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Tradition and traditional handicraft

In the Saami society traditions and traditional knowledge is important. As a handicrafter a think a lot about this and  many do expect me to follow traditions and make traditional handicraft.  We have  a handicraft tradition wich is many hundred years old so of course that might be expected. I look a lot at older Saami handicraft and I draw inspiration from that when creating new objects but just because something is old it doesnt meen that it is well made.Niibi_blog

Our ancestors did pick up some patterns and techniques from neighbouring people, just as everybody have done througout history. There is a lot to learn from other handicraft traditions as long as you are open to it. Leather work is something that has been widely neglected by Saami handicrafters except for  a few and it is something I have tried to develop during the last years. There are many leather artists far more skilled than us and the same goes for blades. For a long time it was the simplest (and cheapest) blades that where prefered by many Saami handicrafters. That changed in the 1980s and 90s with legends like Martin Kuorak and Esse Poggats. They started making stainless blades of their own wich gave a lot more opportunities for harmonic design of both handle and blade. Others still started making simple forged blades.Niibi-blog

Some years ago I began making damascus blades wich gave even more possibilities for design of the blade and in the end the whole knife. Many years ago I spoke to an older well respected Saami handicraftsman about making damascus blades for our knives and he totally rejected the idea with the argument that we should focus on practical utility knives. When he as a young handicrafter started making his own stainless blades there where surely a lot of older knife makers that unapprovingly shook their heads…

Tradition is an evolving thing and something that changes over time. Todays innovations is tomorrows traditional handicraft.