Saturday, May 9, 2015

Birthday Girl


Hardanger Bride
This morning just before 1 our power went out while I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed. You'd think, as this was a scheduled outage and I'm married to the Grid Manager, I would have been expecting this, but no one informed me ahead of time. I had to feel my way to bed through the dark. Hours later when the power was restored all the lights I'd been using came back on, waking me up. While I was up turning off the lights I found my six year old awake, as he'd apparently been since his nightlight went out. I sent him back up to turn it on and went back to bed. Then around 5 AM the dog started barking to go out so I got up to let him out. My six year old was up again complaining the bulb in his nightlight had now burned out. I told him to turn the bathroom light on and go back to bed. My husband got up before 9 to take out teen to school for a band event and I woke up again. Eventually I gave up on getting more sleep. I had to take a nap this afternoon, and I think it's going to be an early night for all. It turns out our youngest woke up his siblings several times in the night as well, and everyone is grumpy. My daughter is coughing and seems to be catching a cold too. So, I never managed any doll work today. I do want to write about an inspirational figure for me, though: Rønnaug Petterssen.




A few weeks back I was trying to win an auction for a Rønnaug Petterssen doll. Rønnaug Petterssen was a Norwegian doll maker working around the same time and in the same manner as Madame Lenci, but in Norway instead of Italy. The Petterssen "dukkeatelier" never got as large as the Lenci company, and as far as I can see mostly concentrated on small dolls around 9 inches costumed in regional Norwegian "bunad", or traditional costumes. I have seen a few character dolls, like skiers dressed in the modern clothing of the time, and a few large dolls, but these are so rare the price is astronomical. I really wanted to see a Petterssen doll in person because I wanted to see how she made the intricate costumes in such a small scale and how she constructed her dolls, but I always get outbid.

In this case I was trying to get the "Hardanger Bride". My family mostly wears the Hardanger bunad, and most of us own small pieces of Hardanger embroidery, but no one in America has a Hardanger bunad anymore. Hardanger, a white on white cutwork lace in geometric patterns, is so difficult to produce it makes the Hardanger bunad extremely expensive. My cousin, Anna, spent $2000 on hers about 17 years ago and then got pregnant with her son, Eric, who is the same age as my oldest. She lost her tiny waist during pregnancy, just as I did, and has never been able to fit back into her bunad since! A bride from the Hardanger area wears a red dress with gold and green trim, and an elaborately beaded and embroidered bodice. Under it she wears a white blouse with Hardanger lace and over it a Hardanger lace apron. On her head she wears a tall gold crown with dangling charms. It really is one of the loveliest of the bunad styles in my opinion. I also wanted the bride doll because it retained the original "dukkeatelier" tag. "Dukke" is the Norwegian word for doll, and "Atelier" is a French word that means an artist's teaching studio. My eBay sales consultant, a man who isn't well-versed in the doll world, is always trying to get me to change the name of my store, Atelier Mandaline, to something that describes my inventory, like "Dolls and Kid's Clothes". I keep trying to tell him, in the doll world an "atelier" IS shorthand for a doll artist's store. Use of the term for doll shops is long-established, as you can see from this doll's tag, and this shop was one of the inspirations for my store's name. To "doll people" the name also implies these are artist's dolls, not mass-manufactured dolls. The Hardanger bride doll probably dates to the 1930s or so.


The Petterssen tags


I was the first bidder on the doll but watched in dismay as the price climbed higher and higher, far out of my range. On my birthday, however, I opened a present and found the doll! My husband very kindly bought her for me! He is suffering from sticker shock and can't believe such a small doll could cost so much. I'm very happy to finally own a Petterssen doll!

I can see she used the same pressed felt faces as the Lenci dolls and the dolls I like to make. I especially love her faces, too, because they are so true to form. The round face with long, slanted eyes, and the dark eyes and eyebrows with light hair are all extremely typical and look like people in my family and like me. I see Rønnaug Petterssen put the most detail into the doll's face and clothing and not much in to the body construction. The dress forms the torso of this doll. The sleeves are the arms, with hands that are just stuffed balls sewn into the cuffs, and the legs are tubes sewn in to the skirt. There are little panties sewn onto the thighs. I am interested in Petterssen's clever use of trims to replicate the bunad detail in miniature. The gold crown is formed from gold painted lace. Another lace resembles the Hardanger trim on the apron and blouse. A few tiny gold beads give the impression of the vast beadwork on the original bodice. It would be easy to do and not so labor intensive as to put the price out of reach of the tourists who collected them, but still makes a very accurate representation of the bunad.


The crown is gold lace.

Rønnaug Petterssen, like Madame Lenci, is unusual in that she is famous for her tourist dolls. Most of these kinds of dolls were produced by unknown workers for companies whose names have long since fallen out of memory. Petterssen is rightfully remembered today, as is Madame Lenci, because her dolls are beautifully made and have a distinct personality instantly recognizable to the knowledgeable collector. You can see from the photo below how the lace on the doll's apron does resemble real Hardanger cloth even though it's much more simple. The doll's touches of lace on her blouse and beads making a neck pin, are wonderfully realistic but again, so simple! I am inspired to make my own Petterssen style dolls, and you can be sure I will show them to you here when I finish them!


The doll on a piece of machine-made Hardanger cloth.

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