Image by First Peoples Fund

Image by First Peoples Fund

I thought I had control of this quillwork, but I don’t - it’s controlling me all the time. Sometimes it won’t go, and I can’t force it”
— Mel Losh

mel losh

 

TRIBE: Ojibwe

MEDIUM: Bead and Porcupine Quillwork

LOCATION: Bena,Minnesota

 

2015 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD

 

One of three still living, Mel Losh is is a master at bead and porcupine quillwork.  For the past 35+ years, he has taught numerous workshops enabling students of all ages to learn the Ojibwe art form of quillwork. His work has been included in the Minnesota Historical Society's Mille Lacs Museum as well as the Plains Art Museum and the Smithsonian.

Mel loves his work.  He immerses in each quill box, each one unique.  He learns something new every time.  He thinks through the design.  Color-blind, he relies on a niece or nephew to help him with the dying.  And the quillwork changes as he creates.  "I thought I had control of this quillwork, but I don't - it's controlling me all the time.  Sometimes it won't go, and I can't force it."  He holds as many as 200 quills in his mouth at a time and loves the feel of them and the thrill of pulling them through the bark.   

"Mel strengthens and instills pride our community by preserving an endangered traditional Native American art form not only within the Leech Lake Reservation, but also worldwide.  He has committed his entire life to the porcupine quill box and bandolier bag artf orms which are expressions of our Ojibwe heritage." - Doug Limon, Nominator

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2015 Community Spirit Award honoree dedicated to teaching beadwork, quillwork, and patience