Tool-making workshop engages and inspires

December 4, 2017
Bill Holm Center
Tyson Simmons (Muckleshoot), Dusty Humphries (Jamestown S'Klallam/Makah), Brian Perry (Port Gamble S'Klallam) study objects in the Burke Museum collections during their 2016-17 Visiting Researcher Grant visit.

Tyson Simmons (Muckleshoot), Dusty Humphries (Jamestown S'Klallam/Makah), Brian Perry (Port Gamble S'Klallam) study objects in the Burke Museum collections during their 2016-17 Visiting Researcher Grant visit.

Tyson Simmons (Muckleshoot) received the Bill Holm Center (BHC) Visiting Researcher grant in 2016-2017 to view the Burke Museum’s collection of Coast Salish carvings and the tools used to make them. This experience, and a recent tool-making class with master artist Nathan Gilles, inspired Tyson to host a tool-making workshop accessible to other carvers like him.

The BHC assisted Tyson with a workshop grant and our outreach team helped him host a tool-making workshop for all interested Coast Salish carvers at the Muckleshoot Reservation in October, 2017.

Participants in Tyson’s Tool-Making Workshop view Coast Salish adzes and knives

Participants in Tyson’s Tool-Making Workshop view Coast Salish adzes and knives from Burke collections inside the Muckleshoot carving shed.

Photo: Keith Stevenson 

Tyson learned from his teachers that the first step in carving is to make your own carving tools. This workshop provided novice and advanced carvers the opportunity to connect with one another, both by becoming more versed in their art forms and gaining foundational knowledge of tool-making and handling. 

Nathan Gilles holds a finished crooked knife as an example for participants in the Tool-Making Workshop.

Nathan Gilles holds a finished crooked knife as an example for participants in the Tool-Making Workshop.

Photo: Keith Stevenson 

The workshop was held at the Muckleshoot carving shed and led by Tyson, Nathan Gilles, Keith Stevenson (Muckleshoot), with many artist volunteers, tribal employees, and community members participating.

The BHC outreach team brought historic Coast Salish adzes and knives from the Burke collections out to Muckleshoot for the carvers to study and use as inspiration before starting their projects. The workshop was a huge success with more than 20 participants finishing their own carving tool sets. 

Tyson Simmons (Muckleshoot), Ralphy Lozier (Muckleshoot), and Nathan Gilles at the workshop

Tyson Simmons (Muckleshoot), Ralphy Lozier (Muckleshoot), and Nathan Gilles.

Photo: Burke Museum

Tyson’s motivation and determination to pass on knowledge and encourage Native carvers to learn to make their own tools prevailed and made history for the Muckleshoot Tribe. 

"We made history by hosting the first workshop of its kind here on the reservation. Several of our tribal council members were amazed by how engaged our students were. It couldn't have gone any better!"

—Tyson Simmons

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