Melanie Russ Showing One Of Her Argillite Carvings

Melanie Russ is a rarity on two levels.

She is a female Northwest Coast carver using argillite to produce beautiful, magical, carvings, deeply steeped in the traditions, symbols and myths of her Haida heritage and nation.

Today most Northwest Coast carvers are male but gradually women are moving into the male dominated area of carving and jewellery making

Using argillite as a carving medium also is rare as it’s is waning among Northwest Coast artists.

Argillite, a dense, black, carbonaceous shale, only is found and for the exclusive use of its people, the Haida, living on Haida Gwaii, an archipelago of islands off the west coast of British Columbia, home of the Haida nation since time immemorial.


Melanie comes from a well-known and highly-respected line of Haida carvers, her mother Faye and her dad, Ed.

Both parents guided Melanie in her artistic journey.

Her late dad taught Melanie to carve when she was a young girl. Her mother, instrumental in her education as an artist.

Melanie’s carvings are known for their delicate, intricate, designs, often with a primitive element to them, a homage to this ancient art form.

Her work has been shown in Seattle, Vancouver and Haida Gwaii.

She also does jewellery and beadwork.