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Swedish Holiday Slöjd Recap and Resources
On December 6, the American Swedish Institute and the American Craft Council partnered for an evening of Swedish holiday programming. Sixty participants made wire ornaments while learning about the history of Swedish slöjd (handcrafts) with traditional holiday treats and non-alcoholic glögg (mulled wine).
The audience thoroughly enjoyed a presentation by Dr. Faith Clover, who has been immersed in art education for 40 years. She told the audience about the history of slöjd in Sweden and the United States. Otto Salomon popularized the educational slöjd movement in Nääs, Sweden in the 1870s. The belief is that the benefits of traditional handicraft in general education strengthened heritage and cultural pride. There are lessons and books that progress carefully and incrementally in difficulty.
Made in these slöjd programs are traditional craft objects used in everyday life. They are primarily made by hand with traditional materials and methods. They are regional in nature, and aren’t merely made because it’s traditional, but because they are objects meaningfully tied to social and cultural life.
In the late 1800s, many Swedes immigrated to Minnesota, where Lars Ericsson established the first slöjd program in the United States in 1884 at the Augustana Lutheran Church in St. Paul. Dr. Clover also mentioned the North Bennet Street Industrial School in Boston, which had such a popular slöjd school that it had to expand into a new space. Today, these skills can be learned in various folk and craft schools. Dr. Clover took some of her classes at the North House Folk School in northern Minnesota.
She recommends The Theory of Educational Sloyd: The Only Authorised Ed. of the Lectures of Otto Salomon, which the ACC Library just purchased. She also had an issue of Hemlöjden, a Swedish language magazine of slöjd, craft, and folk art. The library owns books and other resources on slöjd and Swedish folk art – a classic title we own is Swedish Handcraft by Anna-Maja Nylén, published in 1977.
Newer titles owned by the ACC Library related to this salon are Scandinavian Stitches: 21 Playful Projects with Seasonal Flair by Kajsa Wikman, featuring stitched handcrafts that draw inspiration from the seasons and offer a fresh take on folk art. A fun wire crafting book to complement the wirework done by our salon participants is Heavenly Metal by Lisa Brown. Swedish Christmas Crafts, written by Helene S. Lundberg, contains instructions for projects ranging from stockings, ornaments, and picture frames to creative gift wrappings, Christmas cards, and homemade candles.
Join us for our next salon series, which starts in March. It will be bigger and better than ever – plans are in the works for interactive programs, excellent speakers, and exciting presentations. Stay tuned for more details!
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.