Basket weaving has become a dying art due to the laborious, intensive task of gathering and preparing the materials; nevertheless, many elders have mastered this art form in order to preserve it for future generations.
The Haida women were best known for their cedar bark clothing, ceremonial head coverings and basketry. Miniatures were made specifically as giveaways while the larger proportioned baskets were utilized for berry picking, storage and cooking strainers. The weaving patterns were traditionally geometric in design. The fineness of the weave exemplified the expertise of the weaver and therefore held a greater value for trade or sale purposes.
Merle Andersen is a Haida weaver and Regalia artist from Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. San’laa gudgaang is her Haida name and Yaguu’janaas is the name of her affiliated clan. She uses Cedar Bark, Spruce Root, and Sewn Regalia as her mediums.
Merle’s grandmother, Isabella Edenshaw, and mother, Florence Davidson, were both weavers while her grandfather, Charles Edenshaw, was a master carver and her father Robert Davidson Sr. was a carver in his own right. Merle received her traditional training under her mother and two of her sisters as well as under Haida weavers April and Holly Churchill.
Merle’s pieces predominantly find a home through private collections. Her work has been featured in the book 'Spruce Root Basketry of the Haida and Tlingit' by Sharon Busby - currently available online through this web site.