I was already familiar with the Sámi culture in the Inari area, so I wanted to learn more about indigenous cultures above the Arctic Circle. I got an opportunity to study abroad for three months through north2north, and I chose to apply to Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit, Canada. For some reason I also trademarked my mother ́s surname Paarma at that time – to make sure it would be my company name one day. I am glad I did since my mother passed away just when I begun as an entrepreneur. The Inuit art and their use of mixed and layered metal was a big inspiration to my own style, so next I wanted to see if Siberia had something more to offer. In 2013 when I was studying wood, bone and antler crafts, I visited Taimyr College in Dudinka for three weeks. I taught them basics of metalsmithing, and in return learned skills and designs of the local cultures.
Different methods and designs work as an inspiration, but you must always find your own path. I found it from the Arctic nature, from its flora and fauna and the culture of my own area – its past and present.
When I begin, it’s first inspiring to come up with an idea. Then I find out more about the subject and try to create something that is not so obvious or something that hasn’t been done before. The thrill of seeing metal turn into something totally different, and having it reborn once again in an interesting photo – it’s addictive. My work has many stages, many rewarding moments, even though it’s hard and messy as well. And a pleased customer crowns it all.
The main reason I stayed in Inari was my companion, who in summertime is a professional gold prospector in the Lemmenjoki National Park. The community of prospectors has become a big part of my life and means of living since I get some of my raw material, local gold nuggets, from them. The area is also an endless source of inspiration.
I have earned my living with my own designs and jewellery since 2013 through my company, Paarma Design. I am glad I can share my love of nature with others and make custom jewellery at the same time. And I do intend to continue learning more about the Arctic environment and its cultures...
Originally published in UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2016