nanna salmi story
For over twenty years have happy tears shed all over the world as riders and horse owners have received their unique, beautiful jewelleries fom Nanna´s studio.
If you look around in her studio you see horsehair bunches hanging on the wall, drawings on the desk. You can see little plastic bags with names on them and in every bags there is a small bundle of horsehair: tail hair strands from customers. Everything is in a very precise order. There are envelopes from all over the world. Some of them are decorated with pictures of horses.
- I wouldn´t say having a pony was my biggest dream when I was a child. My dream was to be a Red Indian and I practised to build teepees and to tiptoe soundlessly in a forest, Nanna says laughing.
- I started riding when we moved to the country and I got riding lessons as a birthday present when I got fourty. It certainly was not love at the first sight, after every lesson I decided I will not come back to the stables never ever again. It was too scary, a horse seemed like a mountain high and it made strange movements. But after the seventh riding lesson even wild horses could not have kept me off from the saddle.
Quite soon there was an opportunity to buy a horse: 18 years old Oldenburger - Hannoverian mare, Anitte Stensgård aka Nitte, ex jumper, a real diva on her good days and bad days. Her owner wished Nitte to have a good place for her retirement years, and Nanna did not have to think twice.
- I was happy, but also terrified! I knew a horse is a big responsibility, needs time and takes money... And I wasn´t that experienced horse woman by the time. But with the help from my friends everything went well and we, Nitte and me, spent several fantastic years together. She tought me a lot and we very much loved each other. It was one of the saddest days in my life when I had to put her down, but I knew her last few years with me were good and happy.
- I will never forget her, she was my inspiration.
Nanna has a background as a textile artist, textile artesan and designer and that grew her interest in different materials. For decades she has worked with textiles and yarn. She has made applications, quilt work, rugs, she has designed knitwear, embroidery, clothing and interior decoration textiles etc., but also gardens, interiors for private houses and even small buildings. But horsehair; that really caught her.
the unique idea
- Sometimes while grooming Nitte I would hold her tail in my hand and wonder if it would be possible to weave a strong ribbon using her tail hair strands, and it would be also interesting to try to do something nobody had done or seen before. But I never tried, since there were so many projects I was already working on. The idea was like a wavering morning mist... It appeared and then disappeared again.
The idea of horsehair jewellery came to Nanna very slowly, but surely. Only the final push was needed and that became in a form of a birthday present.
Nanna´s horse Nitte stayed at the nearby farm together with fifteen other horses. The boarders at the farm wanted to give something special to the stable owner for her 40th birthday.
- I remember that certain day like it was yesterday. After a nice ride through forests and small country roads together with five ladies we were standing outside the stable in a mild autumn rain intending finally to decide that special birthday present for our boarder.
- It just popped out from my mouth, without even thinking, that I could try to make for her a piece of jewellery using hair from three generations of her mares. Everybody thought it was a great idea and so the gift problem was solved.
And there it was, a big promise and a beautiful vision.
- The most natural way for me was to try to weave a miniature textile with hair. I had seen jewellery made out of plaited or somehow twisted and twined hair, but I wanted to do something more lasting, unique, sophisticated, configurable with patterns and colors. As a natural material horsehair’s quality, strength and thickness vary a lot, working with hair is really different from working with yarn.
The next step was to pull secretly strands from the boarder’s three mare generations and weave the ribbon for her birthday present. When it was ready, the next step was to add something on it.
- I went to a goldsmith and gave him Nitte's olive bit and asked him to make it in a smaller scale. Then the tiny bit was attached to the ribbon and the first necklace was ready.
the first jewel
- I will never forget the moment my friend got her birthday present. We were about a dozen of boarders celebrating her at the dinner table. At the dessert time she started to open her presents, looked at the necklace and said ”nice”, put the box away and started to open the next one. The lady beside her notified that the necklace ribbon is made of horsehair, she took another look and said ”really, wow”, and put the box away…
- When she was told the ribbon was actually made of her three mares' hair, tears started to well in her eyes. It was truely an emotional moment full of amazement, happiness and joy. And I thought ”great, she really likes it”.
Some minutes later another lady whispered ”I want that, too”, and when the fifth one asked if Nanna could make something similar for her, too, she realized that she had invented something really special.
- It´s always an exciting moment to open an envelope, Nanna says. Which are the colours, how long the hair strands are, is there enough strands for that certain item. Sometimes the content of the bag can be quite rousing... I have received hair with blood on and that tells me that something very sad and terrible has happened. Usually, when I receive the hair, I already know a lot about the horse: the name, the character, "the job" etc. People tell a lot about their beloved ones when ordering the jewellery. It is very rewarding to be in a close contact with customers. I hear a lot of stories and often it is discussed which pattern would both reflect the horses' temper and be the best for that spesific item.
the jewel with the story
- When I hold a hair bundle in my hand it starts to tell me a story. That is the inspiration for every ribbon I make. I´ve been weaving horsehair ribbons for wedding bands, name giving bracelets, presents for friends, wives and husbands, keepsakes of decesed beloved horse companions…
For those who get the piece of jewellery made with the hair of their own horse the item is priceless, and for me it is an honor and a great pleasure to be able to make something so meaningful and unique.
what is your story like?
If you wish to get a jewel from your own horses hair to tell the story of you two, please click here and contact us. I'd be happy to make it for you!