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Puvirnituq turns smelly fish skins into strong skins.ATN News

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It is a material that many people have never encountered outside of museums or cultural gatherings. The tough and soft leather is decorated with a distinctive fish scale pattern.

When a group of seven women in Puvirnituq, Que., met last week, Thanks to a workshop hosted by Kajusivik Adult Education, it takes just a few days to soak in a tea bath for the fish skins to lose slime and turn into Beautiful material that can be used in sewing and crafts.

Janey Chang, Nunavik Community Fish Tanning Workshop Leader, said: “It’s an accessible method of leather making from the frequent waste. “I like that.”

Importantly, the skin also loses its fishy odor as it absorbs tannin and penetrates into the leather. It is reminiscent of snakeskin if there are pockets with scales creating delicate and intricate patterns on the sides of the skin.

“It’s a really beautiful and beautiful movie for a lot of things,” said Chang.

Some students brought arctic char to class, which they called “sexy fish,” laughed Chang because it had such a lovely color, and others brought lake trout.

Bright red fish skins hung from the indoor clothesline.
Many fish skins were hung to dry after being dyed and tanned. (Sent by Janie Chang)

“We had a lot of fun while we did this,” Chang said.

Throughout the week, Chang leads students through procedures such as scalping, scaling, and immersion in increasingly intense tannin baths. before oiling and drying The resulting skin is stronger than deer skin of the same thickness.

Skin can be stained using tannins or other natural ingredients. To produce reds, purples, blues, and yellows, some students turn leather into beaded earrings and jewelry after they’re done.

The woman stood and sat on a long table, both sides covered with dark brown fish skin.
Women in Puvirnituq, Que, attend a workshop from September 26 to 30 to learn how to make their own skins from fish skins. (Sent by Janie Chang)

This method is called bark tanning. And it’s very easy to do in your kitchen or living room — or in your camp. If you’re not on land You can boil any plant with tannins. Usually the bark contains the most tannins. and use the resulting liquid as a tanning solution.

The elephants and their students used willow bark, black tea, and oak bile. She said they also mixed them by experimenting with beluga oil – tanning the oil is another way to process leather – in an effort to find out. Found something to use from the land around Puvirnituq to make fish skins long ago.

“The main focus is on bringing old skills back into the hands of Inuit people with distant memories of using fish skins,” Chang explains.

“To work with our hands Sometimes memories come back more easily.”

Two silver fish skins with bright orange stripes and dots.
Close-up of beautiful colors on fish skin that was destined to turn into leather. (Sent by Janie Chang)

Chang, who lives in Vancouver, is Chinese. Her interest in fish tanning is a way of connecting with her own ancestral heritage and fish tanning traditions in northeastern China.

“Helping with identity Cultural identity is very special and important,” she said.

Puvirnituq Chang ran a similar workshop in Salluit in the spring. She also teaches students in Inukjuak and Kuujjuaq.

“It would be a real dream to be able to join every community to share this skill with everyone who wants to learn,” she said.

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