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Lapland - home of finnish handicrafts, art and design

Published on February 2020

Author
Lotta Lonka / Sales Executive

Lapland handicrafts – how to make one or purchase the real Lapland made souvenir?

Origins of Lapland souvenirs come from the actual everyday used items or small artifacts that were produced for joy of the receiver, or the maker! Back in the days, items were produced from materials that were at hand: wood, stone, bone, fur and hair of animals. Most popular and typical souvenirs still today are made for use; such as wooden cup kuksa, knife, woolen socks, mittens and beanies. Not forgetting beautiful jewelry! We still use these items in our everyday life. Let’s take a closer look at where and how you can find and purchase original souvenirs made here in Finnish Lapland.

Nothing tastes as good as hot coffee by the open fire.

Kuksa, the traditional wooden cup.

Typically, Kuksa is a hand carved, wooden cup with a holder. Most of them have a string from where you can hang the cup from your belt or rucksack. Kuksa is always a personal cup, supposed to be carried along and since it is made of wood, it should not be washed. The idea is to keep the wood healthy and not to let it dry (soap has a drying effect), otherwise it might split. After use it can be rinsed with water or if it needs disinfection, you may drink some vodka out of it. It also leaves a nice taste to your next coffee.

Kuksa used to be carved from gnarl, a sort of a tumor looking mutation growing underneath the bark on a side of a tree trunk. Why gnarl? Because the tree material is extremely hard on the mutation part of the tree and it can be sawn away without having to cut down the entire tree. Back in the days the hunters and fishermen used to carve their own kuksas from gnarls, so each kuksa looked different, very much like its owner.

Today it’s considered almost like a ritual of becoming a real wilderness man if you manage to carve your own kuksa. But being completely honest with you, I think the handmade ones are not that pretty and nowadays cost a fortune too. If you prefer a nice kitchenware and something to hang on your backpack, pick a wooden, machine made kuksa cup from the souvenir shop but remember to check that it is made in Finland or it has a sticker of a blue key with Finnish flag. This indicates a certification of 100 % made in Finland.

If you are looking at dish washable outdoor cups, plates and cutlery, we at Safartica can warmly recommend Kupilka dishware. Kupilkas are made of biomaterial of natural fibers, pressed into shape, dishwasher friendly, easy to use and ecological. You can find Kupilka in most souvenir shops or online. It is also a Finnish invention and has the blue key flag -sticker! https://kupilka.fi/en/

Handmade jewelry made by Maria Codina

Handmade jewelry

Lappish handmade jewelries are made of gold and silver in the shapes and forms of nature and animals. Many mythical creatures, the Samí beliefs and believing in the nature are still visible in the local design. Samí people’s festive dresses also include symbols in shapes of jewelry and jewelry is often inherited from the family, so they are well kept and given as gifts still in todays’ Lappish lifestyle.

You can purchase Lapland made jewelry in most souvenir shops in Rovaniemi – or visit directly the famous Rovaniemi based local jewelry shop Taigakoru and get descriptions of the origins for your piece written in paper. In Ylläs, you can purchase jewelry from Koru Laakso smithery, handmade gold and silver pieces by Mr. Tuomo Laakso, from theup north Samí village in Hetta.

There is also artists from around the world who settled up in Lapland inspired by the beautiful nature and creating pieces reminding it, like Maria Codina from Barcelona. Her unique handwork is made with silver, gold from Lemmenjoki, curly birch, reindeer antler…

Lapland made jewelries can buy from online stores if you miss your chance to visit the shop! www.taigakoru.fi, www.korulaakso.com, www.mariacodina.com

Handmade knives, © Lapin Materiaalipankki | Saamelaiskulttuurikeskus Sajos

Knives

Looking back at the history of Lapland and survival in the arctic climate, a knife has always played an essential role in our lives in hunting, fishing, making fire, preparing, renovating and if necessary, ending lives. In Rovaniemi, we have our own knife factory called Marttiini Knives, from where you can purchase locally designed knives and get to know the history of the factory. Or pick any knife from a local souvenir shop that has the blue key flag – sticker and you know it is Finnish made. In Safartica office we sell handmade knives by Lappituote which is a souvenir factory based in Lapland. Normally all knives in souvenir shops are “the real deal”, so they can be used in everyday life.

Woolen socks keeps your toes warm in even the coldest weather.

Woolen socks

We locals live half of the year wearing woolen socks which is basically half of our lives! Colorful or modern, Lappish style or design. You can find woolen socks in all feet when walking in the city center in the winter (ok, some of the teens are walking with bare ankles). Most of the local’s socks have been made by their grandmothers, mothers and wives but knitting and crocheting has become also a fashionable hobby for youngsters, both girls and boys! 100% lamb wool is the best material but you can buy wool yarn even from smallest supermarkets in Lapland. Not a fan of knitting yourself? Visit the Rovaniemi city center in winter and you have many local sellers for handmade woolen items in the annual  winter markets!

All stories by Lotta Lonka

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