Creating any piece of art requires skill wich requires practice, many years of practice. I am working with the Saami art and craft wich is many hundreds, if not thousands of years old. My ancestors made durable, practical and usefull items for the hard life on the tundra but they also made them beautiful. Of course durability does not exclude beauty and the joy of creating.
I learned the craft from the older generation and have great respect for our tradition and the artists that has gone before me, so I feel that I am a caretaker of many generations of Saami handicraft.
So the tradition is very important but we as Saami today have to be able to renew the art and find new ways of expressing ourselves within that tradition.
One of the areas in wich I try to renew the art of my ancestors is the classical Saami knife. The knife could be seen as a test of ones abillities because you have to master many different skills, especially if you forge the blades yourself as I do.
There is bladework as mentioned, leatherwork, antlercarving and engraving wich is one of the hardest skills to learn. So in order to make a high quality knife one has to learn all those skills, wich each one take many years to master. I have been working with Saami art for 24 years and am still learning, and probably will as long as I live.
The knives wich you can see here requires a lot of work in all those areas mentioned. The blades are handforged damascus steel wich is a combination of many layers of steel combined to produce visible patterns on the blade. All the engravings is made by hand with a small knife and dyed with a solution of bark, all according to tradition. The leader is handmade, patterned and dyed by hand. All these skills took me many years to learn and combine into one single knife. So if you are buying a high quality knife or piece of art you are not just buying a piece of art. You are buying many years of practice and in the case of a Saami knife you are actually getting countless generations of hard work and creativity gathered into one object.