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A Thousand Bodice Inserts

We were so lucky as to get to see the exhibition of 1000 Bodice Inserts at Hardanger Folkemuseum at Utne last October.

A bodice insert is a separate piece of fabric covering the front opening of the bodice on the folk costume from Hardanger and some other areas.

 

Folk costumes in Hardanger, and also in other areas in Norway, were influenced by continental fashions. The renaissance fashion trend with waist and skirt in differing colours, and often heavily decorated bodice inserts, kept its stronghold in this area till the costume was embraced as the National Costume of Norway in the late 1800s. It was a living tradition, so no need to go back to study old garments in order to reconstruct the costume, as has been done later in other areas to create local folk costumes. (We now have lots of different folk costumes in all areas of the country.)

 

Luckily a lot of old and new bodice inserts from Hardanger have been donated to the museum over the years. There are also collections in neighbouring districts, and some of these were also on display, – a total of more than 1000 bodice inserts, and not two alike.

 

People have used a variety of techniques to decorate the inserts, and cross stitch embroidery seems to have been a popular method. All the inserts on the wall to the left in the photo above, are decorated in this way.

 

The amount of decoration vary from very simple to elaborate. People used the same style of clothing both for every day use and for Sunday best and other festivities, and they often had several bodice inserts to fit the occasion.

Unadorned bodice inserts were used when attending funerals, and grieving.

 

The size of the inserts vary a lot. This may be due to variations of the waist front opening, and also the fact that people come in different sizes. A couple of hundred years ago, people were generally smaller than we are now.

Even though hardly two bodice inserts are alike, there are some common standards. They all have a ribbon hem on top. Most have a defined motif of various geometric shapes sewn on red or white fabric. Between the ribbon and motif there is often a border made of metal lace or ribbon, beads, or embroidery.  The decorated parts are mounted on a piece of fabric, which is mostly made of home woven wool or linen. This background fabric is not visible when the bodice insert is in use.

It is almost as interesting, – or perhaps more so, – to observe all the different background fabrics that have been used.

The most common geometric motif is by far the eight pointed star, also called an eight leafed rose in these parts. The variations are many, there may be one big star, or a few or several smaller ones set in a grid, most often on point. The grid itself may be narrow, or wider with geometric decor elements of its own.

In quilting terms we might call the decor on point blocks with narrow or wide sashings.

 

Quite a few inserts have beads on them.

At a time when most household items were home made, purchased objects would be regarded as finer and having a higher status. Beads have been produced and sold for many years, and bodice inserts decorated with beads were regarded as especially fine and for best use. The inserts can be dated by looking at the colour of the beads. White, green, mustard, and black beads were first available. Blue beads and straw beads came later. Also the older beads are bigger and of more irregular shape than newer ones.

The motifs are again mostly geometric borders and eight pointed stars, but also heart shaped decor has been popular.

 

On one insert with very small beads, they found that the maker had used horse hair to thread the beads. The horse hair is so stiff that you would not need a needle, which would perhaps have been to thick for the small pearl openings.

 

Pearls have been combined with both embroidery, metal lace and ribbons, and also applique as in some of the photos below..

 

There is a story about three vicar’s daughters from Ulvik who used to do very fine applique, mostly eight pointed stars. When their father died, they supported themselves by making fine bodice inserts for sale. At the time, paper was used inside the top hem to make it stiffer, and much later one of their father’s sermons was found inside one of these inserts.

 

 

Not all bodice inserts were made from woollen fabric. Some used fine imported silks, silk velvet and calamanco. A few of these were displayed behind glass.

 

The pattern darning technique has also been used to decorate bodice inserts.

Pattern darning is a very old embroidery technique, – even older than cross stitch, – and this technique has been used quite a lot.  Pattern darning is often used alongside other techniques, where the pattern darning will compose the grid, or framework, for the motif, while other techniques such as cross stitch or satin stitch, are used to fill in the pattern repetitions.

A very common motif on pattern darning inserts is the “eldjarnrose”, which looks like a modern day hashtag set on point. It is most often worked in black, while the surrounding grid has been made in red yarn.

 

This last group of photos show some inserts made in a variety of techniques, and some of them with unusual motifs. There are a few examples where the cross stitch embroidery patterns are made to look like bead embroidery or threaded bead grids. There is also one with a great variety of stitches, including the only example of chain stitch that I noticed.

Lastly, here is an insert mounted on a piece of fabric cut from a beautiful woven coverlet in the “krokbragd” pattern:

 

 

The exhibition was scheduled to be taken down last January, but due to its popularity, it has been extended till 1st November 2019. If you get the chance to visit, grab it with both hands.

It is well worth a visit.

 

🙂

Eldrid

 

 

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Annual Spring Report 2019

Not much has been posted on my blog the last twelve months, but this post goes up every year. It is fun to sometimes look back over the years to see just how “normal” the spring time has been.

As for this year, it will be placed in the “not normal” group.

I cannot remember everything being so early before. We have had a very warm and dry April, and during the last week, everything was suddely in full bloom, including the fruit trees, which normally bloom at least 3 weeks later than this.

All kinds of bushes normally blooming in May, has either started to bloom, or are already in full bloom, like the red rhododendron bushes.

All the narcissuses are in full bloom, or are finished, depending on variety and placement in the garden. Even the tulips are nearly finished.

The ones above normally bloom in June, but have now started at the end of April.

Our lawn is in full bloom too, so the bumblebees should be happy, – or maybe they are already overworked with everything else that is blooming.

Even the wild blueberries and the strawberries are in bloom, and it was not yet May when these photos were taken.

Today, on May 1st, we are further inland at our “cabin”. It has obviously been a bit cooler here, as we can see the tulips have just started to bloom, and the leaves on the trees are  bit smaller. But still very early here too.

A happy wagtail on top of our roof. I hope it does not eat too many bees as they are needed for their job just now.

 

🙂

Eldrid

Annual Spring Report 2018

I am a bit late in writing this up, but the photos were taken on time, – on May 1st, and then again when we arrived home on May 3rd.

On May 1st we were further inland visiting family, and this is how it was like there. The ski slopes were still sporting a good amount of snow, although they had been closed for a couple of weeks already.

No leaves on the trees yet, but the fields were quite green, although it looked like the snow had only just disappeared from the fields and was still lingering in the woods nearby.

The garden outside the flat, facing south, had one blooming mini daffodil, and a few budding tulips, and quite a lot of dandelions sprouting everywhere.

On arriving back home on the coast two days later, the picture was a little bit different. Fields were not as green, but the woods had started to change their colour. No need to mow the lawn just yet. The bulk of narcissuses were still not in bloom, but with growing buds.

The ones by the south wall were in full bloom. The crocuses were finished, along with the snowdrops.

The flowering currant was in full bloom, and had been for a few days.

Rose bush was sprouting new leaves, and so was the spiraea bush, but no white flowers just yet.

Tulips by the south wall had large buds. At the time of writing they are in full bloom, since we have had a few warm days lately.

All in all: a quite normal spring.

🙂

Eldrid

Rendezvous in Røros

27 years ago my family and I visited Røros during a holiday trip.

In the museum there was an exhibition of textile art, and among them were several works by artist Ela Monsen.

 

I was so impressed by her work at the time that I took several photos, using a cheap camera I had at that time, – and also using the expensive film and paper copies of that time. I wanted to remember what I saw.

 

The wall hangings were hung in a room with dark drapes on the walls, and even though my small flash light did its meager best, the photos were only so-so, – even by my then standards. But they were recognizable.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I visited Røros again, and we stayed at Røros hotel. In the lobby, I was pleasantly surprised to see the wall hanging with the dancing couple hanging on the wall.

 

Of course I recognized it at once, and was happy to be able to see it in better light conditions, and to be able to study the details. Of course I did not think twice about taking lots of photos, – these days photos are cheap.

The next morning I was again pleasantly surprised to see another of her works in the dining room:

 

This rendition of a wedding feast is the one I thought most impressive back in 1990, so I was very happy to be able to study it in closer detail. It has not lost its impact since then.

Ela Monsen died in 1978, so these two hangings were made just one and two years before her passing. Luckily, some of her works hang in public places so we can continue enjoying them.

🙂

Eldrid

 

 

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Annual Spring Report 2017

It is interesting to look back on my previous spring reports to see how they vary from year to year. This year seems fairly normal.

Even though the crocuses were record early due to a mild winter, both March and April have been quite cold, so the pictures taken on May 1st is almost exactly like last year.

The woods have just the smallest hint of green to them, and this is mostly due to the last couple of days when the sun came out, and it is warming up. There is still snow in the mountains from the latest snowfall not many days ago.

The winter tyres have just been removed from the car, washed and are drying in the sun, and the summer tyres are on, – more than a week later than the general rules allow. However, they were needed just a few days ago.

The cherry tree has large buds, but no blooms yet. Just as well since there are few insects around.

The bulk of our daffodils are not out yet. The exception besides the early ones is the ones in sheltered spots and next to the south wall. The tulips by the south wall are also budding.

The flowering currant has been in bloom for some time, but the spiraea bush has just a hint of green around it, but no blooms yet. However, with the nice weather we are having now, it will not be long, I expect.

The sheep are enjoying the good weather too, although the lot in this photo were a bit worried. Someone with a dog, – on a leash, mind, as it should be this time of year, – was crossing the field below, so they ran for higher grounds. Lambs were separated from their mothers, so there was a lot of bleating and running around before the little ones got back to their respective guardians for a comforting suckle. Then all was well, and they could settle down and enjoy the glorious day.

 

And so do we. The weather forecast for the next week is glorious.

🙂

Eldrid

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The Quilted and the Non-Quilted Feast

The first day of our tour we spent sightseeing in Moscow, and in the afternoon we ended up inside the Novospassky Monastery, where a delicious meal had been prepared for our international group.

novospassky

We were to dine in one of the towers that sit on every corner of the wall surrounding the monastery.

The entrance was through a low door in the inside wall, up some long and narrow steps to the gallery, and again ducking through low doors and into the tower room.

It was a lovely sight: tables already set with lots of delicious food, old cupboards against the walls holding beautiful pots and crockery, traditional costumes on display, along with various crafted items, – and everything lit only by candles and the natural light coming through the small windows, filtered through blue and white glass.

Many old and newer samovars were displayed around the room and on the steps to the upper room:

We were told that we were going to have a traditional Russian meal, – as in a feast, – and our guide inside the monastery described each course as they were served: what they were, a little about tradition and production, how they should be eaten, etc.

I think there were more than ten different courses, – I lost count somewhere during the meal, – and all of it was delicious; the pumpkin soup, chicken and mushroom pie, pancakes with caviar, fish, pork, cucumber rolls and everything else.

We had sweetened mint flavoured juice to drink, – very good after a long and warm day out in the streets. Then there was cake and desserts along with hot tea made from lots of different sour fruits and berries, and sweetened with comb honey.

What a treat!


 

A week later we went into another monastery, in Suzdal, and inside one of the churches there, we laid eyes on another feast.

22 year old Xenia Shlyakova had single-handedly provided a full table of yummy food, – all made from fabric and set onto a large, handmade, table cloth.

There were all kinds of food:  fish with both red and black caviar, mushrooms, and chicken…..

……. pelmeni, cucumbers, roasted pig with vegetables, goose and apples, prawns with lemon and strands of dill……

….. breads in a basket with an embroidered napkin, and decorated bread or cake.

Bearing in mind the topic of the festival was Love, and Wedding, this would probably be the kind of decorated bread made especially for weddings. Note the poppy seeds on the braided loaf, – they are all tiny french knots.

Of course there were desserts too, – fruit, berries, cake, and cookies.

No feast is complete without something to drink.  In the bottle there is moonshine, and my guess is tea in the teapots and the samovar.

I wondered a bit about the boot on the top of the samovar, but Mr. Google informs me that it is used instead of a bellow to fan the fire inside the samovar.

And then the tea is sweetened with comb honey, – everything so neatly made, down to the last detail.

quilt

One the artist’s beautiful quilts was overlooking the table.

 

Both feasts were amazing experiences, and even though the last one was for the eyes only, it is remembered just as well as the one which we could also taste and smell.

 

🙂

Eldrid

 

 

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Quilts in Suzdal

At the International Quilt Festival in Suzdal there were many different exhibitions located in different venues around town.  There were both quilts for the Festival’s different competitions, and also special exhibitions of interesting and outstanding works. Most venues had a combination of the two.

tvillingkyrkjer-kveld

The quilts in this post were exhibited in the small church (winter church) to the left, behind the market square trading arcades.

The first glimpse through the door looked promising, and we were surprised to find not only quilts in the entrance room, but also some interesting ceramic sculptures, and a large egg covered in mosaics.

The medieveal themed quilts were made by Anna Veksler from St.Petersburg, and we were told that the ceramic sculptures were made by someone called Popov. I am not sure about the egg, except that it was beautiful, – that I know.

 

The main room was all painted white and with light coming in through low windows.  The building is not in use as a church any more, – not for the time being, anyway.

The exhibition in here was also a mix of quilts and ceramics.

 

In the room were a few benches to rest on, and they were also works of art. We were persuaded that it was ok to sit on them, though. They were very solid.

 

One of the competition categories was called “Made by Men”, and those quilts hung in this room. They were all made by male quilters, of course. A versatile collection with some nontraditional construction techniques.

 

There was also a collection of quilts from Japan, made by Yuriko Moriyama.

 

I also liked this work by Olga Bernikova.

 

The front end of the room was occupied by some of Galla Grotto‘s quilts, who also taught some classes at the show. She is an artist with an impressive body of works, – and not only textiles. I heartily recommend a visit to her website.

 

Alevtina Shevaldina made this quilt in the rug making technique. She had one in another exhibition too.

There were also several rugs in a special exhibition of old Russian quilts, which I will show in a later post.

 

quiltedfield14

Also, Japanese Keiko Nakamura was inspired by Alevtina Shevaldina’s quilts to make her entry for the Quilted Field.

 

And there were more ceramic sculptures, – in every corner, – and more quilts.

 

I’ll stop with these photos of Nelly Saveljeva’s quilt.

More to come.

🙂

Eldrid

 

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