Native Art in the northwest coast of North America refers to a diverse collection of cultures, legends, and artistic styles spanning the 30,000 kilometres of coastal British Columbia, Vancouver Island, and Alaska. We host artists from British Columbia and Vancouver Island, representing the Heiltsuk, Tlingit, Coast Salish, Haida, Haisla, Kwak-waka-wakw (formerly Kwakiutl).

While there are similarities in the general appearance of a variety of North American Native art and jewellery, each artist’s stylizations are unique. These artistic distinctions are passed on along family and clan lineages. One such example amongst our artists is the Helin family. Alex Helin began learning the art of wood carving from his father, Bill Helin, and is continuing to apprentice with his father to create jewellery pieces in the tradition of his Tsimshian ancestors. Alex’s aunt, Leanne Helin, learned engraving techniques in Tsimshian Native designs from her brother, Bill Helin.

Similarly, each clan has its dominant and often distinctive animal legend, which appears in its art. Sometimes a certain colour is prominent, such as Joe Jack’s Coast Salish Indian paintings, which incorporate strong red accents.

Kwakwaka´wakw Jewellery

Handcrafted  North American Native Art

The evolution of Kwakwaka´wakw jewellery as an art form began with techniques refined through the art of totem pole carving. The earliest pieces of Kwakwaka´wakw jewellery were made out of ivory, stone, wood and sea shells from abalone. In the mid-1800s, silver, gold and copper were introduced to the Kwakwaka´wakw through trading with European settlers. Jewellery pieces made out of silver and gold were often inscribed with patterns and mythological figures such as the Thunderbird and the Orca.

Amongst the Kwakwaka´wakw, the chiefs wore jewellery made out of copper to denote their status and symbolize their great wealth. Wealth among the Kwakwaka´wakw chiefs was determined not by the amount of goods a chief had, but rather, by the amount that a chief and their kin could give away. This re-distribution and reciprocity of wealth was celebrated at potlaches, the gift-giving festival of the Kwakwaka´wakw.

 Calvin Bell

Calvin Bell was born in the Haida Village of Old Masset in the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia.

He is a member of the Raven clan of the Haida Nation: The full crest bearing the Raven, a two fin Killer Whale, the Grizzly Bear, the Wolf and a Berry Picker in the Moon.

Calvin has been carving for over 30 years.  He is a descendant of Charles Edenshaw and Isabella Edenshaw.

His current work in Argillite shows a balance in the natural beauty of the stone.  He creates contrast between light and dark tones and often will set Abalone into his pieces.

*Argillite is a black or grey carbonaceous shale stone found at Slatechuck Creek in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands, BC).  It is a protected stone, with the Haida Nation being the only people able to collect, and work with it.  Agilllite is a relatively soft stone and must be carved in water.  While it is hard to find large pieces of Argillite in the river the stone is not in apparent danger of being exhausted and will continue to be carved for years to come.

The Haida people are renowned for their beautiful “black slate” or Argillite carvings.  They began carving Argillite in response to the early curio trade of the 1820′s.

Apart from small totem poles, the primary objects carved are jewellery, plates, pipes and sculptured figures.

Calvin’s work in available in both of our stores and online.  If you would like a custom piece made please contact us for more information.

Reg Gladstone Reg Gladstone

Reg Gladstone is from Heiltsuk First Nations and was born in Bella Bella (Waglisla), on Campbell Island BC in May of 1951.

He worked his way down to Victoria, BC during subsequent years and resides currently at the Tsartlip First Nations in Brentwood bay, a community near Victoria BC with his wife Linda.

Reg is a self-taught artist and has been hand carving jewellery for over 20 years.  He offers a superb line of hand crafted jewellery and watches created in copper, silver and gold.  Although each piece is rooted in tradition, Reg adds his own personal creativity and depth to the work.

Reg may be commissioned through us to create custom one of a kind pieces.  His work is available in galleries around the world.

Native Jewellery - Fred Myra Fred Myra

Master Engraver and Jeweller,  Fred Myra is Tlingit First Nations and has been making jewellery since 1988.  Fred is a creative perfectionist, whose jewellery and unique designs reflect a high quality that captures the pride of his heritage.  His exquisite work has caught the eyes of the media and art collectors internationally.  Fred is especially well known for his attention to detail, particularly in recreating bird feathers in the mediums of silver and gold.

Native Jewellery - Joe Jack Joe Jack

Coast Salish artist, Joe Jack is an Indian Status Band Member of the Cowichan Tribes. He was born and raised on the Cowichan Indian Reserve where his parents lived. His father was the Late Don Elliott from Deer Home Reserve in Glenora and his mother is Adeline Jack originally from the Quamichan Reserve.

Joe carries two Indian names. The first pronounced ‘Tthets’ which came from his grandfather Joseph Jack and the other ‘Luh leh ulug’ from his granduncle Joseph Edwards. These names, Joe will pass on to his sons.

Joe was sent to an Indian Residential school as a child and then attended Port Alberni Residential school from 1970-72. Since then he has stayed deep within his Indian community. At 15 he began carving in wood as a hobby and at 26 began carving full time with mainly gold and some silver. The spectacular beauty and history of his community inspires him to carve distinctive elegant works of traditional Salish art.

For nearly 20 years Joe has created exemplary wedding rings, bracelets, earrings and pendants. His excellent works have gained him world-wide respect.

He is a very spiritual man who enjoys communion with nature wherein the spirits of his ancestors live.  He sits atop Mt Tzouhalem and wonders at the rich history and the beautiful valley where he helps raise his children.

Native Jewellery - James McGuire James McGuire

James McGuire was born on September 27, 1953 at Queen Charlotte City on Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia, Canada. Growing up, James spent hours watching (and learning from) his uncle, Edmund Caulder, carve in both wood and argillite.  His older brother, the late Patrick McGuire, was also an inspiration in his study of and attention to argillite carving.

By 1970, James was carving and subsidizing his art with a job in the forest industry. He moved in 1976 to Vancouver where he learned to carve in silver and gold from renowned Haida artist, Gerry Marks. Marks taught him how to temper and to make tools from tempered steel.

In the Haida tradition, James creates unique eye catching designs which are one of a kind with much attention to detail. The parameters of basic Haida design are adhered to in his works that are among the finest of Haida art creations.

James is a member of the Stastas Eagle Clan from Skidegate on Haida Gwaii. His nannai (grandmother), Mary Tulip, was the eldest niece of Charles Edenshaw the famous Haida Carver of Skidegate.

In 2005 James attended two seminars presented by Master of Haida Art, Robert Davidson, CM. OBC where James received a Certicate titled, “Being Successful is No Accident”. This certificate hangs in his workshop proudly displayed for all to see.  James lives and works in Vancouver BC.

Native Jewellery - Hollie Bartlett Hollie Bartlett

Hollie Bartlett was born in Terrace, British Columbia, Canada in 1963. She is a member of the Haisla Nation, a subgroup of the Kwaguilth people. The Killer Whale, revered for its strength and skill as a hunter, is her family Crest.

Hollie’s initial interest in art began at an early age.  Hollie moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1985 and worked as a photographer for the First Nations newspaper, Kahtou. In 1998 Hollie began a four year apprenticeship with Master Carver, Corinne Hunt.

Corinne was instrumental in introducing Hollie to the Kwakwaka’wakw (formerly Kwakiutl) art of engraving. Corinne’s influence and Hollie’s talent have melded into the creation of very new, unique jewellery art.  Hollie has since apprenticed with renowned Goldsmith, Michael Reynolds. This inspiration, guidance and artful instruction has resulted in Hollie’s new approach of combining sterling silver, gold, stone setting, texture and inlay. She has studied the designs of traditional Native art as well as implementing the influences of her contemporaries.

Hollie’s works exemplify traditional and the modern approaches.  She creates her art with the traditional style to produce a dynamic artwork all her own. Hollie lives and works in Vancouver.

Native Jewellery - Harold Alfred Harold Alfred

Harold Alfred was born in 1953 in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island near the Northeast tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. He belongs to the Namgis tribe and is a member of the Kwak-waka’wakw (formerly Kwakiutl) Nation.

His works are sold in such places as the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Royal British Columbia Provincial Museum.  Growing up in Alert Bay, one couldn’t help but be influenced by the great Masters of the past. As a result, Harold produces outstanding work which has a contemporary feel with a strong sense of the past. Harold shows his respect for his heritage by observing the high standards set by past Masters and applies the same standards of quality and workmanship to his own art works. In his work he strives to apply and impart love, hope and joy.

Harold’s distinct lines and forms clearly depict strong traditional designs true to the Kwak-waka’wakw art form.  His logo is the powerful Thunderbird, with its curled horns and curved beak, which is one of the founding Crests of the Namgis.  Harold presently lives in Victoria, BC with his family.

Corrine Hunt - Native Jewellery Corrine Hunt

Corrine Hunt was born in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island near the North-eastern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada in 1959. She has lived in the Vancouver area since 1975 where she graduated from high school in 1977. After graduating, Corrine continued her education at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver where she majored in Anthropology.

Norman Brotchie, a maternal uncle, piqued her interest with his beautiful hand carved jewellery and he was instrumental in introducing her to the Kwak-waka’wakw (formerly Kwakiutl) art history. Corrine has been working as a jeweller since 1985 when she became a Master Carver.

She has taught many young artists since then. In 2011 she was awarded the National Aboriginal Achievement Award.  She is a member of the Raven ‘Gwa’wina’ Clan from Ts’akis, a Kwakiutl village, on Vancouver Island. Her paternal grandmother, A’neesla’ga,’ was a Tlingit noblewoman from Alaska. The Hunt family heritage has been doubly endowed with both the Kwak-waka’wakw and Tlingit traditions as evidenced in Corrine’s exceptional native art creations. She resides in Vancouver.

Corrine was awarded the honour of designing the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Medals featuring her original west coast Aboriginal designs of the Orca and Raven.

Charlie Harper - Native Jewellery Charlie Harper

Charlie Harper started his professional career over thirty years ago in 1974 creating unique Northwest Coast designs. He is widely known for his work in platinum, gold and sterling silver jewellery. His gold on silver combinations are especially alluring.

Charlie gained his inspiration from Master Carver, Lloyd Wadhams Sr., as well as from George and Dennis Matilpi from the Kwakwaka’wakw (formerly the Kwakiutl) Nation at Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, British Columbia near the Northeast tip of Vancouver Island.

Lloyd Wadhams was taught by Mungo Martin and Willie Seaweed, both very well known and proficient totem pole carvers. In addition to creating jewellery, Charlie is also well known for his totem poles and wood sculptures. A twenty foot high totem of Charlie’s was commissioned in 1977 and now stands in Holland sharing the spirit of West Coast Native art. Not long ago, a pole of Charlie’s was commissioned and sent to California.

Charles developed his own technique and unique style which expresses his integrity, strength of character and gentle spirit. He favours working with designs of the traditional, strong, powerful and popular totems: the Killer Whale, Thunderbird, Eagle, Bear, Raven and Hummingbird.

Charles now lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Carey Newman - Native Jewellery Carey Newman

Carey Newman is a Kwak-waka’wakw artist born on February 15th 1975. Under the influence and support of his father and mother Carey developed his artistic ability and cultural knowledge from an early age.

The Newman family including father Victor, mother Edith and sister Marion were named 2010 Ambassadors of the Arts by the Methchosin Summer School of the Arts.  Artistry is in his blood. His father Victor, his great, great grandfather Charlie James, and his great aunt Ellen Neel, are all renowned wood carvers. Being of British and Kwagiulth/Salish descent, Carey has been able to draw upon each of these cultures for his inspiration, and the mastering as many techniques and mediums as possible, is one of the keys to his continued success.

Wood, stone, gold, silver, gems, glass, and painting are mediums with which he works. A dedicated artist, Carey’s goal is to follow the footpaths of his mentors: his father, for his belief in artistic integrity and self-respect, and Bill Reid, for his ability with many mediums.

“When I embark on a journey, I may not have a clear idea of where I am going, but . . . perhaps I do not need one. This is terrain where ancient tradition smothers the ember of modern idea. A woodland so dense with archaic ritual, that the rains of April, and the sunshine of May, are not allowed the opportunity to renew the undergrowth. I will plant my seedling, hoping perhaps someday it will grow into prominence among its forefathers.” – CN*

Alex Helin - Native Jewellery Alex Helin

Alex Helin, son of Native Tsimshian artist Bill Helin, was born November 11, 1987 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.

Alex is a very talented young artist. He has been creatively assisting his father in the art world since he was six years old. His main interests were wood carving and at the age of eight he was the youngest carver to work on the World’s tallest totem pole for the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia. That same year Alex helped his dad carve the 40 foot long Raven song Canoe and helped paddle it to the Victoria Commonwealth Games with the Tribal Journeys Canoe Regatta.

Alex has been creating original pieces of gold and silver engravings of jewellery art in the Tsimshian Style. Alex wants to carry on apprenticing with his father and is looking forward to creating high end art pieces for art collectors all over the world in the tradition of his Tsimshian ancestors. Alex’s grandfather was Hyemass, Arthur H. Helin, and his great Grandparents Maude and Henry Helin were both Chiefs of the Tsimshian Nation.