Birds of Växjö: Irma Kronlund

Irma Kronlund, whose entire career was spent at the Kronobergs County Craft Association (Kronobergs lans hemslöjd) in Växjö, in south-central Sweden, designed a series of rugs in the same pattern but in different colors— all named after birds. The red one of these seems to have been very popular, was clearly woven multiple times, and is seen quite frequently at auctions; the other come to auction much less often.

Her rugs are invariably signed KLH and IK (left and right lower corners).

While there continues to be confusion over whether KLH means Kristianstad or Kronobergs lans hemslöjd, when it is a part of the rug signature, it is useful to know which designers worked in which place at during what time period. In the case of Irma Kronlund, however, it is easy. She worked only at Kronobergs, and if one sees a rug with IK and KLH as signatures, there is only one designer to whom this string of initials applies.

Kronlund named the rug shown below as the “European Robin,” or “Rödhake.” Her sketch indicated that it would be 1.5 x 2.4 meters, very much the size of these rugs we see at auction. She signed and dated the sketch.

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Irma Kronlund, watercolor sketch on light-weight card stock, Kronobergs läns hemslöjd archives. In folder of Kronlund rölakan designs. Signed and dated 1955.
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Detail of Irma Kronlund signature and date  (1955) on edge of previous sketch.
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Detail of Irma Kronlund sketch with notation of rug size on previous sketch..

When this rug was offered for sale recently in Stockholm, the place it was made was misidentified as Kristianstad lans hemslöjd. While this detail probably matters very little to most people, it seems to me part of establishing who each of these female Swedish designers was at mid-century. Who they were, who they worked for, when they worked: many of these kinds of details can be established. Hopefully next time around, the place, person, rug name, and date on this particular design will all be clear!

Irma Kronlundsmall 228
Irma Kronlund, flat weave rug (rölakan), “Rödhake,” Kronobergs Läns Hemslöjd, signed KLH IK, 251 x 146 cm; Stockholms Auktionsverket Modern Auction 11/9/17 item #228.
IK detail 228_5 KRONOBERGS not Kristianstad!
Detail of KLH signature, Irma Kronlund, flat weave rug (rölakan), Kronobergs Läns Hemslöjd, signed KLH IK, 251 x 146 cm; Stockholms Auktionsverket Modern Auction, 11/9/17 item #228.
IK signature228_6
Detail of Irma Kronlund signature, Irma Kronlund, flat weave rug (rölakan), Kronobergs Läns Hemslöjd, signed KLH IK, 251 x 146 cm; Stockholms Auktionsverket Modern Auction, 11/9/17 item #228.
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Detail of the body of the rug. Irma Kronlund, flat weave rug (rölakan), Kronobergs Läns Hemslöjd, signed KLH IK, 251 x 146 cm; Stockholms Auktionsverket Modern Auction 11/9/17 item #228.

Kronlund also sketched three other versions of this rug, all named after quite small birds related to Chickadees. I’ve tried hard to get the correct translations for these bird names, but I’m not sure that I have got all of them right. The blue, called Blåmes, translates as the bird called a European Blue Tit. The yellow version, Gulmes, is named after what Google calls a Yellow Tit, which is the direct translation, but there doesn’t appear to be any bird of this name in Sweden. Perhaps some of you Swedish birders out there can tell me otherwise, or identify this bird in English. The green is called Grönmes, —oddly, not a green bird at all, but a Yellow-browed Tit. All three of the sketches for these alternative colors for the red rug were also dated 1955. They are shown below.

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Irma Kronlund, watercolor sketch, “Blåmes” on light-weight card stock, Kronobergs läns hemslöjd archives. In folder of Kronlund rölakan designs. Signed and dated 1955.
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Irma Kronlund, watercolor sketch, Gulmes on light-weight card stock, Kronobergs läns hemslöjd archives. In folder of Kronlund rölakan designs. Signed and dated 1955. Apologies for the murky photo.
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Detail of date, Irma Kronlund, watercolor sketch, Gulmes on light-weight card stock, Kronobergs läns hemslöjd archives. In folder of Kronlund rölakan designs. Signed and dated 1955.
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Irma Kronlund, watercolor sketch, Grönmes on light-weight card stock, Kronobergs läns hemslöjd archives. In folder of Kronlund rölakan designs. Signed and dated 1955.

 

It’s probably taking the name(s) of this very graphic rug too literally if we think it represents insistent and repeated bird tracks.  But it is fun to think that when she designed this rug, Irma Kronlund was looking at the natural world as she saw it from Växjö, Sweden, and that something in this lively pattern she had designed reminded her of the local birdlife.

 

Sources

Kronobergs County Craft Association archives,visit to Växjö, Sweden, April 15, 2017. Permission to publish copies of these drawings was given, and they may not be reproduced without such permission. Hemslöjden Kronoberg is the owner and holds the copyright for all photos of sketches shown here. Ägare av samling Hemslöjdsföreningen i Kronobergs län photo in the database Hemslöjdens Samlingar.

Thanks to Monica Modig Rauden and Ulf Jansson at Kronobergs läns hemslöjd.

Stockholms Auktionsverket, Stockholm

 

Please reference as follows:

Whidden, Anne, “ The birds of Växjö: Irma Kronlund,”  theswedishrugblog (11/9/17); theswedishrugblog.wordpress.com; accessed (day/month/year)

 

 

 

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