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Brazing Cowbells: Traditional Metalwork   

North House is happy to welcome blacksmith Johan Säfström of Sätergläntan Handcraft Institute. Johan and his colleagues are touring the Upper Midwest in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Sätergläntan Handcraft Institute, where he is the head of the blacksmithing program. Johan will teach a quintessentially Scandinavian project: crafting and brazing a traditional livestock bell. Brazing is a soldering technique using dissimilar metals that has been used since the Iron Age to join complicated objects like padlocks and bells together, and is what gives these bells the clear sound that echoes across the forests of summer pastures. This tradition is more than a thousand years old and is an important part of Scandinavian summer farms as well as reindeer herding. This project allows students to learn a variety of metalsmithing skills using very traditional techniques. First, students will form the shape of the bell from sheet steel. It is then riveted together and finally brazed using a very old method in the forge. Students will then hot-forge the bell clapper. Conversation and stories of the rich history and links between animal herding and craft will permeate this unique course offering. Though this course will cover a specific and highly traditional technique, beginning blacksmiths can tackle this project as well. A materials fee of approximately $100 will be due at the time of class.

North House is honored to welcome a delegation from Sätergläntan Institute for Slöjd and Handcraft in Dalarna, Sweden. Founded in 1923, Sätergläntan has trained generations of craftspeople; preserving and carrying forward centuries-old Scandinavian handcraft traditions in woodworking, weaving, sewing, and metalwork into the 21st century. Sätergläntan welcomes students from around the world and continues to be a wellspring of inspiration and learning. There will be a variety of evening gatherings and opportunities for sharing with all of the Swedish guests throughout the week and during the Wooden Boat Show.


Required Tools 

  • Proper work clothes, preferably made out of natural materials like cotton or wool. Avoid synthetics. 
  • Good shoes, preferably with steel toe caps. 
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear protection
  • Leather gloves

Optional Tools 

  • Sheet metal shears
  • Blacksmith tongs
  • Ball hammer
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