A History of Tin Thread Embroidery of the Sámi People
We love pewter thread for the distinct and unique properties that make it so wonderful to braid and weave when creating bracelets and necklaces. The coiled thread is soft and holds its shape after years of wear.
However, did you know that the use of coiled thread to decorate clothing and everyday items has been around for centuries? Small fragments of gold coiled thread have been found in Viking graves outside of Uppsala dating back to almost 3,000 years ago.
Historically the art of sewing silver, gold and even bronze thread to cloth and leather can be found around the world. There are examples to be found throughout a myriad of cultures including textiles and objects from China, Japan and India.
The Saami people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia have been using tin thread embroidery since the 1600’s and the designs and patterns are specific and unique to the many Saami groups within the culture. In particular, tin thread embroidery is used to adorn the many styles of traditional Saami clothing called gákti. Here are some examples from my Pinterest page.
Sadly, tin thread embroidery almost disappeared in the 1800’s when Saami groups were being forced to assimilate to modern Norwegian and Swedish culture. I just finished watching the film “Sámi Blood” this past week and I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to know more about this period.
Fortunately, around 1905 a gentleman named Andreas Wilks from Sweden brought tin thread embroidery back to the forefront of Saami culture after discovering his mother’s tools for creating the distinctive coiled thread. He began teaching classes throughout Northern Sweden and managed to prevent this beautiful craft from disappearing altogether. *(From Tin Thread Embroidery by Mona Callenberg 1997)
Here’s a link to some wonderful books about Saami culture.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll show some different and creative ways to use tin thread.
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There are so many features of this craft that are unique. Some people are specifically attracted to the intricate braiding and hand stitching that go into a bracelet or necklace. Other folks want to identify appreciation for their Scandinavian and or Saami roots by wearing tin thread jewelry to show cultural pride.
But did you know the materials used in this tradition also appeal to people who can’t wear regular jewelry?
We all have friends and clients who have jewelry allergies and these poor souls are pretty limited as to what they can wear even if they love silver and gold. The most common allergy is related to the nickel content in sterling silver jewelry. I’ve even had clients who react badly to wearing gold jewelry based on prescriptions they may be taking for a chronic illness or condition.
However, I’ve had people who are attracted to these bracelet styles purely on the premise that they are (for the most part) hypoallergenic!
Traditionally the Saami people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia tanned their own reindeer skins using bark from a variety of trees.
Our black reindeer hide is organically dyed using the bark from the alder tree. Our coiled tin thread is comprised of 96% tin, 4% silver and is nickel free. Reindeer antler buttons and cord take the place of metal clasps on regular bracelets so no metal is touching the wearer’s skin.
So, if you have a friend, family member or client who always says ‘I love jewelry but I’m allergic to metal!’ introduce them to the special beauty and wearability of these handcrafted bracelets.
Our Saami Inspired Bracelet Kits also come in a variety of colors for “color picky” palettes!
Saami Inspired Bracelets are Great for Folks with Jewelry Allergies
Happy New Year!
This is our first official class offering for 2018. Please check our class listings page for other course offerings, dates and venues. Cheers to lifelong learning!
Saami Bracelet Kit in New Colors
Our beginning double braided Saami Bracelet Kits have been so popular we’ve decided to add 6 new colors of reindeer skin! In addition to our traditional black leather you can choose from red, blue, olive, tan, antique brown and merlot leather for a splash of color. In addition to more bracelet color choices we’ve replaced the CDROM instructions with a downloadable PDF feature.
Stay tuned for new kits featuring different braid variations and projects accompanied by video instructions with feature Saami Inspired Bracelet instructor Liz Bucheit. Get a jump on your Xmas projects by ordering your kits today!
Saami Bracelet Material Kits – Single Braided Sami kit
Kits come with downloadable step-by-step instructions. This is a wonderful project for beginning or advanced jewelers and crafters. See description below↓
Saami Bracelet material Kits – Single Braided Sami Bracelet kit
We just received a shipment of Saami bracelet supplies from Sweden! If you have taken our Sami bracelet classes in the past we now offer kits for our double braided pewter thread bracelet. Never had a class from us? No worries! Kits come with downloadable step-by-step instructions. This is a wonderful project for beginning or advanced jewelers and crafters.
Saami Bracelet material Kits – Single Braided Sami Bracelet kit
This kit contains materials and directions for 1@ double braided bracelet.
Materials in kit:
Tin thread (48″ cut into 3@ 16″ sections)
20mm wide reindeer hide strip (approximately 7″ long)
5mm wide reindeer hide strip (approximately 2″ long) for button
1@ reindeer hide twisted cord (for button loop)
1@ reindeer antler two hole button
1@ 5/10 straight needle (to use with acrylic thread to fasten braid to leather)
1@ leather “glover” needle (to use with black synthetic sinew thread to fasten button loop and close up back of bracelet)
Acrylic and black synthetic sinew thread
You will also need: (Not included in kit)
Plastic hobby table clamp with hole(s) in handle
In addition to creating custom jewelry in our Lanesboro, MN studio our Saami Inspired Bracelet Classes keep us on the road for a good portion of the year. We’ve been teaching these classes for 16 years and have introduced this unique craft to over 1300 students. After teaching and presenting in dozens of venues and traveling to three states just this past year, we are happy to be hosting our final class of 2017 on Saturday November 18 from 10-5pm in Lanesboro, MN. Need a jump on some handmade Xmas gifts? You’ll be the most coveted Secret Santa around!
Go to http://crowntrout.com/classes/saami-friendship-bracelet-class/ for a complete class description and prices. Can’t make it to a class? Order a bracelet kit and supplies from www.saamisupplies.com.
Saamisupplies.com announces International Shipping Service
We have expanded our ordering platform to include International Flat Rate Shipping! With over 700 subscribers we have been getting order inquiries from Japan, Switzerland, Spain and even Russia. Stay tuned for new products, kits, books and tips and tricks for this unique craft. Don’t forget to check out our class schedule at www.crowntrout.com for upcoming venues and new class offerings for 2018. Get a jump on those Christmas gifts by ordering materials and kits early and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog.
Summer is flying by and we’ve been “festival flying” in addition to hosting classes and creating custom designs for our clients. Last week we were demonstrating filigree jewelry techniques at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum during Nordic Fest and I gave a presentation entitled “Traditions in Transition: Filigree Jewelry by Liz Bucheit”. Luckily I can put away my helgestak until next year!
Join us this Sunday August 6th, 10 – 4pm for the Great Makers Exchange at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN. We’ll have a booth displaying our jewelry and I’ll host a mini Saami Inspired workshop.
Come enjoy a great day of craft, food and fellowship!
Saami Inspired Bracelet Repair Tips and Tricks
There are many things I love about these bracelets. The reindeer leather is soft and comfortable and their overall design and construction is casual and unique. For people with metal allergies they are the perfect solution since the pewter thread doesn’t come in contact with the skin. I have a tendency to wear my bracelets all the time and naturally over the years the loop can wear out or I catch the whole business on a door handle and the piece needs to be repaired. So, you or someone you made a bracelet for has broken the loop and or lost the antler button that holds the piece together. What do you do?
I recently had an inquiry from one of our blog subscribers regarding the repair of a much loved bracelet and after a few emails I thought it would be a good idea to offer up some tips and tricks for fixing the clasp ends. There are lots of ways to fix a broken loop or attach a new button provided you are brave and have the proper tools and materials.
The loop and button are the hardest working components of your bracelet. I’ve done a lot of repair on my own work and the work of other students and artists. If the loop has come out or broken it’s best to start out with a new bit of leather cord and follow the directions below.
You’ll need to use a sharp scissors to clip the stitches open on the back of your bracelet (about an inch of the way down) and open the seam. Pull out any leftover pieces or loose threads. Thread a glover (leather) needle or a sharp round needle and knot one end with synthetic sinew. You can also use cotton polyester thread in a pinch, however synthetic sinew (which is really waxed linen) offers a bit of waterproofing and lasts longer than the cotton thread.
I like to wrap my thread around the loop and tie a knot. Next I’ll anchor the loop by doing 2 stitches through the strip. Bring the needle back through the open loop as shown and spreading the section of your loop legs apart, pass the needle under the wrap. You’ll be working back to front. As I mentioned, do this twice. Bring the needle back through the loop and stitch the back of your bracelet closed.
This is just one way to fix your broken loop. You may discover after repairing a few bracelets what works best for you. The main thing is that the loop stays on the bracelet. Don’t be afraid to cut your seam open. Once you have the bracelet fixed try buttoning and unbuttoning it a few times. If the loop stays put you’ve done a good job. If it pulls out try stitching it down again. It’s better to make sure the clasp is working before handing it back to your friend or client
Do you have a have bracelet that needs to be fixed? Shoot me your questions and let’s get that bracelet back in shape! Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog -I’d love to hear from you.
How about getting something really cool for your Viking man? Leather bracelets make great gifts for men. Our Saami Inspired Bracelet styles are created using braided and woven pewter thread, genuine reindeer hide and antler buttons.
These bracelets look like a cuff but are more comfortable and go with everything from jeans to a suit. Don’t know your man’s wrist size? No worries. Most styles come in a standard 9” length and can be custom ordered should you require a specific size.
Check out our selection of men’s pewter thread bracelets at https://crowntroutonline.com/product-category/bracelets/mens-bracelets/ and place your order in time for Father’s Day.
Want to make your own bracelet? You can find all your materials at https://saamisupplies.com/shop/ Follow the free “How to Measure” download for sizing suggestions and subscribe to our blog.
Please leave a comment below. We’re happy to answer your questions.