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Sculpting Walrus Ivory videos

Walrus ivory is a precious sculptural material that for millennia has been carved into a nearly endless variety of forms essential to Arctic life, from harpoon heads to needle cases, handles, ornaments, buckles and many more. Naturalistic and stylized figures of animals and humans were made as charms, amulets and ancestral representations. Carvers today bring this conceptual heritage to new types of work.

During a week-long residency organized by the Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum in 2015, Alaska Native carvers Jerome Saclamana (Iñupiaq), Clifford Apatiki (St. Lawrence Island Yupik) and Levi Tetpon (Iñupiaq) studied historic walrus ivory pieces from the Smithsonian’s Living Our Cultures exhibition and Anchorage Museum collection, and demonstrated how to process, design and shape walrus ivory into artwork. Art students, museum conservators, school groups, local artists and museum visitors participated throughout the week. Also, a two-day community workshop in Nome was taught by Jerome Saclamana and hosted by the Nome-Beltz High School. The video set presented here introduces the artists and document the materials, tools and techniques they use to make walrus-ivory artwork. An educational guide with six lessons is included below pair with the videos, along with links to a selection of Iñupiaq and St. Lawrence Island Yupik objects from the Smithsonian collections that were carved from walrus ivory.

 Tags: Iñupiaq, Inupiaq, Eskimo, ivory, walrus, carving, carver, carve, Native art, museum, education, St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Yupik, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska

Teaching how to carve

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (1 of 17): Introduction

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (2 of 17): Meet Artist Jerome Saclamana

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (3 of 17): Meet Artist Levi Tetpon

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (4 of 17): Meet Artist Clifford Apatiki

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (5 of 17): Meet the Students

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (6 of 17): Studying a Historic Bowl

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (7 of 17): Materials - Walrus Tusk (Ivory)

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (8 of 17): Materials - Baleen

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (9 of 17): Materials - Ocher

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (10 of 17): Cutting Ivory

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (11 of 17): Tools

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (12 of 17): Designing a Figure

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (13 of 17): Shaping Ivory with Hand Tools

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (14 of 17): Shaping Ivory with Power Tools

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (15 of 17): Sanding

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (16 of 17): Adding Details

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Sculpting Ivory (17 of 17): Whale's Tail Project

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Charm

National Museum of the American Indian

Ceremonial bowl

National Museum of the American Indian

Toy birds

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Doll

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Bucket handle

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Harpoon Counterbalance

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Harpoon head

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Fishhook

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Needle case

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Pipe

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.