Donald "Babe" Hemlock
Mohawk: Haudenosaunee

In the Woodland Garden

32" H x 15" W

Since our first meeting at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 2007, where he sold out, we've been anxiously awaiting Babe's next batch of beautiful cultural creations.

In the traditional manner, Babe crafts these elaborate and functional cradleboards by hand. His images are taken from his Woodland heritage. As a member of the Kahnawake, Mohawk tribe - which is part of the Iroquois confederacy, Babe grew up playing outdoors and working with his hands.

Like many of his peers he is an acomplished steel worker, but working with wood allows him to portray a softer, more colorful side of life as a traditional Mohawk.

These boards are all cut and adorned by Babe, and each canopy is carefully hand turned and hand bent after much preparation.

His decorative panels tell a story about life in the region where he grew up. Each is engraved, with the mural painted upon the relief carved surface.

Babe worked High Steel in New York since he was 18. Always did artwork as a hobby. Cradleboards were done when someone in the community would come by and request one for their new baby. Only started to concentrate seriously on artwork for the past five years.

Before starting a cradleboard design, Babe will sketch an idea out onto his drawing book. The process for the construction of the board itself is fashioned in the old Mohawk traditional style. Once the board is done, he will draw freestyle then carve the design by hand.

Type of wood: pine is backboard and footboard, ash is the rowbar, maple is the backbar or a similar type of hardwood. Bound with catgut. Leather is deerhide and fur is different types. Whatever is available at the time: rabbit, beaver, etc.

There are two different designs that he will incorporate onto the cradleboards. The traditional style will include our floral and bird designs. These are all on our oldest boards that we have seen. The contemporary style will incorporate the old style, but will also reflect the clans that are within our society.

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