Showing posts with label folk art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label folk art. Show all posts

Monday, June 10, 2019

New Perlican Field Trip

Jillian, Rachael, Eileen, Betty, Ruth, Kelley, and Dale talk with Ches Peddle of New Perlican.
On Tuesday, June 4, I headed out to New Perlican, Trinity Bay with Dale, our new summer student Rachael, and two professors in the folklore department. We were taking Dr. Jillian Gould, and Dr. Kelley Totten from Memorial University's Folklore Department to meet with members of the community in order to explore future partnerships between the heritage committee and the folklore department.

St. Augustine's Anglican Church
Our first stop was the town hall where we met with four members of Heritage New Perlican to talk about the possibility of the two groups working together on a future folklore field school. After our formal meeting we explored the community with a stop in St. Augustine's Anglican Church. This church was built in 1927 and is set to be deconsecrated this month.

Ches Peddle
Our next stop was one of the colourful stages that dot the harbour of New Perlican. Ches Peddle, who showed us around his stage, grew up and lives in Vitters Cove, New Perlican. He worked on boats, and spent time in the north with the Hudson Bay Company. Ches also builds boats, and each summer he places a flag on the local landmark, Peter's Finger. Ches took us through his stage, explained the different fishing gear, and pointed out who built some of the boats, and stages in the harbour.

Grave located on private property.
We made a quick stop in St. Mark's Anglican Cemetery. This cemetery was part of a clean up project in 2017. The project was another partnership with Heritage New Perlican, and Memorial University. We also stopped to see a lone grave from 1816 which is located on private property. Our last stop of the day was stop at Ron Peddle's and the St. Augustine Anglican Cemetery as no trip to New Perlican is complete without goats. Unfortunately we didn't see any cemetery goats! We did however see little Bella, who is a pet pygmy goat owned by a community member.

Folk art in New Perlican by George Burrage

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Sailor's Valentine

Sailor's valentines are a form of seashell folk art developed in the early nineteenth century, particularly popular between 1830 and 1890. Octagonal boxes with a glass overlay served as frames for symmetrical designs that artists created, using small shells of different colours and sizes.

It was once thought that sailors made these valentines themselves, to pass the time at sea. Contrary to this belief, sailor's valentines were actually a cottage industry on the island of Barbados, the centre of supply and distribution for English, Dutch and North American ships. It is recorded that the primary source for sailor's valentines was the New Curiosity Shop, located in Bridgetown. The shop was owned by English brothers B.H. and George Belgrave.

The valentines were usually assembled by female residents for sailors to purchase and bring back to their loved ones at home. The craftswomen would often include romantic phrases and flower and heart designs.

The sailor's valentine featured above belongs to Georgina Mercer of Bishop's Cove, NL. The valentine was gifted from her uncle and has been in Mercer's family for decades.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: All Towns Great and Small

When I moved to Newfoundland last summer, I arrived with the hope of many wonderful adventures to come.  That said, I did not expect to feel as though I had stepped into the pages of Gulliver’s Travels.  In my first week on the island, though, while driving The Irish Loop, I encountered settlements that were decidedly Lilliputian.  I came across this diminutive but active wharf by the side of the road near Mobile.  Later that day, I found a town within a town – a tiny recreation of the resettled community of Oderin, on a small pond in St. Mary’s.  These works of art, so full of love and life, captured my imagination.  I would love to know if there are more communities of this nature around the island.  If you have any stories or pictures you’d like to share please send them to

-Claire McDougall

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Woodcarvings by Kevin Coates

Kevin Coates is a talented local artist who draws inspiration from traditional Newfoundland industries for the subject matter of his work. Coates, who is self-taught, picked up caricature carving about 15 years ago after reading about it in a magazine. He had been looking for a new hobby and this style of wood carving peaked his interest. Much like caricature drawings, these carvings exaggerate the peculiar features of a person or object. Coates, who grew up and still resides in Winterton, is inspired by the fishery and the majority of his carvings reflect this.

When you first see a Kevin Coates carving your eye is immediately drawn to the face, which he works on for about a third of the time it takes to complete the rest of the carving. When asked where he gets inspiration for the faces, Coates replied, “it’s something about someone I remember, especially from back when I was a kid. We spent a lot of time down by the wharf, at this and that, with the fishermen and the old fellows.”

Coates mostly uses pine or fir along with several different tools to carve his pieces. Interestingly though, Coates' favorite tool is a modified right-handed filleting knife, or splitting knife, that he cut down to about five or six inches. As Coates describes, "where I'm left-handed and it's a right-handed splitting knife the turn is perfect for me."

For more information on Kevin Coates and his carvings, check out the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Researched and written by: Nicole Penney

Works Cited:
Penney, Nicole. Interview with Kevin Coates on the Subject of Wood Carving. Recorded April 26, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How to Make a Pillow Top Frame

A few days ago in the ICH Office we tried our hands at making a small pillow top frame. The plan is to use the smaller frames in workshops, particularly with younger kids. It currently takes about 4 hours to complete a pillow top on the large frame. Using the small frame, the pillow top can be completed in about 2.5 hours, making this activity much more accessible. 

Our small frame turned out well and the end result is a cute little pillow top, with very fluffy pom poms, that can be used as a trivet or table topper. Several of these mini pillow tops could be sewn together to make a blanket.  

After receiving a few requests, I decided to put together this step-by-step guide for making your very own pillow top frame.


  • 8 pieces of wood measuring 8" long, 1-1/4" wide and 3/4" thick
  • wood glue
  • clamps
  • 24 x 2" nails 
  • 12 x 1-1/4" wood screws 
  • power drill
  • hammer
  • ruler
  • pencil

Step One: 

Take four pieces of wood and arrange to form a square. Add a layer of  wood glue and  place the other four pieces on top.

Step Two: 

Using the drill, insert screws into the end of each piece of wood, as seen in the picture below. Before this step you may need to clamp the pieces together and put aside while the glue sets. 


Step Three:

Using a ruler and pencil, draw a line down the middle of each side of the frame, lengthwise. Then along this line, mark off, in even spaces, where you will hammer in your nails. Space the nails about 1 inch apart. 

Step Four: 

Drill holes in each of these markers to make it easier to hammer in the nails. Hammer 6 nails into each side. Make sure they are even. Leave about half the nail sticking out of the frame. 

Once all the nails are all hammered in you can start weaving!

Here's the finished product! : )

If you have any questions about how to make your frame or are interested in having us put off a pillow top workshop in your community, feel free to get in touch with Nicole at (709) 739-1892 ex. 6 or via email at 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Two Corner Brook events celebrate the history of basketmaking

In Newfoundland and Labrador traditionally-made baskets came in many shapes, sizes and styles and can be crafted from a variety of materials. On the west coast, traditions included Acadian and Mi’kmaw style root baskets, and the popular mill lunch baskets.

“Baskets once served a very utilitarian role in the province, used for carrying items such as fish, potatoes, eggs and berries,” says Dale Jarvis, a folklorist with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL). “Mill lunch baskets were once so popular nearly every pulp and paper mill worker in Newfoundland used one to bring hot meals to work.”

To celebrate that history, the Heritage Foundation is organising a series of events around the tradition of basket making in Newfoundland.

On Saturday, March 17th, at Grenfell College in Corner Brook, HFNL will be hosting a special talk and presentation on Mi'kmaw and Acadian spruce root and ash baskets, with local and visiting experts, including Mi’kmaw elders Margaret Pelletier and Della Maguire, traditional ash basket makers from Nova Scotia. The talk will take place from 7-9pm in the Arts and Science building, Room 379, Grenfell College.

On Sunday, March 18th from 1-3pm at the Glynmill Inn, Corner Brook and Sunday, HFNL will be hosting an event called “Tea ‘n’ Baskets”. This event is an opportunity for those who still have mill lunch baskets to come out and show your basket and share your memories. Bring your basket, we’ll provide the refreshments! HFNL staff will be on hand to photograph mill baskets, to become part of an educational website.

HFNL’s Intangible Cultural Heritage program was created to celebrate, record, and promote our living heritage and help to build bridges between diverse cultural groups within and outside Newfoundland and Labrador.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Folk Art, Compliments of Vic

I'm not sure exactly how old this photo is, but I know I snapped it, on slide film, in Bay de Verde, possibly about 2001.  I love how much is crammed into this little display: fishing boats, dorries, part of what looks like an old make-and-break engine.

If you know anything about Vic, or about the objects in the photo, email me at