Traditionally, making fish is the process of catching, splitting, salting and drying cod for preserving it for the fall, winter and then early spring until fresh fish is again available.
It’s hard work and a skill, to make good fish that will be properly preserved until needed. It could be a great hardship of your fish spoiled.
In Newfoundland, cod is still king. Although the decimation of cod stocks put the future in jeopardy and the moratorium changed the look of the fisheries of all species, there is still a belief, and now some evidence, that the stocks are rebuilding. Management and sustainable fishing will hopefully bring back levels to allow a reasonable commercial fishery again too.
The cod, and especially a salt cod, is an iconic image for Newfoundlanders. Even visitors who develop an appreciation of our fishing heritage learn to recognize a split fish, so when Linda Osmond designed her Heads and Tails quilt pattern, it was a hit.
As regular visitors to Herring Cove Art Studio and Gallery we even know what time to show up for coffee and they even know how we take it.
Over coffees I’ve had lots of time to watch Linda work and have developed even more of an appreciation for the precision and time it takes to make a quilt. Yes, you can buy the materials by the yard but it’s hours of skill and patience that makes it a quilt. I’ve also made a couple of quilts and know that those who sell them put in far more hours than they manage to charge for. I also know I’ll never attempt it again.
The Heads and Tails quilt is made of new and vintage materials. Linda cuts out each fish individually from crimpoline fabric. She laughs about finding patterns of pants someone’s father used to wear. She could probably make the Guinness Record book for the most crimpoline collected by one quilter, too.
I love this pattern so much, I’ve bought my own quilt from Linda as my retirement gift with a contribution from Gander Academy where I taught for 30 years. Thanks guys!
On a recent visit to Herring Cove Gallery and Studio (at coffee time), I tried my hand at cutting out some fish traced by Linda’s sister, Shirley, who comes in to work at the ‘fish plant’ when things get really busy. I have a whole new appreciation for my quilt now! That is a lot of work and the attention to detail is what makes these such a work of art.
No wonder Shirley has such a hard time meeting her quota. She didn’t even take a coffee break.
In the tradition of recycling and using everything you can in some way, the places too small for a fish become a petal of a tea berry pattern quilt.
Fish are sorted and counted and matched and arranged for future quilts. Each back of fish represents another job for Linda.
Folks not needing a quilt but unable to resist this great icon can pick up a Head and Tails shopping bag. These have been my gift of choice to give for the past year.
Just when I was pretty much all stocked up on as many split cod items as any one person could need something happened….
The number of businesses on Herring Cove Road has suddenly doubled!
Marc Fiset has been working from Fogo Island Metalworks for about a year now. He does custom work like hinges, and hardware, fire pits and wood holders. Each design is individual and specific to the customer and to the place. Marc’s art is functional hardware. Linda’s are functional soft wares.
He is also is doing great design work for household items and yes, he makes fish too.
Being neighbourly, Winston Osmond told me about Mark’s work and in particular about his salt fish hooks. Winston and Linda use them in the shop to display Linda’s wall hangings. Mark is also doing a line of salt fish key chains. These are pretty cool as a zipper pull on a back pack too.
We’ve made a couple of stops at the Metalworks and my salt fish collection is soon going to expand as I figure out where I want them and how many I need.
The thing about Marc is, you can tell give him an “I wish I had” idea and he can do it. His eye for design is great and he can work to whatever scale a client wants.
In addition to salt fish design, he’s doing great silhouette work featuring cod, puffins, punts and even designed lovely iceberg candle holders.
Marc has built a store front shop next to his work place and will have having his opening July 29th, 2016 if you are in Shoal Bay. Stop in, check him out, tell him Diane sent you.