Red Cedar Bentwood Box with Eagle design by Tsimshian artist Dominique Wells
Bentwood boxes are unique to the Northwest Coast First Nations peoples. The boxes are used for symbolic and practical purposes. They can be used to store ceremonial items, for storage of clothing and household items, for transporting goods, and even for cooking. The kerfing, or bending, form is made with tight grained planks of red or yellow cedar.
“The bulge-wood style of making bentwood boxes requires working with a thick plank of wood that is thinned and kerfed at the intervals where the corners are to be. The plank is then steamed: traditionally this was done over shallow trenches in the dirt filled with hot rocks, water and a seaweed cushion to protect the wood. When the plank is softened by steam, it is bent at each kerf to form the sides of the box. The bottom is attached using pegs.”
—excerpt from Mythic Beings
Dominique Maa’Dem Wells (b. Prince Rupert, BC) is Tsimshian of Lax Kw’alaams, Ganhaada crest in the Gispaxlo’ots house. She has been studying painting techniques under Cole and Bruce Alfred since 2020. Born in Prince Rupert but raised in Terrace, BC, Wells grew up surrounded by art and gained a deep appreciation for it from a young age.