivory and bone gave me a deep connection with the people who came before us. In my book series these artifacts, carvings, flaked stone tools and fossils are found, made or traded by the characters. Some I found, some have been in our family a long time… Some are for sale, the others are just so very interesting… So, enjoy!