Rønnaug Petterssen and some of the workers at the Atelier
The United Federation of Doll Clubs opens it’s 67th annual conference at the Hilton Hotel on Connecticut Ave on Wednesday and I am happy to announce that I will give a presentation, part of the afternoon Doll Dialogs at 2:30 and 3:30pm that same Wednesday. If you happen to be at the conference be sure to come by and say hello. I would very much like to meet you. I will be talking about the tricky issue of determining which costume the Rønnaug Petterssen doll you own or are thinking of buying is wearing.
I am happy to tell you that the little violin and accordion found a home in the US. I hope they bring great joy to the new owner. Among the things that were left after I helped my mother close her workshop were some new and unused catalogs. I have just a few minutes ago offered one of these catalogs on Ebay if you are interested in checking it out. This catalog is 24 pages and was produced by the Norwegian Folk Museum for the exhibit Ronnaug Petterssen’s costumed dolls and the traditions that surround them which opened at the museum in 1974 and became a permanent exhibit. The foreword for the exhibit and the organizer for it was Aagot Noss who at the time was head curator for the textile department. She of course also wrote the foreword to my book Ronnaug Petterssen – The Artist and Her Dolls which remains available on Amazon.
Here is hoping you all had a wonderful 4th of July Celebration. I am sorry I have been so completely out of contact for a while, but I unfortunately had to have a rather large and complicated back surgery and needed to concentrate on the recovery. While I am not fully recovered yet, I have nevertheless gotten to a point where my focus can include other things as well.
I had a chance last week to look at the stats for this website and also the stats for Amazon book page and see that people have continued to visit the site, though I am sure you all are thoroughly tired of seeing the same post by now, and that the book has continued to sell. For that I am very grateful. It is heartwarming to see that all the hard work going into writing it and doing the photography has been worthwhile.
I also know that United Federation of Doll Clubs Convention in Kansas City, MO, is coming up very soon and I wish those of you who will be attending lots and lots of fun.
I am sorry I have not posted anything for a while. From time to time personal issues intervene. But spring is at least here ans that is wonderful. The winter cold has had a hard time letting go of it’s grip on our region, but as Swedish author and illustrator, Elsa Beskow writes in one of her delightful children’s books; Olle’s Ski Trip, eventually Lady Thaw has to come out with her broom and forcefully sweep King Winter off the stage. Princes Spring is ready to arrive in all her splendor.
The book, Ronnaug Petterssen, the artist and her dolls continues to do well. Recent visitors to this website have come from South Africa, Colombia, South Korea, as well as from the US, Canada, Europe at large and also Russia. I am thrilled that there are interested people so many places.
The book Ronnaug Peterssen, the Artist and her dolls is available through Amazon. Check it out by clicking on the image.
Winter continues its cold grip on the area where little Anne lives with snow on the ground. As a good Norwegian she dresses warmly from the inside out. She puts on her skis so she can go to visit her good friends nearby. The sun is high in the sky.
On the way who does she meet? She had already met the little snow people on her evening ski trip. They are shy and rarely come out, except to greet the big snowman. As little Anne skis on, a snow man,and two forest nisse also suddenly appears and she stops and greets them. She asks what is new in their part of the woods. As they are talking two little bear cubs appears tumbling around in a mock fight. They had gotten bored sitting in the cave waiting for their mother to wake up. Little Anne stops to look at them having so much fun. She continues on, when she hears a strange sound, a little sad lullaby coming from somewhere among the trees. There beside the trail among the trees she sees a little snow hare, looking so sad, singing to itself.
Other good news is that the review of my book Ronnaug Petterssen – The Artist And Her Dolls came out in the winter issue of the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC) recently. I just received my copy her here is the review for you. The book is available through Amazon.com
Santa Lucia is taken very seriously in Sweden. I learned about it from Swedish friends when I was in my mid teens. At that time not many people in Norway celebrated the day like they are today. Back then I was working at a home decor store in downtown Oslo called Vakre Hjem. I worked there during the Christmas holiday and summer vacations. The wife who was Swedish was an interior designer and her Norwegian husband an architect and they sold some of the most beautiful handwoven fabrics, table ware and decor items you could imagine, coming from all over Scandinavia. It was here I bought one of the first Marimekko dresses that came for sale in Oslo.
On the first Saturday in early December we would gather as soon as the doors closed to customers at 2 pm and would heave to and decorate the store with beautiful and enticing displays. These displays included special Christmas items and also my mother’s Christmas nisse (santa) and angels together with what was normally available. My job was to decorate the three tiny windows.
On Saturday evening late as we were finishing the work, someone would run out to the allnight street kitchen to buy “lapskaus“, a hearty stew, with meat, vegetables and potatoes. Some beer and a bottle of aquavit was already cooling. Others set a long table using the beautiful tableware from the store and when all was ready we sat down to a late night dinner (maybe 11 pm) and a glass. I just loved the years I worked there for these wonderful people and have many fond memories.
The couple also celebrated Santa Lucia and on the 13th of December, whichever day of the week it fell on we were all invited to a 6 am breakfast of mulled wine and saffron buns, (lussekatter). It was by then very cold outside. Today Santa Lucia celebration is much more broadly recognized. Of course by now the nisse and his helpers are also all busy at work getting ready for Christmas eve. Santa starts in Europe in the evening where he comes knocking on the doors of all the little boys and girls and then flies over the rest of the world with this sleigh and reindeer.
I am continuously amazed at how kind people really are. All through the gathering of information for the book from the beginning right up till the book went to press, people miraculously popped up seemingly out of nowhere, people who I had never met, but who had been collecting my mother’s dolls and had information to share. Just collating the information I already had myself was an enormous task, but trying to gather additional sources from scratch was really daunting. But as is often the case, just asking the question out loud is a good place to start. If one can also frame that question properly, especially when one deals with the internet, it can yield spectacular results. Many of these same wonderful people are now helping me spread the word about the book and the book signing party on November 15th and I am again so grateful. If you want to read what they have said about the book check it out here.
Heddal girl ca 1950, warmely dressed
I have to confess I have been playing with my dolls lately. I don’t often do that, even though I have a cabinet full of them. I realized I wanted to change the photo in the banner of the blog site and thought I would use slightly different dolls for it. With winter approaching and the doll I wanted to use not being dressed warmly enough I decided I needed to make a hat to go with the coat I already had, a coat my mother had made for one of my dolls when I was a very little girl. The fabric I chose is the same vintage as what was used in the coat, part of the leftover materials that I took with me after my mother died. Good quality fabrics don’ fall apart. As a child my mother made all kinds of clothing for my dolls to go with any season of the year, but most of these are long gone now, only the coat and a woolen jacket is left. One doesn’t have to worry nearly as much about cold weather when one wears a Norwegian national costume. Made of good heavy wool they are often more than warm enough with a cape or a jacket to keep one warm.
If you are interested in checking the book out click on the book cover.
Here is what one buyer said: “Finally there is a book about the great Norwegian doll artist. An interesting story told by her daughter.I especially liked all the photos of the artist’s work” A.H., Norway
If you would like a signed copy, go to the contact page and send me an email with a request.
It interests me greatly when I see Petterssen dolls for sale on the internet that they are so often poorly posed and also often very untidy looking. For folks selling dolls regularly I suggest buying the book so one can see whether the doll being sold have all the costume parts or correct .
Magazine ad 1937
I have seen dolls offered with entirely unrelated costume pieces. I have even seen in one instance costume pieces replaced with with pieces from another culture all together. It will look a bit odd. My mother would, well you can imagine.
Damage to dolls or clothing may occur if the dolls are displayed in direct light, especially direct sunlight and left to gather dust, because they are unprotected from dust and moths. The best of course is to place them in a display case. A display case does not have to be extravagant or expensive. Many are constructed from simple pine with glass shelves, glass front and sides. But depending on the space available and the budget available, they can have just a grass front (as door that can open).
Displaying them this way protects your investment against (further) damage, because you are keeping them dust free and also can place some form of moth protection with the dolls. My mother used fabric natural, like cotton and wool. To keep the dolls clean you may want to consult the book which has a chapter on that. But let me say, even in a display case, inspect the dolls a couple of times a year for any damage and brush theme off a bit. This will give you a chance to “play” with them and perhaps rearrange the display to suit your current interest. The dolls from the smallest to the largest are eminently posable (check earlier blog). If you find you need to part with a doll and have kept them clean as possible and also know how to pose them, that will make the doll far more desirable to a buyer. We respond to the dolls because of their inherently individual personality. Be with a doll for a bit, it will reveal to you who she/he is.
Here is the full review from Antique doll collector Magazine. Click on the image and it will be large enough to read. It is also posted on the Review page, accessible at the top.
Within the next couple of weeks copies of the book will have arrived at three museums, two in Norway and one in the US, destined for their libraries. The enthusiastic response to my offer of sending copies was warming. Norsk Folkemuseum (the Norwegian Folk Museum) In Oslo, Norway and the Migration Museum/Emigrant Museum in Ottestad, Norway have their collection of Rønnaug Petterssen’s dolls still on display. Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, Iowa, while they don’t own a collection of dolls, nevertheless have a beautiful bridal couple from Hardanger. These two dolls were a gift from the Norwegian Folk Museum in 1975 on the occasion of a visit from King Olav V who was in the United States to mark 150 years of Norwegian emigration. Already in the works at the time was the purchase of a collection of dolls by Norsk Utenriksdepartement (the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) also in the connection with the 150 year celebration. This collection, designed as a travelling exhibit, consisted of 26 dolls and opened in New York. After the opening it traveled on to various locations through out the US to promote Norway, Norwegian Culture and travel to Norway. The collection is now permanently housed at the Emigrant Museum. To read more about it you will need to get the book.
Great news to share with you. The first reviews are coming in.
A Febøring at the dock in Sildpollen
The story continues. Just to remind to the readers that these little background stories are not a rehash of the book, but rather about how the book came to be. Over the next year I continued writing and editing the manuscript over and over again. Along with this came the sorting of the photographs my father had taken before WWII and a few photographs my mother had gotten taken by one of the best known photographers in Oslo, as well a few snapshots I had. These photographs had to be scanned, properly edited and cropped. There was also undressing dolls to verify construction from what I remembered and also assessing when they were made. The came setting up to photograph the dolls I had, as well as I could borrow. This was no small task. I wanted the quality and feel of the photographs to be similar to the ones my mother and father had worked on, to reflect how they wanted these dolls to be presented. I needed appropriate lighting and proper background paper or cloth. I was able to borrow on extended load professional lighting equipment from a photographer friend. There were interminable trips to the fabric stores to find cloth of appropriate color, shade and texture. I had given up on paper, since it became too expensive for my use since I needed more than one color. The cost per roll was prohibitive. Then came photographing, re-photographing and sometimes re-photographing more times than I care to remember. Long evenings; one after the other. I learned a lot more than I will ever need to know again. By the time I was done with the first round and had placed photographs within the text and had a copy printed out, I realized the photographs were too dark and needed to be redone. Long evenings stretched interminably into weeks. By then my photo lighting equipment became unavailable and I decided to buy my own. These came with daylight, energy saving bulbs, which gave wholly different lighting and I had to learn anew how to use the set up. In the end though they proved to give better lit photographs. In early 2009 an email came from Adrian Skogmo in Sortland, Vesterålen, a hop skip and a jump from where my mother was born. Each year they had a Herring Festival in Sildpollen across Eidfjorden from Selnes where she was born and he was the organizer for the event. Would I consider come to speak about my mother at the festival. It sounded intriguing, but funds were not available for such a trip at that time and my back was getting worse. Such was the situation for most of 2009 and well into 2010. By summer 2010 my back had worsened so significantly that in early fall surgery was scheduled. It went off without any problems and I was recovering when the second invitation to come to Vesterålen was issued and I made the decision to go to Norway the following summer. This I decided was to be my consolation, my carrot to make the most of my recovery, a reward for being a such a good sport. The arrangement to go was made and in early 2011 I bought the tickets. I was very excited to visit my mother’s birth place. What an exciting trip it proved to be, but that is for the next installment.