When some people think of jewellery, they think of gold and diamonds. For us, jewellery means beads, sealskin and silver. In this round-up, the IAQ explores the innovative creativity of jewellers across Inuit Nunangat.
Ashley Kilabuk-Savard Sealskin and Fabric Earrings (2019)
Ashley Kilabuk-Savard Iqaluit, NU
Crafting under her own label, Asli Savard Creative, Ashley Kilabuk-Savard creates original handmade works in sealskin and beadwork. Kilabuk-Savard is known for producing intricate beaded collars and sealskin earrings in simple, geometric shapes, often finished with a signature floral print backing.
In addition to her jewellery line, she is also a prolific performer and storyteller. Since graduating from the Vancouver Film School, she has appeared in the 2016 film Two Lovers and a Bear as well as the hit comedy show Qanurli in 2017.
Inuk 360 Caribou Tuft and Bead Bracelet (2018)
Inuk 360 Yellowknife, NWT
Describing herself as the “Louis Vuitton of the tufting world,” jeweller and tufter Inuk 360 has been blending traditional techniques and materials with her own personal twist since she first discovered her natural love and talent for tufting in her teens. Typically working in moose or caribou tuft, she also incorporates beads and hide into her work.
Inuk 360 has had a variety of high-profile customers and commissions, including Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, to whom she presented a caribou tufted inukshuk during a 1994 royal visit. She also completed a tufting for the Whistler Athlete Centre during the 2010 Olympic Games in British Columbia. Recently, she showed a collection of her jewellery during the 2018 Indigenous Fashion Week in Toronto, ON.
Tanya Innaarulik Ivory Necklace (2019)
Tanya Innaarulik Kuujjuaq, Nunavik
A multi-talented artist, Tanya Innaarulik began her career as an acrylic painter and illustrator but has since added fashion designer and jeweller to her list of accomplishments. As the designer behind her own fashion label OKA (Original Killer Apparel), Innaarulik produces a line of scarves, bags and other accessories, alongside a range of jewellery under her line TI Creations.
Innaarulik’s pieces are rooted in her heritage but decidedly contemporary, often incorporating traditional patterns and motifs of uluit, inuksuit, and tunniit patterns in new and streamlined ways. As both a talented and dedicated visual artist and an entrepreneur with a mastery of the digital marketplace, Innaarulik and her work were profiled by singer Beatrice Deer in the Summer 2016 issue of the IAQ.
Erica Joan Lugt Beaded Puff Earrings (2019)
Erica Joan Lugt Inuvik, NT
While originally hailing from Tuktoyaktuk, NT, Erica Joan Lugt now resides in Inuvik, NT, where she is an active part of the artistic community. Her deeply personal line of beaded jewellery, She Was a Free Spirit, has been featured in Paris Fashion Week and Toronto Indigenous Fashion Week, as well as at the Great Northern Arts Festival. Lugt is also known for her collaboration with fellow Inuvialuk jeweller Caroline Blechert, with whom she created a limited-edition jewellery collection that quickly sold out.
While she typically works in a brick-stitch beadwork pattern, she has also incorporates polar bear fur and porcupine quill into her works in the past. Lugt organized the fashion show at the Great Northern Art Festival in 2019, which featured her work alongside that of other Inuit designers.
Lydia Audlaluk Beaded Collar (2019)
Lydia Audlaluk Ivujivik, QC and Montreal, QC
Originally from Ivujivik, Nunavik, QC, but now residing in Montreal, QC, Lydia Audlaluk was initially inspired to begin beading just a few years ago, when she decided to teach herself to make beaded collar necklaces. She rapidly branched out into sealskin earrings bordered with colourful glass seed beads. Although she makes a variety of styles, her uluit earrings are consistent bestsellers.
Today, Audlaluk creates for a broad clientele on her social media channels under her brand Anouapik Beadwork. The shapes and colour palettes in her work remain inspired by the landscape and natural phenomena she grew up with in Nunavik.
Martha Kyak Sealskin Collar (2018)
Martha Kyak Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), NU and Ottawa, ON
A household name throughout the North as a fashion designer under her label Inuk Chic, Martha Kyak also crafts a range of jewellery and accessories that pair beautifully with her stunning garment designs. With their long, cascading fringes, her sealskin statement necklaces add dramatic flair to any look. Her work has been seen on runways across Canada, including Indigenous Fashion Week in Toronto.
Drawing inspiration from traditional patterns, floral prints and different eras in fashion history, Kyak’s bold and innovative signature style is reflected in everything she creates, from her gowns to the colourful earrings and necklaces she pairs with them. A sample of her work is currently on display at the Textile Museum of Canada in ᖃᓪᓗᓈᖅᑕᐃᑦ ᓯᑯᓯᓛᕐᒥᑦ Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios alongside fellow jewellers Nooks Lindell of Hinaani Designs and Tarralik Duffy of Ugly Fish Designs.
Claw earrings (L) and copper ulu earrings (R) from Inuk Barbie Designs (2018)
Raven feet, antler, seal, walrus ivory and narwhal tusk are just some of the materials Barbara Akoak of Inuk Barbie pairs with semi-precious metals. The result is one-of-a-kind pieces that hint at Akoak’s deeply collaborative and reciprocal approach. “If I'm gifted seal flippers” explains the artist, “I'll give a pair of earrings to the huntress or hunter that gave them to me. It's an exchange and it just keeps giving me more and more.”
Known for her unique pairings and outspoken style–some of her incised gold, silver and copper pieces carry phrases such as “Cite me, settler” and “Indigenous love is love like no other”–Akoak’s designs have garnered a dedicated following since she founded her line 2015.