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.
While I am working on a more Christmasy photo tableaux of dolls for you I wanted to remind you not to forget the doll lover or lover of Norwegian culture with a little gift. Amazon will even gift wrap it for you and mail it anywhere in the world your friends may live, all at the click of a button.
Then come inside again, to a nice fire in the fireplace and something hot, be it, coffe, cocoa or some mulled wine (gløgg) maybe at Frognerseteren.
Here in Washington we generally have to dream about a proper winter, have it dance in our heads like sugar plums. But tonight we have our annual Christmas dinner of the Norwegian Ladies Club, something we all look forward to here. All the traditional foods and drinks will be served in a festive setting, with speeches, songs and warm togetherness.
If you don’t know Norwegian Christmas foods, I hope you will have a chance to taste it at some point: the pickled herring, the cured meats, the breads, the ribbe, pinnekjøtt, the special Christmas beers and akevitt, the cakes and the fragrant cookies and not to forget kransekake and multekrem (cloudberries in whipped cream).
Just delicious and please do not forget to set out a bowl of rømmegrøt and a tankard of beer for the nisse, so he will behave and keep your home and animals safe for the next year. He is a good friend to the King of the Forest, the Norwegian moose.
Little Anne had been invited to visit her friends Kristin and Anders at their hillside farm for Thanksgiving. The farm was called Vining and lay in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains . To get there little Anne had to drive several hours. Kristin and Anders were from Norway, Kristin from a region called Heddal in East Telemark and Andres from the neighboring region called Setesdal. They had met a couple of years earlier at a big wedding, had gotten married and then decided to emigrate to the US. They chose the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains as the place they wanted to live because it looked similar to the area they had come from in the old country. Another young couple who also came from Setesdal, who they had known from back home lived in the next valley over. Little Anne came from Norway as well, but she lived in the big city called Washington, DC and she looked forward to every opportunity she got to spend time with her friends.
When little Anne arrived at the end of Matties Run, near Stannardsville, the road Kristin and Anders lived on she was met by Anders. He had come with the horse and carriage to take her the last stretch of the bumpy dirt road. The farm lay far into the back country, over a tall hill and deep down in the next valley, nestled at the bottom of the steep hill, in lea of of a crop of trees. It was a beautiful sight from the top of the hill.
While Anders put the carriage in the shed, and took the horse to the pasture, little Anne walked slowly down to the farm. As she came around the corner of the big barn, she saw Kristin coming out of the byre where they kept their milking cows. Together the two good friends walked to the house where they met up with Anders.Then Kristin and Anders wished little Anne welcome to their cozy farmhouse where good food and good conversation awaited.
Little Anne had brought warm clothes with her, because it could get very cold up there. Over the next few days, she helped with chores on the farm; in the house and the barns. But there was also time for long walks among the hills. It was a grand visit, but finally it was time to say goodbye.
Little Anne is going to visit friends in the mountains for Thanksgiving. It is snowing where she lives, and she knows it will be cold up there. But Anne is well prepared. She has taken her woolens; ski pants, jacket, a warm scarf , mittens, hat and warm boots out of storage where they have been since last winter.and aired them well.
Anne’s visit is to Kristin and Anders who live way up on a farm on a hillside in the foot hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is looking forward to cozy meals by the fireside and brisk hikes on the trails and a chance to spend time with her friends.
The jacket was originally created in the late 1930s and when the play doll production was shelved it along with other things became clothing for my dolls. Anne is one of those dolls. The trousers, hat, scarf and mittens was created in the manner of styles of the era and from original felt and yarns. See photograph from ca 1939 below.
Check the ad out in the Antique Doll Collector for the month of December.
To buy the book, click the image below
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.
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.
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.
I was looking at the stats today to see where people live who have checked out this website. Lately a visitor checked us out from Novo Sibirsk and just yesterday I sent off a book to Alberta Canada. In all people in 15 countries have visited this website and that gets me excited for sure. Thank you all for the interest you have shown. There have been visitors also from India, Thailand, Philippines and Japan and of course Australia and Brazil. It just warms my heart.
It has been interesting to see what is offered for sale of dolls, the condition they are presented in, if the costumes are correctly identified, etc. etc. It does not matter so much which site they are offered on. This is one of the reasons I finally wrote and published the book. I can easily understand why costumed dolls are misidentified. It isn’t easy to keep so many different costumes appart, if one is not Norwegian. I have to use reference material if I look at the costumes from Poland, Sweden, Hungary, Greece, for sure. Also my mother Rønnaug Petterssen began making dolls during a time when the regional costumes were more standardized. By that I mean everyone from a specific distict wore exactly the same design. In the last couple of decades, it has become more common to go back to the earlier way of doing it, with often some variations within that region.
Something that should not vary is that a doll should be presented with whichever costume parts it was obtained with and the costume parts should be correctly put on. If one uses the book as a reference it should be fairly easy to see how each of the costumes are to be presented. A doll should not be sold with costume peaces obviously made from newer materials without being so marked, nor should a doll be offered for sale with costume pieces that do not belong to that doll or that costume.
An interesting question came up with a small pre-war Sami doll recently. Did it depict a boy or a girl. Usually a girl wears caps and boys wear hats that sit more on top of the head. But in the Lule and southern Sami costumes for example the men and women wear same type hats.
Just about all the men’s costumes have shorter skirts (the part that is below the belt) on their Kofte (costume). The women wear much longer skirts. The dolls depicting girls also have longer hair than the boys. I understand that all this may seem confusing, and certainly it helps having a reference guide like the 3 volumes of Norwegian Costumes, by Bjørn Sverre Hol Haugen which was published in 2006.
Ronnaug Petterssen – the Artist and Her Dolls available at Amazon.com
Just the other day I was talking to a third cousin in Norway. He tells me that his mother and her twin sister, my cousins. had been the first little girls in the family to be able to chose a doll for themselves from the very first dolls my mother made. The surviving twin, his mother, is now 90 years old. Three other cousins some five years younger than her were also in the group of cousins to chose for themselves a special doll, made by their aunt. I know the dolls two of the younger girls received, I now own them and it makes me happy to know that my all my cousins had such beautiful dolls to play with just like I did.
I had been wondering if interesting bits and pieces of information about the dolls would surface once the book was published. I would love to know. Well so far only the above has surfaced, but no doubt more will, so just wait for updates. I did hear this morning that the book is travelling to the largest yearly antiques fair in Norway with a collector and contributor to the book where she, another contributor an two other doll enthusiasts will have a booth. I also found out that the Antique Doll Collector Magazine’s October issue started hitting the mail boxes yesterday. I know this not only from reports, but also from the number of copies sold since the mail carriers started their deliveries. Another interesting update also came that an additional review was published in Bladet Vesterålen today, supposedly a full page spread. I have yet to see a copy, but I am waiting as we speak for a copy in PDF format to share with you as soon as I have it in my hands. All of this is fascinating and immensely gratifying to me, a complete novice to the world of publishing.
New review from a Norwegian newspaper is also available. Check it out.
Just to remind to the readers that these little background stories of how the book came to be written are not a rehash of the book about Rønnaug Petterssen and the dolls she created. If you want to read the whole background story the first entry started back on July 29, 2014.
The main reason for my traveling to Sortland was as told to participate in the Herring Festival which is held on the fishing dock in Sildpollen usually in the latter part of May each years. Each Festival has a topic or focus if you will and the one in 2011 was on emigration from Norway. Since I for all intents and purposes I had emigrated it was certainly appropriate. Still in past times of immigration from Norway to the US (between 1825 and 1925) large numbers of Norwegians left Norway, many from the area around Eidsfjorden, to seek better economic opportunities in America. This was also the case with our family. Of my maternal grandmother’s brothers and sisters, 5 out of 9 (one died in infancy) emigrated first to Minnesota then on to Seattle, Washington. There are now hundreds of descendants of the original 5 living in the US. They were the true emigrants. I merely left because I married an American.
My talk at the Festival went off without a hitch, I met so many interesting people and it was fun to experience how many came specifically to hear the story about my mother and the dolls. Exhibits of art by local artists are always part of the Festival, but this years Adrian Korsmo had also arranged to borrow dolls from the Norwegian Emigrant Museum in Ottestad in southern Norway. The Museum graciously lent a nice collection of large dolls and among them a Kautokeino boy with proper leather britches, a doll that Petterssen made only 3 or 4 of during the whole of her production. Some dolls at the exhibit had also been lent by two ladies who have doll museums, one in Lofoten, the other in Vesterålen .
Dagmar Gylset’s family owns a wonderful Rorbu by, fisherman’s village, in Reine, Lofoten Here she also operates a Doll Museum, and owns many wonderful Rønnaug Petterssen dolls. They also recently opened a restaurant. I can still taste sauteed Sei that we had for lunch in a dockside restaurant in Gjestehuset, Nyksund.
It was caught that morning, sprell levende (meaning it still practically flaps its tail) (there is nothing in the world as delicious in my mind). I had been to Reine some 40 years earlier, before the whole idea of Fishing village vacations had really taken hold. In 1972 my little family and I were spending some time in Svolvær with my mother in her Rorbu, located on Svinøya, Svolvær in Lofoten and the focus of this particular daylong excursion to Reine was to visit a wonderful master blacksmith who made the most enchanting small sculptures out of forged iron especially the northern loon. Another woman who lent dolls to the exhibit and who also came to my talk was Svanhild Reinholdtsen. She lives in Myre just north of Sortland. Svanhild owns and operates a very special doll museum, Dukkehuset i Myre south of Nyksund and she as well has a significant collection of my mother’s dolls. Both of these attractions are well worth the visit if you travel to Lofoten and Vesterålen, which you should.
But of course many other people came as well to hear about my mother. Many already knew about my uncle Sverre Petterssen, brother of Rønnaug Petterssen. He was the world renowned meteorologist and had been a significant contributor to the weather forecasting for the Allied Forces helping predict the most advantageous day to invade Normandy, a day when the weather would pose the least threat and would give them the greatest possibility of surprise and success. He had published a book in the early 1979 – Med Stiv Kuling fra Nord which was later translated in the US as, Weathering the Storm.
It was with great sadness I had to return home, from an area of the world I consider my true home, but not before promising to write an article for the Sortland Historic Society. This I eventually did and it was published in the spring of 2014.
Just to remind to the readers that these little background stories are not a rehash of the book, but rather a story about how I came to write the story about my mother Rønnaug Petterssen and the dolls she created.
I set off for Norway in May 2011 and arrived to light rain at Framnes, Narvik’s airport, but by the time the bus pulled into the Blue City as Sortland is also called, it had pretty much cleared up. I had barely registered at the hotel when Adrian Skogmo, the organizer of the Herring Festival came and took me away for an interview with the localpaper – SortlandsAvisa. The following day, there came a call for me at the hotel and a voice explained: “I am a cousin of yours. I have three other cousins right here with me and we are very eager to meet you”. I had some faint idea I had cousins up north, but no specific knowledge of who they might be or if they were still there. Four people showed up shortly and I knew immediately this was family. Three of them were third cousins; two brothers and a sister descendants of one of my maternal grandmother’s sisters. The fourth a fifth cousin of a slightly more distant fore-mother was married to the sister. Later I was to meet several more third cousins, all descendants from my great-grandfather’s second marriage. Without much ado I was moved to a cousin’s home where I stayed for the rest of my time in Sortland and what a time it was. Here were people who had the same sense of humor and ability to observe. We told story after story and laughed a great deal. An uncle of mine had put together a family genealogy, which included a map with locations where the various members of the past generations had lived up here, all within a few miles of each other. I was taken to see many of these places and got a good sense of who my ancestors had been; the hardships of their lives as fisherman/farmers (see definition on Johan Borgos website) in a beautiful part of the world, but one that was rough on those who made their living off the ocean, fishing for cod in the dead of winter. Our great grandfather had been a well-known captain in that area about whom many daring stories were told and it was quite amazing when his name came up, strangers would invariably answer “Oh, him. Yes I know about Petter Hansa, I have heard many stories about him”. He has been dead for over a hundred years.
I was taken to see the house my maternal grandfather came to from Gildeskaal south of Bodø, when he was seven, after losing first his father, then his uncle in storms on the ocean. This house would have been impossible to locate, had it not been for the extensive work of historian Johan Borgos. My grandfather had arrived in 1877 to live with a cousin in a small well-kept house in the innermost part of Eidsfjorden, the part called Bjørndalen. Even today there is the same kind of boat tied up at the beach below the house, that would have been there back then. One of my cousins who is very outgoing knocked on the door and we were welcomed in to see the interior of this small house, the rooms laid out exactly as they had been back then. We drove on to see the field where my grandparents first home had stood. The hole, still there in the ground, the foundation stones scattered around, even after a hundred years. We went on to see where they then moved, across the fjord by Sildpollen. The house was gone and it was hard to determine exactly where it might have stood, but then a man came walking by and by miracle he knew exactly where it had been. We drove on to see where the family had moved next, in 1906,further down the coast. Our spirited cousin again knocked on the door and we were let in, this time by a young family who looked amazed at meeting people who knew the people who had lived there so long ago. Their young, 9 year old daughter remarked it was like reading a history book.
On we drove up the eastern side of Eidsfjorden, when I suddenly remembered the story of how my grandmother had single-handedly sailed a northland’s boat with her family, livestock and belongings on board, several miles on their way to their new house we had just visited. My grandfather had been away. My mother would have been five years old. We stopped near a church and tried to figure out where Petronelle would have sought shelter when it brewed to a storm the first night. Out of the parish house came a man who inquired what we were looking for and when he heard, he said “Oh, I have heard that story many times” and proceeded to point to a particular place across the fjord telling us that was where my grandmother had anchored up, to bide the weather. It was heartwarming to realize that my family’s footprint still lingered here. They were not truly forgotten.
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.