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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

 

AOA 1986.Am10.68, 73, 70

Africa, Oceania, Americas

    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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