Three scrapers

Iglulingmiut, about AD 1980
From Igloolik, Nunavut, eastern Canadian Arctic

Before sewing begins, skins have to be prepared properly to make them workable, soft and long-lasting. Different methods are used depending on skin type and end use: wet or dry conditions, winter or summer, everyday or festive clothing.

Scrapers were important tools in the skin preparation process. Today, they usually have a metal blade and a wood or ivory handle, but the scapula of caribou bulls can be used as well. Rachel Uyarasuk from Igloolik describes a method for preparing seal skin, explaining the use of the different tools:

'First we have to remove the blubber from the skin with an ulu. Then we scrape it with a sharp scraper, and spread it out on a drying frame, or peg the skin to the ground. Once it is dried, we stretch-scrape the skin using a blunt scraper. Once that is done, you would run a cord or a line through the holes on the edges, that had been used for pegs, and make a ball with the skin. Then you stomp on the skin to make it soft. After that, you will need to stretch it again with a scraper. Then you are ready to cut patterns from it.'
Rachel Uyarasuk, 1994

Other views: Stamping on sealskin to soften it, and Leah Okatsiak starting to work on caribou skin, Churchill, Manitoba, 1993. Photographs by Allyson Rae, Department of Conservation, British Museum.

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Three scrapers

  • Leah Okatsiak starting to work on caribou skin. Churchill, Manitoba, 1993

    Leah Okatsiak starting to work on caribou skin. Churchill, Manitoba, 1993

  • Stamping on sealskin to soften it. Churchill, Manitoba, 1993

    Stamping on sealskin to soften it. Churchill, Manitoba, 1993

 

More information

Bibliography

Dimensions

Museum number

AOA 1986.Am10.68, 73, 70

ENA21777;ENA21779;ENA21782

Location

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