Nunavut students create an ornamental Christmas
“It’s such a joy to see how pleased they are”
Nunavut Arctic College’s jewellery and metal work students were happy to unveil their new Christmas tree ornament designs, most of which sold in less than 10 minutes inside the college’s packed lobby Dec 7.
People waited for 15 minutes behind a red ribbon before the designs were revealed.
The sale, which happens annually at the college, has always been popular, said Mosha Arnatsiaq, a third-year jewellery and metal work student.
“It goes really fast, in like two to five minutes all the ornaments are gone,” he said.
About 40 people came to check out the ornaments, which the nine students in the program, Arnatsiaq, Ronald Nauyarvik, Gordon Riffi, Lavinia Van Heuvelen, Amanda Au, Harry Turqtuq, Ahmie Nauyakvik, Patrick Aula, and Silas Qulaut, spent two weeks working on prior to the event.
The students had only two weeks to finish their ornaments, so they’ve been “polishing and cutting,” Arnatsiaq said.
It’s basic metal work, because the metal is never heated and comes right off a sheet, he said.
“We did the design, and the cut-out and the texture afterwards.”
Arnatsiaq’s design included an amauti, an ulu, three different shapes of drum dancers and a dog team. The ulu design was the most popular and sold out first.
“It was very popular, women love that design,” he said.
Other designs were snowmobiles and Arctic animals such as polar bears.
The small group of students, from all regions of Nunavut, have become close-knit. Over the past week, they’ve come together as a team, said one of the program’s instructors, Alison Fox.
“They’ve really got kind of a family thing going,” she said.
Some of the students have an arts background in carving or drawing but some had no experience at all coming into the program, so the students enter the program with different backgrounds.
“Things we might take for granted like drawing is something that can be quite intimidating when a student is first coming in, there are a lot of learning edges on the way and they keep on meeting them,” Fox said.
Although there is sometimes frustration “as there always is in the learning process” the work that the students are doing is developing and changing.
“It’s such a joy to see how pleased they are with themselves when there’s something they weren’t sure that they could do and that they did,” she said.
Each student’s style is quite different in design, Fox said.
Arnatsiaq said he enjoys the program because “you learn history and art from Europe, but also from Inuit culture and the tools and techniques that they use in metal making.”
Every year is busy for Christmas ornaments and the students are often asked to do custom orders, where they set their own prices.
Most of the ornaments sold for about $40 at the Arctic College sale, a price the students discussed with their instructors beforehand, Arnatsiaq said.
The group will head to Toronto in May for an exhibition to show off future work.