One of the traditional Saami duodji crafts is leathermaking. I thought I would give it a try. I started with something simple by purchasing a Sami bracelet kit from a Sami supplier in Sweden TNKReativt.
The bracelet kit includes a piece of reindeer leather, tin thread, artificial sinew, clear nylon thread, sewing thread, a sewing needle, a leather needle and a reindeer antler button.
Weave the Braid
The kit includes enough tin thread to make a six strand braid.
Cut the tin thread into 3 equal lengths and fold these in half to create 6 strands.
I use a foam felting mat to work on.
Pin the folded end of the tin thread onto the foam mat.
Separate the 6 strands into 3 strands of 2 threads each.
Work a 3 strand braid along the length of the thread.
I pin the braid onto the foam about every inch or so, to hold it in place as I am braiding.
When you have finished braiding, secure the ends by tying a short piece of sinew around the ends. The sinew that is supplied is a short length, but this can be separated into several strands. Use a small strand to tie the tin braid.
Hand Stitch Braid to Leather Strip
To adjust the bracelet to the correct size, measure around your wrist. Add 1 cm to this measurement. Cut the length of reindeer leather to this size.
On the back side of the leather strip, measure and mark a cutting line 1.5 cm from the end of both ends.
Fold the leather strip in half and carefully cut a small slit into the leather, the width of the woven tin braiding.
Place the woven braid on the right side of the leather strip and slip the ends of the braid into the slits that you have cut.
Using the regular sewing needle that came with the kit and the nylon thread, stitch the braid onto the leather strip.
(The instructions that came with the kit, suggest using glue to attach the braid to the leather, but I do not recomment this) Hand stitching will make a better bracelet.
Attach Braided Loop to Leather Bracelet
The bracelet kit includes a short piece of leather strip and some imitation sinew. Split the sinew into a narrower thread and twist the sinew around the leather strip. The sinew will give the leather a bit of extra strength in the loop.
Thread the leather strip and sinew through the loop at the end of the tin braid. Then twist the leather strip and sinew together tightly and ply them together to make a spun thread. Tie the ends with the remaining sinew.
Thread the leather sewing needle with the end of the sinew and stitch the 2 ends of the leather braid together forming a loop. Sew this securely.
Trim the cut ends of the tin braid to 1 cm. Sew these end together with a bit of sinew.
Using the leather needle, thread it with the polyester thread that came with the kit.
At the back of the bracelet, fold the ends of the leather together and neatly stitch them together.
Sew the reindeeer antler button to the other end of the bracelet.
Once you have made your first Saami bracelet you might decide that you like working with leather, as I did. To make life easier, you will need to purchase a few extra tools.
1) A good lamp with a magnifying glass. Once I bought one, I don’t know how I managed without it. The hand can do what the eyes can see.
Mighty Bright LED Floor Light and Magnifier
2) Extra Leather Sewing Needles
It’s helpful to have a few different sizes on hand.
Leather Hand Needles-Assorted 3/Pkg
3) A good sewing thimble.
I like the Clover ones as I find them quite comfortable to wear.
Clover 6026 Medium Protect and Grip Thimble
4) Synthetic Sinew
Use synthetic sinew for stitching leather pieces together. Sinew comes in different colours, but I find the natural one is suitable for most uses.
Natural Simulated Sinew
5) Jewellery Making Pliers
Use for tin embroidery to pinch tin thread into shape before stitching.
ToolUSA Jeweler’s Complete 6-Piece Precision Plier Set
6) Good quality sewing thread.
The polyester threads are good but I prefer to use silk thread. I find it has less tendency to shred while stitching.
Original Guetermann Silk Sewing Thread; 110 yards/100 meters, Color 000 (black)
More Saami Crafts
Saami Beaivi Loom Weaving Workshops
Beginner Saami Pickup Band Weaving Learn the basics of how to weave pickup using a Beaivi double hole rigid heddle loom.
Warp a Beaivi Loom Workshop Learn how to warp a Beaivi loom and how to weave pickup patterns.
Saami Reindeer Leather Purse
Saami Music – Itunes
Binna Banna – Kikki Aikio
Áphi (Wide As Oceans) – Sofia Jannok
Ulda – Ulla Pirttijärvi & Ulda
The Kautokeino Rebellion (Music from the Movie) – Herman Rundberg, Mari Boine & Svein Schultz
Beaivi, Áhcázan (The Sun, My Father) – Nils-Aslak Valkeapää