This and that

Last weekend I made a hard leather case for my EKA Super Swede folding knife.

super swede case-1 (Small)

I had three small scrap pieces of leather that I use to make knife sheaths and had to sew them together to make enough leather.  It was dark when I made this so the stitching isn’t so good quality.

super swede case-2 (Small)

I have bought another car and I hoping this one will be problem free (for a while at least).  Its a Subaru Legacy, 4 wheel drive.

subaru legacy

and finally a couple of pictures of a Siberian Jay that I took today.

siberian jay-1 (Small)

siberian jay-2 (Small)

Probably will not be writing anything for a while!

Our baby is due this week and the doctor has decided that Teres will have a Caesarean section on Wednesday, so I will have both her and the baby to look after for at least a couple of weeks.

I realised that I have not written a tutorial on how to make Cattail Dolls, so this is something I will be working on for when I return.

cattail dolls

Nattavaara Birch bark containers

As part of my new job, I have to make items to sell to tourists here in Nattavaara.  Just now I am busy working on the first of those items; Nattavaara Birch Bark containers.

I have used sinew to sew the containers and have burned “Nattavaara” into the bark.

While making a container I cut my finger.  I did not have any plasters so I took a piece of scrap birch bark and cut a slit into it

Then I wrapped the bark around my finger and pushed the narrow end of the bark through the slit to hold it in place.

An early Christmas present

Christmas came early for me when Teres bought me a pair of Reindeer skin trousers, something I have wanted for many years.

They are made to my specification by a friend of ours who designs and makes both traditional and modern Sámi clothing.

They are very warm and comfortable but one problem I have found is that keys in my pocket have stretched and discoloured the Reindeer skin, so Teres came up with the idea to make a special leather pouch for my keys which I have now made.

When I do not need my keys, I pull a leather cord which draws the keys up inside the pouch

The pouch is easy to make.  You cut out two bell shaped pieces of leather which are joined together at the top.  Sew both sides together

and make a small hole in the leather at the top, through which you put a leather cord (I used a four-strand round plat to make my leather cord).  Attach the end of the cord inside the pouch to your keys and make a knot or attach a metal ring to the opposite end and the pouch is completed.

The Mystery Braid

The Mystery Braid is so called because the leather is braided, but the ends of the braid have not been cut or separated – it’s a mystery how the braid is made without loose ends.

Many times I have tried to do a Mystery Braid, but failed every time.  I was at a craft fair in Lulea last weekend where a man was demonstrating and teaching how to do the Mystery Braid.

You begin with a piece of leather that has been cut two times to give three even strips (connected at each end)

Then you begin to braid, ensuring the braids are tight.

You can see in the above picture that as you braid, the opposite end of the leather also braids up and this must be undone by twisting the tab through the  slits

Continue braiding and then un-braiding the opposite end

When you have braided as much as you can, thread the tab through again to “lock” the braid and loosen the braids to even them out along the length of the piece of leather.

Here are some bracelets I have made using this method

There are other methods of making the Mystery Braid via instruction on YouTube and the internet, so do some searching.

Here’s the best YouTube clip I have found;

Tin thread armbands

Chaffinch started arriving back here yesterday after migrating south in early November.

Many people here wear tin thread armbands traditionally made by the Saami people from Reindeer leather, Reindeer horn and a silver and tin alloy thread.  Here is the first one I made

I began making the bracelet by doing a three strand braid with six strands of tin thread and three strands of cotton thread.

Once completed I stitched the braid to a piece of leather.

I stitched the edges of the leather together to form a tube, incorporating a leather loop and reindeer horn button as fasteners for the bracelet.

I cut small slits at either end of another piece of leather and inserted the leather tube through the slits, so that the loop and button protruded from the ends.

I stitched the edges of the leather together to form another tube.

Here is the completed armband

I have also made one for Emma using black leather and six strands of tin thread.

Woolen birds

I’m planning to spend some time at my cabin this week so this will be my last post until I return.

Teres is now a full-time day mum here in Nattavaara, looking after children while their parents are working.  We are testing activities for the children to do and here is the first one…….woolen birds.

Here are the items you require

You need three different colours of wool to work with.  Take a piece of card and wrap the wool around 50 times

doing the same with all three colours (for my bird black is the back colour, red the breast colour and white the wing colour)

Now cut through the wool and remove from the card

Lay the wool for the wings over the wool for the back  and then fold it around,

then do the same with the back wool and tie a piece a wool around to hold it in place

Next, place the wool for the breast on top and secure with another piece of wool

and then fold the breast wool in half (but not around the other pieces of wool)

Twist the wing wool a few times and then fold down to create the wings

Finally tie a piece of wool two-thirds of the way down and clip off the long strands of wool to make them even…and you are finished!

Here are some we have made


Moving to Sweden

I’m not planning to work at all during my first year in Lapland but will instead spend my time  learning to speak better Swedish, making new friends and contacts, making crafts to sell and I have applied to work as a volunteer for the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project but as yet I have had no response.

Although I do not plan to work full-time, in 2011 myself and Johan from Nordic Bushcraft are planning to run some courses together and I will be looking for other opportunities for part-time work, so if you have business in Lapland and you feel my skills and knowledge are  relevant please get in touch for a chat.

I will again be visiting Jokkmokk’s Marknard this year which takes place the same week I arrive in Lapland (that is no coincidence I can assure you!) to buy skins, leather and other goods for making crafts items.  If you will be there on Friday or Saturday  and are interested to meet up then please email me.

Companies I cannot recommend….

For some time I have wanted to purchase a pair of US Military “Mickey Mouse” boots.  These were first issued to GI’s in the Korean War and are designed to shield against water and extreme cold.  The boots are constructed of rubber and between two layers of rubber, air is trapped to act as insulation.  A valve on the outside of the boot means you can add or remove air to vary the degree of insulation provided.  In addition the boots are wool lined for increased insulation.

So I was really pleased to find a company in the UK advertising them, brand new for only £9.95 +p&p!  I ordered my a pair of size nines from Surplus and Adventure and 5 days later they arrived.  As soon as I unpacked them it was clear that these boots were not what they were advertised to be.  The label on the back stated “US style” and lacking two layers of rubber, a valve, and wool liner these were in fact just short, lace-up wellington boots with an incredibly heavy steel shank and I would require about 10 thick wool socks to to fill the boot with my foot.  The cost of returning the boots would have been almost as much as the purchase price so I have forwarded them for re-sale else where as a “safety boot!”.  My verdict…..DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY!!

“Googling” this company brings a lot of results from unhappy customers and in fact my colleague at work ordered some items from them three weeks ago and has not yet received them.  When he contacted them, he was told the items are not in stock and will hopefully be in within a week…..we shall see!!

UPDATE 16/12/09 – The items my colleague ordered have arrived today.

At the beginning of the year I was contacted by a representative from Fusion Productions in the USA, who explained that they were working on a new television series called “Hot on the Trail”, to be aired on the Veria Network in June 2009.

They contacted me because they wanted to use images of some of my crafts made from Cattail/Reed Mace for the Cattail part of the series.  The series sounded really good and after some exchanges of emails I agreed to supply images for the series, in return for a DVD copy of the programme.

Since providing some images I have heard nothing from the company and having emailed the two representatives I had been dealing with to find out if my images were actually used, I have received no response.

I would very grateful if anyone who has seen the series could get in touch with me if any of the images below were featured in the programme.

Willow and Cattail leave baskets

Cattail basket

Cattail leaf duck

Cattail Dolls

Thanks in anticipation.


After writing this post the production company contacted me and informed me that they did not use my images in the series.  My recommendation to others……if people seriously want what you have they will pay for it!!

Reed leaf boat

This is one that my mother taught to me and is always popular with children and adults.

Remove a long leaf from a stem of Common Reed Phragmites australis

Fold the leaf a quarter of the way along from one end and then make two tears to divide the fold into three equal tabs

Put one of the outside tabs over the middle one and into the fold of the opposite one (as shown below)

and then repeat at the opposite end

Now the boat is completed

The boat is ready to be floated on water and will blow around in the wind