Tackle Box

14 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches high.
Ed Charles collection. Carved from red cedar with
antler,woven tumpline and leather thong.

Previously made for Native hunters and fishermen, they make great tool boxes for the carver.

These unusually shaped boxes were used by Native hunters and fishermen from the west side of Vancouver Island and the coast of Washington and are made to fit snugly into the prows of their canoes, which are hollowed out to a “V” shape.

The four sides of these boxes are made from one plank—kerfed, steamed, and bent in the same manner of others from the area. The only difference is that the kerfs are cut at an angle, rather than at ninety-degrees to the edge. A leather thong typically secures the lid, which can also be used as a canoe bailer; in fact, some traditional bailers are exactly this shape. With a tump-line as a shoulder strap they make a fine tool box in which to carry a knife-roll, D-adze, Elbow adze, folding saw, sharpening equipment, pencil and a sandwich.


Full Size

Hawk Chest

14 inches × 24 inches. Artist’s collection.
Carved from yellow cedar.

One of my favorite themes for my art subjects is that of giving birth. The whole miracle and mystery of this phenomenon has always fascinated me, whether it pertains to plants, insects, birds, fish, animals, or humans.

In Northwest Coast Native Art, one can depict this subject without the need to be too graphic.

Reincarnation can be portrayed as rebirth, by having one species of creature giving birth to another, like a woman delivering a raven, a bear giving birth to a human, etc. One end of this carved and painted chest depicts a mother hawk complete with breasts, which, of course, are not part of a bird's anatomy. On the opposite end is baby hawk emerging from the mother’s pelvis, which they of course don’t do without a shell wrapped round them.


Full Size

Red Tail Hawk Dish

12 inches × 18 inches × 36 inches
(inside dimensions). Private collection.
Carved from Sitka spruce.

University of Victoria collection. Carved from Sitka spruce, with acrylic paint, opercula of turban snail, acrylic paint, and spruce root lacing. This was made from a vertical grain plank of Sitka spruce measuring 4 inches × 10 inches × 10 feet.

On a bent-corner box, the kerf is carved so one side presses tightly into the other, actually crushing the fibers a little, the kerf on a bent dish is carved to precise dimensions allowing the sides to slide together snugly, without stress to either surface.

The theme is of a mother hawk giving birth to its young.

I cut the kerfs and steam and bend the corners, fastening the joined end with spruce root. I then shape and temporarily fasten the western red cedar bottom. Then I sculpt the sides into the typical bulged configuration, incorporating form lines and sculpturally intruded faces and appendages. I then hollow the inside of the dish, trying to create a bowl configuration while maintaining an even thickness to the walls. This done, I secure the bottom permanently with spruce root and finish the outside surface with painted and relief-carved formline design.

Portfolio: boxes
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The traditional process of making a bent box involves splitting a plank from a log, surfacing it with an adze, and cutting kerfs. A fire is built to heat rocks placed in an excavated trough in the ground. A bed of sword ferns is laid over these and water poured over the whole creating much steam. The kerfed board is allowed to cook over this for ten minutes and then bent to form the four sides of a box.

Tackle Box

14 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches high.
Ed Charles collection. Carved from red cedar with
antler,woven tumpline and leather thong.

Hawk Chest

14 inches × 24 inches. Artist’s collection.
Carved from yellow cedar.

Red Tail Hawk Dish

12 inches × 18 inches × 36 inches
(inside dimensions). Private collection.
Carved from Sitka spruce.