Kolrosing in the Scandinavian Style with Darlene Fossum-Martin


Learn this ancient art form, with a veteran kolroser, Darlene Fossum-Martin!

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Date: October 8, 2022

9:00 am – 4:00 pm CST

Skill Level:  Geared towards the first time Kolroser but all levels welcome as you may learn some new and different techniques.

Class Registration Fee:  Early Bird – by September 16, 2022: $80.00

After September 16, 2022: $90.00

Kolrosing or barkrosing is a very old method of giving fine line surface decoration to wood. It started with simply using the tip of one’s belt knife to make fine decorative cuts and rubbing coal dust into it to bring out the pattern (hence the name kol-rosing). The inner bark of various trees is another colorant, called barkrosing. Kolrosing or barkrosing originated in Norway centuries ago however historians don’t know precisely when, due to its humble beginnings. Kolrosing was not fine art. It was decoration for everyday items (such as spoons, small bowls and cups). Such things were used until they wore out, and then were thrown away.

In Viking times, the designs were more geometric or similar to “Celtic” in origin. These types of designs are very effective and popular today. In the Telemark area of Norway, designs show the influence of rosemaling which use the flower, leaf, and vine forms. Contemporary kolrosing is not limited to traditional patterns-any design which can be drawn with a pencil can be done with a kolrosing knife, from simple borders to animal forms. For this class we will be focusing on Norwegian, Saami and Celtic designs.

Students need to bring the following supplies:

A kolrosing knife is ideal for incising but a thin blade, sharp pointed knife, or object with a thin sharp point can be used (for geometric designs).  The instructor will be providing a supply kit with everything you need (excluding the kolrosing knife) and will have small wooden pieces and small containers available, for a small fee. If you have wooden pieces such as spoons, icing spreaders, cups, or small plates etc. (without a finish) feel free to bring them along. If you are not confident in drawing free hand I will have an abundance of Celtic, Saami and Norwegian patterns for you to use.

Materials fee: (To be collected directly from students by instructor in class): $8.00

Additional notes: Students can purchase a good quality kolrosing knife (with good control on curves as well as straight lines) frompinewoodforge.com If interested in ordering from Pinewood Forge, order asap as he often times has a waiting list for these knives.

Darlene Fossum-Martin has been kolrosing wooden items such as spoons, bowls, plates other wooden objects, and some bone, since 2001.

While employed at Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, Iowa she planned and led her first of six folk art study tours to Norway where she was first introduced to the art of kolrosing, a decorative technique in  which a knife or sharp point was used to make shallow cuts (in-sizing) in wood followed by filling the in-sized lines with finely ground tree dust or coal suet and later coffee grounds. This art form dates back to the time of the Vikings and used to the present as a decorating technique on wood.
For over a decade she has taught kolrosing courses at Vesterheim Norwegian-American  Museum’s Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa, substituted for Harley Refsal’s kolrosing section in the Fine Arts J-Term class at Luther College  and taught at the  Høstfest University in Minot, North Dakota. She has also demonstrated the art of kolrosing at several Norwegian Festivals, carving clubs and she also works one on one with individuals  interested in learning kolrosing.