My grandmother was a Norwegian Sami. She crafted belts, shoes and bags made of reindeer skins and fish leather that she sold to other Sami people. My father worked as a commercial salmon fisherman fishing in the Fraser River and along the coast of British Columbia. He had a small fishing shack in Finn Slough, Stevenston, BC where he moored his fishing boat and repaired his salmon fishing nets. As a child growing up, I spent many happy summer days with him at his little fishing shack, helping to repair the nets.
I am a hand weaver and recently I have taken more of an interest in learning the traditional Sami handcrafts, weaving the colourful narrow bands that the Sami used for embellishing their handmade clothing. Following in the footsteps of my Sami grandmother, I have also learned to stitch with reindeer skins and fish leather to make small bags, wallets and pouches.
I have studied the almost lost art of tanning fish leather as the Sami did, turning what is thought of as scrap waste, into a beautiful, soft leather that can be used for clothing, bags, shoes, jewellery and pieces of art.
Shop for Flex Frame wallets, coin purses, card wallets or billfold wallets made of Salmon leather and other fish skins and other naturally tanned Fish Leather in my PaivatarYarn Etsy Shop.
The salmon and other fish skins are a zero waste product. I purchase the fish skins from local fish suppliers that would otherwise be discarded. Fish tanning is a long and complex process. The fish skins must be descaled, cleaned and soaked in a tanning bath for several weeks. I only use natural ingredients such as tree barks to make the tanning baths. After the skin is fully tanned, then it is treated with a natural oil and rubbed by hand to soften the leather. Salmon leather has a soft and natural suede finish. When tanned with tree barks, the natural shading and pattern of the fish skin is retained.
The Sami people were known to tan fish leather as well as reindeer, in order to make purses, pouches, clothing and other items for everyday use. Reindeer leather is a precious commodity that is difficult to source. Most of the reindeer hides are used by the Saami people for their own clothing and personal use. I am only able to purchase the reindeer leather in small quantities that are sold as scrap leather. I stitch the small pieces together in order to make purses, pouches, reindeer bracelets and other items. Nothing is wasted.
Fish Leather Wallets
Fish Leather Coin Purses and Pouches
Fish leather coin purses – hand stitched fish leather and reindeer leather kiss frame coin pouches.
Fish Leather BiFold Wallets
Hand stitched Bi Fold wallets made of bark tanned fish skins and reindeer leather