Tag Archive | Finnish jewellery

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).