‘Klokkestreng’ bell pull tradition in the Nordic countries

Originally, ‘klokkestreng’ (= bell pull) refers to a thick, decorative cord attached to a lever and a bell which you could ring by pulling the cord. It was used in manor houses, country houses and bourgeoise homes to call servants in England and in North America. The cord developed into a narrow, delicately decorated, hand made textile. Embroidery, cross-stitch and weaving were the techniques used. Simple bell pull consisted of a cord or a narrow tapestry and a lever and a bell right above. The problem was that in order to hear the bell, the servants had to be nearby. Later on complex mechanical systems were developed and the distance between cords and bells was several rooms and floors.

Later on the ‘bell pull’ lost its original function and became a decorative object. My special interest is how the English manor house bell pull tradition was adopted in Scandinavia as a rural imitation. Instead of expensive upper class materials like thin yarn and brass metalwork, the rural tradition is characterized by thick wool yarn and wrought iron metalwork.

Bell pull, ‘klokkestreng’ in Norwegian and ‘klokkestrenge’ in Danish, literally ‘bell string’, were hugely popular in the 1960’s and 70’s. Thick wool yarn was used and patterns were usually traditional ornaments or floral. Cross-stitching was women’s activity while the wrought iron hardware were either purchased or made by young men of the families as school projects. There were numerous variations of the basic metal work and many of them had a ringlike form to the bottom as a reminder of the original function. Wrought iron was the most common material, but other metals and combinations of wood and metal were also used. Decorations varied. Sometimes there were two identical hardware at both ends, sometimes different ones, sometimes there were wool yarn fringes in the other end.

Bell pull ornament patterns were published in crafting magazines and DIY sets with pattern, instructions and yarn were sold in craft shops. By the 1990’s the bell pull tradition withered and was considered old-fashioned and dull.

I find the bell pull tradition fascinating, but instead of copying the old cross-stitching patterns, my perspective is playful and whimsical. I want to combine new, modern materials and surprising solutions to the tradition of Scandinavian klokkestreng.

DSC_4887

You will find this modern klokkestreng wall decoration in my Etsy shop.

There is a doctoral dissertation describing the development of the mechanical servant bell systems. I am still looking for a complete study on the history of the bell pull as handicraft and textile industry product.

Posted in Tutorials and ideas, Vintage products I sell | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DIY Idea: Vietnamese Tết decor

The first time I visited in Vietnam was during Tết in 2010. I arrived the country just two days before the holidays. It was only after the holiday week was over that I realized Vietnam is not like that always!

I bought some Tết decorations to use during Yule and New Year. They suit perfectly. Bright red and gold are Yule, and Tết is celebration of the Lunar New Year.

DSC_7815.JPG

I hang the decorations at a window, using the same wooden stick where I usually hang the crystals as described in an earlier blog post.

DSC_7808

Posted in Tutorials and ideas | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DIY Idea: Window decor with vintage crystals

Days are short in winter in the Northern Europe, and I notice I miss sunlight. I compensate the lack of enough daylight with some extra glitter in the house.

DSC_7758

I found some vintage lamp crystals at a flea market. I had jump rings, pieces of different chrome coloured chains in stock as well as a branch from a hornbeam in my garden.

DSC_7752

DSC_7761

The crystals give an illusion of more light than there really is in a cloudy day and in afternoon sunset.

The rare occasions of direct sunlight make the crystals sparkle and cast rainbows on walls. It does not matter that the crystals are different in shapes and sizes, and that there are some scratches. I wash them a couple of times a year in warm water and a drop of mild soap.

Posted in Tutorials and ideas | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

My Dragon Lamp dresses for all the celebrations of a year

Happy Independence Day, Finland!

soilevuo art&crafts

I have a fantastically kitsch and silly dragon lamp in my living room. I have made appropriate accessories for the dragon to mark all the celebrations of a year. Here is an Easter witch hat made of a cardboard cone, yellow wool fabric, feathers and decor eggs.

DSC_6733

I am pretty pleased with the hat. I made another outfit to celebrate the Independence Day in Finland. My intention was to make a humorous commentary on the strong military emphasis of the Finnish Independence Day tradition. This hat imitates the white fur hats worn by high rank officers. Medals are made of champagne bottle cork caps and decor ribbons.

DSC_6423

I also have a fantastic 1st of May outfit, as well as wedding anniversary decor and Midsummer headpiece for the dragon. I will post photos later. You can sure imagine how the dragon’s Christmas outfit looks like (actually that is the most boring…

View original post 73 more words

Posted in Tutorials and ideas | Leave a comment

Newsboy caps for women

Newsboy caps are popular because they are so practical and uncomplicated. They are stylish in a relaxed way and protect your head and face. I have made a variety of newsboy caps for sale in my Etsy shop. Please check my shop for more information on the caps I briefly present in this blog post.

DSC_6151

This cap is suitable in autumn and spring. It is made of striped cotton fabric and lined with black linen blend fabric. The blue cord runs inside the band and the side of the hat can be adjusted by tightening the cord.

DSC_5481

This grey wool blend cap is oversized. It is fully lined with purple cotton batik and the peak is decorated with buttons. A cord runs inside the band and laces in the back.

DSC_5492

Wool blend fabric and fleece lining make this cap warm enough for winter.

DSC_5314

This oversized blood-red cap is made of cotton velvet and lined with viscose. Button decorated band and a cord which laces in the back.

Please visit my Etsy shop for more information.

 

 

 

Posted in Hats, Products I make and sell | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DIY Ideas: Home Decor Tassels

Cushions, table runners and tassels, we have seen those already. Why not put tassels somewhere else?

DSC_7720

A wooden stick, an eye bolt, a ceramic bead and a tassel made of dark brown wool yarn. This is actually a wedge and it is used to prevent a window banging in the wind when ventilating. When not in use, the wedge is placed on the window ledge, the tassel hanging over the edge. Visitors often ask what it is for 🙂

DSC_7719

This tassel is made of lustrous, gold colored viscose blend yarn which has a nice, heavy fall. Unfortunately the yarn unwinds easily and I had to secure each end with glue. It was messy and time consuming, but the end result is worth the trouble. The tassel decorates the key of a display cabinet.

DSC_7717

Posted in Tutorials and ideas | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

DIY Idea: Making trivets and coasters using bathroom tiles

I have lived in houses where previous owners have left piles of unused bathroom tiles behind. Small tiles are ideal as coasters. Take a piece of medium thick, non-fraying wool felt fabric, glue a piece under a tile, and cut the excess fabric when the glue is dry.

DSC_7715

I used ordinary, water-based household glue and dark brown felt fabric. The tiles are easy to wipe clean.

DSC_7709

I also made a couple of matching trivets. I bought simple cork trivets and glued four small tiles onto them. It does not matter if the tiles are slightly bigger than the cork trivet.

DSC_7708

Cork and tile trivets are practical at dinner table and kitchen. I use bigger tiles under flower pots, protecting surfaces from water leaks or humidity coming through clay. DSC_7716

Making trivets and coasters is easy and fun, and it does not cost much if you can use spare tiles, for example, from your neighbours’ bathroom decoration, or tiles that came with the house, like mine.

If you want a a better finish, you could paint the sides of the tiles or cover them with fabric, cord or band.

 

Posted in Tutorials and ideas | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment