TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Following the Bison Hair Trail by Doris Florig

Bison by Doris Florig
"This guy has a lot of shedding to do..."

I have been looking for weeks and couldn’t find any bison hair. Each time I would see the herd, the bison looked shaggier and shaggier. I watched to see where they were spending their time and then I would go back and search the area: mainly, following their paths through thick, scrubby areas down by the streams. I knew that I should find the small clumps of hairs on eye level branches.

No, fibers don't grow on trees.
The bison hair gets caught on the trees as the herds pass through thickly wooded areas.

I started early May. The weather was warm enough to be outside searching for the hair but it was not consistent: there were a lot of ups and downs, freezing at night and sometimes warm during the day or snowy. I thought that the winter was over but now I think that the Bison knew more about what to expect then I. But, at last on May 26, I spotted a clump of fibers dangling from a fallen tree trunk. After that first sighting it was easy. I found fibers dangling from the branches just about every 10 – 15 feet apart.

You have to look closely to find the fibers.

I gathered with enthusiasm until I heard strange sound. Once I realized I was hearing snorting sounds, I decided that I better move on and come back another day.

" I think I should come back later..."

I have never been afraid of wildlife, assuming they are more afraid of me then I am of them. But, in the case of the bison, every year in Yellowstone Park someone gets seriously, injured by a charging bison. One time from my car, I saw a bison leisurely walking down the yellow line of the road. As he passed the car approaching in the opposite lane, he calmly bent down, hooked his horn under the wheel well and ripped the fender away from the car. Keeping that in mind, I closed my zip lock collecting bag, walked back to the van and headed back to Jackson Hole.

I will be using the fiber to make a very large bison head felted sculpture so I will need a lot of fiber. Right now I am working on the foundation of the face. It will be made of wool. It will be several months before I get to the point of adding finishing touches with the real bison fibers. I will spend many hours returning to Gros Ventre National Forest gathering more bison fibers. It reminds me of collecting for natural dyes; the best part is being outdoors and learning about the environment. Spending time on the bison range is such an incredible experience.

The three dimensional portrait will be part of an exhibit known as the the Yellowstone to Yukon Tapestry Series by Doris Florig.

Doris Florig, weaver of the wild!

Doris Florig is currently teaching in the fiber department at Jackson Hole, WY at the Center for the Arts. To learn more about workshops and classes offered contact Doris: email.

Doris is a TAFA member although her member profile is still not posted. Visit her website.

1 comment:

  1. My favourite animal. Thanks for the photos. We have attacking deer here, in parts of Canada.


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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