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Hide Working Tools

Curated Submission
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
1930s - 2009
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
Materials & techniques
Metal, bone, textiles; Handmade, manufactured
Elise Liske, Antoine Liske
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 2002.013.001&.002, 2003.007.002&.004, 2004.013.001
This is a group of tools used by Elise Liske (1918–2009) to prepare moose and caribou hides. She and her husband, Antoine, were one of the first families to establish a homestead in what became Yellowknife. Animal hides are the textiles of northern Canada and have been used for centuries for clothing, shelter, work, and household needs. A wealth of traditional knowledge exists about the preparation of hides for all sorts of different uses. Cleaning and tanning moose and caribou hides is physical work, requiring just the right tools to remove fat and connective tissue from the skins, to remove hair (if desired), and to soften and stretch hides.
The traditional tools are a bone flesher, a bone scraper, and a stone softening tool. Over the past 100 years people have been experimenting with and using tools made of old flattened gun muzzles, saw blades, files, and pieces from old traps or snowmobiles. Electrical tape or duct tape is often wrapped on tools to better the grip. The moose bone flesher and caribou bone scraper are still commonly used, but there are a wide variety of tools made from other metals for skin working, depending on personal preferences. Whatever tools are used, the end goal is the same: a smooth, supple hide.
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