Merry Christmas! God Jul!

Twigs and stars and colors woven together– what a joyful celebration of this time of year! When the trees are bare, and we all need a little color, this small tapestry by Barbro Nilsson, offers a wonderful exploration of color and form. Measuring only about 18″ x 24″, it is a variant in a series of small weavings of twigs and leaves designed around 1957. In Swedish, these small weavings are called “bonad” or “vävnad,” generally designed as small wall-hangings, though frequently made into cushions as well. Nilsson was the masterful Swedish weaver who in 1941 succeeded Märta Måås-Fjetterström to head up the MMF AB workshop in Båstad, Sweden. In these small weavings, we see Nilsson at her playful best, exploring nuances of color, played off against abstractions of branches, leaves, berries, and in this case, stars as well.

Barbro Nilsson for Märta Måås-Fjetterström AB, Green Twig tapestry bonad, (Grön Kvist), 61.5 x 47 cm, ca 1957. Sold Bukowskis 12/23/19
Signature on tapestry.
Detail of Barbro Nilsson’s Green Twig tapestry showing varied stitches, and yarn tones.

With this post, I want to say thank you to you, my readers, who have enriched my life with your interest in and appreciation of this project to document the work of mid-century Swedish designers of woven work– rugs and tapestries, as well as many many pieces designed and woven for use in churches and public buildings– many of these, still in use today. The fact that most of these designers were women and have never had the level of respect or familiarity or acclaim that their male contemporary architects and furniture designers had, makes this project to me, all the more urgent and fascinating.

This has been a tough year with Covid, for all of us. With much more staying at home, I have seen the numbers of my readership steadily increasing. Thank you to all of you — some 700-800 readers per month ! — who have chosen to pass some of your newfound extra time reading and exploring my blog! I hope you will continue reading as I explore more widely and continue to fill in some of the gaps in my 1935-1975 time frame, and occasionally venture outside of that. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram too (@theswedishrugblog), where I frequently show textiles with too little information to make a blog post about, or non-Swedish or more contemporary artists.

So, to continue with the story of Nilsson and her twig tapestries… let’s look at a few others, all variations on the design. It’s fun to see both the differences in colors, sizes, and design elements. Note that since these are tapestries, they are woven sideways, so the warp runs from left to right. If you were looking at them as woven they would look like the first image below, although we will look at them as intended for wall hangings or cushion covers:

Barbro Nilsson for MMF AB, Blue Twig (Blå Kvist) tapestry bonad, 46.5 x43.5, ca 1957. Sold by Bukowskis 11/1/no year given.
Barbro Nilsson Light Twig (Ljus Kvist) tapestry bonad, 33 x 34 cm, Sold Bukowskis 12/21/14.
Detail of Ljus Kvist, showing weaving close up, including tapestry warp running left to right, and insertions of small circles (berries?).
Barbro Nilsson, Purple Twig (Lila Kvist) tapestry bonad, 25 x 31.5 cm, ca 1957. Sold Stadsauktion Sundsvall via auktionet 11/27/18
Detail of Lila Kvist tapestry, showing how white warp threads are exposed to lighten the overall feel of the tapestry, while branches and circle shapes are densely woven, to be more solid.

Two yellow-gold variants bring us from winter and toward light and spring. These seem like a good way to celebrate our passing of the solstice and turning toward light and all things good with this season! Happy New Year to all of you!

Barbro Nilsson for MMF AB, very small tapestry bonad, Yellow Twig (Gul Kvist), 22.5 x.23 cm, designed 1957. Sold Bukowskis, 1/23/no year given.
Barbro Nilsson, Yellow Twig (Gul Kvist) tapestry bonad, 33 x 34 cm. Sold Bukowskis 1/10/17.

Sources

Bukowskis auction house, Stockholm

Små Vävnader från Märta Måås-Fjetterström

Stadsauktion Sundsvall via auctionet.com

6 thoughts

  1. I am a Finnish textile entrepreneur, who has fallen in love with ryas. I myself don´t weave ryas, but try to find every piece of information of them, for some years of Finnish ryas and now I have continued to Swedish ones. So – I found your blog <3<3<3, and guess, how I have spent my Christmas time…
    Thank you for sharing information, pictures and knowledge! That's the best way to raise interest for culture and textile heritage.
    Your sincere admire Hannele

    Like

    1. Thank you, Hannele! I’m glad you enjoyed poking around on the blog. And I appreciate your enthusiasm for rya! Finnish ones are so often like little works of modern art, and well worth collecting! I wish I could read Finnish since I know there are some good books on Finnish rya.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I collected Finnish ryas some years and posted the pictures of my ryas in FB. The site is Ryijygalleria and if you are interested and use FB, welcome to the gallery! There are some older ryas but most of them are from 60s – which are my favourites (or used to be – now the old ones seems to call me…)
        https://www.facebook.com/ryijygalleria
        Hannele

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