Eleanor Elias

Beaufort Delta
Primary Art Type: 

Artist Story

I love to sew and create unique hand-stitched embroidery work. Right now, I make parkas, purses  and mukluks, but I can create pretty much anything!  I use seal and fox fur to adorn the parkas that I make.

I learned to embroider by watching my aunties. When I was a little girl, I used to watch them all the time. They did beautiful work and I was interested in learning those skills too. I learned to do different embroidery stitches over time. Most of all, I learned what works best for me.

I grew up in the bush, where sewing was taught to us. That’s where I learned how to make mukluks, down parkas, and all kinds of clothing to go out on the land. I’ve always sewn by hand from the beginning, but now I am learning to use a sewing machine as well.

My former occupation was a full-time hunter and trapper and a big game guide for all four big game species in the Tuktoyaktuk area: caribou, muskox, grizzly and polar bear. I was the only female guide for polar bears. To be a big game guide for polar bears, you need to fulfill different requirements. I got my dad to help me to set up my own dog team, which is necessary. I successfully hunted a polar bear on my own with my dog team before I even got onto the big game guide list. There were many challenges, but I love a challenge, so that worked out well for me!

Working with furs makes me feel connected to my culture. Being a former hunter and trapper, I like to use fur whenever I can. I love to sew, but I really wanted to keep supporting the trappers too, which is why I make it a priority to include furs in my designs.

When I do my embroidery work, it’s my down-time. It’s my relaxation after a long day. It’s nice to pick up the needle and concentrate on the embroidery work. I love to create my own patterns, which has been a learning process for me. I wanted to challenge myself once again.

My creative process begins when I start to imagine what I want to create. I think about it in details, and once I have a plan, it’s straight-forward from there. When I create something for an individual, it is uniquely theirs. My clients can choose which colours they like best, and I’ll bring it to life. I have a lot of interest for what I do. I take great pride in my work and in all the small details that go into it. Every piece that I make is unique because of that.

Artist Bio: 

Eleanor lives and creates in Inuvik. After sewing many years for her daughters and loved ones, Eleanor decided to start selling her work in 2020. After growing up on the land, she became a full-time hunter, trapper and big game guide for 13 years, before moving on to new projects. She now works full time at the Inuvik hospital, while concentrating on her sewing and embroidery work while relaxing at home.

Last Updated: May 18, 2023

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