This brooch is made of silver and has a faceted piece of quartz as an accent.  It is by the Finnish jewellery design company Kalevala, established by the Finnish writer Elsa Heporauta in 1935.

A young Elsa Heporauta

Elsa was born in 1883 in Puumala where her father ran the local sawmill. In 1907 Elsa married Frans Akseli Heporauta who was rector of the West Finland College where she was tutor.  Frans was a scholar of folk poetry.  Elsa was a prolific writer with over 30 published works, she was also a keen traveller visiting Russia, Estonia, Italy, Germany, America and much of central Europe.  In 1935 Elsa and Frans moved to Helsinki the year of the 100th anniversary of the Kalevala.  Kalevala is Finland’s national poem, it is in fact an anthology of Finnish folk poems, which were brought together by Elias Lönnrot.  In that same year Elsa founded the Kalevalaite Naisten Liitto (Kalevala Women’s Association).  Two years after that   Elsa had the idea to set up a statue to celebrate Finnish womanhood.  A committee was set up to raise money for a statue to Queen Louhi (a sorceress and described as mean, gap-toothed and strong nosed).  To raise funds the committee decided to produce and sell jewellery, the first collection included 40 brooches.  With the advent of WWII the funds raised were diverted to provide assistance to women and children displaced and in need.  Eventually a statue was completed in 1946 and designed by Emil Halonen (21st May 1875 – 5th November 1950).

Elsa Heporauta beside the statue of Louhi (designed by Emil Halonen) 1946

Kalevala has continued to develop and promote Finnish design.  My brooch is called ‘Dream’ and is designed by Kirsti Koukas for Kalevala.  Kirsti describes ‘Dream’ as “telling the story of individual courage, which, when brought together, can change the world”.  I think it looks rather like a dandelion head, fragile but at the same time able to spread its seeds far and wide.

Kirsti Koukas (1964 -)

Kalevala is now owned by the Women’s Association who continue to support and promote Finnish culture, especially the work of female artists.  In 2020 Kalevala established the Kalevala Training Centre, providing occupational and financial independence for young women in the small village of Makonge in Kenya. The Training Centre offers programmes for teenage mothers, girls and women aged 16 to 25. The Centre aims to train 190 women every year in hairdressing, sewing and information processing.