Argillite Boy Riding Killer Whale Carving

Material: Argillite

Dimensions: 6.5 inches x 3 inches x 3 inches 

Design: Gunner, or boy riding killer whale is a Haida mythology of a man whose wife is kidnapped by a killer whale. To rescue her, Gunner ultimately must ride a killer whale to the underworld and brings his wife back back to the land.  

About Argillite 

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.

Once this stone was found by Haida artists its true transformation began.

About the Artist

Melanie Russ is the daughter of noted Haida artist Faye Russ and the celebrated late 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 mother Faye was also instrumental in her education as an artist and remains 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 carvers and is known for her intricate detail in jewelry and carvings.