So The Background Story

Fishing near Svolær, ca 1923

Rønnaug Petterssen fishing near Svolær, ca 1923

I promised a few days ago that I would write and tell you a little bit about how the book Rønnaug Petterssen – The Artist and Her Dolls came to be written. But I must first say, what I tell you will not be the same content you find in the book, it is not a substitute in other words, because that would not be much fun for me and nor for you.  The entries may be interspersed with other announcements; about how the marketing is going, about reviews and other items of interest. Finally, only parts of some entries may be published on the FaceBook pages, due to their format. But the complete entry will be published on this website/blog. I suggest you book mark it. www.ronnaugpetterssen.com

This is the story:

I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would be writing a book, nor a blog or anything in that vein. I wrote letters and thought that was rather fun. My mother encouraged me, because she kept up a large correspondence with friends far and near. My father did as well, so it was perhaps something one did more in past times, in times without social media and email and such. One was encouraged to use language well, encouraged to express oneself precisely and all that. But I have always been a story teller, sometimes to the exasperation of the people around me. After I opened my practice as a Traditional Chinese Herbalist, I found that story telling was a useful way of making my client listens to the information I needed to give them. They would listen to and accept the information without thinking about it which did not necessarily happen without the story. This is how I became a conscious teller of stories.

When my mother died in 1979, she left behind boxes upon boxes of unsorted letters and photos, newspaper clippings, articles, and assorted things committed to paper.  As I sorted out the apartment and the basement store rooms, these papers kept spilling out of boxes and all but brought me to tears of desperation because of the sheer mass of them. I was however hunting for one piece of paper vital to the sale of the apartment and had to make sure the elusive paper hadn’t become trapped in one of the envelopes.  I soon realized that these letters represented the story of my mother’s life and work. Many letters were from friends long gone, some also from friends and teachers from the art academy days in Berlin in 1929/30. Because there were so many, quite a few contained rather mundane information. I regretfully discarded some I thought were unimportant. However I found stacks of letters about how the workshop was founded, business letters describing it all in detail. There were carefully saved articles and newspaper clippings, receipts, lots and lots of photographs, etc. in other words a mass of papers that when sorted out, carefully documented the personal and business life of the artist and her Atelier.

So I packed these boxes up and shipped them to my home in the US, to join the materials I had already sent when the workshop closed in 1975. These boxes with the papers sat there pretty much unopened till the summer of 2005. I knew I should do something with them, but I had young children and much to do.

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel

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The Book Has Been Published

Front cover

Front cover

Well folks the book Rønnaug Petterssen – THE ARTIST AND HER DOLLS has finally been published. It may take a day or so for all the gears to engage at Amazon.com through whom It will be available, also on CreateSpace.com. The book is in full color, paperback, laminated cover, 188 pages, 8.5 x 11″. It has more than 300 photographs of dolls, many that have never been seen before. I hope you enjoy it, it has been a joy to write and create.

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Last Proofing Copy Ordered

Front cover

Front cover

We are truly nearing the end. The last proofing copy has been ordered and will be reviewed as soon as it arrives and if there are no more issues, the book will go to press. I’ll continue to keep you updated. As it is we are with in or at least very close to the deadline we set for ourselves. In the meantime I have been promised a few review and will share these with you is due course.  So keep checking the website.

In the meantime I have created a separate FaceBook page for the book. I will keep the page attached to my own FB site for a little while, but you should be able to access it now. You know you have arrived on the right page when you see the same background as this site.

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Only About Three Weeks Till Curtain time

Front cover

Front cover

I hope you have not entirely given up on  me while waiting for an update. It has just been a busy time getting to the point of having proofing copies printed, then getting them distributed to people who were gracious enough to set the time aside to go through the book with a fine tooth comb for error little and big. We have gotten these back, except one and are now just putting the final touches on it and then and then we go to press.

The initial reviews are that the book is very readable and informative, beautifully illustrated, just a treasure. You will for sure see photos of dolls you never knew my mother created. I hope you will all enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

The book will be available through Amazon.com and I will keep you appraised when you can log in and order your very own copy.

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Like Pulling Teeth

Rønnaug Petterssen ca 1950

Rønnaug Petterssen ca 1950

We are almost there, ready to upload the book.  Got the revised cover back from the graphic designer and now lack only the Library of Congress PNC number.  There is of course the matter of final proofing of the book, but the proofers are ready and waiting.

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Our target date is July 2014

Little girl from Finmark

Little girl from Finmark

The book that you all have been waiting for will soon be a reality. We are now working with the final few issues before proofing copies become available and once the book has been properly proofed and possible corrections made, it will become available to you in print.

I am ever so grateful to the many people who have lent photographs I did not have any other access to or who have helped in the editing, proofing and publishing process.

Here is a little teaser, a synopsis about the book “Rønnaug Petterssen – The Artist and Her Dolls”: Rønnaug Petterssen – The Artist and Her Dolls is a book is about the Norwegian doll artist Rønnaug Petterssen, my mother, whose career spanned the years between 1934 and 1975. Rønnaug Petterssen was born in Vesterålen,  above the Arctic Circle and became one of Norway’s leading creators of Norwegian costumed dolls.  Relatively little has to date been written about this wonderful and talented artist, partly because she was an intensely private person.

Rønnaug Petterssen had already as a small child made herself a rag doll which became her trusted childhood companion. Later, when she was in her early twenties she made the doll that was to give impetus to her career, a little witch merely 15 centimeters (cm.) (6 inches) tall. This witch is an indomitable little person, full of life and mystery, striving forth towards something yet to be accomplished, much like her maker.  For my mother life and work were largely inseparable.  She made an early choice to specialize in the production of Norwegian costumed dolls and she placed all her passion and creativity into their production.  Her dolls have been praised for their quality, accuracy and character.  “Norway has a cultural tradition in costumed doll making, thanks to one person in particular; Rønnaug Petterssen.  Her dolls are like small works of art, enchanting miniature people, who are so much alive that young and old alike can’t resist being fascinated by them”  So says Aslaug Kvernberg, Editor of Norsk Husflid (Norwegian Handcrafts) in her article for Norwegian doll American Commerce (Winter 1973).

Rønnaug Petterssen and some of the workers at the Atelier

Rønnaug Petterssen and some of the workers at the Atelier

A Rønnaug Petterssen doll is unmistakable, different from other makers of the time, yet her production and the variety of dolls she made is poorly understood today, thirty years later.  I hope that this book, with its in depth information about the dolls produced at Atelier Rønnaug Petterssen will shed light on the scope of Rønnaug Petterssen’s production, the individual dolls, as well as her as a person and set straight much of the conjecture and incorrect information printed over the years. 

 

 

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Then His Wife Came

Nissekone from Simoa Plast

Nissekone from Simoa Plast

It is interesting how things move in the universe. About a month ago, someone who were in the process of tidying up an attic brought me a BustePer and thought I might be able to use it to finance the forthcoming book and what else could I say bye “Thank you so much”. Then last week Nissekone, also from the Simoa Plast era, literally shows up at my door, for the very same reasons And again I could only say “Thank you so very much”. Now Nsse kone (Nisse’s wife) is of course not really paired with Buste Per, but really with Nisseman, as you can see from this picture. In any case, she has now been cleaned up. She is in pristine condition, no moth holes, just a little charmer.

Small Nisse man and wife ca 1958

Small Nisse man and wife ca 1958

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A Buste Per recently came home

BustePer

BustePer

One of the Simoa Plast dolls, a BustePer was recently returned to me. He had years ago been a gift to a child who since had grown up and lost interest in dolls all together. Her parents were downsizing and wanted to know if he please could come home again. Of course I said yes. He had lost his head over something or other, but that was readily remedied with a hook, fashioned from stiff wire, some steady work and a little arm strength. Fortunately none of the internal hardware had gone missing, so he soon had his head screwed on the right way again. A little cleaning and light brushing soon put him back in beautiful order and he has joined his family of other gnomes.

Simoa Plast, a factory south of Oslo produced a series of dolls, with plastic body parts for Rønnaug Petterssen, between 1957 and 1960. Later these dolls were made by another factory.

BustePer and BusteKari

BustePer and BusteKari

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Recently refurbished

A better photo of the restored dolls will be posted shortly

2 restored dolls

I  recently received these two dolls, a girl from Heddal, East Telemark and a boy from Setesdal which once had been given as gifts by Rønnaug Petterssen to her brother, world reknowned meteorologist Sverre Petterssen. The dolls had been in storage for a period of time and needed some tender loving care. Rønnaug Petterssen made her dolls from high quality materials and they can be restored to  reasonable excellence, depending on how badly damaged they are or how poorly they have been handled and /or stored. Any restoration should be done by someone who knows the dolls, the costumes and the materials well. There is some damage that cannot easily be restored and should be disclosed if the doll is to be resold.

Heddal girl ca 1950, restored

Heddal girl ca 1950, restored

Setesdal boy ca 1957-59

Setesdal boy ca 1957-59

The Heddal girl was made around 1950, judging from the felt used for the face, the way it was pressed, the fabric used for the body plus the stuffing materials used and a couple of other details. The Setesdal boy dates roughly to late 1950s. He has hair from goats mohair, not human hair which was used a little later. There can be many tell tale signs that indicate the age of a doll as opposed to another.

Setesdal boy 45cm before restoration

Setesdal boy 45cm before restoration

Heddal girl before restoration

Heddal girl before restoration

 

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Moving Forward

Østerdal and Fana boys 18cm

Østerdal and Fana boys 18cm

While there are no big news, I can tell you that tiny baby footsteps are being taken with regards to the publishing of the book about Rønnaug Petterssen. Having a book printed/published is not as simple and tidy as it may at first seem. But we are now making a little progress and as soon as I have more to report, you all will be the first to know.

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