Handbags feature Haida designs

  • Aug. 1, 2003 5:00 a.m.

Artisan Lori Davis is bringing ancient Haida designs to a new medium – handbags.
Ms Davis hopes her hand-made handbags will appeal to people who want wearable art with Haida designs for everyday use, not just formal occasions.
“As a Haida woman, I spend so much money on Haida designs to wear, but there’s nowhere to wear them,” Ms Davis said.
Ms Davis made her first handbag about a year ago for a friend’s birthday present, and it was such a success that she decided to make some more and try to sell them. A resident of Vancouver, she is a drummer for Robert Davidson’s Rainbow Creek dancers, and makes her own regalia. People often ask if she would make them something, but she didn’t feel comfortable making regalia for sale. However, with the handbags, she believes she can make wearable art in a way that is respectful of her ancestors.
Each bag is hand sewn using the skills she learned from her grandmother Carrie Weir, a blanket maker and weaver from Old Massett. The designs are by her uncle Dalbert Weir. Ms Davis sews figures such as ravens, eagles, bears, killer whales and humans; however, she doesn’t use clan crests except for special orders. She is still experimenting with materials, but so far her favourites are Casmir wool and deer skin because they are so soft. She chooses to use good quality fabrics for both the exterior and the lining of the handbags because “it’s a waste of our art and culture to make them with cheap materials.”
Ms Davis makes handbags, computer bags, briefcases and evening bags, and sells them under the name Haida Princess Totes. They cost between $300-$375, and are available at the Lattimer Gallery in Vancouver or on Ms Davis’s website at groups.msn.com/HaidaDesignPurses