Winter Is Here

Anne skiing 1 3540Winter has arrived for real in  the  northern hemisphere. It’s time to  bring out the woolens or fleece; long underwear, warm scarfs, mittens and hats.  Here in the US snowy cold came with a vengeance this week. I have learned that it is good to keep warm clothes on hand, so one can dig them out when the need arises, which may not be every year where i live. It is a terrible to feel really cold. So this is what little Anne has done, dug out her warm clothes, because she has decided to go skiing as soon as she can get her skis prepared. Maybe even tonight, since the trails where she lives are lit. Wooden cross country skis need to be re-waxed each year, a laborious effort, but well worth it. Old wax or smøring or klister as it is called in Norway, may just be the wrong kind for the weather that day and Anne has a pair of wooden skis. It can be a bit tricky if you don’t know what you are doing. Modern skis are not as tricky, often they don’t need waxing at all.

Sking near Svolvær early 1920s

Rønnaug and Wally preparing their skis in the mountains near Svolvær early 1920s

When I was young it was a job done perhaps after Thanksgiving so one was ready as soon as enough snow fell. Then we’d be out on the trails on the weekends and also evening because Oslo has many trails that are lit so people can go and ski after work. Rønnaug Petterssen also skied a great deal. The last time she was on cross country skis was when she was 74 and visiting Svolvær, where she had lived in her youth and by 1975 was renting a cabin.

Sking with a friend in Kongsmarka outside Svolvær

Petterssen (l) king with a friend in Kongsmarka outside Svolvær

She like most Norwegians had skied since she was a child and her father had been an eager competitor in ski jumping.

My grandfather, Hildor Petterssen

My grandfather, Hildor Petterssen

For most Norwegians skiing is in the blood. I remember attending a skiing nursery school just outside Oslo when I was very young. After I moved to the US there were a few times when we had big snows and using skis were the only way to get to the grocery store when we needed more milk and bread.

Bodil waxing skis for Easter skiing in the mountains

The author waxing her skis for Easter skiing in the mountains

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Happy New Year

angels ok 2014What a year it has been, with ups and downs as it is for most of us. On the upside, I was finally able to get the book about Rønnaug Petterssen, my mother, published, a project that took just about eight years to complete. But in the end the wait was almost providential, looking back over the project. If the book had been published any earlier, there would have been photographs of dolls i do not own myself or have easy access to that would not have been included, which would have made the book less complete. Because of this I have met so many wonderful and gracious collectors who  were happy to photograph the dolls they owned. Without them it would not have been quite the same. I thank you all.

meleney_artist&herDolls_72dpiAfter the book was published at the end of July, I have tried to work steadfastly on the marketing, a sometimes tedious, but very necessary part of book publishing today. From this new ideas have sown their seeds and are perhaps ready to germinate. The marketing also revealed that the interest in dolls and specifically Rønnaug Petterssen dolls exists almost all over the world. It has been exciting to see where in the world people live who have found the website. This excitement is shared by Rønnaug Petterssen’s grandchildren: Eric and Karen. The book was included in the libraries of three museums; The Norwegian Folk Museum, the Emigrant Museum and Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum. They all seemed interested in offering the book for sale at their museum shops. But to date none of them have, much to the chagrin of an American group of art lovers who went to Oslo and visited the Folk Museum, ready to buy copies. The leader of the group is a former museum director himself and he had promised. What a shame it is. So if anyone of you have the inclination and perhaps connection, do nudge these three museum.

snowman 3538And now as 1914 turns over a new leaf and becomes 2015, I will start more seriously with the new project I have in mind, some of which may include the dolls. I will keep you appraised as ideas mature into reality. In the meantime, I wish you all a most healthy and happy New Year. images

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Happy Holidays – God Jul – Enjoy The Season

Prototype for small felt nisse, ca 1940

Prototype for small felt nisse, ca 1940

I want to wish you all the best for the holiday season. I hope you, your family and friends will be together no matter which celebration is customary to you. It is also a time to take a look at the year that is passing and I want to thank every one of you who have supported and encouraged me through the publishing of my book Rønnaug Petterssen – The Artis and Her Dolls and those who afterwards bought  copy(ies) for themselves or to give as gifts. I want to thank Norwegian Folk Museum, The Migration Museum (both in Norway) and Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in IA, USA, as well as Antique Doll Collector Magazine and  United Federation of Doll Clubs, both here in the US, by giving  me wonderful feedback, writing reviews and being supportive of the book in other ways. We have had visitors to the website from: Norway, USA, Canada, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Brasil, Peru, Australia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Serbia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Spain, France, Poland, Russia, Germany, Austria, England, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands Denmark, Sweden and a couple of others who my stat counter will not let me see. They cut off information after a month or so.. I love the fact there are doll lovers in these countries who also love my mother’s dolls.  An author’s ego is fragile as they say, I have kept track and have enjoyed reading all the feedback..

Flying Angel

Since 2014 is nearly at an end and we are facing the beginning of a brand new, unused and hopefully exciting year.  It is time to look ahead to new things, new projects and you may possibly be glad to know that I am working, still in my head, on several potential projects, some of which might have interest to you. I certainly will keep you informed as things come together. In the meantime, I again wish you all the best for the season and look forward to interacting with you in the coming year.

Santas own family

Santa’s own family


meleney_artist&herDolls_72dpi

 

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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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A trip to Eidsfjorden To See Where My Mother Was Born

Great news to share with you. The first reviews are coming in.

A Febøring at the dock in Sildpollen

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.

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