I design my own jackets and make sealskin dolls. I can make all sorts of other items, including mitts, mukluks and other various pieces of clothing. I started learning how to sew at a very young age, when I was a kid. The Elders in Paulatuk taught me how to sew, but I have learned a lot from Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik Elders as well. I’ve always been happy to learn!
I mostly use seal skin and leather when I sew, but I include all kinds of fabrics and materials in my pieces, including silk and furs. I particularly like to work with fox, rabbit, or beaver fur. I can embroider and bead too. I mostly make traditional items, but I also make items using modern tools. I had a teacher a long time ago who showed me how to use a sewing machine. She is the one who taught me how to make clothing from scratch. I was about 13 years old when I started learning about that.
When I make mitts, I usually design them with leather and furs. If I make something that includes embroidery or beading, I tend to freehand whatever I am going to bead. What I like the most about sewing and creating art is when I make something really different that gets a reaction from other people. I like when people react to what I made.
I get my inspiration from my grandparents. I like how they talk about how they used to live a long ago. My main inspiration comes from listening to them talk about traditional ways of life. I also feel that sewing and making art connects me to my culture, because I like to show other people how things were used long ago. Some traditional items are coming back now, like parkas, mukluks, mitts and hats. They are still keeping people warm today, and they can last very long if you know how to use them right.
I feel like I have evolved as an artist since I first started sewing and making art because I became a teacher. A lot of people now ask me how to sew or how to piece things together. I have taught beginners how to make mitts and I will now be teaching people how to make dolls. I really enjoy sharing what I know.
The people I teach ask a lot of questions. As we learn together, we also share a lot of laughs. I love to interact with them, to get to know them. When I took part in the Great Northern Art Festival, there was a lot of tourists and other artists who I was very happy to chat with. I like having conversations and finding out where other people are from, it’s fun!