PUBLISHED: 2:34 PM on Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tradition of Native engraving to continue with classes to be offered in Petersburg

Courtesy photo
  Mary Katasse-Miller and Malcom J Miller of Dawn Eagle Engraving in Petersburg.
Mary Katasse-Miller and Malcom J Miller opened their business Dawn Eagle Engraving in Petersburg in June 2002. With J's thirty-plus years experience as an artist and Mary's degree in business administration, the two said they have had a successful five years making and marketing jewelry. Now it is time to broaden their pursuits. This spring the two are offering engraving classes to beginners as well as those at the intermediate level.

The workshops will be five days long and are planned to begin in February, the slow season for the shops in the area. The workshops are designed as more of a five-day apprenticeship, as the student will be learning one-on-one with J.

"This way I will be able to redirect a beginner by giving them my full attention and being there to answer questions," J said.

Each workshop will include lessons on engraving, tools, materials, three meals a day, and room and board. The total cost of the workshop is $2,700.

J is the only native engraver in Petersburg and "most of his artwork displays Haida art so as not to offend tribal members with their designs," Mary said.

He also enjoys incorporating rosmaling design, which is in recognition of the Scandinavian culture's influence in the Petersburg area. Creating everything from rings, pendants and earrings to necklaces and bracelets, J meticulously designs each piece and feels he has a true passion for jewelry making. J and Mary said they both feel fortunate to have so many repeat customers throughout southeast Alaska.

In order for the art of metal engraving to be carried on for generations to come, Mary and J have done their homework. They want the word to be out that tribal scholarships are available and anyone interested should make a request from their native organization for help. That being said, the classes are offered to anyone who is willing to try something new. They believe that it is a "good way to expose those in Western civilization to Alaskan native arts." The couple suggests that those who apply are over the age of 18 and would like to remind the timid that, "You are never too old to learn." They would also like to add that this is a drug and alcohol free environment.

According to Mary, the Haida and Tlingit tribes fought generations ago and now they continue the war in a friendly manner through their discussions as a married couple and as business partners. They disagree at times because, "He's right and I'm right, but we're a good team because our different tribes share the same art that we are working to keep alive."

For more information about the upcoming workshops, send Mary an e-mail to