God Jul!

God Jul, or Merry Christmas!

This year’s Christmas image, of a good-sized rya rug (140 x 200 cm, or about 55 x 79 inches) was designed and woven in 1950 and presented to the Nordiska Museum in Stockholm by the designer, INGRID SKERFE-NILSSON. I looked at some of the images below before, in my initial post on Skerfe-Nilsson in 2017, a talented and enterprising designer working in Uppsala, who rode the mid-century wave of interest in rya rugs to considerable success.

Nilsson’s interest in traditional 18th- and 19th-century rya from the Uppsala area led her to design for the Uppsala County Crafts association (Hemslöjdförenigen i Uppsala läns) from 1945-50. But as most hemslöjd designers did, Skerfe-Nilsson designed a variety of products for the organization. As a tablecloth, cushion cover and this rug illustrate, sunflowers were a motif she used frequently.

Ingrid Skerfe-Nilsson, working drawing for damask linen tablecloth, “Solros och Tulpan”(Sunflowers and Tulips) designed for Hemslöjdförenigen i Uppsala läns), 1948, apparently woven in 1950, digitaltmuseum.se identifier 39280b from Uppsalamuseet collection.
Ingrid Skerfe-Nilsson, cushion cover on linen, “Solros” (sunflower), designed for Hemslöjdförenigen i Uppsala läns), 1950, digitaltmuseum.se identifier 37303 from Uppsalamuseet collection.

Skerfe-Nilsson created this particular rya-rug design while still with with the craft association. Before giving it to the Nordiska Museum wanted to acquire this rug, Skerfe-Nilsson seems to have tweaked her design, brightening the red and adding other layers of interest: the several borders of green small triangles were given contrasting tones, and the original black center softened to a sage-green.

Ingrid Skerfe-Nilsson, design for a rya rug, “Solros,” designated as for the Nordiska Museet 1950, digitaltmuseum.se identifier UM39236b from Upplandsmuseet collection.
Ingrid Skerfe-Nilsson, photo of rya rug, Solros, in the collection of the Nordiska Museet, photographed in March of 2020 and used with permission.

While intended as a graphic sunflower image, to me, it seems perfectly seasonal to use this great rya rug design here!

For all of us, this has been an odd and sometimes awful year with the uncertainties of covid continuing and the disruptive effects of the pandemic on daily life. This past year, I have been derailed from this blog with a family construction project which has taken much of my time and energy and left not enough for research and writing. I hope this next year to be able to return to a more frequent schedule of blog posts, because even without being able to travel to Sweden, I still have plenty of documentation and there are certainly more designers to be discussed. Thanks to each of you for maintaining your enthusiasm for these rugs and hanging in there with me!




Nordiskamuseet archives, Stockholm

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