Noah Nowdlak is a carver from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, who has spent nearly forty years perfecting his work with uluit. Surrounded by the art of his grandfather Manomie Shaqu and uncles Towatuga Sagouk and Enook Manomie (all carvers in their own right), Nowdlak started carving at the early age of seven. Although he has tried his hand at both jewellery and traditional carving, he always returns to uluit.
Nowdlak began shaping uluit with a cold chisel and hammer, but moved on to metal snips later in life. Working out of his small wood workshop, he begins by tracing the blade pattern on bandsaw-grade carbon steel. Sounds is integral to this process, as the tang created by tapping the metal reveals its quality. After cutting his basic shape, Nowdlak uses a combination of files, chisel, hammers and pliers to detail the piece. Handles are made last, and can vary between wood and reindeer antlers. Sometimes he even uses Kevlar—“it doesn’t crack like wood,” he says .
Volant Owl is one of Nowdlak’s rarer stone pieces, a perfectly balanced gliding bird with wings outstretched, soaring knifelike through the air. The finish on the owl is smooth to the touch, but intenstly textured to the eye, mimicking the plumage of a real bird.
Nowdlak sells his work all over the world; he knows his uluit have even made it as far as Africa. He shares his love of animal carvings with his son Joanie Ragee, who specializes in bear carvings.
1 Thompson, John. “Noah Nowdluk.” Northern News Services Published April 25, 2005. accessed February 14, 2019, from https://archive.nnsl.com/2005-04/apr25_05u.html