Fish Scale Art


fish scales that have been dyed pink

Have you ever heard of this? Neither did I until I attended a workshop at Gallery 101 last week. I didn’t even know you could save fish scales.  I’m very impressed that someone took the time to look at the tiny , shimmering flakes and knew they could be turned into something beautiful after the fish was finished with them. And that is the basics of this art form. The workshop was taught by a Metis woman named Jaime Koebel and she explained how every part of an animal who gave their life for humans must be used to honour the animal. I absolutely agree and admire this concept. It reminds me of the time I spent cleaning, painting and using oak tree seeds to make a giant mandala which my mother still has in a frame. Everything on this living earth can be used to make art.

And this brings me to something that has been rattling around in my head for quite some time now.  Is art considered better or worth buying if there is some sort of challenge to the way you think? Does it increase in value when it sends a clear or even befuddled message to the viewer? Does a piece of art “mean more” if there is some sort of angst or struggle behind the creation of it?

I’m often asked these questions, “What is behind the painting?” Why did you paint this? What does it mean? What are you trying to say with this painting? Why do you yarn bomb? What is the purpose? Are you raising awareness for something?


Amazing art made from fish scales from white fish scales and porcupine quills from Lac La Biche, Alberta.


My first reaction and answer for most of those questions is….I do this because its fun. This is my passion, this is what I love to do. I normally don’t set out to make a political statement or change the world when I pick up a paint brush or a crochet hook. I just do it.I do it because its in my soul to create and I have a vision of what the end product is supposed to be but it doesn’t always conclude like my vision. There are wonderful mistakes that happen along the way that make the process the magical part of art for me.

I find it difficult to deal with these types of questions because I don’t really have an agenda other than to have fun and create. Does that make me less of an artist? Can people not buy into art made simply for the pure purpose of creating art?


This is what I made during the workshop just because its fun. I really loved that you dampen the fish scale on your tongue in order to make it pliable so that you can manipulate the scale into a cone or a cylinder. It felt like a salt of the earth process and the end piece can be quite stunning.


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