This spring I ran across an issue of a Norwegian publication about local history, Lokalhistorisk Magazine. They had a whole issue devoted to art and handcraft, “Kunst og husflid.” I felt like I found gold; the issue includes several interesting articles on textiles. I contacted the publisher, and editor Audhild Brødreskift was very gracious about allowing us to publish translations of the articles in The Norwegian Textile Letter. Thank you, Audhild. The first appears in this issue, “A Synopsis of the History of Norwegian Tapestry – and Some Thoughts about Tapestry Today,” by tapestry artist Unn Sønju. Unn was delightful to work with, and she supplied the English translation. I asked about her own influences for a bio, and that turned into a separate article featuring her amazing work. Thank you, Unn.
In March I really wished I could hop over to Norway to take a course in Icelandic Glit, a weaving technique on the warp-weighted loom. That didn’t work, but I managed the second-best option, getting a wonderful article about the class and technique from Hildur Hakonardottir. Thank you, Hildur. For added interest, there are comments from three students in the class. Thank you, Marta Kløve Juul, Monika Ravnanger, and Randi Anderson.
Appropriately enough, this issues finishes with a review of the fabulous new book, The Warp-Weighted Loom, by Hildur Hákonardóttir, Elizabeth Johnston, Marta Kløve Juul. Thank you, Wendy Sundquist.
If you can make it to Minneapolis between July 20 and September 10 this year, you won’t want to miss this exhibit at Norway House. Here is the first blast of information we are sharing; watch for more in the future. Plus, the exhibit will be well-covered in a future issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter.
Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot
An Exhibit at Norway House: July 20-September 10, 2017
Sponsored by Norway House and the Weavers Guild of Minnesota
Make Minneapolis your destination thus summer for an exhibit joining Norwegian weaving past and present. Inspired by historical textiles, American weavers have used Norwegian weaving techniques to create a new body of work, contemporary in design or materials. Enjoy traditional pieces from the collection of the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum and outstanding weavings from recent decades that honor the past and break through with modern expression.
The exhibit of invited pieces (40 in all) is based around several techniques, including rya; tapestry; krokbragd and other boundweave variants; band weaving; and overshot weaves such as monks belt and skilbragd. Other pieces are chosen to illustrate where American weavers learned their skills in Norwegian techniques, and where weaving in the Norwegian tradition has been exhibited over the years.
Related events include lectures and classes and weaving demonstrations. A loom will be set up in the gallery where members of the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group will weave a rutevev (square weave) runner.
- Opening celebration: Thursday, July 20, 2017, 5-8 pm.
- Gallery talks: Sundays and July 23, August 13, 2 pm.
- Weaving demonstrations: Wednesdays and Sundays from July 23-September 17, 12 pm-3 pm
- Afternoon with an Expert, featuring Laurann Gilbertson, Curator, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum: Saturday, September 9, 1-3:30 pm. Following the lecture, “Warmth and Color: Traditional Norwegian Coverlets,” Gilbertson will conduct an Antique ID clinic. Members of the public are encouraged to bring Nordic textiles to learn more about their age, origin, and function (but no appraisals).
- Classes: Sami-style Band Weaving, Mondays, August 14 and 21, 12-4 pm; Make a Viking Knit Bracelet, Monday, July 24, 10 am-2 pm; Cardboard Loom Weaving for Kids, Monday, August 7, 10 am – noon.
Information on the exhibit will be posted on the Norway House website soon. For now, sign up for Sami-style Band Weaving with Keith Pierce, or Make a Viking Knit Bracelet with Melba Granlund. Maybe you know a kid to sign up for the fun introduction to weaving. This is a special opportunity to see the weaving exhibit in depth, as these Weavers Guild classes will be held at Norway House, right in the main gallery.
Also, follow the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group blog in the coming weeks to read about many of the individual pieces.
This 19th century “boat rya,” a treasure of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, will hang next to several contemporary rya weavings.
Annual Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition
The other premier destination for seeing Norwegian weaving this summer is the “Annual Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition,” on view at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Deborah, Iowa, from June 8-July 17, 2017. This is a wonderful venue to see weaving, as the pieces are interspersed in the gallery with rosemaling, woodcarving, and knife carving–a rich way to view folk art-inspired pieces in context.
To tempt you, here is a detail shot from a beautiful sjonbragd weaving by Jan Mostrom. I saw it just off the loom, ready for finishing and sending down for the exhibit.
As a vennlig reminder, you can support the publication of the Norwegian Textile Letter via a handy Paypal link on the main page of the newsletter. Your support is very much appreciated!
Editor and Publisher