Repoussé is a technique that involves hammering the material from the backside of the piece to create an image in high relief on the front of the piece. The technique is often accompanied by chasing, which is when the work is indented on the frontside to create concave sections of the design. Together, these techniques result in a sculptural work with exceptional depth and dimension. There are only a handful of artists that use these techniques on the Northwest Coast.
Indigenous artwork on the Pacific Northwest Coast often incorporates figures and animals that are related to crest symbols. Crests have been passed down through families and have varying meanings depending on the context and association with a nation, clan, or family. The figures depicted in contemporary Northwest Coast Indigenous artwork also have varying meanings but there are some common characteristics from a range of sources, including oral histories and artist descriptions.
A minor crest figure (among certain Kwakwaka’wakw clans, for example), Butterfly is an increasingly prevalent figure in contemporary Northwest Coast art. In one Haida oral tradition from Masset, Butterfly is Raven’s travelling companion and spokesman, also acting as a scout who leads Raven to food sources and uncovers hiding spots. To some, the remarkable life cycle of the Butterfly can represent change, renewal, and rebirth. Butterfly is usually identified by a curling proboscis, rounded wings, and often accompanied by a floral motif.