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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sámi Bracelets

Its always nice to take the day off to play hookie once and awhile. Last Friday I had the opportunity to do just that and take a class on Sámi Bracelets at Knitting Temptations in Dublin, Ohio. To be honest before I saw the newsletter I had no idea about this amazing craft and of course had to do a little research on this century old tradition. Sadly there seems to be very little published about this craft.

The class was really well done and if anyone is in the area I strongly recommend taking the class in the future. They offer two levels basic and intermediate. In the basic class you learn how the bracelets are constructed and do a simple braid like you see in the picture above.

Instructor: Anita Miller

Sámi crafts are inspired by Scandinavia's indigenous population, the Saami people or the people of the sun and the wind. There homes extend from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Kola Peninsula of Russia. The Sámi people are among the largest indigenous ethnic groups in Europe. They are the only group in Scandinavia that have legal rights to have reindeer heard. The reindeer's are sacred to the Saami people and when a reindeer is killed all parts of the animal must be used.

The respect for the reindeer can be seen in all the crafts and tools that are made with parts of the animal. The Sámi bracelets are just another example of this with using several parts: vegetable-tanned reindeer leather, reindeer horn (that is sheded) and the most amazing silver-tin alloy thread. The leather is tanned with a tannin commonly extracted from birch, willow, and fir trees. The process is rare since it is free of chrome and nickel making the reindeer hide actually hypoallergenic. What makes them truly unique though is the tin thread. A thread of coiled pewter is spun over a thread core. The Sámi invented a way to wrap the thread with a melted tin alloy made with 4 to 3% of silver. So over time it will create and amazing patina.

While Googling I found a great post in English about what is Tin Thread... Wild roses and Blackberries Definitely a very informative resource on the material and also references to where you can find more information about the supplies and resources.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of additional how to's online about the Sámi bracelets: Here are a few that I found.

Projectland - Click Here
Not Only Quilts has an online tutorial for making the bracelet in English - Click Here - Katrian Bracelet

Here are a couple of Swedish How to Sites (Goto love Google Translate)
Slojd-Detalje Click Here
Min Fritid - Click Here
Med glimten i ögat - Click Here

And finally here is a YouTube video I found of Ellen Hill Sewing a Saami Bracelet!

Ellen Hill Sewing Saami Bracelets - Beautiful Video I found on YouTube

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