Monday, July 31, 2006

The Decorah Weekend

Vesterheim, the Norwegian / American Museum, puts on Nordic Fest every summer. People come from all over the world for this event. There are special musical groups, plays, art displays, an art show, and tours through the museum and the ‘open air’ buildings. There is a Viking group that sets up in one area and there is the area that we traditional “old time” crafters gather to demonstrate. As I said, yesterday, there were four of us (five, if you split Norm and I up).

Woodworker Dave, who makes exquisite wooden boxes and chests and shelves. His main demonstration is dovetail joints. He was bored this weekend, so made a box with random joints – he was going to cut the joints off and start over another time, but Norm traded spatulas for the box, since Norm fell in love with the uniqueness of it. I said a unique box needed to store unique things and should have “Unique” painted on the side.



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These are two joints on the box ... notice the different spacings and different shapes

Potter Jasper has a wheel along and makes pots while talking. He said he could do it with his eyes closed but I never saw him do it; however I believe him, as he looks at his crowd of visitors while working. I am collecting pottery from him. I have gotten a special color for my pots – he calls it the “Tim glaze,” if I remember right. Every time we get together, I have gotten something from him. I got a small pot, this time, to make a miniature butter churn. I then ordered a pot to hang on the wheel for my flax water. And ordered some “plowls” – his word for a plate that has a lip like a bowl – a larger bowl for eating when you take your bowl (or plate) to someone’s tent for supper. Jasper is wonderful with children and spends a long time with them if they are truly interested in his craft.


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Blacksmith Tom is known world-wide. He is an artist and can make wonderful things from a piece of iron. This weekend, he was working on a decorative piece for the Museum, to go on a door. Tom was the one who started the idea of the Traditional crafts at Decorah. He has been working with Vesterheim for years. Last year, we were invited to join on Tom’s suggestion. Tom also started the Traditional crafts at Pepin, Wisconsin, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Wilder’s birth place. We were invited to join him several years ago and go every year on the LIW celebration days.



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A sample door to show how Tom can do locks as well as hinges and decorations
We had two people join us who do Traditional crafts but were not set up in the “period” way. Bill is a teacher at the Swedish Institute and does “Norden” characters.

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Scott does knives and has some beautiful knives to show. The handles are generally of antler.

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We missed the family that normally comes – they are homesteaders to the max! They live near Pepin, WI, and come to the Pepin festival; last year was their first at Decorah, too. I will make sure I have pictures of them when we do the Pepin fest. They have a farm where they raise most of their food for animals and people. They do not depend too much on buying from stores. I should ask them if they’ve ever been to a Wal-Mart?

Our beds were comfortable, but that was the only thing comfortable about sleeping this weekend. We had heat, of course – but Norm had brought along a fan and Jasper had extra lengths of cord so he and we ran extension cords from behind his tent to his fan and then across the square to our tent. The fans made a little bit of a stir of air when there was no air. And it cooled off about 3:00 each night. But the noise – traffic, street sweepers, garbage trucks, delivery vans, sirens! None of us live in highly congested areas so noise is not something any of us are used to. Friday night, also, there was a rock band that played until about 1:00. They made up with noise for the lack of talent they had. It echoed and boomed all through the tents and our heads. If it was loud for us, how did the audience survive that noise? No wonder people are going deaf at earlier ages!

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On Saturday, as I have said, the heat index was about 110º. Norm and I had planned on staying overnight and tearing down in the morning, then taking a leisurely way home. As Norm sat there, melting in the heat, he came up with one of the best ideas he’s ever had (next to marrying me, of course!) … we tore down on Saturday night and headed south west and found a motel in New Hampton. As we watched the news that night, in the comfort of a cool, quiet motel (with a shower!), we found that the heat index was higher than I thought (I had guestimated it to be about 100º) and that it was going to be hotter the next day. The night time temperature was to be about 85º - not comfortable sleeping if there is no breeze. Smart guy I have there!!

Sunday we headed home, but that’s another story for tomorrow. It looks to be a beautiful (hot) day today – you have a beautiful (cool) day!


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Connie, thanks SO much for sharing your weekend with us. I love the pottery , but most of all, that door!!!

I think society is losing a lot by not teaching these old skills, either by parents passing them on or even starter courses at school.

Love,

Fran

(Maidmyown )

xx

Kati said...

Wow.... Would that we had something like that up here. How fantastic to be so knowledgable in the traditional crafts. Agreeing with the last poster that these are things that should still be taught to our children. Now if only I could get mine to pick up a crochet hook. ;)

happyowl said...

Wonderful pictures! It sounds like you guys had a great time( even with the heat). The picture of the blacksmiths locks and hinges caused a renewed intrest. I have been listening to my boy asking if he could set up his own forge in the backyard...lol. Don't think that will happen with his dad being a fire inspector.

Thanks for sharing your pics

Brightest blessings

Heather

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