Monday, May 08, 2017

Swedish toys...

I have been reading a book on Swedish Wooden Toys published by Yale University Press. It is a lovely book recommended by a friend, and I believe it will be useful and inspirational in the toy making done by the students at Clear Spring School. Some of the toys in it are made by children or could be made by children and those are the ones that I find most appealing.

The Swedish peasant woodcarver in his cottage is making Dala horses, that have become a world wide symbol of Sweden. The array of knives kept sharp and at the ready are Mora knives, from the area of Sweden that is famous for making Sloyd knives.

The book says:
In farming families, unpainted, rough carved wooden toy horses ere usually personalized, their appearance dependent on the manufacturer's skill and creativity. Not surprisingly, wooden horses from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries do not have standardized shapes or sizes, because craftsmen established their own models. Some of the more ambitious carvers might be considered artists in their own right, but mostly these were itinerant carvers who were paid by the piece. From these individuals, the trade in decorated horses developed. Entire families carved to support themselves, while larger producers cane to specialize in particular styles. 
 The carver in the photo above was Majt Jerk, Mora, ca. 1900.

Swedish Wooden Toys describes the process through which the horses were made. Blocks of wood called kringlor were quartered into pieces with each quarter providing the material for one horse. An axe was used to cut it roughly to shape, including the space between the front and back legs, and the lines along the neck. Originally a drill was used to begin forming the space between the left and right legs though that task is now done with a bandsaw. The original horses were carved from green wood, but like most popular things are now mechanized and standardized and sill fascinating. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQI3TsjKnbU

Make, fix, create and inspire others to learn likewise.

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