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Hand Blown Art Glass Steeped in Swedish Tradition

Work in progress at the Reijmyre Glasbruk, Sweden

Work in progress at the Reijmyre Glasbruk in Sweden

Hand blown art glass has become more popular in recent years. Especially that coming from some Swedish glass works.

Today, as you enter many popular department stores in the United States such as Macy's or Nordstrom's, you will see spectacular examples of art glass, much of which is hand blown. Some of the most beautiful decorative glass come from Orrefors Crystal and Kosta Boda. Both these lines of hand blown art glass are rich with the history of Sweden.

Kosta Boda is known as the oldest line of Swedish hand blown art glass. Its classic beauty, unique shape, colors and true creations of art make it well worth acquiring. The Kosta Boda Glass Works was first developed in 1742 by two retired generals of the Swedish Army. The first 150 years of its existence was dedicated to the creation of utility glass, such as window panes, bottles, glasses and chandeliers. The Kosta Glassworks is the oldest glass-producing facility in Sweden. One of the unique aspects of Kosta Boda hand blown art glass is that they have kept a tradition that is now more than 150 years old. The Kosta Boda line is created, developed, and carried forward as a tradition by its individual art glass designers. Their work is shown as designer collections and the glassblowers are often featured on the Kosta Boda website.

The Orrefors hand blown art glass and line of crystal is more spectacular than much of the crystal available on the market today. And is it any wonder? Just looking at their glassware and stemware is truly a delight to the eyes. The Orrefors line of crystal offers a range of products from art pieces and candlesticks to bowls, barware and collectibles. Most impressive is their vase collection, where you see the sleek yet distinctive vertical lines and swirling reflections of light dancing upon the grooves and lines?all brought together through its unique and refreshing shapes. Creativity like this only comes with hand blown art glass! Hand blown art glass by Orrefors goes back to 1742 in Sweden. The Orrefors glass works is not far from Kosta and was developed originally by Lars Johan Silversparre, but did not become  significant until the 1910s when Johan Ekman of Gothenburg acquired the glass works.

Norwegian Teachers' Resistance

When I think about dangerous jobs, teaching isn't the first thing that comes to mind. During World War II, however, teachers in Norway found themselves under threat. One of these teachers was Edvard Brakstad, an instructor at Eidsvoll Landsgymnas.

In the spring of 1942, Brakstad was one of 1,100 teachers arrested by the Germans for refusing to join a teacher association, designed to educate Norwegian students in Nazi ideology. After Brakstad's arrest in April, he was sent to a prison camp near Kirkenes, in northern Norway. While a prisoner, he wrote letters to his family and kept a journal, which he kept hidden from prison camp guards.

These writings formed the basis for Carter Walker's article "The Norwegian Teachers' Resistance," in this month's education-themed issue of Viking. While Walker's article features excerpts of Brakstad's writings, a larger collection can be found online, along with commentary from Brakstad's son, Olav.

Despite serious illness, Brakstad survived his ordeal. He returned home in late August of that year and later took over as headmaster of his school. If you'd like to learn more about Brakstad and the Norwegian teachers' resistance, be sure to check out the September issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she?s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Lutfisk on the Radio

In keeping with this weeks tasty, though totally unintentional, food theme, let's talk lutefisk. A curious food, to be sure; rarely will you find a culinary dish that is so widely, and vocally, debated by supporters and critics alike. For example, Jeffrey Stengarten once compared it to a weapon of mass destruction, while many others spend great amounts of time searching for and attending as many lutefisk dinners in their area as possible.

If you follow my Twitter feed (@SonsofNorway)then you probably saw the tweet earlier this week about KCRW, a public radio station in California, doing a piece on Sons of Norway and the making of lutefisk. During its "Good Food" segment, contributor Eddie Lynn visited Norrona lodge 6-050 in Van Nuys, California. While there, he interviewed lodge members, including VP Gerald Rowe, about lutesfisk and the tradition of lutefisk dinners.

To listen to the entire story, click here and fast-forward to the 15:20 mark. For me, the highlight of the story was when the interviewer called lutefisk "a poor man's lobster." Sounds to me like there's another lutefisk convert waiting in the wings!

Rosemaling the winter away

If you've been following the news lately, then you know we Minnesotans have had a heck of a winter so far. Let's run down the checklist, Shall we?

  • So much snow that it caved in a professional sports stadium? Check.
  • High temps in the single digits and overnight lows in the negative doubles? Check.
  • Getting less than 7 hours of sunlight per day? Check.

If the winter so far is any indication, I think it's fairly certain that most of us in the upper Midwest will be spending a LOT of time indoors over the next couple of months.

Unfortunately, for many of us, cabin fever sets in all too easily, which can make the coldest months of the year some of the longest and most excruciating of all. So, that leaves us with the question of what to do to fill the time until spring comes?

How about rosemaling?

I've just gotten word that Sons of Norway and Vesterheim are collaborating on an new type of rosemaling class. It's going to follow the first level of the Sons of Norway Rosemaling Cultural Skills Program, but will be taught in a group setting by Vesterheim Gold Medall Winner, Shirley Evenstad! If you aren't familiar with her work, check out one of your recent Viking magazines and look for the Sons of Norway Christmas ornament--Shirley is the talented artist behind this year't Hallingdal Rose design! She's an amazing artist who has studied with several master teachers at Vesterheim and in Norway.

This four-part class is going to be held every Saturday, from January 22nd until February 12, 2011 at Church of the Good Shepherd on 48th and France Avenue in Minneapolis, MN. Aspiring rosemalers will learn the basic strokes, simple flower and scroll forms, and complete a small 5-6 inch design done on a backgrounded plate or paper. Cost the class is $85 for Sons of Norway or Vesterheim members, plus an additional $40-$50 for supplies.

I think this sounds like a really fun way to while away the hours this winter! If you do as well, then all you need to do is register contact Vesterheim Museum at (563) 382-9681 or by e-mail at gro.miehretsevnull@ofni.

RootsWorld gets deep into the music of Norwegian artist Annbjørg Lien

"There is a old tradition in Norway to sing and play at the same time, like talking together." - Annbjørg Lien

Norwegian musician Annbjørg Lien is more than just a great Hardangar fiddler. RootsWorld's Greg Harness chats with the artist and reviews some of her recent recordings. Read more and listen.

Scandinavian Chic

Looking for a heritage-inspired gift for your favorite fashionista? If you haven?t noticed, Nordic-inspired knits are bigger than ever.

Travel + Leisure magazine recently featured a lovely assortment of woolly wares in their October issue. Seem strangely familiar? Yep, they are to me too. These are the type of staple items?many of them hand-knits or hand-me-downs?that have gotten me through a lifetime of Minnesota winters.

CNBC?s Consumer Nation website featured a Scandinavian-style sweater among their trendiest holiday gifts for 2010. ?Nordic chic?I think this trend is only going to grow bigger,? explains fashion trend consultant Catherine Moellering in the site?s gift guide.

Feeling inspired? You?ll find a traditional Norwegian mitten pattern in the September issue of Viking. If you?re not a knitter, you?re still in luck. Scandinavian retailers like Ingebretsen?s offer a great selection of hats, mittens and sweaters online. Bargain hunters might want to check out eBay or Google Shopping for serious deals on new and vintage knitwear. Even Target is picking up on the trend with Nordic knit slippers.

I?m glad to know that?at least this winter?my collection of well-loved Norwegian sweaters, hats and mittens are in style. But I won?t be packing them up when the trend is over ? I?ll just be ready when it comes around again!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she?s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user aslakr.

Beginner's Danish with 2 Audio CDs (Danish Edition) Reviews

Beginner's Danish with 2 Audio CDs (Danish Edition)

  • ISBN13: 9780781811996
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This title includes a book & 2 CDs. The smallest of the Scandinavian countries, Denmark is made up of a peninsula (Jutland) attached to northern Germany, and a collection of islands known as the Danish Archipelago. Greenland and the Faroe Islands are also crown territories of Denmark, though each has political home rule. Inhabited for over 12,000 years, Denmark is best known for the infamous period between the 8th and 10th century when Danish Vikings, together with Norwegians and Swedes, pillage

List Price: $ 29.95


The Best Lefse Recipe Ever

Today is lefse-making day in my family. This afternoon my kids and I will head over to my sister?s house, where she and my dad have already peeled enough potatoes for a triple batch of lefse for tomorrow?s Thanksgiving dinner.

In honor of the day, and just in time for Thanksgiving, I thought I?d include a recipe from Scandinavian-American chef Beatice Ojakangas?s blog, called ?The Best Lefse Recipe Ever.? (Beatrice?s recipes were featured in Viking?s June food issue.) That?s no small claim?I happen to think my dad makes the best lefse ever! Note that Beatrice?s recipe is wonderfully large?it makes about 100 pieces! (Hmmm?.could that be what makes it best?) The recipe looks very similar to my family?s recipe, affectionately called ?Lena?s Lefse,? (named for Lena Trygestad, who lived near Bellingham, Minn.), although I see that Beatrice?s recipe calls for less flour than Lena used.

This Thanksgiving, I?m grateful to be carrying on this family culinary tradition of lefse making, while teaching the next generation. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. And may you find a plate of lefse on your holiday table!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she?s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user little blue hen.

Learn To Really Speak Swedish Quickly

Around Sweden, you will find more than 10 million men and women that speak the Swedish language. Together with Finnish, the Swedish language is considered as the principal language in mainland Finland. About 5% of Finnish individuals consider the Swedish language their native language. Plenty of natives in fact live a lengthy way off from places where the Swedish language is used. Even proud Swedish speakers understand that the Swedish language is not a typical language.

North Germanic in origin, the Swedish language is a member of the four Scandinavian languages. Promoted by the Swedish Department along with the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland, the Finland-Swedish language has been put to use. Generally, most publishers in Finland already publish their books in both the Swedish and Finnish languages. Finnish is the eponymous member of the Finno Ugric language family and it modifies and inflects the forms of nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals and verbs subject to their roles inside the sentence.

Due to the fact of its simplicity, several English speakers can often recognize the Swedish language quickly. Learning the Swedish language is really a bit tough for some beginners since of the rhythmic pattern that's involved in using the language. It is written utilizing Latin script and 26 letters, as inside the English alphabet, and three additional unique characters. Even though the Swedish language used these days is quite similar to the ones employed before, there are slight changes which have occurred just like what you should anticipate from any language. A lot of the translators for the Swedish language are frequently native speakers themselves simply because of the complexity and challenge that the language provides. Studying the English language can be fairly difficult for native speakers specifically since they are usually stuck seeking the right program that can support them. In terms of enthusiasm, it may be fairly challenging to learn it specially when it comes to mastering a new language.

It's not truly that challenging to learn the Swedish language, you just need time and patience but it is also a great way to encounter a new culture. Aside from letting you communicate, learning the Swedish language will likely be useful should you travel to the county and will be seen as quite respectful by the men and women. Mastering the Swedish language is going to be useful in providing you with a excellent option in opening the doors of Scandinavia.

By making use of language learning software, it can assist you to learn to speak Swedish very quickly.

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Valravn pushes the limits of Nordic Roots, and shines

?Valravn is testing the extremes of Nordic roots music and its application here and now; in that process we are open to outside influences. The point of departure is on the cusp of something very ancient and something brand new." ? Juan Pino, Valravn

The Danish folktronica band Valravn grew out of the acoustic medieval music ensemble Virelai, which had specialized in performing traditional