From the Labrador Institute of Memorial University
We have a few photos of crafts and craft producers from the Labrador Institute’s archives. If you know the names of anyone in these photos, please contact us.
In the past, tea dolls were used to carry tea for the family when they travelled into the wilderness to hunt. The children had a sense of purpose and a toy to play with on these long trips. Grass baskets were traditionally made as containers for solids or liquids, gun cases, cradles, toys, and even barrels.
Originally, hooked rugs were made from strips of cloth from worn-out clothing. Grenfell rugs were made with dyed silk stockings collected by the mission. Patterns were developed with northern themes like dog teams, polar bears and seabirds. The Grenfell Industrial mission also bought and sold embroidery work, weaving and knitting.
Labradorians traditionally knitted or crocheted durable socks, hats, mittens and sweaters for their families. Quilts were made from recycled worn clothing for warmth on cold winter nights. Many quilts were embroidered and appliqued using bleached flour sacks or sugar bags.
From Eva Luther
Eva Luther from St. Lewis has shared some of her photos of crafts and craft makers with us.
Families across Labrador wore handmade sealskin boots. The boots were warm and waterproof and were commonly used until the 1960s or later. Some makers barked the skins, dying them a darker brown colour using tree bark.
In those days, both men and women were skilled in sewing. Trappers mended their clothing in order to stay warm on the lonely trapline. Women sewed everything from underwear to winter coats for their large families. They used whatever fabric they could find, including flour sacks, shipping canvas, furs and hide, and repurposed used clothing.
Many groups and individuals have helped to keep Labrador traditional skills alive over the past several decades. We hope you will learn about the traditions and the tradition keepers of Labrador from this collection.
From the Coastal Heritage Collection
The Coastal Heritage Collection has stories recording the history of everyday life in the fishing communities in the Labrador Straits. You can hear Ruby Cabot’s recording of how to make sealskin boots, and you can learn more about Women’s Work at coastalheritage.ca. Here are a few photos showing how crafts started as the work of everyday life.