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


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


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


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.




Keeping The Dolls Clean And Tidy

meleney_artist&herDolls LIGHT_300dpi widget

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


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