Tag Archive | Finland

Liisa Vitali

Liisa Vitali (born in Helsinki, Finland on 9 November 1918, died on her 69th birthday, 9 November 1987) was a Finnish jewellery designer and maker known for her modernist designs that were often drawn from nature. Her jewellery series include the ‘Ladybird’, ‘Lace’, ‘Gardenia’ and ‘Cat’s paw’ designs.

Liisa Vitali.

1971 Liisa Vitali ‘Ladybird’ sterling silver ring with trapped carnelian orb. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Liisa’s family moved to a farm at Viluksela, a small village in the municipality of Somero in southern Finland, in 1920. After the death of her parents, Liisa and her brother Väinö continued to look after the farm. Liisa had long been interested in jewellery design, winning a school competition with a jewellery set that she had made.

Liisa Vitali. Love how her blouse matches her jewellery!

Some of Liisa Vitali’s designs, including Pitsi (‘Lace’) in the main panel, Leppäkerttu ja iso kivi (‘Ladybird and big stone’) top right, Nuppu (‘Bud’) middle right, and Muurahaisenpolku (‘Ant’s path’ or ‘Ant trail’) bottom right.

Liisa Vitali Pitsi (‘Lace’) bracelet, 1973, in sterling silver. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

As I don’t read Finnish I have found it hard to piece together much more about Liisa’s life: there appear to be conflicting reports of her training, or lack thereof, and which jewellers she may or may not have worked with.

I have read that she started making jewellery to sell in the 1950s, self-taught and working from a home workshop on a small scale in between her farming duties; that she started her career in jewellery-making working for jeweller Kaija Aarikka; that she trained for a short time alongside the great designer Tapio Wirkkala at the Nestor Westerback workshop; that at first her designs were only available from her workshop on the farm, and from Kaija Aarikka’s shop.

Vitali’s designs were manufactured by various companies, including Aatos Hauli, Mauri Sarparanta, Nestor Westerback Ky, and Kultakeskus.

1960s advert for Liisa Vitali’s jewellery.

Some of Liisa Vitali’s designs, including examples of  Pitsi (‘Lace’), Leppäkerttu ja iso kivi (‘Ladybird and big stone’), Nuppu (‘Bud’), and Muurahaisenpolku (‘Ant trail’).

Perhaps her most famous designs are the Leppäkerttu ja iso kivi (‘Ladybird and big stone’, ‘Ladybird’ or ‘Ladybug’) and Pitsi (‘Lace’) series. These are visually very similar, with circular cut-outs in sheet silver or less commonly gold, forming a lacy, holey effect. She also used the lacy cut-outs in her Nuppu (‘Bud’) and Muurahaisenpolku (‘Ant trail’) series. Her love of the natural world is clear in her jewellery, and the inspiration it provided her with can be seen in the names she chose for her various series.

Liisa Vitali.

During her life, Vitali’s work was highly thought-of, and was exported around the world. Apparently Princess Margaret was a fan. Following her death and changing fashions, it fell out of vogue for a while. In 2009 Kultakeskus Oy began to remanufacture Vitali’s designs, bringing them to a whole new audience.

Some named designs by Liisa Vitali:

Ampiaisenpesä (‘Beehive’)

Gardenia (‘Gardenia’)

Kesäheinä (‘Summer hay’)

Kevät (‘Spring’)

Kissantassujen (‘Cat’s paws’)

Leinikki (‘Buttercup’)

Lemmenkukka

Leppäkerttu, Leppäkerttu ja iso kivi (‘Ladybird’, ‘Ladybird and big stone’, ‘Ladybug’)

Muurahaisenpolku (‘Ant trail’)

Nuppu (‘Bud’ or ‘flowerbud’)

Nyöri (‘Cordon’)

Pitsi (‘Lace’)

Ruusu (‘Rose’)

Tuulenpesä (‘The wind’s nest’)

Villiviini (‘Wild wine’)

Further reading:

Leeni Tiirakari 2012, Design Liisa Vitali, Amanita. Available from a Finnish online bookseller.

Bobbly rings

I’ve long had a thing for granulation in silver jewellery, and I love orbs, balls, spheres, domes, bobbles and bubbles in all their forms. So it’s no surprise that I have a few bobbly rings in my Etsy shop right now:

NE From Danish sterling silver bypass bobble ring. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Modernist Finnish sterling silver bobble bypass ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Swedish modernist ring, imported to London in 1970. This one has a little silver ball inside that tinkles around. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

1970 brutalist Finnish 930 silver ring by Valon Kulta & Hopea of Turku, Finland. Love the granulation on this! For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD.)

Bengt Hallberg (Sweden) sterling silver bypass ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Modernist sterling silver ring in a Georg Jensen style. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

1960s sterling silver jester ring by Anna Greta Eker. Eker was Finnish but worked in Norway, and is regarded as one of the greats of Scandinavian/Nordic silver design.

NE From sterling silver ring. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

1950s sterling silver ring by John Lauritzen of Copenhagen. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photos for details.

Here’s an earlier post with a few more granulated pieces I’ve since sold, plus an interesting video showing how the bobbles are made.

Caught in a Kupittaan Kulta trap

I am a massive fan of Nordic jewellery, and especially the designs of Elis Kauppi (1921-2004) made by his firm of Kupittaan Kulta of Turku, Finland. One type of jewellery that Kauppi specialised in is the ‘trapped’ or ‘caged’ bead series, where spherical balls of semi-precious gemstones are caught in shell-like or barred or pronged or other sort of cage, enabling them to move but not escape. This type of kinetic jewellery dates from the 1960s and 1970s.

I am always keeping an eye out for these pieces, as they appeal to me so much, and I have a few in my Etsy shop at the moment.

Moss agate trapped bead, held by the four prongs. Designed by Elis Kapuppi for Kupittaan Kulta.

Pendant with a moss agate trapped bead, held by the four prongs. Designed by Elis Kauppi for Kupittaan Kulta. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

A small chrysoprase bead trapped in one of Eliss Kauppi's famous 'oyster' series. I have seen these ring with single, double and triple shells.

A small chrysoprase bead trapped in one of Elis Kauppi’s famous ‘oyster’ series rings for Kupittaan Kulta. I have seen these ring with single, double and triple shells. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Caged amethyst bead ina heart-shaped sterling silver cage, by Elis Kauppi for Kupittaan Kulta.

Caged amethyst bead in a heart-shaped sterling silver cage, a pendant by Elis Kauppi for Kupittaan Kulta. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

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Tiger’s eye trapped bead pendant by Elis Kauppi for Kupittaan Kulta. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

An aventurine bead held by four prongs, allowing the bead to move. Andother Elis Kauppi deign for Kupittaan Kulta. (NOW SOLD).

An aventurine bead held by four prongs, allowing the bead to swivel in its pretty trap. Another Elis Kauppi design for Kupittaan Kulta. (NOW SOLD).

Tiger's eye trapped bead pendant by Elis Kauppi for Kupittaan Kulta. Coming soon to my Etsy shop.

Another tiger’s eye trapped bead pendant by Elis Kauppi for Kupittaan Kulta. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Amethyst jewellery

I have always had a fondness for amethysts: something about the beautiful violet colour is so appealing. So no surprise that I seem to have accumulated a few pieces of amethyst jewellery for my Etsy shop …

Amethyst and sterling silver pendant, hallmarked Sweden 1970.

Amethyst and sterling silver pendant, hallmarked Sweden 1970. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Amethyst and sterling silver ring, hallmarked in Birmingham in 1973. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Amethyst and sterling silver ring, hallmarked in Birmingham in 1973. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Kultaseppa Salovaara amethyst and sterling silver pendant. A great piece of Finnish design from the 1970s.

Kultaseppa Salovaara amethyst and sterling silver pendant. A great piece of Finnish design from the 1970s. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Niels Erik From (NE From) amethyst and sterling silver ring.

Niels Erik From (NE From) amethyst and sterling silver ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

An amazing amethyst late Arts and Crafts ring, with seven magnificent amethysts.

An amazing amethyst late Arts and Crafts ring, with seven magnificent amethysts. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

A stunning Niels Erik From amethyst and sterling silver necklace.

A stunning Niels Erik From amethyst and sterling silver necklace. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Jugendstil amethyst and 935 silver brooch, with a ginkgo leaf design, possibly by Max Gradl of Pforzheim Germany. This is a great example of early 1900s German Art Nouveau.

Jugendstil amethyst and 935 silver brooch, with a ginkgo leaf design, possibly by Max Gradl of Pforzheim Germany. This is a great example of early 1900s German Art Nouveau jewellery. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Caged amethyst pendant necklace, by Elis Kauppi of Kupittaan Kulta, Finland.

Caged amethyst pendant necklace, by Elis Kauppi of Kupittaan Kulta, Finland. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Arts and Crafts style amethyst brooch, vintage lace pin.

Arts and Crafts style amethyst brooch, vintage lace pin. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Kultaseppa Salovaara amethyst and sterling silver pendant.

Kultaseppa Salovaara amethyst and sterling silver pendant; a lovely 1970s vintage Finnish piece of jewellery. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Amethyst is the birthstone for February.

The Viking bird pendant from Hattula, Finland

I recently got this fab vintage piece for my Etsy shop, with its goofy face and its jiggly, dangly legs, and tried to find a bit more about it.

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The bronze bird pendant necklace by Kalevala Koru, based on a silver Viking bird pendant from Hattula, Finland. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

I knew it was made by the Finnish jewellery firm of Kalevala Koru of Helsinki, one of the largest jewellery firms in Finland, and a further google truffle told me it was designed by Kimmo Virkkunen. I also learned that it was based on a late Viking-era hoard find. My ears pricked up. I love me a hoard.

Here’s the original on which the modern iteration is based:

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The Viking-era original sheet silver pendant. Note it doesn’t have any legs.

The caption in Finnish on the National Board of Antiquities webpage translates as ‘The bird-shaped pendant in silver is decorated with filigree. The pendant is part of a silver treasure found in Luurila in Hattula’.

A further google truffle tells me that the hoard was found in a field, part of a farm called Luurila in the municipality of Hattula in south-central Finland, near the village of Pelkola. The farm is on the south-west shore of Lake Renkojärvi. It is thought that the hoard was originally buried in a leather bag or some other container that had disintegrated; the ploughing of the field had spread the contents over an area of about 25 m². In 1906, after a few coins and a pendant had been found in the field, the site was excavated by the National Museum, and produced a significant number of finds.

The pendant dates from between 800-1025 AD, and the hoard was buried around 1040 AD. The hoard comprised silver necklets, pendants, and strap mounts, carnelian and glass beads, and 126 silver coins, including Anglo-Saxon ones from England and Byzantine ones with Kufic Arabic. The coins allowed the date of deposition of the hoard to be established to a very close date.

The pendant is made of sheet silver, with a filigree decoration. The bird’s legs are missing, but the suspension loop from which they presumably would have hung survives. The modern version by Kalevala Koru gives the bird the long, webbed feet of a waterfowl. Given the preponderance of lakes and inland waterways in Finland (there are over 55,000 lakes there, according to Wikipedia, which rather knock the 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire into a cocked hat), and the shape of the bird’s body, this does not seem like an unreasonable interpretation. It reminds me of a coot (Fulica atra) or a moorhen (Gallinula chloropus):

A coot ( Photo by Marcus Rowland.

A coot. Photo by Marcus Rowland.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus). Photo by Tony Hisgett.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus). Photo by Tony Hisgett.

but as the moorhen doesn’t have webbed feet I guess the Kalevala Koru one at least can’t be that.

Most of the information on the hoard in this post comes from Anglo-Saxon Coins Found in Finland by C.A. Nordman, published in Helsingfors in 1921 and which has been digitised and made available on the web by the University of Illinois as part of its Brittle Books Project. Hurrah for UIUC!

Scandinavian silver

UPDATE May 2017: For Scandinavian silver pieces currently in my Etsy shop, please click here.

I seem to be sourcing more and more pieces of 20th century Scandinavian silver jewellery for my shop. I started off with the idea of stocking early 20th century pieces – English Arts and Crafts, Germanic Jugendstil and Nordic Skønvirke jewellery, but gradually my eye was drawn towards the sleek, minimalist lines of mid century Scandinavian modernist jewellery as well. 

A selection of Scandinavian jewellery. Click on photo for details.

A few of the pieces of Scandinavian jewellery for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo to see my current selection of Scandinavian jewellery and silver objects. 

At the moment I have 40 pieces of Scandinavian silver for sale in my Etsy shop, and more to come that I haven’t got round to listing yet!

scandinavian 1

scandinavian 2

Scandinavian 3