Monday, December 5, 2011

Labrador CURA Brings Slate Ulus to the Classroom

A nearly finished slate ulu
During the last week in November, the Labrador Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) members toured communities in southern Labrador.  They traveled from town to town and presented their latest research and initiatives to the communities that the project is partnered with.  
Grind stone in the classroom
One aspect of the trip was providing a heritage program to school kids.  I couldn't attend, but I supplied a ground stone tool making kit.   Kids could have a go at making their own slate ulus, using traditional tools and techniques.  It sounds like everyone had a good time.  Thanks to Amy, Andrew and Michelle for delivering the program!

Andrew helping set up a bow drill on a slate ulu blank
Michelle showing how the drilling is done

Using a nephrite bit to drill through a slate ulu blank

Amy helping tie the handle on to a drilled slate ulu

Slate blanks, handles and string

Photo Credits: Phillip Cairns, courtesy of Labrador CURA


  1. I do a lot of slate grinding here on Kodiak - I usually teach kids how to do it on the beach and we gather the slate right there. I have them test the slate for flaws by tapping it with another rock and then we cleave the slate into thin plates with bi-polar percussion. Use water from the ocean, big flat rocks for whetstones and sand for grit.

    Then we tie the ulus into the handles with spruce roots from the woods. But we do cheat and use the awl on my leatherman for a drill. Patrick

  2. That's a good idea Patrick. There might be a few beaches around here where that would work. There's a lot of slate around Newfoundland -- I get much of the slate I use in reproductions from a Walmart parking lot.


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