Argillite Bear Carving by Melanie Russ (Haida)

Dimensions:2.7 inches x 1.6 inches x 1.6 inches (7 cm x 4 cm x 4 cm)

Material: Argillite 

Design:The Haida name for Bear is Taan. Bears represent respect, intelligence, family, and a connection to the forest. Haida Gwaii is home to some of the largest black bears in North America. In the Haida oral history, the story of Bear Mother recounts a woman being married into the bear clan. From then on, there was peace and harmony between bears and humans on Haida Gwaii. 

Argillite is a black stone that is geologically classified as slate. The argillite from Haida Gwaii is found on one mountaintop and is protected by the Haida Nation as a stone exclusively carved by the Haida people.

This stone’s geological formation makes it unique compared to argillite found elsewhere. Exposure to high heat allowed this argillite to cool and form in a way that was strong enough to be carved, yet soft enough to take on fine carving details and sculpting.

Made by Haida Artist Melanie Russ:

Melanie Russ is the daughter of the late Haida artists, Faye Russ and Ed Russ, and is originally from Skidegate, Haida Gwaii.

Her father began teaching her to carve when she was a very young girl and though he passed away some time ago, she expresses the feeling that he is still with her, guiding her, reminding her to look at the rough argillite, then to close her eyes and a design will come. Her late mother Faye was also instrumental in her education as an artist and was a potent influence in her creative process, often working on sculptures together. Her work is a depiction of the classic iconography of her Haida lineage.

Melanie has an exquisite command for detail and hand-finishing as you can see in the final carvings details, formline, cross-hatching and texturing of her pieces.

Melanie is one of few women Haida carvers and is known for her intricate detail in jewelry and carvings.

Please do not hesitate to reach out should you have any inquiries. We look forward to attending to your needs with the utmost care and attention to detail.