Tin Thread Spinning

Dragging Tin with Teeth
Dragging Tin with Teeth

The Saami Art of Tin Thread Spinning
Tugging on a bit of pewter thread has led me down a new path of unraveling some of the intricately beautiful textile crafts of my ancestors.

Pewter /Tin

The first use of pewter dates back to the Bronze Age. Pewter was used by the Egyptians and later the Romans, and came into use in Europe for tableware and jewellery from the Middle Ages.

Pewter is a malleable metal alloy, traditionally 85–99% tin, with the remainder consisting of copper, antimony, bismuth and sometimes, less commonly today, lead. Silver is also sometimes used. Copper and antimony act as hardeners while lead is common in the lower grades of pewter, which have a bluish tint.
Wikipedia – Pewter

Although pewter was an alloy of tin and other metals such as lead, in modern day pewter or tin thread, heavy metals are no longer used. Silver is added to stabilize the tin instead.

Tin Thread Bracelets Bags
Tin Thread Bracelets Bags

Thread spun from metals such as gold and silver have been found in Viking age textiles in sites such as Birka. Pewter or tin could also be spun into thread and used for the making of jewellery or decoration for clothing. Pewter became known as the poor man’s silver. It is thought that the use of pewter thread has only been produced by the Saami. Earliest evidence of the use pewter thread has been found in Saami textiles from the 1600’s, though fragments of pewter have been found 500 years earlier.

Tin Thread Making Tools

The tools for making pewter or tin thread are a die made from reindeer antlers and a spindle. The die is carved from a reindeer antler and has as many as 60 different sized holes drilled into it. The tin is dragged through the successively smaller holes until a fine tin thread is produced.

Die for Dragging Tin

Die made of reindeer antler, used for dragging and making tin thread and Spindle for spinning the tin thread.

Tenntrad Die
Tenntrad Die
Tin Thread Spindle
Tin Thread Spindle

More

Part 1 – The Saami Art of Tin Thread Spinning
Part 2 – Spinning Tin Thread 2
Part 3 – Spinning Tin Thread 3

Etsy

Look for pewter thread, vadmal cloth, embroidered bags, bracelets and other Saami items in my PaivatarYarns Etsy Shop.

References:

Västerbotten nummer 2/1980, sidorna 115-128 “Om tillverkning av platt tenntråd”
Västerbotten nummer 3/1970 “Sameslöjd”
Reindeer Antler Die
Vadmal and Other Woolens

More Saami Crafts

Saami Reindeer Bracelets
What is Sami Duodji

Weaving on a Sami Rigid Heddle
How to Make a Tin Embroidery Key Chain
Vadmal

ITUNES – Saami Music

Binna Banna – Kikki Aikio
Áphi (Wide As Oceans) – Sofia Jannok
Ulda – Ulla Pirttijärvi & Ulda
The Kautokeino Rebellion (Music from the Movie) – Herman Rundberg, Mari Boine & Svein Schultz
Beaivi, Áhcázan (The Sun, My Father) – Nils-Aslak Valkeapää

AMAZON – Band Loom Weaving Books
Tape Loom Weaving… Simplified
Handwoven Tape: Understanding and Weaving Early American and Contemporary Tape
Norwegian Pick-Up Bandweaving
The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory: 400 Warp-Faced Weaves
Band Weaving
Band. Vävda Band, Brickband, Flätade Band Och Pinnband Av Ull, Lin Och Bomull / Weaving Bands: Woven Bands / Table Bands / Plaited Bands / Insertion Bands
Väva I Bandgrind

Last Updated on June 18, 2021 by Paivi Suomi

By Paivi Suomi

I've had an interest in weaving, looms, yarns and textiles since I was a small child. I learned to knit, crochet, sew, do needlepoint at my mother's knee. My grandmother was a Saami from northern Norway. I am very interested in studying more about traditional Saami and Finnish style weaving and handicrafts. Paivi Suomi