Bear Claw, Argillite Pendant 5 1/2 cm X 2 cmCalvin Bell, Haida
Calvin was born in Masset, British Columbia. Masset is one of two villages on Haida Gwaii and Calvin’s family crest are the mythical Two-Finned Orca and the Grizzly Bear. Calvin has been carving argillite since 1971 when he was introduced to the art form by Ron Russ. Calvin has since expanded his practice to include metalwork and jewelry design with a focus on silver and gold. Calvin carves his argillite pieces to emphasize the beauty of the stone and will inlay pieces of abalone to create a contrast between the pearly shell and the black stone.
There is only one argillite quarry in Canada on Haida Gwaii and this is where carvers gather to harvest the stone. This must be done by hand using tools such as hand saws, steel wedges, sledge hammers, and crowbars to name a few. Argillite is used because it’s high moisture content makes it easier to carve than other stones. The drier the argillite becomes the more likely it is to crack or flake during the carving process, this is why it is such a delicate material to work with.
Calvin continues to carve argillite in the traditional Haida style and carries the skills and knowledge of this art form.