For approximately 200 years, Haida artists have carved argillite sculptures. Many of the older craftsmen whose activities and careers were well known have passed down their knowledge to their contemporaries in the villages of Massett and Skidegate. Some of the very best artists produce argillite carvings with the finest detail. Argillite is a slate rock found on Slatechuck Mountain near the village of Skidegate on Haida-Gwaii.

Argillite is shaped and carved with a wide range of tools. Many of the tools are hand-made. Argillite is carefully shaped with finer and finer cutting tools. Fine abrasive materials are often used to polish out tool marks. In more recent times, some artists have added inlay materials such as ivory, bone, abalone shell, paua shell, catlinite, and other materials to enhance the overall appearance of a carving.

This outstanding argillite sculpture of a three finned wasgo “seawolf” in motion was carved by Haida artist Lionel Samuels from Massett. Lionel was extremely talented and had the ability to carve sculptures in motion. This sculpture has paua shell, mother of pearl, and catlinite inlays and is 9″ long, 5″ wide, and 7″ high. The sculpture has been SOLD. Unfortunately Lionel passed away in 2021 after contacting the covid-19 virus. Lionel’s argillite sculptures are sought by many Northwest Coast art collectors.

argillite wasgo in motion

Lionel Samuels    Haida  

Wasgo “seawolf” in motion

Argillite, paua shell, mother of pearl, & catlinite  9 x 5 x 7 inches