Happy summer everyone!
I hope you celebrated the summer solstice in true Norwegian fashion with lots of delicious food, drink and dancing.
I’ve been busy finishing up my final report about my Norway trip for my American Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship titled Silver Threads: Discovering Sámi Silver so I’ve pulled out some of my favorite photos of Sámi silver and some video of goldsmith Anita Schmid demonstrating a patterning technique popular to the large brooch designs.
The bulk of my research took place in Kautokeino and Karasjok where a major source of Sámi cultural repositories are located. The week leading up to the Easter holiday is very busy with lots of local people wearing traditional gákti (dress) and young people coming home for spring break.
Swiss goldsmiths Anita Schmid and Peter Rust established their studio in 1982. Established contemporary jewelry artists in their own right, they also create traditional jewelry for the local Sámi community. My timing to visit their shop was tight as Easter Saturday of 2022 was their official last day in business as they were retiring. They invited me to come that Saturday to see all of the risku brooches that were being picked up!
While the risku brooches are similar to Norwegian bunad silver they possess different design elements. For instance the sheer diameter of the brooches can be as large as a saucer. The shape of the brooch itself represents the sun symbol in the Sámi religion. The engraving on the base plate of many brooches is a series of zig zag patterns achieved by the use of a chisel. This method is called trombolering. These patterns are a signature element in Sámi jewelry.
A beautiful bridal crown at the RiddoDuottar Museum in Kautokeino was on display on loan from the local silversmith Franz Singer featuring intricate stone- set disc drops. Up to this point I hadn’t realized a bridal crown tradition existed in Sámi culture so this was a unique chance to see such and intricate and beautiful piece up close. The Sámi Museum in Karasjok featured a silversmith on site and a wonderful display of jewelry including a stunning Sámi bridal headpiece similar to a bridal crown at the RiddoDuottar Museum.
Both pieces incorporate the suspended discs used in Norwegian regional bunad silver. However the style has been designed to fit over a traditional Sámi hat. The use of bright faceted crystals are a favorite element in Sámi silver jewelry as well as glass rondels. Some more conservative smiths informed me that the older silver pieces used traditional red and green stones (colored garnets) and that the bright “unicorn” colors have only recently been accepted as viable design additions and are highly desirable among the younger folks.
I have so much more to share so stay tuned.
Quick note – I’ll be at Peterson Gammel Dag Days in Peterson, Minnesota this Saturday June 25 demonstrating Sámi inspired bracelet techniques and showcasing some of my bridal silver so if you’re in the area I’ll be in the museum…..and the bunad fashion show! Don’t forget to stock up on bracelet kits for those rainy cabin weekends and check out my class schedule for the summer and fall (yikes!)