This piece is made of argillite, which is a protected volcanic slate found on one mountaintop on Haida Gwaii. This stone is carved exclusively by Haida artists.
Design: Hand carved by Haida artist Melanie Russ. The design is a hummingbird & is signed on the bottom by the artist. Hummingbirds are a traditional crest for the Haida and northwest coast nations. Hummingbirds represent love & the revival & beauty that comes with springtime.
This Piece is Special Because: The incredible details of the hummingbird's wings in this miniature piece. Also, the carving is made of one piece of argillite. Often with argillite carvings the base & the sculpture are made using two separate pieces of argillite, but this carving is made of one solid piece of argillite. At the base of the carving you can see carved hummingbirds and flowers.
Meet the Artist:
Melanie Russ is from Skidegate on the islands of Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, Canada.
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 is one of few women Haida argillite carvers.
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 heats 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.
Dimensions: 2 inches tall by 1.5 inches wide at the widest point
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