Frida Hansen Class in Decorah – Part One

Those who follow my work know I am a fan of Frida Hansen’s wool open warp transparent tapestries. I spent time carefully examining pieces made in that technique at the Stavanger Art Museum in 2019, during a fellowship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation. Since then I have been researching the transparent tapestries designed by Frida Hansen and her followers, and figuring out how to weave them – both for myself and to inspire others through workshops. Who can help but be inspired by Frida Hansen’s beautiful birds, flowers, and mermaids?

Frida Hansen. Clematis and Birds of Paradise (detail),

I taught my first workshop in the technique last week, to eight enthusiastic students in a four-day class at Vesterheim Folk Art School. Beforehand, I thought that might be too long. Would I have enough to discuss? Yes! The students each chose the sample they would weave; they could use a pattern I provided (based on Frida’s flowers), adapt one of many images I printed of details from Frida Hansen’s transparencies, or develop their own image. The result was an amazing variety.

Two students chose to use the single rose pattern that I already wove twice while experimenting with warp yarns. Kristine Brandel wove a rose on my pipe loom – the same size as my samples. Kristine only owned Hockett looms for tapestry, which I don’t think would work well because they don’t have a tensioning device, but she gets extra credit for weaving a small flower in wool transparency on the Hockett one evening!

wool transparency rose

Laura Demuth wove the rose too, but on a slightly bigger scale on her Mirrix loom. She used a darker blue warp than Kristine.

Deborah Thomas chose a pattern detail I printed out from Frida Hansen’s design, Rose Tree and Lilies of the Valley. Given the scale of the version on her Mirrix loom, she simplified some of the blossoms and took out some of the leaves. She inverted the image and chose marvelous, unexpected colors — green roses and purple flowers. It’s in the Frida Hansen spirit, who designed both blue roses and black roses.

In a message to students beforehand, I suggested that since Frida Hansen was such a fan of flowers and birds in her designs, they might want to think of flowers or birds they like, to adapt for a cartoon. Kevin Olsen found a daisy image online that was perfectly suited to the technique. With his choice of blue blossoms and yellow centers on a blue warp, they looked like groovy seventies Swedish flowers!

A celebration of the other student projects will be coming soon….

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