The magnificent silver brooches you see women wearing with their bunads, the Norwegian national costumes, are called sølje. The dangling spoons were once thought to deflect evil from the wearer; they protected one from trolls and other dangers, especially in times of transition. It was a loving gift to babies and brides.
Elisabeth Sleire-Gjerde, silversmith and a representative of Silver of Norway, one of our sources for jewelry, will be at Ingebretsen’s on Thursday, March 20 from 10 am to 2 pm. We appreciate her coming to the store, especially because we can’t imagine leaving a home as lovely as she describes.
Elisabeth says, “I am the fourth generation goldsmith, working together with my mom. We design and handcraft all of our design jewelry, in our workshop in Norway. I am 40-years old, have three children and married to my husband, Thomas. We live in the countryside, with a small mountain behind our house, and a beautiful fjord as our view from the house. My mom and dad have a house right next door to us.”
This idyllic setting surely must inspire Elisabeth and her mother as they design and craft sølje. She shared some background on making this traditional jewelry:
The other characteristic of sølje, besides the spoons, is the intricate silver filigree work. Filigree is thin silver treads combined together in different designs and techniques. A filigree worker may work with silversmiths, goldsmiths or in separate workshops.
In Norway, we associate filigree with the Sølje for the national costumes. However, filigree is also used in other jewelry, such as bracelets, necklaces and earrings. The technique has been used for thousands of years, especially in Asia and the Latin countries.
Filigree artisans need the ability of accuracy, the good touch and good vision. We consider our work important; we are protecting our inheritance ad our culture. A filigree worker should have good knowledge of the filigree history, and our nation’s history.
Elisabeth has much more to share about sølje. Please stop by and chat with her this Thursday and learn more about the rich heritage of Norwegian silversmithing.