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Twin brothers exploring creativity at Ehtseo Ayha School in Deline

A radio tower sits on top of a site the Nahanni Butte Dene Band says is spiritually significant. - photo courtesy of the Nahanni Butte Dene Band

Twin brothers at Ehtseo Ayha School in Deline created soapstone carvings as their contribution to the school’s Heritage Fair on April 12.

Marcus and Kayden Neyelle, 12, each used a soapstone carving kit to carefully create their carvings, with each boy selecting a different animal to try and represent in stone.

Kayden chose a dolphin while Marcus chose a turtle “because it looked fun,” he said.

The goal was not only to teach the boys how to carve, but to get them to explain each step of their technique as part of their project, said teacher Danielle Howatt.

We decided to have them do a soapstone carving and talk about the process,” she said. “They're super hands-on kids and we had some kits that they used. They figured out how to do all the carving themselves and then finally oiling them.”

After the carving is complete, the artist must use sandpaper and oil to polish the stone, Marcus said.

You use the sandpaper and you make it smooth and you use oil to make it shiny and colourful,” he explained.

Marcus used a rasp tool to shape any sharp edges that remained after sandpapering, he also said.

You use the rasp and make it round,” he said.

It took Kayden four days to complete his dolphin, the final hours spent making the carving as glossy as he could.

You scratch it with the hard sandpaper and any lines, you scrape it really hard and it comes off,” he said.

He is still trying to decide whether to keep his finished carving or to give away as a gift.

Marcus took a little longer with his carving, finishing it after seven days.

He said creating the shape of the turtle was his favourite part of the process.

For Kayden, putting the finishing touches on the carving was the part he enjoyed most.

I liked sanding with the sandpaper and doing the oil, I liked those two,” he said.

He also liked how carving allowed him to express his creativity.

Howatt said she was impressed with the boys’ carvings, but also how well they mastered each step along the way.

They did really well,” she said.