Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Review: Hemslöjden – a Swedish arts and crafts magazine

You can also read this review in Danish or Swedish!

Yes this is a magazine published in Swedish (which might be less understandable than klingon to some of you), but these Swedes are clearly on to something! Our new blogger Ane from Sweden has written this inspiring review so please do go and visit Hemslöjden's website. And a warm welcome to Ane.

Crafts, or "hemslöjden" as the swedes call it, still stand strong in Sweden; old men make wooden figurines; old women make lace and even the young and assertive from Stockholm's designer circles are working with and caring for the Swedish handicraft tradition allowing it to continue blossoming. Traditional patterns are embroidered on new materials; new ways of felting are developed which enable a new range of used for this material. Experiments are carried out in all manners while building on the foundation of an old, yet living tradition.
However, these modern experiments do not cause the traditional crafts to suffer in any way.  On the contrary they keep the existing crafts strong and alive.  Straw braiding, metal work, crocheting, working with birch bark, knitting, wickerwork, lace making, nålbinding, embroidery, leather work, wood work and felt are some of the many crafts that are still continuing in their traditional forms, which is why these crafts can handle a re-interpretation without any problems. Nothing is disappearing but new crafts are added.

This heritage is foremost looked after by all the crafters pitching in, with a big helping hand from the Swedish National Association of Crafts (i.e. Riksförbundet för Hemslöjd). They take care of all craft related subjects such as: courses, stipends, the journal 'Hemslöjden', shops, open workshops and organisation of young crafters. Simply a heaven for craft enthusiasts.

This review could easily be about Sweden's never ending, glittering treasures of design, handicrafts and long, unbroken chains of traditional crafters. But I would instead invite everyone to explore this on their own and a good approach for this is the magazine 'Hemslöjden'.

The magazine is published 6 times a year and is a rich source of discussions and insider knowledge. A magazine successful of both preserving and renewing at the same time, which I find most necessary. Renewal is obligatory to keeping craft traditions alive and not allow them to just end up in museums. The magazine is very aware of new directions in relation to our collective ethical responsibility. Ideas such as 'eco-crafts' are discussed, but without falling into the trap of 'handicrafts can only be justified by being in opposition to industrialism and consumerism'. The magazine's essential message is the fundamental beauty of the crafts and the joy of creating something.

Besides its engagement in development and renewal the magazine also deals with traditional crafts threatened by extinction. These crafts are specially promoted to encourage people once again to engage with them. This alone justifies the magazine's existence.

A magazine which covers a wide range of crafts will of course have issues that might interest some more than others. Nevertheless, I still find each issues incredibly inspirational. I can read about topics which I have no intention of taking up, but even so I can still use it in my own development as a crafter. If you at the same time have an interest in history and folklore you will have no problem reading the magazine from cover to cover.

A magazine costs about 120 Swedish kroner (13€) and it is possible to subscribe anywhere in the world. It is really worth the money if you consider what else you use 75€ a year on. Furthermore it has a nice feel to it and is produced in a good quality, which makes it possible for you to appreciate it for years to come. Exactly as a craft should be. Enjoy your reading.

1 comment:

Thank you for stopping by - I would love to hear your thoughts on this post :-)