Trådsaga, means “thread story.” Each piece of pewter thread jewelry tells a story about the Sami people and their handicraft, tentrådsbroderier.
Divided among the four countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, the Samis live primarily above the Arctic Circle. They are the indigenous people of this region, commonly known as Lapland, with their own language and culture. Since ancient times, reindeer have been a vital part of the Sami culture providing food, clothing and tools.
Since the 17th Century, the Samis have used gold, silver and bronze thread for embroideries, primarily on ceremonial garments. Historically, the Samis manufactured pewter thread by splitting an arctic birch or alder branch, removing the marrow and then pouring a mixture of lead and pewter into the pipe, creating a pewter rod. Tiny threads were made by forcing the pewter through holes, from larger to smaller, drilled into reindeer antler. The pewter thread was spun around sinew from the reindeer. Today, the tenntråd is 4% silver and nickel free and is spun around synthetic thread.
The jewelry is made from bark tanned reindeer skin purchased from northern Sweden and Finland. The tenntråd is braided and hand sewn onto the reindeer skin. The buttons are made from naturally shed reindeer antlers. Although inspired by the old tradition of pewter thread embroidery, these unique bracelets are contemporary examples of the ancient Sami handicraft.
Sally began working with tentrådsbroderier in the late 1990’s. She learned her technique in Sweden after a passionate quest to find an artist willing to teach the craft. Becky learned tenntrådsbroderier through an apprenticeship with Sally.
Sally and Rebecca became Trådsaga in 2008 when their families came together through the common thread of having children with Down syndrome. They also share the joy and challenge of balancing parenting, work and their creative lives. Sally and Rebecca’s desire in working with tenntrådsembroderier is to teach others about the fine art, traditions and stories of the Sami people.
Care of pewter thread embroidery:
Pewter thread is designed for daily wear. The metal is soft and will bend or flatten with wear. The leather will soften with water and darken as it absorbs oils from the skin. As the jewelry ages, it takes on a patina much like the embroideries of centuries past.