Authentic Canadian Inuit - Eskimo Art, First Nations Art & Unique Canadian Giftware

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. What and where is the Kitikmeot region?

Q. Why are most pieces on your Gallery white? Most Inuit art I’ve seen is dark black and green?

Q. What art pieces is the Kitikmeot region famous for?

Q. What is the relationship between Gallery Canada and the artists?

Q. Why does Gallery Canada only feature art from the Kitikmeot region?

Q. Is the white Inuit art from your Gallery as valuable as the more traditional darker pieces?

Q. What is an Igloo Tag?

Q. What is a Certificate of Authenticity?

Q. I thought Inuit carvings were made of soapstone, yet I don’t see any soapstone carvings in your Gallery?

Q. What artistic elements should I look for in a carving?

Q. Will my Inuit art increase in value?

Q. Why is Inuit art expensive?

Q. I would like to buy a piece of Inuit art but I don’t know what to look for?

Q. I read that there are a lot of Inuit art imitations on the market. How can I be sure that what I am buying is authentic?

Q. Why are some pieces on your gallery polished but not others?

Q. How do the carvers get such a high polish on their pieces?

Q. Where do the artists get their raw materials?

Q. How do I take care of the art I purchase from your Gallery?

Q. What is Gallery Canada’s Return Policy? 

Q. How must I package the art, if I am returning a piece?

Q. What payment methods does Gallery Canada accept?

Q. How does Gallery Canada package the art for shipping?

Q. How does Gallery Canada ship the art?


 

Q. What and where is the Kitikmeot region?
A. The Kitikmeot Region (Central Arctic) is one of three regions in Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory. It includes the southern and eastern parts of Victoria Island and the adjacent part of the mainland as far as the Boothia peninsula, together with King William Island and the southern portion of Prince of Wales Island. About 4,800 people live in the Kitikmeot region in seven hamlets; Bathurst Inlet, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Kugaaruk, Kugluktuk, Taloyoak and Omingmaktok.

 

Q. Why are most art pieces in your Gallery white? Most Inuit art I’ve seen is dark black or green?

A. Carvers use the stone that is available in their locality. For example, in the community of Kugluktuk the most available stone is dolomite, which is very hard and is coloured in a wide range of white to 'off whites'. The darker colored pieces you are referring to are probably serpentine, which is a stone found in the Cape Dorset area of the eastern arctic. 'White stone' Inuit art is much sought after but is very difficult to acquire and bring to the marketplace. There is significantly less 'white stone' Inuit art created, compared to the more common, darker serpentine pieces found in the eastern Canadian regions.

 

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Q. What art pieces is the Kitikmeot region famous for?
A. White igloos with removable lids and detailed scenes inside, dioramas (small scenes depicting an aspect of Inuit life) usually carved from musk ox horn, animals carved with much realism, animation and detail, stone faced dolls and birds created from musk ox horn.

 

Q. What is the relationship between Gallery Canada and the artists?
A. Very close. The owner of the Gallery spent significant time in the Kitikmeot region, getting to know the artists personally.

 

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Q. Why does Gallery Canada only feature art from the Kitikmeot region?
A. Art from the Kitikmeot region is not widely available from other Galleries worldwide. The Kitikmeot region is a great distance from the eastern arctic, which has traditionally had the lion’s share of the Inuit art market. When the Gallery owner was in the Kitikmeot region, he spoke with the artisans and learned that they had very few selling options. Gallery Canada is assisting them in their efforts to develop art as a sustainable occupation. Unlike other galleries, Gallery Canada is featuring a wide range of art –carvings, crafts, paintings, drawings, jewelry etc from a wide range of artisans – the young, up and coming artists of tomorrow as well as the more acclaimed, artisans of today. If the creation of art does not become economically self sustaining, then there will not be any artisans left in future generations. As it is, many of the artisans are older people.

 

Q. Is the white stone Inuit art from your Gallery as valuable as the more traditional darker pieces?
A. Yes.  Due to the limited supply and significant geographical distance, white stone Inuit art is difficult to acquire. As with all Inuit Art, it is created from the imagination of indigenous people out of indigenous materials that are available to them.

 

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Q. What is an Igloo Tag?

A.  The Igloo Tag is a guarantee of the art's authenticity as a work created by a Canadian Aboriginal Artisan. The trademark is issued and controlled by the Canadian Federal Government and is only issued to authorized art dealers.  All art purchased from Gallery Canada bears the artist's signature and is accompanied by both an Igloo Tag and a Gallery Canada Certificate of Authenticity.

 

Q. What is a Certificate of Authenticity?
Gallery Canada’s Certificate of Authenticity is your assurance that the art was created from indigenous materials by an Inuit Artist

living in the Kitikmeot region of the Canadian Arctic. Gallery Canada provides this additional assurance as it works directly with the aboriginal artists from this region.

 

Q. I thought Inuit carvings were made of soapstone, yet I don’t see any soapstone carvings in your Gallery?

A. Soapstone is not available in the Kitikmeot region. In fact, most Inuit art is not made from soapstone, yet the term “soapstone” is often mistakenly used to generically describe Inuit art. Soapstone is very soft, scratches easily and detail wears off over time. It is a much inferior type of material for carving. Many fake Inuit pieces are made from soapstone, because it is readily available in other parts of the world and can be carved easily and quickly. Gallery Canada may carry a soapstone carving from time to time because some artists like to experiment with different mediums. Sometimes an artist will bring back a piece of different stone from an area they visited, and create a piece from it.

 

Q. What artistic elements should I look for in a carving?
A. It really is a personal decision, but generally speaking, the price is a good indicator of the level of artistic elements in a piece. Overall composition, degree of animation and detail, coloration, size of the piece and who the artist is are the major factors determining the price. Pieces from up and coming young artists won’t be as high as similar pieces from acclaimed artisans.

 

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Q. Will my Inuit art increase in value?
A. Yes, very simply because of supply and demand. Inuit art is recognized all over the world for its beauty and simplicity, and global interest in it is increasing. At the same time, the numbers of carvers are declining. This imbalance between supply and demand will increase the price over time. Another supply / demand factor contributing to higher prices in the future is the reduction in the availability of stone. Not only do carvers now have to travel farther distances to get their stone but some stone deposits have been totally exhausted, particularly those located on river embankments. 'White stone' Inuit art is more rare and is therefore expected to

appreciate even more in the long term.

 

Q. Why is Inuit art expensive?
A. It really isn’t if you consider all of the cost elements. Our perceived value is based on the economy we live in, where everything is mass produced, and therefore relatively inexpensive. If you were to pay a carver by the hour for all of the work entailed in creating a finished piece – travel time to source and retrieve the stone, carve, finish, the cost of tools, air freight, insurance, packaging, etc., etc. - you would see that the art is not excessively priced. As with all art, the more artistic the piece and the more acclaimed the artist, the higher the price is.

 

Q. I would like to buy a piece of Inuit art but I don’t know what to look for?

A. We suggest that you look for a piece that is both pleasing to you and within your budget. It’s really that simple. Do you like the subject matter, the type and coloration of stone, the finish, the level of detail and animation and the overall composition of the piece?

 

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Q. I read that there are a lot of Inuit art imitations on the market. How can I be sure that what I am buying is authentic?
A. There are a number of things you should look for. The price is a good indicator of whether it’s authentic or not. Imitations are mass produced and therefore can be sold relatively inexpensively. You should look for the artists signature on the piece, as all Inuit artists personally sign their creations. Every piece of art listed in Gallery Canada, without exception, was created by an Inuit who was born, raised and still lives in the Kitikmeot Region. Every art piece purchased from Gallery Canada is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity. You should look at who you are buying the piece from. All reputable Galleries will provide either a

Certificate of Authenticity or an “Igloo Tag”.  You should also know what stone was used. If it isn’t soapstone, then the weight of the piece should be relatively heavy, because most Inuit art carvings are created from hard stone. Dolomite, argillite, quartzite and serpentine are all categorized as hard stone. If you look carefully at the piece you should be able to tell if it was made in a mold, as there will usually be tell-tale seam lines and surfaces.

 

Q. Why are some pieces on your gallery polished but not others?
A. It depends upon the artist. Some artists like to leave their pieces in a more natural stone state, whereas other artists prefer to
polish them to an almost ceramic finish. This of course takes a considerable amount of extra time and usually results in polished pieces commanding a higher price.

 

Q. How do the carvers get such a high polish on their pieces?
A. By continuing to wet sand with finer and finer grits. They stand the carving in a tub of water and hand rub it, using various grit levels of waterproof sand paper, until the piece has the finish they are looking for. They usually begin with 180 grit and then go to 320, 420 and 600 grit and sometimes go as high as 1200 if they want their piece to have a gleaming shine.

 

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Q. Where do the artists get their raw materials?
A. From the land around their community. Different types of stone come from different islands and riverbanks. The artists have to travel by boat, skidoo or ATV with picks, axes and crow bars to break off pieces of rock, which they then bring back to their studio. It’s a very physical, time consuming and sometimes dangerous task considering the harsh terrain, the distance they have to travel and the effort required to locate and chisel out a piece of available stone. Some artists travel up to a hundred miles to source a particular type of rock, and then have to scale a cliff or descend a riverbank to get at it. They then have to carry it back to their sled or boat and back to their house when they return to the community. Many of the artists in the Kitikmeot region have their own special islands for certain colorations of dolomite and keep its location a secret from other artists, thus assuring themselves of future availability and exclusiveness.

 

Q. How do I take care of the art I purchase from your Gallery?
A. Stone Sculptures:
> Many stone sculptures are large, heavy and a bit top heavy because of their design. It's safest to display them on a large flat surface, such as a low shelf. Avoid placing sculptures on high shelves or pedestals. Vibrations caused by large crowds or even children running around could cause the sculptures to fall over or to "walk" toward the edge of their display surface and fall off.
> It's natural to move large, heavy stone sculptures by hoisting the sculpture waist-high and hugging it close to your body. To avoid scratching the sculpture, remove rings, watches, necklaces and belt buckles. Handle with non-skid gardening gloves or latex gloves. Don't use white cotton gloves -- they're too slippery.
> Stone is one of nature's most durable materials, so it's not critical that your sculpture be out of direct sunlight. Remember, though, that if the sculpture contains inlays of other material such as bone, ivory, plastic or metal, that it should not be exposed to high light levels.
> Clean your stone sculpture with a soft cotton cloth that's devoid of lint. Old bed sheets torn into strips make good dust cloths. If the surface of your sculpture is very textured or has lots of crevices, use a watercolor brush to dislodge dirt. With some modifications, you can even use your vacuum cleaner: remove the brush from the vacuum hose, attach nylon screening to the hose opening with elastic to prevent any loose pieces from the carving inadvertently being sucked up, and hold the hose a few centimeters away from the sculpture to suck up dust as you brush.

A. Ivory, Bone and Antler Sculptures and Jewelry: 
> As Ivory can be very sensitive to changes in relative humidity, it’s best to keep it out of direct sunlight. Don't place it on window ledges near air vents where they would be subjected to rapid heating/cooling cycles. Ivory absorbs or releases moisture with changing humidity, swelling or shrinking. This can cause severe cracking and warping, especially with thin ivory objects. 

> Ivory yellows naturally. Don't attempt to bleach this out - it's a natural patina.

> Bone and antler are a bit more porous than ivory, and do not react as quickly to changes in humidity. They will, however, absorb more dirt, dust or liquids if you happen to spill something onto them.

> Ivory, bone and/or antler are often combined with silver in jewelry. Silver tarnishes and requires polishing but it's important to polish it judiciously, taking care not to get polish on the ivory, bone or antler. Stay away from silver dips if your silver jewelry also features bone, ivory or antler - silver dips contain acid! Use a soft buffing cloth to clean the silver. If that doesn't work, use a mild abrasive product such as Twinkle™.

> Some jewelry from Nunavut also contains additional materials like rawhide or sinew. Keep water away from these materials. Never apply oil or leather dressing such as saddle soap.

>  Prints can fade if exposed to too much light. Keep them out of direct sunlight. In fact, it's best to install prints in darker areas. Don't use accent lights, either, since these will cause fading, too.

> Use an acid-free matt board with a glass cover.

Furs > Insects pose one of the main problems for maintenance and storage of fur garments and crafts. Carpet beetles and clothes moths especially prefer dark storage areas where they aren't bothered.

> Caribou fur tends to shed. No cure exists except to minimize handling of the fur.

> If your fur skin garments or crafts become inhabited by insects, freezing is a relatively safe and effective way to deal with the problem.

 

Information as to how best to do this safely, as well as advice on any other conservation concerns you might have, can be obtained from:
The Canadian Conservation Institute
1030 Innes Road,
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0M5
Phone: (613) 998-3721
Fax: (613) 998-4721
e-mail: cci-icc_services@pch.gc.ca
Web site: www.cci-icc.gc.ca

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Q. What is Gallery Canada’s Return Policy? 
A. Gallery Canada offers a “Total Satisfaction Guarantee”. If, within 5 days of receiving your art, you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it to Gallery Canada and we will gladly extend a store credit for the full amount, less shipping and insurance costs. You must contact Gallery Canada and receive a 'return approval authorization email' prior to returning the product. Returns cannot be accepted and/or credited unless preauthorized by Gallery Canada.

 

Q. How must I package the art, if I am returning a piece?
A. Gallery Canada will e-mail you specific instructions, relative to your purchase, on how to pack the art, which carrier to use, how to insure it etc, when you request a product return authorization. Please note that the inbound freight and insurance cost are for the client’s account.

 

Q. What payment methods does Gallery Canada accept?
A. Gallery Canada accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Debit card as well as check, direct deposit and money order. All checks and money orders must clear the bank prior to the order being accepted and shipped. Credit card orders are not binding upon Gallery Canada until payments are authorized by the credit card issuer or other financial institution.

 

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Q. Will I be charged sales taxes on my purchase of Inuit Art?
A It depends upon the shipping address;
Shipments within Ontario: GST and PST apply.
Shipments to a province or territory other Ontario: GST only applies.
If shipped outside of Canada: No sales taxes apply

Q. Will I be charged any duties on my purchase of Inuit art? 
A. It depends upon the shipping address;
> Shipments to any destination in Canada: No duties apply
> Shipments to the USA: No duties apply on Inuit Art

> Shipments to other countries: Depends on import regulations for your country - the rate of duty varies from country to country. The applicable duties are payable when you pick-up the shipment/delivered to you; Check with your local customs or postal office for information on possible duties.

Q. Do I need to get an import permit for my Inuit Art?
A. No. You do not need an import permit. Gallery Canada will provide a CITES permit when required (certain items need an export permit from Canada). Canadian Inuit Art can be shipped anywhere in the world, with one exception - Canadian Art objects containing whalebone or ivory (tusks) cannot be shipped to the USA.. It is prohibited under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972.

 

Q. How does Gallery Canada package the art for shipping?

A. It varies depending upon the size, weight and type of art. Generally speaking carvings are bubble wrapped and placed in a corrugated shipping carton with either crumpled Kraft paper, plastic air bags or some other protective packaging material. Larger and heavier pieces are double boxed to ensure the art reaches you in the same condition it left us.

 

Q. How does Gallery Canada ship the art?
A. Gallery Canada utilizes the most appropriate carrier, based on the destination and shipping requirements - Canada Post, courier or air. All shipments are insured for their full value.

 

 
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