Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Growing up in a deeply Norwegian area of rural SW Minnesota, Norwegian customs and culture were a part of my everyday experiences.
Lutefisk and lefse were nothing to be explained where I grew up, as this was food everyone was well familiar. All of my grandparents were born in the U.S., yet Norwegian was their first language. The neighboring farm families read like a Norwegian phone book – Velde, Hanson, Anderson, Vold, Greseth, Sannerud, Jacobson, Rysdahl, Froland, Foss, Hegna, Handeland, and Haaland.
So, it isn't surprising my first exposure to rosemaling was when I was a youngster in the 70s. I remember looking at the beautiful scrolls and flowers, and thought, I wish I could do that. However, also I recall it being described as very, very hard to do. (The same message some lefse makers would also like everyone to believe.) So, I tucked rosemaling away as something I could enjoy, but never actually do.
I tucked rosemaling away as something I could enjoy, but never actually do.
As an adult I began diving deep into my Norwegian roots. I traveled to Norway, dug into my genealogy, became a member of Sons of Norway and headed the lodge's Barne Norsk program, joined a couple bygdelags, took Norwegian language classes, expanded my Norwegian food recipes, collected Norwegian rosemaling and Henning wood carvings, and shared my Norwegian heritage with my sons.
It wasn’t until a little over a year ago a coworker, and fellow Norwegian-American, suggested we take a flat-plane wood carving class. This sounded like a great opportunity to learn how to create my own Henning-like wood carvings. As luck would have it, that class was filled. My friend then suggested a rosemaling class at North House Folk School in Grand Marias, Minnesota. Curious if I could actually rosemal, I said, "Yes!".
In my next blogs I’ll share what happened during my first rosemaling class. Until then…