Monday, June 10, 2013

Tracking Elfshot Artifact Reproductions, Part 1

Sealskin whip with antler handle
Often when I finish an order and send the reproductions out the door, I never see them again.  Other pieces leave more of a trail.  Here are some follow-up images from a contract that I completed a couple years ago.  You may remember that I worked on a large set of Inuit artifact reproductions from the Central Arctic early in 2011.  I was contracted by a fabrication and design company in British Columbia called 3DS to make the pieces for installation in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.  Their portfolio page for the project has some beautiful images of the finished pieces.

From the 3DS portfolio page on the project:
The society commissioned 3DS to replicate a series of ancient tools, once used in everyday life. The resulting “hands-on” experience provides young Inuit visitors with a sense of connection that would be impossible with conventional means. 3DS worked from photographs of the actual items, creating museum-grade replicas of authentic Inuit tools, such as sealskin knives, spears, drums, lamps and harpoons. We made two sets: For the first, displayed in a closed exhibit under protective glass, we used the very same materials used by the Kitikmeot ancestors. This allowed us to create absolutely authentic, completely functional replicas, indistinguishable from the ancient originals. The second set looks identical to the first in every way – until you touch them: we substituted all cutting blades with a hard rubber compound, making everything completely safe for direct handling.
The finished exhibit was extremely well received. Our client said, “it brought tears to my eyes to see young people learning the old ways with real, authentic tools”.

The painted drum
I made many of the "absolutely authentic, completely functional replicas", which are shown in seven of the eight 3DS portfolio photos.  I didn't make the steel-looking ulu in image four, I believe that is one of the rubber, hands-on reproductions, but I did make the steel and musk-ox horn ulu in image five.  I was especially pleased to see the drum, as that was a bit of a team effort and I hadn't seen the finished product.  I constructed the drum and shipped it with white canvas and someone in the 3DS workshop airbrushed and antiqued the canvas to look like old caribou skin.  It looks great.

I haven't visited Cambridge Bay since the pieces were installed, but I did find an unexpected way to tour the installation that I'll share in a future blog post.

Photo Credits: Screen captures from 3DS Kitikmeot Portfolio


  1. If you get back up to Cambridge Bay my Sister and family live there now! Cheers, Graeme

    1. If things work out, I should be there sometime in the next twelve months. I'll have to look her up.

  2. That sealskin whip is really cool :-)

    It's nice to read about arctic archaeology, even if it is on the "wrong" continent.


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