• Höger Kolonn !Face2Face!
  • Krön med tulpan "Kurrbitz" och Tympanom "Halling"
  • Slöjdporten Berättaren
  • Mike Loeffler från Grand Marais och jag poserar bland tillverkade trofeér i ateljén.
  • Övergrovt virke är den största rikedomen...
  • [:sv]Krönlisten till fönstret fick ett repetitivt mönster med streckfigurer som dansar Halling, en mönster-rapport som påminner om ett partitur.[:]
  • [:sv]Att slå upp dörrarna till utomhusarbetsplatsen i Logen och få det rätta släpljuset på skärningen en varm sommardag ger mig total lyckokänsla.[:]
  • [:sv]Korparna symboliserar de det mänskliga förnuftet. De behövs för att ett kulturarv i utveckling aldrig ska falla över till konservativt bakåtsträvande och småsint rasism. [:]
  • [:sv]Kolonnerna som flankerar dörren fick ansikten och blomrankor i plattrelief som för ett samtal med vad som försiggår på scenen. [:]
  • [:sv]Den färdiga slöjdporten "Berättaren"[:]
  • [:sv]Regissör och konstnärlige ledare Leif Stinnerbom och undertecknad vid monteringen av "Berättaren"[:]
  • [:sv]Berättarladan i Sunne[:]
  • [:sv]Skalenlig modell till porten "Berättaren"[:]
  • [:sv]Under det välvda krönet, partiet som kallas Tympanum, fyllde jag med hallingdansande streckfigurer och symboler från mitt mönsterbibliotek. Den kosmiska symbolen i mitten är inspirerat av ett mönster från en liten dragask på Gammelgården i Borlänge, en symbol som blivit en personlig favorit. För mig är den humanistisk evighetssymbol som kommunicerar livets kosmiska karusell, round and round we go, en rotation i all evighet. Streckfigurer dansar Halling, en mönster-rapport i linje med Västanå Teaters kännemärke att blanda dans, musik, drama och, kostym, allt i en kokade folkkonstgryta.[:]
  • [:sv]Detalj från dörrarna. Alla står vi nakna inför mötet med folkkonsten.[:]
  • [:sv]Foder och krön till ett vackert fönster ut mot sjön Fryken, med unika mönster i plattrelief. Krönlisten fick ett repetitivt mönster med streckfigurer som dansar Halling, en mönster-rapport som påminner om ett partitur.[:]
  • [:sv]Den södra väggen i entrén mittemot porten är inglasad och silar ljuset vackert.[:]
  • [:sv]Skön känsla att klättra upp på stegen och se hur delarna blev en helhet. [:]
  • Att få det rätta släpljuset på skärningen i logen en varm sommardag ger mig total lyckokänsla.
  • [:sv]Arbetsplatsen i logen är en skön utomhusverkstad.[:]
  • [:sv]Den första grovhuggningen av plattreliefen till blomsterrankorna.[:]
  • [:sv]En av kolonnerna färdigskuren.[:]

Designing and building an entrance to Västanå Theatre

Theater’s new Storytelling Barn (Berättarladan) in Sunne is the most complex commission I have accepted so far. Perhaps the most fun, too! In discussions with the theater staff, I realized I already have thirty-five years of preparation behind me by studying material, techniques, and folk art in countless archives and outdoor museums. All this experience was crucial because it was a very long, intense, and complex production period filled with powerful cuts, long physical working hours, difficulties with the raw lumber, heavy pieces, and a lot of oil paint.

The wall facing south is made out of glass where light is filtering nice .
The building “Berättarladan” in Sunne

First, a little about the theater. [picked from their website] Västanå has a distinctive profile known throughout Scandinavia. Their format is storytelling using complex, precise composition of music and dance together with spoken words creates a unique form of acting. An important source of inspiration for their unique stage expression is Scandinavian folk culture, which is happy to embrace traditions and theatrical formats from other parts of the world.

Director Leif Stinnerbom and signed at the assembly of “The Storyteller”

In September 2018, I saw “Charlotte Löwensköld,” a wild fusion of folk culture. Dance, music, drama, and costumes were boiling onstage in a pot of rich, soulful character that really appealed to me. What a start for a show!

Radio Sweden’s Culture News calls Västanå, “A world-class theater house in the middle of the Swedish countryside.” On the drive home, the size of the project hit me and I felt thrilled, challenged, and scared at the same time. When I took measurements and visualized how the new entrance would appear, I was exhilarated to be adding my own creative expression to this building’s history.

Once at home, I dug into my library of inspirational images: gates and portals, cabinets with cornices and columns, and the figures and animals I had photographed over the years. When there is an assignment to focus on, the images filter differently and you see completely new things.

I sent in my mood board and the conversations began. The director and artistic director, Leif Stinnerbom, and the costumer, Inger Hallström, have a familiarity with folk culture that made it easy to talk about slöjd. Like me, they focused on the energy and grammar of traditional folk culture. Their input of folk dance, costume, older architecture, and Stone Age carving patterns made the first drafts of the sketch more challenging. I long for exactly this kind challenge as I develop my craft.

After an intense sketching period, I chose a carved entrance with wide, wedge-cut [[tongue and groove?]] planks as doors. In my work, the model is an important part of the work process. I often follow the model very closely and if I’m not completely satisfied, I make a new one. A scale model makes composing elements and calculating material easier. On each side, I placed two bold columns called “Face2Face” crowned with a gigantic cornice. I wanted to fill the columns with faces and flower borders as a conversation with the stage performance.

Right Column “Face2Face”
The columns flanking the door were given faces and flower borders in flat relief as for a conversation with what was going on on stage.

Between the arched cornice and the door is a space called the Tympanum, which I filled with figures dancing an old folk dance called halling, and with symbols from my pattern library. The cosmic symbol in the middle is a personal favorite, inspired by a pattern from a small drawing box at Gammelgården. For me, the humanistic symbol of eternity communicates life’s cosmic carousel—round and round we go, rotating for all eternity.

Cornice  “Kurrbitz” och Tympanom “Halling”
Tympanum, with figures and symbols from my pattern library. The characters dance Halling, a pattern report in line with Västanå Theater’s brand of mixing dance, music, drama and, costume, in a cooked folk art pot.

On the crest, I placed a juicy red tulip, “Kurrbitz” with a folk art raven on each side. The ravens are inspired by northern mythology: Odin’s two ravens, Hugin and Munin. They are excellent scouts and do what they can to satisfy their master’s vast hunger for knowledge. Every day, they fly over the world then return to report everything they have seen and heard. Hugin’s name comes from the word hague, meaning thought, mind or desire. Munin is named for memory. Together, they symbolize human reason. They are needed to prevent cultural progress from falling into conservative backwardness and petty racism. I carved them with an ax to get a rougher surface to match Munin’s character.

I carved the Ravens with an ax to get a rougher surface to match Munin’s character.

The assignment included making window casing and a cornice to a beautiful window facing Lake Fryken, also to two side entrances. All casings received unique patterns in flat relief. A repetitive pattern was given to the cornice with dashed figures dancing Halling, a pattern report reminiscent of a score.

The cornice above the window was given a repetitive pattern with dashed figures dancing Halling, a pattern report reminiscent of a score.

Wood preparation and steaming

From the beginning, the plan was to make the crown arch out of one piece of wood, so I needed logs in large dimensions. No sooner said than done. It was urgent to find the wood so it could air dry without cracking. January was late enough in the season for the wooden blanks of 50 x 40 cm to Page 6 of 7 dry completely. A call to the sawmill in Sävar solved the need for large growth timber and I had the luxury to choose from a number of logs laid out by the large tractor loaders. I felt like an incredibly rich man when the logs were loaded onto the truck that drove them to the sawmill in Balsjö.

This is pure richness…

The sawyer would call when he had time in his schedule. February came and the light returned slowly as well as the frigid cold and strong winds. When I didn’t hear anything from the sawyer for a few weeks, I had to call. He was lying in the hospital after an operation following a massive heart attack! The poor man wasn’t able to do anything until early April. The operation was successful, so he could work again.

The only solution in the meantime was to use a jig with a Solo chainsaw. Because the dimensions were so large, I had to first split them by using a long blade on the chainsaw. The pieces barely fit on the saw bench after that, but I was able to get the right dimensions. After two trips and a number of days, the largest pieces were laid out in two big boxes with troughs filled with water for drying. Steaming involves heat at 85⁰ C and several liters of water in the trough during the first week. Then the water is emptied and the drying temperature is set at about 45⁰ C for three weeks. I got some cracks–not unexpected with rough dimensions of 40 x 22 cm–but still managed to get columns and crowns to a moisture ratio of 16% in six weeks.

The workspace in my barn gives good light and and a nice breeze.


Unexpectedly at the end of August, essential help came from the United States in Mike Loeffler, who was in Scandinavia on a study trip. We hand-planed the doors down to the right thickness with an ox plane. It has two handles adding greater power to the plane.

Mike Loeffler from Grand Marais and me in the atelie.

At this point, all pieces were nearly ready. In order to get a visual overview, we made a level floor in the barn to be sure everything fit together and the proportions were right. We screwed all parts in place to check the fit. It was a nice feeling to climb the ladder and see how the pieces became a whole. I had to adjust the cornice a few times before it fit.

A nice feeling standing on a ladder to be able to see the overviewt.

The workspace in the barn is a nice outdoor workshop. Open the doors and a warm breeze blows through with the right light for carving on a hot summer’s day. A work situation which gives me total happiness.

Visit the theatre website. http://www.vastanateater.se/forestallningarbiljetter/