The Wonderful Serendipity Of Things

Ready for colder weather

Ready for colder weather

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, restored

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.

meleney_artist&herDolls LIGHT_300dpi widgetIf 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.

 

 

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Keeping The Dolls Clean And Tidy

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Click image to buy

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

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).

Nisse wife

Nisse wife

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.Antique doll review 1014

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Book Party

To buy: Rønnaug Petterssen – The Artist and Her dolls 

meleney_artist&herDolls LIGHT_300dpiYou may be interested to know that we are planning a book party which will take place here in DC.  When one is the captain, cook and bottle washer things have their own pace. I will of course keep you posted as the plans firm up and hope to see you there. The somewhat vexing issue with self publishing is that there is no pre-planned launch date that can be used as a specific date to plan a “hot off the press” book signing party around. When the book is ready, it is ready and rolls automatically off the press which ever day that happens to be. So while this book party may see a bit after the fact, it should still be a lot of fun.

I have learned a lot in my quest for marketing tips and edge. Never ending effort it is. In the process I have discovered a Welsh artist and author Jackie Morris through my artist daughter Karen Green and have enjoyed following Jackie’s blogs and effortless and frequent Tweets. My daughter made a commissioned weather vane for Jackie Morris some years back, the girl riding a polar bear. Now as any  Norwegian will tell you this old and much beloved fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a staple of every Norwegian and Norwegian descended child’s growing up. It was one of my favorites as a child, besides the trolls and the mischievous nisse of course. But I would dream of this huge and gently bear and the beautiful girl who could not bear not to see for herself the face of her night time visitor, thus setting her off on a quest.

Pre war play dollOther marketing efforts are moving forward, with responses coming in from a series of marketing mailings I made. Most notably the review in The Antique Doll Collector Magazine is now in the print copy of their October issue. The winter issue of United Federation of Doll Clubs is likely to have a review in their winter issue. A review has just been written by a northern Norwegian collector and free lance journalist and I am waiting to hear where it will appear. Also Scandinavia House now has a desk copy of the book. Check them out they are located on Park Avenue if you are visiting or living in New York City. It is immensely gratifying to know that people are actually paying attention out there. But there is always that period of waiting and wating. If any of you have any good ideas, I am all ears.  Just send me an email. You’ll find the contact information here.

A corner of my brain has begun thinking of possible new projects. At some point, after eating, breathing and sleeping a project like this book it was bound to happen. One has to sweep some cobwebs, roll up ones sleeves, take some deep breaths, tidy up the office and put one foot forward to see where the road goes next. I have ideas, but it’s too early to share.Hans og Grete

Tea time

Tea time

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Displaying the Dolls

Setesdal couple, 18cm

Setesdal couple, 18cm

Over the last few years I have seen a good many dolls displayed on various re-seller sites on the internet or in books on dolls for those interested in collecting. The dolls are often not displayed to their best advantage. Of course the book Rønnaug Petterssen – The Artist And Her Dolls has a section about how to take care of the dolls and with the over 300 photographs there should be ample suggestions on how the individual dolls can be posed to show well.  The best is of course if one has some knowledge of anatomy, but not everyone has that advantage.  However, let me say that poses should be according to the human body’s ability to stand balanced and also bend naturally, at the waist, elbows, wrists or knees, whether one poses the small dolls or the larger ones. All to often, even in books, the dolls are posed stiffly, looking like inanimate objects instead of little people. Try instead to give the head a slight bend as if the doll is listening to what is being said and don’t let the whole arm on the small souvenir dolls bend like a large hook. Instead find the natural elbow and the natural wrist and let them bend there.  If you are unsure of what to do on your own, buy the book.  It is available at Amazon worldwide

Boy from Kautokeino

Boy from Kautokeino

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And So We Come To The End Of The Story

Østerdal and Fana boys 18cm

Østerdal and Fana boys 18cm

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Once home after my trip (2011) what remained was to pull the manuscript together and also continue the search for a publisher. The latter proved to be perhaps the most frustrating part of the project. As happens with any creative project one tries to “birth” into the public arena, one has to expect rejections. I knew this from my work as an exhibiting visual artist and was prepared for it, I thought. My initial forays into the world of publishing proved unsuccessful both in Norway and in the US. I then armed myself with other books in the field of doll making/collecting and took a hard look at what made them look appealing and desirable to own, interesting to read and easy to use as reference guides and went on to format my own manuscript to fit within those parameters. Along the way there were further rejections. I was told the book was too much a niche book, that the current economy would not support the investment of funds that such a book would demand. The clock kept ticking.

There were times of great frustration, I knew I had a good manuscript, good photos; a book that people wanted. That much had become clear from the response to the website and from website stats I had created and later a Facebook page and the number of people both in the US, UK and in Norway who asked to be placed on the mailing list and with other interested people world wide. But it was not enough to sway the publishing industry. It became clear that self publishing was likely the answer. Friends gave me advise and I did research, but with many self publishing companies the cost of just the printing of each copy was prohibitive and with the cost of distribution and shipping on top of it would make the book too expensive to sell. It was all quite depressing.

Eventually I looked more closely at Createspace. My initial issue with self publishing was that most of the companies could not provide coated paper which does show photographs to a better advantage. With Createspace the trim size options were also limited. But it became clear that it was either jumping in or permanently shelve the project. There were however little silver linings in all the waiting. I knew my mother had made certain types of dolls I really wanted to include photos of in the book but I knew no one who owned such dolls. I asked collectors I had come to know over the course of the project if they knew people who might have them and eventually a few collectors surfaced in Norway and the US who were willing to photograph their dolls under my guidance. In the middle of all this I was introduced to Alberto Ucles and Tom Knoll whose publishing company, Green Kids Press, eventually became my publishers. They understood the world of publishing quite well and after an afternoon of talking I too came to understand why it had all been so hard. I had a project on a topic that was no longer well recognized and I came with no large built in fan base, just a limited (in publishing terms) number of very dedicated people, many who were collectors. I knew there were many, many more behind them and more behind those again who didn’t yet know they wanted to own such a book. I knew from stats that they were located world wide.

Front cover

Front cover

In early 2014 I finally uploaded a small trial copy of the book on Createspace to see how it would look with their trim format and paper type. When I received the trial copy back I realized I could live with it. Createspace proved to be extraordinarily helpful and were always available, 24/7, to answer questions or help solve problems.  The project now took on urgency. More hours than can be counted were spent battling the software programs I was using. I had mocked up the front and back cover and found a graphic artist who could pull it all together in the format Createspace required. While it all took time, it was eventually ready for uploading. By the end of July 2014 even the proofing process of the finished book was done and the book went to press. A project that had occupied my time, one way or another for 8 years was finished.

I hope you enjoy it.

Weather vane with Siamese cats

Weather vane with Siamese cats

This is what Rønnaug Petterssen’s grand daughter Karen Green creates at her and her husband, Gordon Green’s studio, Greens Weathervanes in Herefordshire, UK, not far from Hay-on-Wye She is the the third generation artist in our family.

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Book Is Now Available on Amazon WorldWide

Standing angel close up

Standing angel close up

My book, Rønnaug Petterssen, the artist and her dolls is now available through Amazon.worldwide  Up, up and away. Wonderful things are happening. We will be adding a map to track where the book has found a home.

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Welcome to the new Rønnaug Petterssen website

Sami girl 45cm, ca 1970

Sami girl 45cm, ca 1970

For updates on what is happening in the world of Rønnaug Petterssen dolls please check  our News page from time to time.

In the years between 1934 and 1975 Rønnaug Petterssen became one of Norway’s leading creators of Norwegian costumed dolls.  She had already as a 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. But it was not till 1934 after she returned from two years in Spain that her career as a doll artist began in earnest.

The war years were difficult and there is a marked difference between the dolls my mother produced before and after WWII.   When the workshop opened again she resolutely moved on and began making the dolls we know so well today.  A Rønnaug Petterssen doll is unmistakable, different from other makers of the time, yet her production and the individual dolls are poorly understood today, thirty years later.  I hope that this book will shed light on the scope of her production, the individual dolls, as well as Rønnaug Petterssen, the woman and set straight much of the conjecture and incorrect information printed over the years.In the summer of 2005

My mother made an early choice to specialize in the production of Norwegian costumed dolls.  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).

Sami couple ca 1936

Sami couple ca 1936

 

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