Monday, June 21, 2010

Ground Slate and Soapstone School Visit

Using the bow drill on slate
I spent this afternoon with Mrs.William's Grade 3 class at Holy Family Elementary School in Paradise.  We talked a few minutes talking about the people who used to live in Newfoundland and Labrador, from the earliest Maritime Archaic Indians, through the Palaeoeskimos, up to the Beothuk, Innu, and Inuit.  We talked about the slate tools that they made, like slate lances, ulus, knives, axes, adzes, and endblades and their soapstone tools like plummets, bowls, lamps, and carvings.  Then we spent the rest of the afternoon grinding our own tools and carvings out of soapstone and slate.

Filing some stubborn soapstone
The soapstone that I took in turned out to be pretty tough to work with hand tools, and I really admire the kids persistence with sticking with it.  By comparison, the slate was much easier to work.  We were making slate ulus and men's knives.  Based on the experience at The Rooms with a similar workshop, I tried to weed out all of the thickest pieces of slate before going in because drilling all those holes through thick slate with a bow drill can be exhausting.  I was really grateful for the parents who stayed and helped with the bow drills.  The kids did a fantastic job with the grinding and filing, but the bow drills are a little tricky to operate at first.

Filing slate - the thinner the better
Mrs. Williams was kind enough to take photos of the afternoon.  I think everyone in the class did a great job and they didn't seem to mind the dust and mud one bit!


Grinding Slate

I had to show off the new L'Anse aux Meadows Groswater Harpoon

A bow drill volunteer
Photo Credits: Marie-José Williams

1 comment:

  1. I shudder at the thought of someone coming to my school and teaching us this awesome stuff when we were kids.

    Someone would have died at lunch!


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