In the late 70's Betsy and I began an adventure that continues to this day. We've both grown, evolved, and had so many experiences together that, when looking back, they all seem to run over one another - as water drops flow together to become a river. This week we visited our Canadian cottage to put it away for the winter and in a few days of in-your-face weather we found some of the most beautiful moments I recall. One of them was this rainbow of color hitting a point of land on an adjacent island - of course we've known that point our whole lives, but it is a new memory now, and I'll always be able to look at it as a particularly blessed place.
Once in a while, the meaning of our gallery's name comes up and this photo is part of that. What we have now will someday be from long ago and far away - be aware enough to recognize what is important, hold onto it and keep it with you. Almost one hundred years ago the famed Arctic Explorer and Anthropologist Knud Rasmussen recorded this profound reflection by an Inuit elder that knew the beauty of the world:
"Then, all meat seemed juicy and tender,
and no game too swift for a hunter.
When I was young,
every day was as a beginning
of some new thing,
and every evening ended
with the glow of the next day's dawn."
- Collected and translated near Hudson Bay by Knud Rasmussen, The report of the Fifth Thule Expedition, 1921-24
Every day we come to work it feels like a "beginning of some new thing"; life should be an adventure.
Hello, and welcome to our online store! We are a small, family-owned business in Southern Vermont which we started thirty years ago, and which has been online for twenty. While we specialize in Native American and Inuit art sourced from artists in communities around North America, we also celebrate the small-town craftsman by carrying artwork from some well-known - and some not-so-well-known - artists from across the continent.
We have been supplying artwork to collectors, museums, jewelry enthusiasts, average Joe’s and Jolene’s, locals, travelers, family and friends for thirty years from here in Southern Vermont. We hope that you enjoy our website and that you find something special for yourself or for that someone special. From rugs to mugs, sculpture to moccasins, jewelry to quillboxes, and fetishes to glass beading, we have a treat for everyone here at Long Ago and Far Away.
Also, don’t miss out on our specialty artists – critically acclaimed Native American Artists who have not only mastered their craft, but have had a lot of influence on their art form over the years. Artists like Denise and Dawn Wallace, Hib Sabin, Artie Yellowhorse, and David Farnham are just a few of these influential individuals, and we are so honored to be able to carry their work.
Being a home-grown family business, we would love to keep you updated on things going on in our gallery and with our family. In order to learn more about our family and our story, as well as read seasonal updates about our family’s different adventures, please take a look at the “family” page on our website (last tab). If you are social media-savvy, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram! We post regular updates about new jewelry, gallery events, and more. Also, please join our email or hard-mail lists - we don't send out indiscriminate drivel, and we promise to keep your information to ourselves.
Again, we hope that you enjoy the website! We hope that some day we will have the pleasure of meeting you here in beautiful Manchester, Vermont!
Grant and Betsy Turner
Porcupine Quill Boxes from the Northern Great Lakes Region
The selection of porcupine quill boxes at Long Ago and Far Away represents work by Eastern Woodlands people from around the Northern part of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The methods and artistry are passed from mothers to daughters and grandchildren, although fewer and fewer young people are learning this art form. Quills have been used as ornamentation predating European contact and the boxes have evolved as an art form from early storage units and carrying vessels.
The boxes originate with birch bark, which is collected in the Spring when the fresh young bark is stripped and the tree is left intact. The artist cuts the shapes of the boxes and mathematically calculates where the design will line up properly on the surface of the box.
Porcupine quills are most often taken from road kill, which is plentiful in the far north. The quills are stripped, cleaned and sorted according to color and length. They are often dyed various colors but the lovely white and brown colors are natural. Most of the designs feature the quills laying flat on the surface of the box or woven into a star pattern. A few of the very best artists have mastered using the quills in a vertical gathering, called “tufting”, as a way of accentuating their designs and making them more three dimensional.
Sweetgrass is used for the rims and borders of the boxes. This is a plant that is sacred to many Native people in North America and it is used in most ceremonial traditions. It is collected in the summer months and stored for use throughout the year. The beautiful smell lasts for years and years when stored properly.
Most of our boxes are made by First Nations women artists from Manitoulin Island and the surrounding region along the northern shores of Lake Huron's North Channel and the eastern coast of Georgian Bay. They are mostly Anishnabe (Ojibwe) people. Each box requires many hours of labor in gathering and processing the materials, designing the box, and then painstakingly executing the design onto the medium. Fewer and fewer young people are willing to put in the time and effort to learn this very labor intensive art form.