Rysstad Sylv

Setesdal is often called Sylvsmeddalen

That said, there is no doubt that Rysstad is the sylvsmedbygda. Inger's great-uncle, Knut Sigurdsson Helle, was one of those who brought art to the village well over 100 years ago. Trygve is a 3rd generation silversmith. He is a master of filigree, with handmade bunad silver as his specialty. In Sylvsmia, sylv was made for use on all bunads in Telemark, Agder and Setesdal. Most of the bunad silver is today made to order, but in our outlet in Sylvbui, there will always be an offer for you who are in transit.

We also make jewelry that can be used on ordinary clothing. In the shop you will also find a selection of items from leading Norwegian manufacturers, including souvenirs, interior and gift items. Feel free to ask us about a visit to the silver workshop, to demonstrate the old craft!

Our story

Rysstadmo is a sandbank almost 2 kilometers long. There were also blacksmiths there a thousand years ago. Archaeological excavations tell us that this was an important part of the livelihood of many of those who bid on the dry moen, and so it is. But the blacksmith has warts silversmith. Until 1839, it was forbidden to make things out of silver for anyone other than those who had solved citizenship letters in a city. There were strict penalties for those who still dared to do so. A lot of silver was stolen from the mines in Kongsberg, and some of this also came to Setesdal. Sylvsmedmeister Trygve Rysstad's mother's family came to Setesdal from Kongsberg 300 years ago. They subsisted as blacksmiths, but one of the sons; Linder Andersen, also made things in sylv. He is the first silversmith we know the name of in Setesdal. Probably the raw material was his chairs from the mines at Kongsberg. In the second half of the 1800th century, the knowledge of making filigree syllables came to the valley. It provided fertile ground for an entire industry. In this small village there were for a period over a hundred people who in one way or another worked with sylv. Most of the family helped to shape all the small parts that belonged to an awl. But it was the master himself who soldered it all together into beautiful jewelry. The Rysstad family has rich silversmith traditions. His brother Alfred is a silversmith, and both his father Olav and grandfather Hallvard were renowned silversmiths. Inger, Trygve's wife, is also a trained silversmith. Her family roots go to Helle, where several of the real pioneers in the field had their work.

The oldest silver

From archaeological excavations we know that the Vikings also adorned themselves with silver. They also used filigree, and some of these pieces of jewelery are so beautifully made that one still finds it difficult to make copies of the same quality. After a quarter of an hour it was cast silver that completely took over. It was easier, and therefore cheaper to make. Many pieces of jewelery were also made of other metals such as brass, tin and silver. From the second half of 1500, the craftsmen in the towns organized themselves in guilds, and it was illegal to practice the craft without one being part of the guild. Apprenticeships and tests were required. Craftsmen in the villages were branded criminals. This was the case until a new Crafts Act came into force in 1839. The basic reason for deciding this (apart from protecting those who belonged to the bourgeoisie) was that gold and silver were used for payment, and therefore one had to be sure that was not mixed too much copper up. And the silver had to be stamped by a legally registered craftsman. By implication, there was a greater chance that a village craftsman would dilute the silver content with too much copper than a town craftsman. In practice, it was the other way around, and unstamped peasant silver was counted as much more generous than stamped city silver. As a result, the city silversmiths often neglected to stamp their silver to trick buyers into believing it was peasant silver and therefore more valuable. In other words, a rather uncertain affair to buy silver jewelry in the old days.

Setesdal - Agder - Telemark

The first silversmiths got the silver in lumps. Large lumps that had to melt and form into the shape that was the basis for making awls. Silver plates were hammered out, the wire was made by pulling a piece of silver through an iron with many holes - all the time with a slightly smaller diameter - so that in the end it was wire. In some places the thread is used as it is, in other places several threads are twisted together. Even though some of the raw material today is finished in the form of plates, wire and leaves, it is the old techniques that are still in use. Trygve Rysstad continues the silversmithing profession in the third generation, and maintains the tradition by making the old syllables that thousands of people have made in Setesdal through the ages. As a blacksmith, he is the 8th generation after Anders Pedersen, ancestor of many of the most famous Rysstad smiths. Trygve Rysstad's Sylvverkstaden is today one of the largest handicraft companies in the region that specializes in handmade agder and telemark sylv. These are braces that are used for bunadar, but the company also designs its own jewelery for use in other contexts, but inspired by the old models. All the seals from Trygve Rysstad have a registered stamp as a guarantee for good handwork.

From table by the window to modern workshop

The first license to operate as a silversmith was granted by Valle Heradstyre on 29 December 12 to Sigurd Hallvardsson Rysstad. He was also an ordinary blacksmith, and had his homestead in the field 1851 meters north of Sølvgarden. The silversmithing industry was an industry, and for those who wanted to get started, the first step was to make tools. Small pliers, pliers, tongs, files and saws were all that was absolutely necessary. Could the expenses be saved, well then it was just a matter of getting started. Also large wooden cupboards, for example the pull bench to make silver wire with, they made themselves. The work was done in the stoga, preferably on a table under (one) window, so that one had the necessary light to carry out the work. The soldering was done using a paraffin lamp. This one had a long spout where a stuffing stuffed with paraffin was stuffed. To achieve a high enough temperature to solder, a blowpipe was used.

When Hallvard T. Hovet, Trygve's grandfather, in 1927 was allowed to buy the property Breiveg on the upper side of the road from the hotel, it was like this. A table under the window that the kids had been told to stay away from. When the next generation established itself right after the war, Trygve's father, Olav H. Rysstad, furnished a small room inside the kitchen. Especially the soldering and the use of different acid baths suggested that it made sense to get this away from where people stayed. But mother Sigrid A. Rysstad continued to do her part of the production in the kitchen, curling (making a rose pattern with silver thread), hooking on leaves etc.

Over time, things got easier. For Christmas in 1946, the village received electric current, and after a quarter of an hour, various electric machines made the work easier. The hand drill, which was used to twist wire, was replaced with an electric drill, and the blowtorch faced stiff competition with the propane gas when it was to be soldered. What time did one take the step over from the old way to the new had to do with finances. One step at a time was a good rule, even though it did not necessarily go as fast as one would have thought. The rule was that every man had to fend for himself. No one had heard of financial support for the establishment of a business. During the 1980s, the silversmithing profession in Setesdal underwent what we can call a professionalization. Traditionally, all sales of sylv were based on direct contact between producer and buyer.

The Bunad traditions in Setesdal had a great need for what we can call utility silver. We are thinking, among other things, of shirt buttons, neck buttons, horn rings and belt buckles etc. that were absolutely necessary to keep the suit in place. Whoever put on an awl or a button, bought directly from the silversmith. After a quarter of an hour there were many silversmiths. So many that there was a need to think alternatively. One solution was to sit all winter making awnings, large and small, and when spring came, pack everything in a big bag and travel on a trade trip to Telemark or Hardanger. Others put up a sign along the post road, and after a quarter as car traffic increased, many aimed to sell to tourists. The tourists were usually not looking for bunadssylv. Bunad was not "in" in the 1930s. Then the silversmith made rings as it said MEMORY of a memory from Setesdal. Small buckles in various shapes were easy to sell to visitors. It was a real souvenir, at the same time as it could be bought for a reasonable price.

The large bunad sails have always been an expensive investment. The first to build his own silversmith shop was Torleiv H. Bjørgum's Sylvartun in the early 1960s. At the same time, small kiosks appeared in several places in the villages, where silver jewelery was an important commodity. Rysstad Camping, which was the forerunner of what is now Sølvgarden Hotell, had a kiosk hall until 1977. Then came the service building with sanitary facilities in the basement, shop and workshop. The page has only progressed. Today, sylvsmia and the outlet are an integral part of Sølvgarden hotel.