From Domestic to Decorative: The Evolution of Nordic Weaving

Our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota has a show up at Red Wing Arts Depot Gallery in the beautiful southern Minnesota town of Red Wing.

Domestic to Decorative: The Evolution of Nordic Weaving |Oct 27 – Dec 24, 2023

The high-ceilinged display space is filled with light. The gallery is next to the river in the old depot, so trains run right outside the building. A wide variety of weavings hang on the walls and are displayed in vitrines.

The objects are arranged brilliantly, with clear signage so you can learn the stories behind the new weavings and the objects or traditional techniques that inspired them.

There has been a surge of interest in Viking-era warp weighted looms in the past few years, and one of the members of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group, Melba Granlund, has introduced the ancient weaving technique to many students. In centuries past weavers made thick wool coverlets and cloaks – crucial domestic textiles to protect against the cold, often with a pile of unspun wool. In one of Melba’s class, the students made their own smaller version of a warp-weighted loom, and Peg Hansen’s small loom is in the exhibit.

Peg painted the loom with gold milk paint, and look at the heddle holders of antlers!

But there’s more to this loom story, tying it to the saga Darradaraljog. What are the loom weights? “This warp is hard-weighted with the heads of the slain.”

Here is the sign for Peg Hansen’s work, Tidligere Kvinner.

We are connected to women through the ages using handcraft
for many purposes. In August, I took a Loom Construction class
by Jess Hirsch followed by Rya Weaving under the instruction
of Melba Granlund. One thing led to another. My eldest daughter
Sarah/Hannah Hansen dyed the blood red warp using lac with
additional exhaust from madder, marigold, and cochineal. The
blue weft is indigo dyed. The ryu white wool locks are Scoured
Wensleydale Fleece. The ceramic heads of contemporary power
brokers, made by Peg Hansen and Bitsy Joy, youngest daughter,
substitute for the traditional rocks in the spirit of the Norse/Celtic
saga, Darradarljog, also in the exhibit and created by my second
daughter, Rachel Hansen Morris. My art studio, ColorPlay Studios,
often collaborates as a family of artists.

I wonder which powerbrokers’ heads these are…

Here is the saga.

This remarkable work tells you nothing about all of the other weavings featured in the show – fine linens, transparent weavings, rya, rag rugs, telemarksteppe, Vestfold weaving, krokbragd, and more. You should visit! My rag rug is featured in this earlier post. And this is my Scandinavian Star weaving. (And it sold!)

The rya pile technique developed to emulate the warmth of sheepskin, to warm people in cold houses and out fishing in the cold North Sea. Here the pile is added decoratively, as a wooly Norwegian star.

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