The Finnish center will host a Taito summer workshop
FITCHBURG – If you’ve ever wanted to try a traditional Finnish craft using natural materials, a guided skills workshop – or “Taito” – at the Finnish Center in Saima Park this summer might be the answer.
“Today, many people see crafts as a hobby involving plastic beads, polymers, sequins or artificial flowers,” said Marci Haneisen, membership secretary at Finland’s Saima Park Centre. “Crafting is a cute hobby for making decorative and sometimes frivolous items. But traditional craftsmanship is all about skill.
The idea of handcrafting brooms, snowshoes, or iron candlesticks is something most people attribute to craftsmen.
Yet for centuries, craftsmanship meant making things using local materials, and these skills were essential to how a society existed.
Finnish Center at Saima Park Membership Secretary Marci Haneisen is testing the solar dyeing process for the upcoming Taito Workshop – Yarn Dyeing with Natural Materials. (COURTESY MARCI HANEISEN) “The houses were built and maintained with local materials and artisanal tools,” Haneisen said. “Families were dressed in textiles made from local fibers. From woodcarving and weaving to knitting and pottery, craftsmanship has enabled people to bring beauty into their daily lives.
Finland has a rich tradition of craftsmanship and as a nation Finland is dedicated to the preservation and growth of Taito.
“A lot of traditional Finnish craftsmanship was rooted in utilitarian purposes,” Haneisen said. “Finland’s rich knitting and crocheting history meant beautiful, warm woolen garments, from sweaters in intricately colored worked yellows to mosaic mittens in reindeer or snowflake patterns, among other designs.”
Craftsmanship goes beyond working with wool. Birch bark is cut into thin strips and woven into baskets. The twigs are grouped into brooms. Sami artisans carve birch burl into kuksa cups for drinking.
The Finnish Crafts Organization Taito, a national organization dedicated to supporting cultural, social and industrial policies around craftsmanship in Finland, was founded in 1913. The organization encourages the education and celebration of traditional Finnish craftsmanship by promoting craftsmanship for leisure and business.
Within the Finnish Taito Handicraft Organization, the nation of Finland is divided into 16 different Taito Sectors which contain nearly 100 individual Taito shops where people gather to learn crafts.
“Stores sell items handcrafted by area artisans, and Taito Centers offer workshops and classes in everything from weaving and broom-making to knitting and macrame,” Haneisen said.
Each year, the Finnish Craft Organization Taito selects a specific craft technique of the year that each Taito group across Finland explores with classes, workshops and casual craft sessions.
“For 2022, the technique is to dye yarn with natural materials, and that’s where you have the opportunity to be a part of this initiative right here in Fitchburg,” Haneisen said.
This summer, Finland’s Saima Park Center will host a three-part workshop to explore the Taito technique of using natural materials to dye yarn.
Finnish artisans have been using vegetable dyes to create different colored fibers for woven rugs, wall hangings and bedding for centuries.
“For this summer’s workshop, we will use the solar dye technique to color a skein of yarn, then each participant will use a technique of their choice – knitting, crocheting, ryijy or weaving – to create a handcrafted item,” said Haneisen.
Some of the items will be on display at Tori on Saturday, September 18.
The cost will be $15 per person which includes instruction and camaraderie during the project as well as the following materials: two 220 yard skeins of mordanted wool, use of a large glass jar for sun dye and an assortment of natural materials for dyeing.
All workshops will be held at Saima Park Function Hall, 67 Scott Road, 9-11 a.m. on Monday, August 15; August 29; and September 12
Class space is limited to 12 participants and all must register in advance. To reserve a spot, email [email protected] with your name, phone number and email address.