Library Corner: Scandinavian folk art workshop |

Library Corner: Scandinavian folk art workshop

Jane Jaffen beings the intricate painting on her Dala horse. Scandainavian art workshops provided through Sons of Norway and GCLD collaboration.
Courtesy / GCLD

Deep concentration permeated the room.

“Remember everyone. Lift your head up and breathe,” motioned instructor DianeMarie Molter to the group. A chuckle sprinkled around the room.

The Dala Horse workshop participants stood up and headed over to the table laden with Swedish cheeses and flat breads, shaking their hands out and moving around the table to observe participants’ creations.

This was the first of five workshops offered through collaboration between Sons of Norway and Grand County Library District (GCLD). Local Sons of Norway representative, DianeMarie Molter, arranged for a grant from International Sons of Norway Foundation. All supplies, guest artists, and a taste of Scandinavia are all included in the grant allowing GCLD to offer it free of charge.

The morning started with gold medal artist Nina Ehlers sharing examples of Dala Horses, including the trick to identifying the difference between Norwegian and Swedish wooden horses.

“Look to the mane. If you see a rounded crest for the mane, you have a traditional Norwegian style. If it stays as a solid shape through the back, it is Scandinavian.”

Mrs. Ehlers continues with sharing the religious and cultural significance of the designs painted on the horses, as well as the role of horses incorporated into trade during the Middle Ages. Participants glanced through a variety of Scandinavian folk art book collections, print samples, and even wrapping paper to obtain ideas. The group of dabbling artists set to work testing out different styles on notecards and canvas leading up to their wooden horse.

“Remember it’s folk art. It’s for joy not perfection,” encouraged Ms. Molter.

As the afternoon continued, the mood lightened and discussion varied from the Japanese/Norwegian arts connection, family histories and genealogy of Scandinavian settlers, and travels to Scandinavia.

The mood returned to focus in hour three as the detailing on the individual Dala Horses began. Various saddle and bridle styles were featured with loops, curves, and dots. Manes, detail work, and color work made each horse unique. For more information on the next class in the series, contact, or keep your eye on the Program calendar. Upcoming classes will feature Swedish folk art and rosemaling with expert artist Louise Bath and local artist Toshiko Ogishi.

If interested in more information on Sons of Norway, go to The informational website includes access to cultural information including recipes, skills including wood carving, fiber arts & coin collection, plus Norwegian language learning.

Polly Gallagher is director of public services at the Grand County Library District.

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