During the Vesterheim Textile Tour to Norway and Finland in June, I was disappointed by the few ryas I saw in Finland. Even though this tour was not focused on weaving, I thought that ryas would be everywhere, and that the National Museum, in particular, would have an excellent collection. I saw NONE there. Still, some interesting pieces turned up occasionally along our tour route. This contemporary piece in the Craft Museum of Finland was interesting in its long, narrow orientation.
When we visited the Taito shop and craft center in Ilomantsi, Finland, a conference room featured three small rya pieces that fit perfectly in the modern, clean setting.
The photo doesn’t highlight the pieces so well, but I wanted to show the room – it was so different that the Russian Orthodox Church we visited, where we studied the traditional embroidered linen textiles that drape many of the icon paintings.
There was also a rya made with paper yarn ….. that sparks ideas.
A month later I went on a great vacation in Budapest, even though it was 95-99 degrees each of the three days we visited. While exploring, my husband Mike and I trekked through the construction zone surrounding the ornate Parliament Building, turned a corner, and faced a giant sign on the front of the Museum of Ethnography, “The Ryijy Lives On – Finnish Ryijy Textiles 1707-2012.” !!! Mike indulged my immediate need to visit the museum, preferring some exercise and relaxation.
This exhibit was like a gift. Immense rya rugs hung on the walls of cavernous rooms. It was a bit overwhelming, but it was so interesting to see the pieces in person, after seeing many of them in a book that accompanied the exhibit, which I had purchased in Finland a month before, Ryijy elää. See many ryas online on the website for the book.
As I looked through the older ones, up through a cheesy image of Cinderella done during the early 1900s, sensory overload crept in and my interest began to flag. Suddenly, the next room jumped ryas from the 1950s-1970ss. The designs and color blending of the contemporary pieces clearly shift from fine craft to fine art. Seeing these pieces made me want to go home RIGHT THEN and begin blending bundles of wool. That will happen soon enough, as I plan to weave a large rya this fall based on an old piece donated to the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. To finish, here are three beautiful modern ryas, with apologies for less than perfect photos.