Friday, April 24, 2009

Labrador and Ulus

I didn't have a very productive day yesterday. I made one brief trip to the workshop and then wasted most of the rest of the day. Earlier in the week I finished up all of the knapping that I need to do for the big wholesale order that I'm working on and shipped a box of product out to Norton's Cove.

I think I'm distracted. I've been talking to people that I've done work for in the past about some possible contracts that will bridge the gap between the end of the spring wholesale season and the start of the fall/Christmas retail season. I've been doing up quotes and working out a schedule, but that work is all still up in the air and the uncertainty is distracting.

I've moved into dusty work in the workshop. I have 4 ground slate ulus on the go and I want to finish them all before Monday. The ulus I make are based on artifacts that have been found in Thule Inuit sites in Labrador. The dates for the Thule arrival in Labrador have always been a bit vague, but sometime around AD 1400 seems reasonable. Ground stone tools are made differently from flintknapped tools. Slate breaks apart along flat planes and is too soft to flintknap, but it can be ground to a straight sharp edge.

Sometimes the way slate breaks is beneficial. Yesterday morning I was working on 3 ulus - one of them was chubbier than the other two. Part way through grinding it, the thick one seperated right down the middle into two ulu shaped flat sheets. Each half was thick enough that I have 4 ulus now!

I'm glad to include ground slate ulus in my artifact reproduction repertoire for museums and universities, but to be perfectly honest, I wish there was an Inuit or Metis craftsperson in Labrador making ground stone ulus for the wholesale market. There is a small niche market for replica stone ulus, and an archaeologist who makes artifact reproductions is one way to fill that niche, but I think an aboriginal craftsperson would probably be a better fit. I'd buy one.

Maybe we'll see some soon on the Labrador Craft Marketing Agency's brand new blog! Check it out and give Jim some support.

Photo Credits:
Top:Tim Rast
Middle: Newfoundland Museum
Bottom: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: Elfshot Ulus in progress
Middle: Ulu image from the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website
Bottom: Labrador Ulu on display in The Rooms

1 comment:

  1. I am enjoying Tim's work. Its important to understand where traditional North American tools came from in each indigenous culture so that the skills are not lost to us. That is where true sustainability comes into the picture.


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