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Soapstone Pendants

gorget: stone used in pendants
Gorget Approximately 300-1000 years old

Creative Workshop: Soapstone Pendant Making

Soapstone pendant making is a creative workshop offered at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology to compliment the understanding and appreciation for First Nation gorgets.

Gorgets are typically made from hard slate stone and are drilled to make into a necklace and personal ornamentation. They were made during leisure time as the slate takes a large amount of time and skill to shape (with an abrader/flat rock) and hand drill. Some even featured symbols and other markings.

During thisĀ 30 minute workshop, we have modified the tools but kept the traditional method the same. Instead of slate, students are each given a piece of soapstone, a soft rock which is easy to mould. Similar to the traditional method of creating a hole in the gorget, students can hand drill their own hole through their gorget by using an arrowhead attached to a wooden stick.

Illustration of a drill used in soapstone pendant making
Students drilling at soapstone pendant making workshop

Once a hole has been made, students sand the soapstone to a desired shape and smoothness and rub their piece with oil to allow for the soapstone colour to shine.

In the end of the workshop, students not only leave with their original gorgets, but also an understanding of First Nation skill development, creativity and resourcefulness.

Student at soapstone pendant making workshop

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