“Salmon connect us all. They are in our waters, on the beach, in our forests, in our freezers. Salmon are a part of who we are,” Gibson said.

With patience and confidence, Gibson slowly built a dress from 20,000 salmon bones.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the natural world,” Gibson said. On her belly as a child, she would examine the delicate joints on blades of grass — dismantling them, weaving them, inspecting them. In nature, she discovered her passion for art and sought inspiration there. “There’s so much outside that is used in regular art today, and we don’t always recognize that.”

Intrigued and inspired, Gibson decided to combine her passion for natural elements with her interest in wearable arts and fashion. She began collecting, dreaming and eventually, imagining a dress adorned with Alaska’s wild beads.

“When you see them on the beach you’ll see small piles of maybe 20 vertebrae but I knew I would need thousands. I wanted to challenge myself. One fall, there was a particularly heavy concentration of salmon carcasses downtown and I would go down each weekend and collect buckets of them,” she said.

It quickly became clear that simply gathering on beach walks wouldn’t be enough. After a quick call, Sitka Sound Seafoods generously donated a stinking tote of king salmon carcasses for the project. Throughout the collecting process, Gibson went to work figuring out the best method for effectively cleaning those delicate bones.

Photos Goodrich
The whole process, from idea to full reality, took four years. Some people call this devotion crazy. Alaskans call it love.

Responses to "Sitka woman makes dress from 20,000 salmon bones"

  1. Magnificent! Worn by the Salmon Goddess, sacred entity of the Sitka and many other tribes.

  2. yeilmama says:

    Wow! That is really beautiful. Such determination and connected to one of our sacred foods. I would love to see this in person.

  3. There is something special about Sitka and the people who live there. I was born and raised there, and will one day again make it my home. The fact that this woman took the time and dedication to see her vision come to fruition is for one; stunningly gorgeous, and two it also encompasses the culture in which the community was founded upon. I applaud you Gibson on your ability to see far past the random scattering of fish remnants and to see an Exquisite and Awe inspiring article of clothing; that in my opinion expresses the beauty of how life and death always comes back to a rebirth. Kudos to you, and I am absolutely stunned at the beauty of your vision; being brought full circle.

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