Etching the Salish Wool Dog

Drawing of plate design on tracing paper. First pull of plate in background pinned to wall.

Sometimes it is two steps forward and one step back. With printmaking, like most things, it’s best to take a deep breath and pause before attempting to solve a problem. The plate’s first dip into the acid bath and, to my dismay, the Sharpie and aquatint resist lifted within a couple of minutes. How deflating to watch the pattern dissolve before my eyes! The plate was quickly removed when it became evident the design wouldn’t hold. Deep breath – re-did the aquatint – re-painted the resist design. The second attempt provided must better results.

Second pull of plate  Epinetron depicting shearing of dogs scene

The etching is based on the Salish Wool Dog epinetron produced in collaboration with the Thetis Authentics Workshop. Each of the prints and vases explore the history of a specific dog breed. The Salish-speaking societies of the Pacific Northwest had prized the woolly dog for its coat. The dog was kept and sheard like a sheep, and the hair spun and used in blanket weaving along with other fibers such as goat hair. The woolly dog is now extinct but its memory persists in Coast Salish culture and strong tradition of weaving and knitting. The epinetron shape is a thigh guard used in ancient Greece to protect the leg while carding wool.

Find out more about the woolly dog in Smithsonian Sparks (published 15 December 2023).

‘Look Closer’ to see examples of Salish blankets displayed as part of “The Fabric of our Land” exhibition at MoA, University of British Columbia (November 19, 2017 – April 15, 2018).