What Does a Native Clothing & Crafts Artisan Do?

A Native Clothing & Crafts Artisan (296B) designs and makes tailored clothes and associated crafts reflecting traditional native themes. They are familiar with Mukluk/ Moccasin making, Quill Work Art, Moose/ Caribou Hair Tuffing and Sculpting, Fishscale Art, Birch Bark Baskets and North American Bead Work.

Job Related Skills, Interests and Values

  • using manual and artistic skills to design and produce ornamental or practical crafts including: pottery, jewellery, rugs, blankets and other handicrafts
  • creating traditional musical instruments including stringed and percussions (drum) instruments
  • discussing with their clients their needs, sizes and preferences        
  • sketching and laying out designs, preparing patterns and making the garments or crafts
  • working with a variety of fabrics and craft materials including traditional materials such as Moose/Caribou hair, quill, birch bark, soapstone and so on
  • working with hand tools and power equipment to create the product; when carving a craft, using hand tools and woodworking machines to produce carvings from wood, stone and other materials and to carve ornamental designs into wooden furniture and other objects
  • creating leather crafts including mukluks, mitts and moccasins by selecting materials, designing or following a pattern, and ensuring that the product is finished to customer requirements
  • learning and demonstrating your knowledge of Native traditions, clothing and crafts; through your designs, through discussion with clients, or working at a museum teaching the patrons about Native traditions

What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

You will need your Grade 12 or equivalent to become registered in this trade, with courses in design, math and communication recommended.

Your apprenticeship will take approximately 2 years or a total of 4000 hours including 360 hours of in-school training. Even though training in this trade is done most often through an apprenticeship with a master craftsperson, this is a Voluntary trade, which means that you do not require an apprenticeship to work in this trade. This is the minimum to be apprenticed in this trade under the (OCTAA) Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). Please note that minimum entry requirements to this and other trades are currently under review by the Ontario College of Trades.

Your in-school component might take place at a community college such as Northern College, in 'Production and Retail or Native Clothing and Crafts'. This course will include basic bookeeping, marketing and retailing your product as well as the principles of garment design, construction and styling, and tailoring fundamentals such as measuring, patterns, layout, cutting, basting and fitting. To succeed in this career, you should have creative ability and talent, as demonstrated by a portfolio of work. Knowledge of safe handling of material, tools and equipment are required.

Apprenticeship Subject Pathways provides additional information for students/parents/educators:


What’s Your Future as a Native Clothing & Crafts Artisan?

Native Clothing & Crafts Artisans work in the service sector employed by shops or studios or are self-employed in their homes. They generally work regular store or business hours but may have flexible hours if they are self-employed. As a Native Clothing & Crafts Artisan, you may have to keep to deadlines for completing projects. After completing your apprenticeship, you may advance to a supervisory position, or open your own business. Once you have completed your apprenticeship you might find work in:

  • specialty shops
  • cultural centres
  • museums
  • self-employment

For more information, contact the Canadian Apparel Federation at www.apparel.ca.

Wage Rate

  • A fully qualified Native Clothing & Crafts Artisan can earn an average of $10.00-$14.00 per hour

Ask Yourself: Is working as a Native Clothing & Craft Artisan for You?

Self-Rating Quiz

Are you a creative person?

Yes      No

Do you have an interest in Native crafts and traditions?

Yes      No

Do you enjoy working with hand or power tools?

Yes      No

Do you have the coordination, stamina and concentration to work with your hands for long periods of time?

Yes      No

Would you enjoy working with wood, leather, animal hair or fabrics to create products?

Yes      No

Can you work independently to accomplish a task on deadline?

Yes      No

If you answered yes to most of these questions, a career as a Native Clothing & Craft Artisan may be for you!

You may also want to explore other careers that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Custom Tailor
  • Dressmaker
  • Furrier
  • Saddler

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