Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum recently published the third in a series of beautifully-illustrated pamphlets on major types of folk art in their collection: rosemaling, woodcarving, and weaving. They serve as primers for first-time visitors, and show knowledgeable craftspeople the depth and beauty of artifacts owned by the museum. They are also valuable resources for Folk Art School students.
I was asked to write the weaving booklet, which was a privilege–and a challenge. Hmmm….distill all of Norwegian weaving into several paragraphs in a 10-page booklet. I worked with Curator Laurann Gilbertson, who suggested we focus on coverlet techniques, partly because those techniques are taught in weaving classes at Vesterheim. We brainstormed about which Vesterheim-owned weavings would best represent the several techniques chosen.
Katherine Larson spent a whole book explaining The Woven Coverlets of Norway! (For a sample from her book see: “The Woven Coverlets of Norway: Dansk Brogd.”) What could I say in a few pages? For fear of being unduly influenced by Kay’s excellent book, I didn’t even review my copy until my first draft was finished. What if my Norwegian friends read it and thought I missed the mark in some way?
Once I was over the hump of “oh my gosh, how will this ever come together,” the entire process went more smoothly than I anticipated. It couldn’t have happened–none of these booklets could have happened–without the expertise and editing of Laurann Gilbertson, and Charlie Langton’s beautiful layouts. Thanks also to Lea Lovelace, head of Vesterheim’s Folk Art School, for her editing; she brought clarity to the text by reading with a non-weaver’s eye.
I’m still looking forward to seeing a print copy. Print copies of the booklet will be available at the museum. Here is an easy-to-print pdf: “What is Norwegian Weaving?.”
Also, you might enjoy the other two booklets in the series.
After noted rosemaler Marlys Hammer died, several of her friends donated funds for Vesterheim to create a booklet about Norwegian rose painting. It focuses on describing and distinguishing between regional rosemaling styles. Photos of artifacts from the Vesterheim collection illustrate the text by Judy Ritger and Patty Goke.
Woodcarver Phil Odden describes traditional techniques you might recognize–like wood burning, chip carving, and acanthus carving–and some you might not know, like kolrosing (a delicate incising technique) and kroting (carving into dark-painted wood). The booklet focuses on carved decorative techniques, and the illustrations show some different forms created with woodworking (such as bentwood and stave containers).
We hope to see you at a Vesterheim Folk Art School class soon!