Textile Experts Teach New Traditions at Vesterheim
Textile experts are coming to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum this summer and fall to teach new techniques and share their twist on tradition through the museum’s folk-art education program. Whether you are a beginning or advanced student, these classes offer an opportunity to be creative and take home a finished project. Participants always receive the benefit and inspiration of studying the museum’s unparalleled collection.
Carol Colburn, who is a professor of theater, costume history, and design at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, is coming to Vesterheim from Sept. 10-12 to teach the class “Norwegian Busserull.” Norwegian Americans wear the busserull, traditionally-styled Norwegian shirts, for heritage festivals, dancing, or enjoying outdoor life. Participants will sew imported vibrant red or blue and white striped cotton fabric to create a classic shirt to fit.
Quilting is not a Norwegian tradition, but Norwegian immigrants quickly took up the art form when they came to America and now Norwegians are, in turn, taking an interest. The Norwegian flag quilt is a Vesterheim artifact that shows the blending of the two cultures, and Jill Amdahl, an expert quilter from Decorah, will offer the class “Norwegian Flag Quilt” on Oct. 22-24 to help students make their own replica of this Norwegian-inspired quilt. Participants will learn how to measure and cut fabric, as well as how to piece by machine.
Sue Flanders and Janine Kosel, authors of the popular book, “Norwegian Handknits: Heirloom Designs from Vesterheim Museum,” will be at Vesterheim to lead students through the project “Rosemaled Shag Bag” on Dec. 2-3. Participants will start knitting at home and then the instructors will show how to transform their knitting into a beautiful bag. Learn how to “full” a bag (shrink an already-formed object), and then embellish it with needle felting, wet felting, and embroidery. The bag features floral motifs seen on Hallingdal-style rosemaling and embroidered mittens and gloves. Flanders has been designing knitwear patterns for magazines and books for more than twenty years. Kosel teaches knitting and tatting classes in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Their class is made possible by the Knitting Education Fund at Vesterheim, established in memory of Ann Swanson.
Vesterheim uses the story of Norwegian Americans to explore aspects of identity and culture common to everyone. The museum cares for over 24,000 artifacts, among which are some of the most outstanding examples of decorative and folk art to be seen in this country. Founded in 1877, Vesterheim is the oldest and most comprehensive museum in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. This national treasure includes a main complex of 16 historic buildings in downtown Decorah, and an immigrant farmstead and prairie church just outside the city.
From May 1-Oct. 31, Vesterheim is open daily, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. From Nov. 1-April 30, Vesterheim is open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays and is closed Monday. For more information on the museum’s exhibits, activities, and membership opportunities, consult Vesterheim’s website at vesterheim.org, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 523 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.