“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

Firfletting Demonstration at Norway House

firfletting1When?  12-3 on Wednesday, August 30 and Sunday, September 3, 2017
Where?  At Norway House, 913 E. Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404

As part of the exhibition, “Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot,” Lisa Torvik will demonstrate the Norwegian handcraft of firfletting, a four-strand braiding technique traditionally used to make ethereal linen hangings for windows or to hang in front of fine weavings. The braided technique was also typically used for the borders of Christmas towels.

The piece shown below is from the Valdres Folkemuseum (details here). It is appropriate to show a piece from Valdres because that is where demonstrator Lisa Torvik attended husflidsskole (handcraft school) and learned the technique.

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Firfletting has been designated a handcraft in danger of disappearing on the Norwegian Husflid (Handcraft Association) Rødliste (the Red List), and a lovely short film about the technique was produced in Bø i Telemark.  Moderator Torhild Aavik describes the tradition and demonstrates the technique, which goes back to Viking times. She shows a traditional way firfletting is used in Bø i Telemark, as two panels hung on each side of a window. In the film, she is reproducing a pattern from the area by looking at a photograph of an old piece.  Although firfletting was largely practiced by women, that piece was made in the 1800s by Anders Spjote, a man from the area.

To finish, Torhild says, “We will be much poorer of we turn our backs on this handwork and others like it. They can bring a bit of the past into the present.” The film is in Norwegian, but instructive even if you can’t understand the dialogue. The film is here.

Here is another photo of firfletting, a piece from the Norsk Folkemuseum. (Details here)

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Don’t miss Lisa’s time at Norway House, which will be in addition to the regularly-scheduled rutevev demonstration on the loom in the exhibition.

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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.

From Exhibits at Vesterheim to Norway House

If you want to see weavings made in the Norwegian tradition, the Midwest has been perennially good location.  The upcoming exhibit at Norway House, “Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot,” is the latest, and the largest in Minneapolis.

Each summer the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum holds a rich exhibit of many types of folk art, including weaving, rosemaling, knife-making, and wood carving.  The objects in the National Exhibit of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition complement each other in a joint display.  This exhibit is an opportunity to see many types of folk art done in a traditional style along with pieces created in more contemporary styles, but with clear Norwegian folk art influences. The current exhibit is up through July 29, 2017.

Two pieces in the American Reboot exhibit at Norway House from previous exhibits illustrate a traditional versus contemporary influence. Vestfold is a weaving technique named after the county in Norway in which several examples were found.  The technique features embroidery-like patterns woven into a two-shaft ground weave, similar to Swedish krabbasnår.  The coverlets were built up of bands of characteristic patterns that varied in color and pattern.  Robbie LaFleur’s banded piece would fit in well with the 18th and 19th century Vestfold weaving found in that area; it uses many of the motifs found in the older coverlets.

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In contrast, Rosemary Roehl used the same technique for a more recognizable image–birds march along bands of color divided by borders of flowers. Rosemary liked the pattern so much that she wove it both with a black background and another with a white background.

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Rosemary Roehl

In her photo, Rosemary is wearing a bunad from the Nordfjord region, which she sewed herself.  Her comment on this was, “Lucky for me they were weavers.” She wove the apron, which has flowers done with the vest fold technique, and the many yards of bands on the hem, waist and front and back of the bodice.

Since The Norwegian Textile Letter became digital, photos of all of the weavings in the Vesterheim National Exhibit of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition have been published each summer.

2016

 

Krokbragd and More at the Summer Exhibit

2015

National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition – 2015

2014

33rd National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian TraditionVesterheim Exhibition Gallery.

2013

National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition, 2013

 

 

 

A Multi-Generation Weaving Story

History. Color. Amazing workmanship. Funny images. Text and depth in fiber. You will find these things in pieces in the exhibit at Norway House, “Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot,” up from July 20-September 10.  You will also find stories. In two small tapestries at Norway House you can find a three-generation weaving story that  stretches from Norway to Minnesota.

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Hans Berg painted his wife Inga at the loom.

Inga Berg, born in 1897 in Lier, Norway, married artist Hans Berg in 1921.  They studied art on a months-long honeymoon throughout Europe. In 1929 Inga studied weaving theory at Sister Bengston’s weaving school in Oslo, Norway. She was prolific in spinning, dyeing, knitting, weaving and sewing.  Often Hans would create a pattern for his adoring wife to weave.

Inga’s daughter Ellen was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1924. While in Norway, she became a registered nurse and a medical technologist. During WWII she helped hide her soon to be brother-in-law Gunnar Lislerud in the attic of their home.   After WWII, in the 1950s, Ellen, along with her parents, moved to Minneapolis.

Ellen the WeaverEllen married Don Anderson in 1958 and they had two children, Kent and Karin.  She was an excellent strawberry farmer, beekeeper, weaver, painter, cook and caregiver.  She took care of both of her parents; Inga lived to the age of 106.

Ellen had a love for weaving and her homeland, so she joined the Weavers Guild of Minnesota and the Scandinavian Weavers group. Inspired by her mother’s work, she took a tapestry class at the Weavers Guild and the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.  Ellen liked to use tapestry patterns from Norway that were sold for studying tapestry weaving, like this image of the girl and the cow. There is no doubt this same weaving is found on the walls of many Norwegian homes, too.

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In this particular weaving Ellen was interested in perfecting her tapestry techniques, and learning the various types of joining techniques that are characteristic of billedvev, Norwegian tapestry. This was Ellen’s last weaving before she died suddenly in 2003. She left an unfinished dream: to weave a picture of her beloved strawberry farm.

That brings us to the present, and the continuing weaving story of Karin Maahs, Ellen’s daughter, a member of the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group and a relatively new weaver. Karen relates the story of her tapestry in the American Reboot show.

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Karin Maahs

My inspiration was from the love of my mother.  For years my mom wanted me to draw a weaving for her of our strawberry farm.  After my mother’s death, I inherited all of my her and my grandmother’s wool, looms, spinning wheels, books and weaving journals. I initially joined the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group in 2003-2005.  I took some beginning floor loom classes to learn how to use my mom’s loom.  I was home schooling my children at the time so I stopped weaving and focused on them.  After both my kids started college I could not stop the burning desire to work with the loom again. The big question was, “What should I start with?”

I knew there was some very special yarn in my stash, Kunstvevgarn Spelsau yarn in every color of the rainbow, shipped from my aunt in Norway to my mother.  In an attempt to honor my mom, grandmother and aunt I decided to weave the tapestry my mom always wanted to do, a picture of “The Farm.”  At first it was intimidating because I knew nothing about how to start.  After some great encouragement from my mom’s Scandinavian weaving friends, and a plethora of books I inherited, I dove in.  My thought was—I know I can paint this, so why not treat the yarn like it was paint?  It didn’t take long to absolutely fall in love with working in wool.  Especially this wool… my mom’s wool.

karin-2

Karin has two grown children. Perhaps it is time to stretch the weaving tradition to a fourth generation? The Weavers Guild of Minnesota is a perfect place to learn.

Mark your calendars for a trip to Norway House between July 20 and September 10.  Come to the opening! Thursday, July 20, 5-8 pm.

 

 

 

 

If You Can’t Read the Norwegian Weaving Book, So What?

comboHow did the contemporary weavers in the “Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot” exhibit learn to weave in traditional techniques?  Sometimes it was a class, other times by studying an old textile. But books are key.

If you could create a state-by-state map showing ownership of weaving books in Norwegian, Minnesota would win, hands-down.  Many weavers around the state have collections of books bought on trips to Norway or many times, from the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.  It doesn’t even matter if the owners don’t read Norwegian, weavers find inspiration from the photos and can read the drafts for the loom.

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Jeanine Swanson Ehnert‘s beautiful and traditional weaving in skilbragd technique was inspired by the draft for a “Skilbragd from Fosnes” found in a book published in 2001 by the Nord-Trøndelag Husflidslag, Om Fellen Kunne Fortelle: Åkletradisjon til Inspirasjon  by Randi Breistet (loosely translated as If the Blanket Could Talk: Coverlet Traditions for Inspiration). She used a draft similar to this one from the book.

Jeanine weaves in Frazee, Minnesota, with a concentration on traditional Norwegian weaving techniques.  She also conducts weaving workshops and classes at the Vevstuen Nordic Weaving Studio, located in her home, which includes two floor looms and several table looms. Some workshops are for beginning weavers, and others focus more on Scandinavian design aspects.

Here is Jeanine weaving the first section of her “Skilbragd fra Fosnes.”

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The piece progresses.

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Come to the wide-ranging exhibit at Norway House, July 20-September 10, “Traditional Norwegian Weaving: American Reboot” to see the full piece. Don’t miss it! During the run of the show, there will be classes, demonstration days, gallery talks, and a lecture.  Full details here.