Valentine’s Day

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.

IMG_3542 contrasted and highlightedOn 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.

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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.comimg028 UFDC scan 2

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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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Almost Counting The Hours

Angel face_2578The Christmas angels have been put on display. Their sweet little faces casting their eyes reverently down. Live candles casting a soft glow over them. These angels are as as synonymous with Christmasto me the litle nisse. As long as I can remember they went on display on top of our large radio, together wish small tulips and hyacinths that my mother had forced.. Out house was decorated usually right up under Christmas eve as is customary in Norway and the tree “unveiled” on Christmas eve, resplendent with live candles and the prerequisite bucket of water stationed close by.  But then, the Christmas decoration did not come down till January 6th when the angels at home12 Days of Christmas concluded and one could take down all the decorations and begin to greet the days which were becoming lighter and lighter with each passing day.

images When my children wee young I, as had my mother just like so many mothers, both past and present, baked the 7 different variety of Christmas cookies. We had; fattigman, krumkaker, pikekyss, sandbakkels, Berliner kranser, hjortetakk, pepperkaker, goro, kokossmakroner, sirupsnipper, and other and please do not forget kransekake and pepperkakehus. images (1)

I don’t bake much these days, unless I spend the holiday with my grandchildren, but I have made a batch of Stewed rutabagas and Norwegian sourkraut, two favorites of mine with almost any dinner during the holidays. Also a bottle of Linie Aquavite, another staple to help the digestion of the fatty dishes that are served during this period.

6 Lux adBecause Norwegians, as other Scandinavians celebrate Christmas over 12 days, one does not have to consume every one of all the calories allotted to these festivities, rather they can be spread out over many days and over many meals like lunch and dinner and coffee and a late night snack, leaving plenty of time to go out in the fresh air and walk, ski or ….. inbetween.

angels ok 2014All the best to you and your loved ones for the season.

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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


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Little Anne’s Thanksgiving In The Country

Little Anne in the Blue Ridge

Little Anne in the Blue Ridge

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. Anders putting horse away_3421The 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.  Anders fetching the horse_3417

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. Kristin milking3427Together 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. Anne saying hello3405

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. Anne comes down hill_3415

 

To buy the book Rønnaug Petterssen – The Artist and Her Dolls Click on the image  internationally go to Amazon.com and fin the Amazon location closest to you.meleney_artist&herDolls LIGHT_300dpi widget

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Happy Thanksgiving To Everyone

Anne 39cm_3380Little 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.

skiing dollsThe happiest of Thanksgivings to all.

Check the ad out in the Antique Doll Collector for the month of December.

To buy the book, click the image below

Little girl from Finmark

Ronnaug Petterssen the artist and her dolls

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And What A Party It Was

Bodil with Tom  Knowles author at Green Kids Press

Bodil with Tom Noll author at Green Kids Press

Saturday’s book party at Trohv was such a blast. Some 20 authors arrived at 1pm expectantly with their books ready to set up. Trohv had made the space inviting with individual stations for each author and at the back tables were set up for a bar and for the food which steadily arrived throughout the afternoon. Great music was playing in the background adding to the party atmosphere.  A number of restaurants; Middle Eastern Market, Marks Kitchen, La Mano, Takoma Bistro, Republic, Evolve vegan and Capital Cheese Cake had all donated delicious nibbles.  Morris Miller and S&S Liquor had donated wine. Other businesses like Ace Hardware and Community Printing, OTBA (Old Takoma Business Association) had supported the event in other ways.  In other words a thoroughly Takoma Park event.  Our motto here in Takoma Park is “Think Globally, Shop Locally”.

Alberto Ucles my publisher and Tom Knolls

Alberto Ucles my publisher and Tom Noll

After quickly setting up I took the rounds to say hello to as many of the other authors I could and met some very interesting people and in the end bought a couple of books I really look forward to reading. My delightful table mate was Merrill Leffler poet and author of “Mark the Music” as well as a number of other books.Then the doors opened and people began showing up. A few in the beginning then more and by 3pm we had a good crowd. The conversation became noticeably louder, there was laughter and we had a proper party atmosphere. Quite a number of my friends came and it is so nice to know people care enough to come and show support.  Several of them bought books.

Merrill Leffler author of "Mark the Music"

Merrill Leffler author of “Mark the Music”

Patricia Weil author of "Circle of Earth"

Patricia Weil author of “Circle of Earth”

A few  new friends, who I had not known before bought copies as well. In all I was very pleased with the whole event. My publishers, Alberto Ucles and Tom Knoll of Green Kids Press, also came and brought me a beautiful bottle of Champagne. How lucky am I. Another old and dear friend, Steve Krensky, co owner of the Light Street Gallery also came. He has been a longtime collector of my art work (starting in 1992) and I was so pleased to see him. Steve and his wife Linda’s gallery has somewhat recently relocated from Baltimore to Rockville. Check it out.

My dear friend Deborah to the left and  Andrea Schewe designer left

Phillip Schewe author of “Maverick Genius” journalist and a Takoma Park writer left who I unfortunately couldn’t hear the name of over the din of happy voices.

 

The doors eventually closed and a few of us, new and old friends, repaired to Republic where we continued the celebration over drinks and dinner. What a perfect day.

Andrea Schewe designer left and my dear friend Deborah right

Andrea Schewe designer left and my dear friend Deborah right

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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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