A few months ago (February, 2018, “A Snippet…”) I wrote a post on a Swedish press photo I had found with three women examining an unidentified Swedish flat-weave rug. Much to my surprise, when I was recently in the archives of the Kristianstad County Crafts Association (Kristianstad läns hemslöjdförening), I found sketches for this rug in various colors and sizes. None of the sketches are dated, but the initials identify the designer as Ingrid Peterson, a young woman at the beginning of her career. This post is a kind of post script or PS to that earlier one (see February 26, 2018 blog post).
After her 1949 marriage to Dane, Kai Dessau, Ingrid Peterson became known as Ingrid Dessau. Dessau was a very talented mid-century designer who is unusual in having had a career in which she designed both handwoven rugs to be made by acomplished hemslöjd weavers and rugs to be made by industry. Her rugs are beautiful and are today highly sought after. But earlier, when she graduated as Ingrid Peterson from Konstfack, Stockholm’s art and design academy about 1945, her first job was with the Kristianstad County Crafts Association as a designer. She signed her designs “IP,” although the way she formed her letter “I” makes her signed initials look very like “JP.” The various versions of this particular rug design are signed IP— thus we can assume they were designed before 1949. It should be noted that even after her marriage, Dessau continued to work for KLH on a free-lance basis, sending designs to be made by the Kristianstad weavers. These sketches were signed ID, but —in an additional complication—it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between IP and ID.
Since an example of this rug was shown in the March, 1950 Exhibition in Stockholm mentioned in the earlier post, it is curious to me that none of the examples which I have seen were signed with Ingrid Peterson’s initials. But we do have the evidence of these sketches for attributing its design to her. As to dating the rug, it seems to me that it was probably designed by Peterson shortly before her marriage and woven during 1949 for the exhibition. The County Craft Association would have wanted to send one of their most recent designs to the exhibit, not something designed several years earlier. So 1948 or 1949 seems like a likely date for the design.
This name of this rug was “Skägg,” or Beard, —and it was made as Blue Beard, Grey Beard, Red Beard, Yellow Beard, and even Green Beard! The sketches show that it was made in two very slightly different sizes, and then a larger size as well. Since these sketches are undated, it is also not possible to know which version came first, but the fact that there were so many colors suggests that the smaller scale pattern was a popular design. The photos which follow are of sketches and weaving proofs for the various colors and sizes.
The sketch shown above may be the first sketch for this rug, since it differs in several ways from the sketches which follow. In subsequent designs, while the overall idea is the same, the vertical comb shapes are both shorter and more complex, and the little yellow squares have moved from the ends and between the chains to the sides of the rug. The rug size also appears to change very slightly in both length and width.
The weaving proof shown below is identified as being a proof of the above design, and the location of the little yellow squares between the rows looks right, but note that the colors seem not so much blue and purple as shown in the sketch above, but much more like the green/blue combination seen in the sketch of the Green Beard design shown at the end of this post.
The design shown below is also of the Blue Beard pattern, but in a modified form. This is a good example of what I call the small scale version of this pattern— the version which is represented most frequently and in the most colors in the archival sketches. Most of the sketches shown below are examples of this smaller scale pattern— whatever their actual size was. The term is a bit of a misnomer: when the actual rugs are seen, one would hardly call this a small scale pattern. I use the phrase only to distinguish it from the denser version of the pattern discussed later.
The following are several sketch versions for a small scale gray version. (The previous blog post showed a gray rug made in the larger scale version).
The weaving proof shown above is meant to be correlated with the another sketch for a grey rug (D3: 306), which I did not see but which appears to be more like the second grey design shown above (that is, more like D3:305b rather than D3:305a). It is also worth noting that it is characteristic of the weaving proofs for Peterson’s rugs, or perhaps more characteristic of the weaving atelier for the Kristianstad hemslöjd as a whole, that colored yarn samples are attached to the woven sample itself rather than attaching them on a separate card with labeled numbers, which is more typical hemslöjd practice.
Ingrid Peterson, weaving proof for flatweave rug (röllakan), Red Beard (Rödskägg), Kristianstad läns hemslöjd, ca 1948-9. Kristianstad läns hemslöjdsförening identifying number KLH. D3:274. Please observe terms of photo use.
Ingrid Peterson, weaving proof for flatweave rug (röllakan), Yellow Beard (Gulskägg), Kristianstad läns hemslöjd, ca 1948-9. Kristianstad läns hemslöjdsförening identifying number KLH. D3:276a. Please observe terms of photo use.
In the weaving proof shown above, note that there is a small green square occurring in the grey section. The design of this little sample is more consistent with the first version of Blue Beard shown above than the other small scale versions we have been looking at. And in fact we see that the inventory number of the Yellow Beard proof above is correlated —not with a sketch for the Yellow Beard rug—but with the inventory number for what seemed to be the earliest designs for the Blue Beard discussed above (where there were small yellow squares between the colored strands). So it seems likely that the D3:276a design reflected in the early blue version was also made in a yellow version.
The rug above, another version of Yellow Beard, is very similar to the green version shown below and seems to be almost as large as that one, which was designed to be 2 m x 3 m. In both of these cases, the overall design is denser than that of the smaller scale pattern–with 8 strands rather than 5, without the wide white border of the rugs shown in earlier examples, and the end detail has also been changed to stripes, and the scalloped border pattern eliminated from the ends.
We know from the sizes of the actual rugs shown in the previous blog post that what I have called here the smaller scale pattern— that is, the one with 5 strands of “beard” on a white ground with wide borders and ends with a scalloped pattern—was made in various sizes. At least some of these sizes are documented in the sketches shown above, and are also apparent in the rugs shown in the last blog post. With regard to the Green Beard pattern, I didn’t see any Green Beard designs in the smaller scale pattern in the archive; just this sketch for a larger one. But clearly, a very cheerful version of these green colors was woven to in the smaller scale pattern: the rug below was shown in the Feb 26, 2018 blog post. And the colors of the very first weaving proof shown above (D3:276a) may well be those for the Green Beard design.
This little archival jaunt, providing the specifics behind a mid-century Swedish newspaper photograph, concludes with the discovery of the designer and name of the rug shown in that photograph. We can now attribute this series of Skägg rugs in two formats to Ingrid Peterson (later known as Ingrid Dessau), and we now have quite a bit of documentation of the range of colors and sizes in which the rug was made and sold by the Kristianstad County Craft Association, probably beginning about 1949-50.
Bukowskis auction house Stockholm
Kristianstad läns hemslöjd archives, Kristianstad
Permission granted to use photos of these drawings and woven samples, taken in the collection from Kristianstad County Craft Society (Kristianstad läns hemslöjdsförening). The photos may not be reproduced without such permission. Östra Skånes hemslöjdsförening (The Handicraft Association of Eastern Scania) shall be named as owner of the collection. The individual artifacts depicted are protected by copyright, and the names of the creators behind the photographed objects will follow the photos at publication.
Please reference as follows:
Whidden, Anne, “An Archival Post Script: Ingrid Peterson Dessau” theswedishrugblog (9/27/18); theswedishrugblog.wordpress.com; accessed (day/month/year)