|Rosemaling Box, photo uploaded by Mary Perkinson Nelson|
Today's treasure is relatively new, about 20 years old, but this small rosemaling box is a treasure that I'll someday pass on to a special relative.
About 25 years ago my mother made contact with a distant cousin who had compiled a personal history of the Overli-Belle-Siem family. In this book there were several references to my third Great Grandfather, Hans Syverson Overli Belle. He is described as "a successful farmer and an excellent painter and craftsman in wood ... [whose paintings] are featured and written up in Professor John Meyers book on Old Painting of Art in the Norway Valleys".(1) This was my first exposure to the traditional Norwegian painting technique of rosemaling.
Later my mother found the box pictured above in a craft shop and brought it back for me as a souvenir of one of her visits to family in Wisconsin and North Dakota. This time she had a lot more information to share with me about rosemaling, crafters that we both were.
There are a number of interesting web sites available for learning more about rosemaling, ranging from Wikipedia to flickr and Pinterest pictures. Just Google the term and you will find enough to keep you busy for an hour or so The craft is alive in the United States with a number of state rosemaling groups, conventions, and shows, as well as rosemaling teachers, classes, and books on technique . There is even an interesting YouTube video showing some of the basic painting strokes which remind me a lot of tole painting.(2)
My wooden rosemaling box is only about three inches in diameter and one inch high, and its lid and side are covered with delicate brush strokes. I keep the box sitting my dresser where it serves as a convenient place to drop loose buttons and stray pins. It is also far more than a dainty handpainted box. As I've been learning more about my Norwegian roots, it is also a reminder of a distant cousin, Norwegian ancestors, and a craft that originated several hundred years ago on rural farms in Norway. Thanks, Mom.
(1) Chappelle, Marion Myhre. Overli-Belle-Siem Family. Riverdale, Maryland, 1980, Privately held by Mary Perkinson Nelson.
(2) Rose, Linnea. "Freehand Rosemaling Tutorial" YouTube, 28 Jan 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjeBRwDD6t4 : 2013.