Iglulingmiut, about AD
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:
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
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.
AOA 1986.Am10.68, 73, 70