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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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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Holidays Approaching

meleney_artist&herDolls LIGHT_300dpi widgetWhile 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.

Christmas on Karl Johan

Christmas on Karl Johan

I for one always miss Norway at Christmas, whether it be in Oslo, in Bergen, or Røros or somewhere else in the deep snowy forest.

imagesIt may be cold, but it is easy to dress for that. Going for a walk, watching the steam rising from your breath into the crisp air, is a joy.

Frognerseteren in winter

Frognerseteren in winter

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.

 

Salted and cured meats

Salted and cured meats

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.

A nisse and the King of the Forest, the moose

A nisse and the King of the Forest, the moose

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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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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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Identifying The Dolls Correctly

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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.

Girl from Kautokeino, ca 1965 45cm

Girl from Kautokeino, ca 1965 45cm

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.

Sami girl ca 1936, 15cm Courtesy Sandy Smith

Sami girl ca 1936, 15cm Courtesy Sandy Smith

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.

Sami boy ca 1936-37, 17.5 cm

Sami boy ca 1936-37, 17.5 cm

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.

 

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Book Signing Party

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I just got the word today that I and my book will be part of the Takoma Park Annual Book Fair which will take place for  the sixth year on November 15 from 2 -5 PM, at Trohve, a home good and gifts store in Takoma Park. Light refreshments will be served. Trohve does a lot of community events and we are lucky to have such a nice and accommodating venue to be in. The store is located on Carroll Avenue one block north/east of the Metro station. More details to come soon.  But mark your calendars, I would so love to see you there.  Besides there are many great restaurants to have you dinner if you stay late. Do come and check Takoma Park out if you haven’t been here before or in a while.

Samisk barn

Sami girl courtesy Sandy Smith

I also received word today that a Norwegian antique doll fair took place last weekend at the Viking Ship House a historic cultural art museum in Oslo, not far from the Norwegian Folk Museum. The attendance was great, the selection of dolls wonderful and the book was a great hit. Some of the collectors there who had bought the book were using it as a guide to find new treasures. It will please me greatly if it will increase peoples understanding of what they own, what they may buy and what they  may sell. I hear the same from collectors who have attended doll fairs here in the US as well.

Then there is the issue of those outfits who offer author’s books recently released in the same internet stores as the author, in direct competition with the author. I understand reselling such book, in this case at a doll or antique fair, but on Ebay and Amazon I don’t understand. Goes against my sense of fair play.  Just having my say and all. But I guess this too is a form of flattery.

Next week I will talk a little more about identifying, especially the early souvenir dolls.

As one collector told me: “Your book really helped me see the doll in clearer detail…such as face fabric, painting and stitching of features.Th  wedding couple I own have the stitches (for the facial features) but I never noticed them before.”

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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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Interesting History Unfolding

Ronnaug Petterssen – the Artist and Her Dolls available at Amazon.com

The Halling girl a cousin received

The Halling girl a cousin received

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.

Setesdal couple, 18cm

Setesdal couple, 18cm

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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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