Digital Archives Initiative

ICH - Knowledge and Skills to Produce Traditional Crafts



Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory - Knowledge and Skills to Produce Traditional Crafts

Traditional craftsmanship is perhaps the most tangible manifestation of intangible cultural heritage. There are numerous expressions of traditional craftsmanship: tools; clothing; costumes and props for festivals and performing arts such as those worn in traditional Pow Wows; storage containers, objects used for storage, transport and shelter; and decorative art such as hooked mats ; musical instruments and household utensils, and toys, both for amusement and education. The skills involved in creating craft objects are as varied as the items themselves and range from delicate, detailed work such as embroidery to robust, rugged tasks like creating a sturdy basket or a birch bark canoe.


Baskets and Basket Making
Ranging in style, material, intent and purpose, basket-making is a long-standing tradition in parts of Newfoundland and Labrador since earliest Western record. These baskets were used for a variety of purposes within the fishery and also for gathering small food items like eggs and berries. There were trout baskets used for inland fishing, mill baskets to hold lunches, baskets used for storing domestic items in homes, and basket-style bassinets. The basket-makers include Labrador Inuit, Mi'kmaq and Acadian along the Southern Shore and West Coast, as well as independent craftspeople throughout Newfoundland.

Boatbuilding
For much of their history, the fishermen of Newfoundland and Labrador enjoyed a reputation for making fine boats. Using only hand tools and local timber, they built skiffs, punts or "rodneys", motor boats and schooners, and a variety of other small wooden boats. Aboriginal peoples of the province had their own traditions of small boat making, creating canoes and kayaks. While the principle focus of these recordings center around the materials and methods used in the construction of inshore fishing vessels, often those being interviewed will provide personal narratives about their lives in early twentieth century Newfoundland and Labrador outports. Part of the material present here includes recordings made by American folklorist, David Taylor in the late 1970s while researching his thesis, "Boatbuilding in Winterton: The Design, Construction and Use of Inshore Fishing Boats in a Newfoundland Community".

David Taylor Collection
Part of the boatbuilding material present here includes recordings by David Taylor. In the late 1970s American folklorist, Taylor conducted several interviews while researching his thesis, "Boatbuilding in Winterton: The Design, Construction and Use of Inshore Fishing Boats in a Newfoundland Community". This collection of audio recordings highlights the stories, knowledge and skills of eight Newfoundland boat-builders, each hailing from the Trinity Bay area. Also included in this collection is a 1978 interview with Roger Pearson, Head of the Department of Naval Architecture and Ship Building, Fisheries College of Navigation and Engineering, St. John's, Newfoundland.

Make and Break Engines
"Make and break" engines were the first inboard marine engines invented by the Palmer Brothers of Connecticut. Typically one cylinder, and featuring a powerful flywheel to supply kinetic energy, these are engines in their most basic form. These hearty engines are also known as putt-putt engines, one-lungers (referring to the fact that most are one cylinder), tik-a-tok engines, chuck-chuck engines, or pik-a-pok engines, though other names may have been used in communities to describe the engine based on the rhythmic sound. They were introduced to Newfoundland and Labrador at the beginning of the twentieth century. These slow, but steady, engines meant that busy fishermen relied less on laborious forms of marine transportation, like rowing or setting sails, and had more energy and time for fishing. With the introduction of diesel engines, make and breaks started to slowly disappear. Now, a few dedicated enthusiasts, collectors, and hobbyists keep old make and break engines alive. This collection demonstrates the passion for, and knowledge of, make and break engines by these people.

Pillow Tops
Pillow tops are square-shaped textiles woven from wool using a wooden frame, made by Newfoundland women and men. Women would make these in various sizes and use them around the house as pillow covers, table toppers, and backs for chairs. Pillow tops were also made by men working in the lumber camps. Cutting and collecting lumber was arduous work and the only day the men in the camps had off was Sunday. To pass the time some men would make pillow tops to give to girlfriends, wives and mothers.

While there are different methods of making these pillow tops, it always begins with a handmade square wooden frame. In some areas the same kind of knots used by Newfoundland fishermen on their nets are used in the making of pillow tops and some makers even use a flat twine needle. The colour of wool used varies from maker to maker, however in Placentia west the pillow tops were commonly called "bakeapple blossom cushions" as the common colours of wool available (pink, green, and yellow) gave them the appearance of a bakeapple.

Rug Hooking
Rug hooking is both an art and a craft where rugs or mats are made by pulling loops of yarn or fabric through a stiff woven base such as burlap. Mats were created using a four-sided, hand-made wooden frame, a simple metal hook with a wooden handle, a piece of burlap and strips of fabric or even yarn. In addition to rugs of many shapes and styles, rug hookers today craft many articles such as cushions, wall hangings, pictorial ornaments and stair runners. Some are hooked on manufactured patterns printed on burlap, but many, as in the past, are individually designed.

Woodworking
Woodworking is the process of building, sculpting or carving items from wood. In this collection you can explore the creations of Newfoundland woodworkers. Learn from woodcarvers about the process by which they create and the tools and materials used. Find out where woodworkers draw inspiration for their work, for example many Newfoundland woodcarvers have drawn inspiration from traditional industries such as the fishery and forestry. Through pictures and oral histories explore the intangible cultural heritage of woodworking in this province.

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