“That’s just super, that my work made it that far,” says Lucy Simon. Her moosehair tufted brooches, created in Jean Marie River, are being sold this winter at the British Museum in London, England.
Simon’s brooches are part of a 300-piece shipment of crafts, featuring 16 artists, sent to the museum’s retail store by NWT Arts and the territory’s Business Development and Investment Corporation.
The pieces will accompany a new exhibit, Arctic Culture and Climate, which will run from October 22 until February 21.
“The collection includes moosehide brooches, moosehair tufting brooches, beaded mukluk zipper pulls, beaded earrings, birchbark baskets, beaded cardholders, and the now-famous tea cozies that Ulukhaktok crafters are renowned for,” the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment said on its website.
According to the department, NWT artists created some of the pieces specifically for the collection. Others adapted their designs to address European sensitivities toward the use of fur.
Artworks was sent from Fort Liard’s Acho Dene Native Crafts store and the Ulukhaktok Arts Centre.
For Simon, contributing to the collection has been a bright spot in a dark year.
She lost her mom in March and hasn’t been able to see her children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren because of Covid-19 as they don’t live in Jean Marie River.
“I just like to keep myself busy,” she said, explaining she has been coping by continuing to tuft gifts for people, despite not having any customers since the pandemic began.
She hopes things will pick up around Christmas. At that time of year, she said, “I’m always full of orders to do so it keeps me busy.”
Donna Akhiatak, who manages the Ulukhaktok Arts Centre, made tea cozies to send to London.
“I’m very excited to have tea cozies sold in Europe,” she said, saying she, too, has endured a slow year for craft sales.
“They are a good, hot item to sell,” Akhiatak said of the cozies. “They are small and affordable.”
Akhiatak, who also crafts things like earrings and mittens, is hopeful that selling her cozies at the museum’s retail store will help get her name out.
“I’m hoping they’ll contact us so we can make more,” she said.