The Lingonberry Garden

A blog celebrating painting, design, folk art, Scandinavian-American heritage and everyday living.


A stunning summer in Norway... A grand tour of rosemaling and wood carving organized by Vesterheim, the Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. An incredible adventure traveling to see artworks from Norway's early days through meeting the artists and master craftsmen of today... I'd seen many beautiful old and new examples of rosemaling and carved pieces at exhibits and museums and in books I've collected over the years, but seeing them in person -- examples through the centuries -- in the natural countryside and regions they came from, created a whole new awareness and appreciation, so many more perspectives...

And after so much piecing together of family genealogies from Norway and Sweden, a chance to meet more relatives, see where grandparents had lived. And exploring so many regional folk museums with their many cabins and storehouses... walking through so many, seeing example after example of the similar styled rooms with their long dining table and benches, their corner cupboards and open hearth, the single bed against the wall, the wood buckets and pitchers and spoons, ale bowls and butter molds... Their craftsmanship, their art. On so many things. Noting the variations in the size or accessorizing and painting styles these cabins took on through the centuries...

All of a sudden realizing the experience is more than visiting a folk museum -- a realization that you've gone back in time -- you're sitting at the same tables your ancestors sat at -- you can close your eyes and you know what their rooms were like: the wood logs, the soot from the fire, the hand carved chairs and tables and beds. You can see and feel the wool they spun and dyed, the looms they used for weaving their cloth, the patterns they put into the clothes and blankets they made... All those names from the 1850's and the 1820's and the 1780's have walked in and out of these cabins, too. They maybe were in a different village, but this is their land, their countryside, too; they saw these trees and rivers and lakes.  The family history comes to life... It is a tangible connection.

Look for more follow-ups here and on our Lingonberries page,