Carla Hemlock

Cat. no. 84. Clara Hemlock. Kanienkeháka, born 1961. Walking Through Time, 2017. Hand-applied glass beads and set appliqués with metal clasps on felt, synthetic silk liner (coat). Hand-applied glass beads and felt appliqués with metal clasps on felt, cotton liner (purse). Hand-applied glass beads and felt appliqués on felt and won, synthetic silk liner (hat). Size 10 (coat). 8 11/16 x 5 5/8 x 1 1/8 in. (purse, strap excluded). 5 3/8 x 9 1/8 x 11 5/8 in. (hat). Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma, 2017.029a-c. Photo by the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation; © 2017 Carla Hemlock.


[Speaking Kanienkeháka]. My name is [], that’s my given name, but my English name is Carla.

The ensemble I did is called Walking Through Time. I always had, in the back of my head, that I wanted to do an old style coat, hat, and purse. Years, I envisioned what this coat was going to look like, and I was never ready to attempt it.

I actually purchased that hat. I purchased it with the intent of putting it together with the coat. I had purchased that hat years, and years, and years ago. It sat in my workshop, sat where I could look at it every single day.

The way I work, I do not sketch. I never sketched anything. Even my quilts, I don’t. I’ll just start it and do it.
A lot people had said, “Gosh, where did you buy that coat and put the beadwork on it?” I said, “I didn’t buy that coat. I made that coat. And I actually made that coat so I could wear it.”

If this coat could have been worn say in the 1800s, it stood the test of time to what our women made back then, that I could still wear it today, and it’s still as fashionable as what they made 150 to 200 years ago.

I wanted this coat really just to have a reflection of who our women were and still are. The beauty of that coat, I don’t look at it as a beauty of that coat. I look at it as the beauty of our women.


Akotahkonia io:ken tsi iotiishatstenshera:ien ne: Iotiinonhsonni’on:we. Carla Hemlock ne thia’oriwakaion’neha iontstha ne 1700’s, ne: iontsta onia’tara:’a tanon otsisera otsi’nehtara. Oneko:rha iontsta ne: enshehia:rake enionterihwasheron:ni ne onkweshon:’a tanon nia’tekanakerahsera:ke. Iohskats tsi ni:tsi teka’tsinehtara:ron tsi non: ne atia:tawi, Hemlock wa’i:ron “io:ken tsi akwe:kon ne konnon:kwe ronatonhetson, tanon non:wa she: iakonhnhe, tanon tsi nikon:ti tehotikonhsatontie, akwe: she: ne:’e skatne, tanon ne enshakotihshere tsi ni:tsi niiotiieronhatie.”


This assemblage is a celebration of the strength and resilience of Haudenosaunee women across time and place. Carla Hemlock incorporates material from the 1700s, including wool stroud cloth and glass beads. Wampum shells used to commemorate treaties and nation-to-nation accords also embellish the coat. Fine decorative beadwork running along the sides of the coat’s opening is Hemlock’s reference to “the women of the past, present, and future who are linked together, those that will continue to walk in each other’s footsteps.”