A Passionate Pursuit: Scandinavian Weavings from the Collection of Carol Johnson

A  pop-up exhibit of wonderful Scandinavian weavings is up on the gallery walls of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, through June (exact date TBD), due to the generosity of a Minneapolis collector.

Carol Johnson is friend of many members of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group, a fellow traveler on the Vesterheim Textile Tours.  She has been collecting Scandinavian textiles for the last 40 years.  Earlier she purchased her treasures at auctions and from antique dealers, especially Suzanne Kramer in Wisconsin, who specializes in Scandinavian antiques. In more recent years she has tracked eBay and scored many treasures.

 

A while back, Carol offered to show her textiles to the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group, and on April 2 we took her up on her offer. The week before, Mary Skoy and I visited her home to choose a selection for viewing. We were truly stunned at the extent of her collection as we looked around at weavings stacked on tables, over railings, on display racks, and in archival boxes.  We didn’t even see any of her pieces in her tablecloth and woven curtains collections. She has many tapestries, generally smaller in size; those will be described and displayed at a future Weavers Guild event.

 

Carol shared with our group at a small gathering on April 2. Because we wanted to give other members of the Weavers Guild the opportunity to relish these weavings, we were happy that Carol was willing to lend us many pieces to put up on display.

 

Over the next month, I will be examining the 28 pieces and make either separate labels or a listing. There will be additional posts on this blog. I will write a substantial article about Carol and her collection for the issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, coming out in early May, when you can learn about the stories behind some of the weavings.

 

Even without labels, the collection is a visual delight and an inspiration for weavers.  Be sure to check it out at the Weavers Guild in the next couple of months.  However, always check ahead before visiting, as the gallery walls are in a classroom and may not be available to visitors during a weaving class.

 

As a teaser, here are photos of the walls with the weavings.

Spotted at the March Meeting

Much of our time at the March meeting of the Scandinavian Weavers was taken up with discussion of our upcoming group project on a loom at the Weavers Guild: skilbragd. There was also satisfying show and tell time.  Phyllis Waggoner brought a t-shirt rug with  cool hems, a piece of her own design.

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Melba Granlund made the sampler she wove in Sweden last summer into a wonderful pillow. The techniques in the Swedish art weaves sampler are from the book Heirlooms of Skåne: Weaving Techniques, available from Vavstuga, http://store.vavstuga.com/product/book-johaheirlo.html

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Following Jan Mostrom’s class, Marilyn Moore wove a danskbrogd sampler (and is planning her next piece).

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Kristin Lawson brought the piece that she made in Jan’s Danskbrogd class, and another that she made after the class.

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The designs on the piece below were inspired by a wonderful Japanese weaver whose blog is here.

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I hope you enjoyed this virtual viewing. Robbie

 

 

January 2018 Meeting: We Beat the Blizzard by a Day

The weather gods were with us this month, as the 12 inches of snow held off until the day after our Scandinavian Weavers meeting.

swedish textilesJan Mostrom brought two books on Swedish weaving.  She purchased the beautiful and huge Swedish Textile Art: The Khalili Collection, by Viveka Hansen, online.  What’s the best thing about the book, I asked. The pictures.  When she took the Swedish art weaves class in Sweden last summer, that book was in the classroom, and the students used it to pick out design elements for their samplers. If you look for this book online, note that there are English and Swedish editions.

In talking about buying weaving and textile books, Patty Johnson advised, “When a weaving book comes out, buy it, because when it goes out of print, it will cost way too much.  They do all short runs with them.” These days, out-of-print weaving books are ridiculously expensive when trying to buy them online.
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Jan also brought this small book that she bought in Sweden.

We had a round of introductions, because we have so many interested members of the group that can come only occasionally. Every month there is bound to be a few people who have not met one another.  We asked each person to mention the weaving technique they like the most, or if that’s too hard, maybe mention the one they like the least.

Jan Mostrom said,  “The technique I like the most is the one I am currently using. But if I’m having problems, that’s the one I like least.” Jan is a fan of krokbragd and danskbrogd, and she is teaching a class at the Weavers Guild on the techniques starting on January 29, the week that traffic in the whole city might be a giant Super Bowl snarl. Janis Aune and I also said that krokbragd and danskbrogd are favorite techniques.
Jan Josifek said her favorite technique these days is baltic pickup.  She said, “I like doing it so much I have to hide my loom.” She brought two beautiful pieces. The pattern for this band was from the book Patterned Sashes: The Common Cultural Layer by Anete Karlsone.  The Latvian language title is: “Rakstainas Jostas: Kopigais Kulturslanis.”  She got her copy from The Baltic Smith on Easy, here. Jan thought that Vavstuga may be selling an English edition when it is available.
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Patty Johnson, who favors her draw loom, said techniques with fine threads are her favorites.  Jane Connett said, “I like to do small stuff; I like small designs and lots of color.”  As you might guess, Jane does a lot of band weaving. She’s also taken up tatting, which she likes because it is portable.
Claire Most said, “I need to have two things going.” She likes to balance the slow work of tapestry with ikat dyeing. She added about working on tapestry, “I find it difficult to be that quiet.” Claire’s latest tapestry, “Lily,” is included in the “Common Thread” member show at the Textile Center of Minnesota now.
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Judy Larson likes to work in a larger scale, and particularly likes the Finnish three-shuttle technique used with fabric strips. She brought a set of three rugs from her last warp–all WILDLY different.
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One of the rugs was woven with fabric from the stash of Chuck Benson, a Weavers Guild member and fabulous rug weaver who passed away last year. Judy said they were fabrics she never would have chosen, especially the addition of black, but they worked well.
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Kevin Olson shared a tapestry he took off the loom recently, not quite in time for his wedding anniversary.  It’s adapted from a Swedish pattern.  The peonies and irises are from his wedding, and the six roses stand for the six years he has been with his husband. The figures hold a wedding certificate, which is a meaningful addition to the composition, but it was also an adaptation because weaving hands was tricky! He still has quite a bit of finishing work to do, both working in the mass of threads on the back, and figuring out how to mount it. He wove it on his recently purchased upright Glimakra tapestry loom.
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Janis Aune brought the small bag made from the sampler she wove at the Swedish art weaves course she took in Sweden last summer. (Read more about the class in the recent issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter.)
My show and tell was a pillow with fringe made in a Norwegian technique, part of my preparation for a class at North House Folk School, Scandinavian Fringe Embellishments: Folk Art on the Edge(s).
The study topic this year is a continuation of Swedish weaving, and we are interested in setting up another group warp on a Weavers Guild loom.  (The last group warp was dukagang last year.)  We planned to brainstorm at the next meeting, but by the end of our discussion there was enthusiasm for planning a half-heddle pick-up piece (Norwegian skilbragd, Swedish opphämta). Patty Johnson has all of the half-heddle sticks already.
Our next two meetings will be one week later than the usual third Sunday; they will be on February 25 and March 25. April and May 20 are the final spring meetings.

A Wonderful Scanian Art Weaves Adventure

For the new issue of The Norwegian Textile Letter, Edi Thorstensson did a wonderful job of gathering the thoughts and images of several lucky Americans who took a Swedish Art Weaves course last summer in Landskrona, Sweden. Like me, you will be sad you were not there too!

A Wonderful Scanian Art Weaves Adventure
Weaving the Art Weaves of Skåne
Inspiration, Outreach, and Connection  
Gunvor Johansson’s Exhibit at Bosjökloster
Fika and the Joy of Lingonberry Cake

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In the same issue, don’t miss the article about the enduring image of The Wise and Foolish Virgins in Norwegian billedvev (tapestry) and about Annemor Sundbø’s adventures in processing nettles for fiber.   The Norwegian Textile Letter

“Afternoon with an Expert” at Norway House, September 9, 2017

afternoonThe last weekend of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota and Norway House exhibition, “Traditional Norwegian Textiles: American Reboot,” includes special programming.  Afternoon with an Expert, on Saturday, September 9, from 1-3:30 pm, features Laurann Gilbertson, Curator at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. Her lecture,  “Warmth and Color: Traditional Norwegian Coverlets,” will begin at 1 pm.  Following the lecture, Gilbertson will conduct an Antique ID clinic.  Members of the public are encouraged to bring Nordic textiles to learn more about their age, origin, and function (but no appraisals).  Perhaps you have inherited a coverlet or hanging, but know little about it?  Maybe you bought a beautiful textile at an antique store or thrift shop and you wonder about its origins?

All those attending the lecture and visiting the exhibit are welcome to stay for the Antique ID portion, a special opportunity to see even more Scandinavian textiles.

Afternoon with an Expert: Laurann Gilbertson at Norway House
Saturday, September 9, 2017

12-3 pm:  Visit the exhibition, “Traditional Norwegian Textiles: American Reboot”
1 pm:       “Warmth and Color: Traditional Norwegian Coverlets
2 pm:       Antique ID clinic

Location: Norway House, 913 E. Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Cost:  $5; Free for members of Norway House and the Weavers Guild of Minnesota

Questions? Contact Robbie LaFleur, lafleur1801@me.com

How Long Does That Take to Weave?

IMG_5635Each Wednesday and Sunday until September 10 (12-3 pm), volunteers from the Weavers Guild of Minnesota Scandinavian Weavers Study Group are demonstrating weaving in the Galleri at Norway House, part of the exhibit “Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot.”  Slowly, the narrow runner in rutevev (square weave) is taking shape. It’s hard to know how long it takes to weave the runner, however, because part of the weaving time is devoted to talking to visitors. We explain the weaving being done or discuss other pieces in the show.  That’s the purpose of being there–so please come and distract the weaver!

This Sunday, August 13, Judy Larson will demonstrate weaving and Robbie LaFleur will give a gallery talk at 2 pm.  Please join us.

IMG_5110The runner is a variant of a large rutevev in the exhibit, one that was also woven by people demonstrating weaving.  In that case, it was the Oneota Weavers Guild in Iowa who wove on a large loom at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.  In the past couple of decades, the guild members have woven four large rutevev coverlets.

Again, it would be hard to calculate how long it took to weave the piece.

Jan Mostrom wove a large rutevev.  It’s not in the exhibit; this photo is from her home.  The size is roughly 36″ by 55″. Big.

 

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Jan said that it took her about one hour to complete one row of squares. But, keep in mind that she is experienced and fast.  We counted the rows and estimated time for weaving the top and bottom bands and came up with an estimate of 120 hours for the whole piece.  Of course that doesn’t include the time to warp the loom, get the materials,  graph out the pattern, or finish the edges after it came off the loom.  It couldn’t have been less that 150 hours.

The weaving time for many of the complex weavings in the American Reboot exhibit was considerable.  Come and enjoy the beautiful results.

 

 

Co-Curators Pop-up Show: Robbie LaFleur

Four of Robbie’s pieces at Norway House have similarities; they all include bands of color and design and are woven in fairly large scale in Scandinavian wool.

IMG_5573Traditional Norwegian symbols often appear in Robbie’s weaving, sometimes in an unexpected scale or materials. “Scandinavian Star” highlights a single Norwegian star, dense in shade of red rya pile. Read more about the piece in “An Eight-Pointed Star in Rya.” ($900)

 

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Bright bands of red, orange, and pink compose a wall hanging (or rug) made in Flesberg technique.  “Flesberg” is a  three-shaft bound weave technique found in that area of Norway.  Read more in “A Red Rug for the Vesterheim Exhibit.” ($800)

 

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vestRecently, Robbie has been experimenting with Danskbrogd, a boundweave technique found in the area of Vest Agder, near Kristiansand in Norway.  Here is a detail from a piece seen in Norway earlier this summer.

Below is an experiment in gray, with a pop of red. Read more in “How Long Did that Take to Weave?” and “Danskbrogd Instruction.” ($800)

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purple-smallRobbie was steeped in gray during a gray winter month, so the next step was to move to color.  The X design became bigger and bolder, on stripes of purple. Read more in “A New Weaving, and Red Bits for the Birds.” ($900)

 

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Biography:

Robbie LaFleur, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, has been following a thread of Scandinavian textiles since she studied weaving at Valdres Husflidsskole in Fagernes, Norway in 1977. She has continued her study with Scandinavian instructors at workshops in Norway and the U.S. Recent projects include interpreting Edvard Munch’s “Scream” painting into a variety of textile techniques and weaving tapestry portraits of her relatives. She was awarded the Gold Medal in Weaving from the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in 2006. Robbie coordinates the Weavers Guild of Minnesota Scandinavian Weavers Study Group and publishes the quarterly online newsletter, The Norwegian Textile Letter.

Artist Statement:

I am a handweaver of contemporary textiles inspired by Scandinavian folk textiles.  The language of my looms is based on centuries-old techniques, learned in weaving school in Norway. The core graphic impact of old folk textiles drives each new weaving, in a search for balance, color and boldness. Even when the planning process is computer-assisted, or a technique is done at a new scale or in unusual materials, I honor the fine craftsmanship of the past.

The exhibit will be up at Norway House in Minneapolis through September 10.