Amy Edgars is from Masset on Haida Gwaii, BC. She started carving at around 9 or 10 years of age but fully picked it up when she was 16 years old. Her father Miles Edgars, her primary carving mentor, gave Amy her first carving tools back then which she still uses today. She also recognizes Pat Wesley a friend of her dad’s for also showing her carving skills.
When asked about what Amy wanted people to know about Argillite she immediately said how rare it is – there is only one argillite quarry in Canada and it's on Haida Gwaii. The Haida people own the exclusive rights to use argillite and is a unique sculptural tradition among Haida people. Skilled Haida artists such as Amy create unique collectible jewellery that adorns the wearer.
There are many steps to carve argillite from a raw piece. Amy has created many small stencils of her designs. She will then select a raw piece of the argillite slab on which to trace the design as part of the first step. In this example, she is using a leaf shape.
Once the tracing completed, she then cuts out the shape from the slab with a fine handheld wire saw.
Amy then begins the tedious process of filing the shape using a large rough file and then gradually down to the finer file.
She will drill a hole at the end and make a hoop-like attachment that will be glued into the pendant so it can be worn as a necklace or earring.
Then with her carving tools, she cuts into the surface. Here she has carved out the body of a Halibut fish. Once these lines are carved and completed, the entire piece is fine dry sanded and then again with water and superfine grade paper.
These lines and the entire surface will be rubbed and darkened with shoe polish. This will be followed by more carving which will reveal the natural lighter argillite under the darkened surface to create a contrasting texture.
Then the piece is completed by adding a bale ring or an earring hook and her signature on the back of the piece.
Come to the Bill Reid Gallery Shop this June to view a full selection of Amy Edgars’ argillite jewelry and carvings for purchase.
Written by Sonja Hebert
Visitor Service & Gallery Shop Manager