Ivory Carvings: the Addiction is Real

My name is Angie, and I have a problem.  I buy too many ivory carvings.

Ivory Carvings- Walruses by Randall Jones

It's just that they're so beautiful.  Like these walruses (walri?) by Randall Jones.  I just love looking at them.

Note to readers: Randall, or Bid, is now the bilingual/bicultural instructor at Brevig Mission School.

Ivory Carvings- Musk Ox by Chris Olanna

This musk ox by Chris Olanna.  I'd never thought of musk oxen as particularly cute until I saw this carving.  The detail on the fur is amazing.

Or the spots on this seal by Randall Jones.  The large spots are inlaid whale baleen.  The tiny spots are ink.

Ivory Carvings- Eskimo Dancer by John Sinnok

There's something exotic about holding something made of walrus ivory.  This dancer was carved by the legendary John Sinnok, former bilingual/bicultural instructor at Shishmaref School.

Ivory Carvings- Walrus by Thomas Eningowuk


One of the perks of living in a village with carvers is access to ivory carvings before they are sent to gift shops around Alaska (and increase in price).  Every so often, people knock on our door to show us their latest carvings.

It's hard to say no.  Especially when they're made by former students like Thomas Eningowuk. He carved the above walrus...

Ivory Carvings- Seal by Thomas Eningowuk

And this seal.

Ivory Carvings- Whale by Justin Schultze

Justin Schultze carved this whale and put it on a bone base.

Ivory Carvings- Rabbit by Bert Sockpick

Bert Sockpick made this rabbit.  I liked it because: 1. Bert made it,  2. it was adorable, and 3. it was different from my collection of marine mammals.

Ivory Carvings- Tiny seal by Matthew Iyatunguk

Speaking of adorable, check out this tiny seal by Matthew Iyatunguk.  It's literally the size of a Monopoly piece.

Ivory Carvings- Jack Pootoogooluk

Another former student made this one.  Jack Pootoogooluk.  I'm not sure if it's an otter or a seal. (Hey Jack-Jack!  Do you remember what it is?  Hook a teacher up with some info!)

I'm not an expert on seals (or any animal, really), but I've never seen one swimming on its back.  I have, however, seen otters swim on their backs.

Ivory Carvings- David Olanna

This scene of seals is by David Olanna of Brevig Mission and set on a piece of bone.

Ivory Carvings- Hunter in a bone boat

This ivory hunter in a bone boat was a gift to Steve from Kaitlyn's birth family.  It was carved in Brevig Mission, but I'm not sure who made it.  by Randall Jones.

Ivory Carvings- John Kiyutelluk

I'm not a fan of real-life polar bears, but the ivory ones are less dangerous and, thus, allowed in my collection.  John Kiyutelluk made the above polar bear while he was still in high school.

Ivory Carvings- Polar Bear by Jerome Sinnok

Jerome Sinnok, son of John Sinnok (carver of the dancer near the beginning of the post), carved this little guy.

Ivory Carvings- Polar Bear by DJ

And DJ from Shishmaref almost convinced me that polar bears can be adorable with this piece.

Note to readers: I can't remember DJ's last name, and the bottom of the carving just says "D.J."  If anyone knows his full name, I would love to credit him!  DJ is Delbert Jones, brother of Randall Jones.

Ivory Carvings- Polar Bears by Randall Jones

And the little sleeping polar bear on top of his/her mommy by Randall Jones.  Precious.

Ivory Carvings- Polar Bear

But, I think I'll stick with ivory polar bears.  Even if I can't remember who carved this one.  Or if I bought it in Shishmaref or Brevig Mission...

Hey Readers!  If you recognize the artist, let me know in the comments!


Ivory Carvings- Randall Jones Signature

We've amassed a sizable collection of ivory carvings over the years.  Luckily, carvers usually carve their names on the bottom of their piece.

Note to readers: the above shot gives a nice view of a cross section of walrus ivory.  You're welcome.

Ivory Carvings- Chris Olanna signature

Sometimes the names are inked on.

The collection keeps growing.  And I'm running out of shelf space.  And Steve rolls his eyes every time I buy another carving.  Although, someday I'll share his board game collection, and then we can see who really has a problem.  🙂


  1. Mom says:

    Angie, they’re beautiful. I can understand the addiction. Are they all as small as the one in the photo where we can see your thumb ?

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