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Carol Johnson’s Tapestry Collection: Floral

The display up at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota through April 12, 2019, “Scandinavian Tapestry Treasures from the Collection of Carol Johnson,” is divided into broad categories, for the sake of arrangement on the walls.

The categories are: people; buildings, landscapes, and ships; floral; abstracts; and animals. “Other” was a useful final category to display some figurative pieces that aren’t strictly tapestry.


Flowers are a common Swedish tapestry motif; the exhibit includes many floral pieces (I think they are all Swedish) to help Minnesota audiences think beyond the current snow and cold. If you have more information on any of the pieces–designer, similar designs, or “I’ve woven that too!”, let me know.

Carol has two tapestries with charming abstracted lilies of the valley, woven in rölakan.

26″ x 32″

The larger version is unfortunately faded; perhaps sunlight and dry conditions also caused the linen fringes to dry up and fall off. Looking at the back, you can see the double-interlock rölakan  joins and only wish that the rich colors could be found on the front, too.

This hand-colored photograph of a historical textile from the Swedish Digitaltmuseum has similarities to one in Carol’s collection. It is part of a collection of 120,000 photographs by Lilli Zickerman, posted by the Svenska Hemslöjdsförening  (The Swedish Handcraft Association). Lilli Zickerman undertook a massive inventory of Swedish folk textiles between 1910-1932.

The second rölakan with lilies of the valley is smaller and less faded. (I’m really fond of the borders at the top and bottom of this piece.)

19.5″ x 22″, excluding fringes

In this flamsk with a central, beautifully-patterned parrot, the weaver seemed determined to fill up every space.  Even where the flowers and leaves don’t reach, note the addition of diamond shapes and a checkered tab at the left.

19″ x 22″

The image of birds in a wreath with a background of flowers is a common Swedish flamsk pattern. (Click here for another variation from the Swedish DigitaltMuseum.)

13.5″ x 16.5″, excluding fringes

This is a geometric piece woven in rölakan.  It’s interesting how the essence of a tulip remains, even when so abstracted.

20″ x 19″, excluding fringes

This flamsk weaving is interesting from a design standpoint.  While weaving it sideways, most lines are horizontal, making the weaving easier than dealing with many vertical lines. It has an attractive varied background, too.

13″ x 15″

A small piece.  Nice rich blues.

7″ x 10″

One of the few pieces in Carol Johnson’s collection with a woven date.

13.5″ x 16″

When I was adding photos of the two next pieces to this post, even though I knew the edges were different–remember that one has triangles and one has diagonal bars, I told myself–I got confused.  Which had I added? They are indicative of many similar Swedish floral pieces that have a central column of flowers in a vase, with roughly symmetrical flowers on either side, and often, a set of birds. (The central image in the wreath a bit further above also has the vase/flowers/birds arrangement.)

11″ x 15″
13.5″ x 16.5″, excluding fringes

Looking at this one made me appreciate the more subtle, and probably natural-dyed colors of many of the other pieces.  The sharp green isn’t pleasing, at least to me.

13″ x 16″, excluding fringes

This narrow rose flamsk was finished nicely on the back–worth a view, I thought!

3″ x 10″

Small flowers, only about 5″ square.

5.5″ x 5″

This modern bouquet has a lovely variety of colors and is skillfully woven.

14″ x 10″

Mid-century modern! When I was counting florals with tulips, I wasn’t positive, but I don’t think any of these abstract blooms are tulpaner

9.5″ x 14″

Seven of the floral tapestries included tulips.

You have more than a month to catch these in person at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota.

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