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On show at church

Festive wear was taken out of storage when people went to church, weddings or other festivities. The masters of households wore their Sunday best to market or town. At the church people would meet friends and acquaintances or to inspect the attire of those who came from other villages. Horse gear, reins, horse collars and harnesses were also decorated for show. The Könni family became famous for their metalwork. In 1809 Finland was annexed to the Russian Empire, marking the end of several centuries of Swedish rule. Helsinki became the new capital, where an impressive Empire-style centre was built.

Drawing: Suomen käsityön museo / Tuula Ollikainen

Text and images: Crafts – a journey in time -exhibition, if not mentioned otherwise.


Among the Greek-Orthodox Karelians valuable items of the household included a long, narrow towel or cloth known as the käspaikka. They were used as hand towels at a place by the door where one washed one’s hands, and also spread on the laps of visitors at feasts or hung around the icon in the corner of the room. The käspaikka also had a role in connection with the dead, placed in the window, the käspaikka informed the surroundings that there had been a death in the house. The purpose of the käspaikka was to attract good spirits and to repel evil ones. The käspaikkas were decorated with running stitches, drawn-thread embroidery, chain crocheting and lace.

Photo: Suomen käsityön museo


Crocheting was adopted in Finland in the early 19th century via trade either from Sweden or from the east. Some experts date the technique to the 16th century, claiming that it was originally practised by nuns. Others maintained that crocheting was already practised by the Copts in Egypt in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. Crocheting was also popular among the Róm (Gypsies), who used laced in sheets, towels, jacket collars, cuffs and hems. Towards the end of the century, crocheting became a favourite pastime among the daughters of manors and large farms.

Photo: Suomen käsityön museo / Ismo Hannula


The spinning of flax and wool was a common yet poorly paid additional livelihood in all parts of Finland throughout the 19th century. Cottager wives would spin thread and yarn for farms, receiving flour, firewood, hay or money in return. The rent of a dwelling could also be paid by spinning. In 1822 the Åbo Spinskola (The Turku Spinning School) was founded. It is Finland’s oldest school of crafts and applied art. Today it is part of the Swedish-language Yrkeshögskola Sydväst polytechnic. Flax pods being removed from the stems.

Photo: Suomen kansallismuseon kuva-arkisto


Mostly cast objects were made of brass, a mixture of copper and zinc. Copper and brass founders made candlesticks, candelabras, household items, mounts, brooches, harness and sleigh bells, and church bells.

Photo: Suomen käsityön museo / Riitta Chan


The famous Könni family of smiths was active at Ilmajoki in Southern Ostrobothnia. For several generations, the men of the family made a variety of metal objects ranging from clock springs and surgical instruments to guns and sawblades. The most numerous items, however, were timekeepers: grandfather clocks, tower clocks and pocket watches.

Photo: Suomen käsityön museo / Karl Lahti


It is said that pine-root work at Siikajoki began around the year 1800 when two of the locals worked out the technique with which a container of roots had been made. The object in question had been washed ashore from the sea. Before long, thin pine roots began to be used for making baskets, flour and sewing containers, bags and hat-boxes. Rope was also made from roots.

Photo: Suomen käsityön museo / Martti Laaksovirta


In the pre-industrial period making a shingle basket was one of the most common crafts skills among Finnish males. The bark for baskets was taken from the surface of slowly grown, dense-grained pine. The selection of the right tree was the most important stage of making a basket.

Drawing: Alfred Kolehmainen


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