Monday, July 6, 2020

It's a Family Tradition: Working with Sealskin with Laurie Pitcher. #MakerMonday

For #MakerMonday we'll be profiling some of the people practicing traditional skills on the Baccalieu Trail.

Laurie Pitcher of Heart's Content has been sewing ever since she was taught by her grandmother at 12 years old. She was more used to working with silks and satins until her husband asked her to make him a sealskin jacket. She's been hooked on sealskin ever since.

Sealskin mittens. Photo courtesy of Sealskin Treasures.
Her company Sealskin Treasures makes everything from keychains to purses to jackets and employs several women in her area. Their work appears at craft shows across the island every fall and winter. Through their online shop, Laurie says they have shipped their sealskin products all over the world, wherever it is legal to do so.

Sealskin purse in the Republic of Newfoundland colours. Photo courtesy of Sealskin Treasures.
It is important to Laurie to source whatever materials she can locally. She works with companies within the province to source the pelts she uses, some of which are then tanned by her son, Tyler, a taxidermist in Harbour Grace.

Well, I think the most important thing that people should know about it is that, 'cause you know, you hear so much with Greenpeace and all that kind of thing. And, you know, we've been, like I said, this is 7 years now we've been going across the island with our stuff, and we've had very little people say anything to us. But I know I've had people who have gone on the mainland and stuff and, you know, people say things to them. I mean, years ago people used to throw paint on people that had sealskin. So, I think the biggest thing to know is that our seals are harvested humanely. It's a beautiful product, is a very durable product, and it's truly Newfoundland. It's a part of our heritage. The seal hunt has been going on here for a long, long time, and I'm just proud to be able to do that and to continue it.
Laurie is carrying on a family tradition of working with seals. Her father and grandfather, as well as her husband's family were seal hunters. Working with sealskin allows Laurie to participate in this family tradition, and help educate people on the importance of the seal hunt in the history of the province.

Sealskin hat. Photo courtesy of Sealskin Treasures.

Do you live on the Baccalieu Trail and practice a traditional skill or know someone who does? Fill out our survey!

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