Saturday, December 29, 2012


You would think that Swedes who spend so much of the winter days in the dark, would crave bright colors, but instead they favor the color black to a large extent. 
  The elegant Swedish design guru Frida Ramstedt is all for black.(See her comment at the bottom of this piece)
Her blog, TRENDENSER is one of the most visited in Scandinavia and she  lectures extensively and has her own Ipad magazine.

Here is one of the many pictures from her Pinterest account - black predominates. Picture by Frida Ramstedt, 
(Would a child's brightly colored toys ruin "the perfect harmony"?)
This year, Frida converted the traditionally red electric Christmas candelabra into black.

   So what is the fascination with black and white? I like strong color and patterns as seen in these (mine) Pintarest collections here and here.
   But there is something about the black and white theme in textiles and art that is dramatically appealing to us. We think that black and white film (Film Noir) is more dramatic than color film. The drawings by Donovan O'Malley below for example, could never have been striking in the same way, had they been in color. And these black and white woodblocks are appealing for the same reason.

Janey falling
Donovan O'Malley has used the black and white expression masterfully in his nine illustrations of the American writer, Nathanael West's novels
This illustration by Donovan O'Malley, depicts a scene from Nathanael  West's novel, "The Dream Life of Balso Snell"
Donovan O'Malley has used the black and white expression masterfully in his nine illustrations of the American writer, Nathanael West's novels.  This illustration Mrs. Shrike and Miss Lonelyearts in the novel "Miss Lonelyhearts" by Nathanael West. See all nine illustrations.

For Frida of Trendenser and all others who love black and white designs, there is now a dedicated Pintarest board in black and white for you!  

There is also a SPECIAL BLACK AND WHITE Mug shop for you and  special BLACK AND WHITE shop for Posters and Cards also for you! 
Black and White Photography is generally considered "more serious" and "dramatic" than color.
In one "Pinterest" board, a woman's fondness for black and white photos has resulted in her collecting over 6.000 images. Some effort!

The White Knight!

Frida Ramstedt the design guru of her blog TRENDENSER (mentioned above) has left a comment below (in Swedish) and here it is in English:
"If you want my honest opinion-- I think we like black and white because it is so safe -- it's hard to make a mistake. Most products launched on the market these days come in one  black and one white version which are considerably more long lasting than the colored ones (which we tire of a lot sooner). This is probably one reason why the Scandinavian style so often is perceived as black and white. Who is bold enough to buy an Egg chair for ten thousand dollars in bright blue? Very few. For this very reason, i think that people who invest in such expensive furniture are afraid choose  a white, or a black or possibly one in brown leather -- the investment must stand the test of time and keep its resale value. To sum it up, it is not so much a matter of ones artistic sense (that we tend to choose black and white) but rather more a matter of cowardice." 

In August last year, Frida reported on her blog from design fair in Stockholm (Formex) and she noted how many designers had been influenced by African patterns. So finally some color you might think? No, African patterns yes, but mainly in dark colors, black and brown with white. 

When Swedish designers get inspired by Australian Aboriginal art, they stay away from the fantastic colors and stick to black and white. 
Picture from Rorstrand and

This folk art "Dala horse" is usually painted in bright colors, but here it is in a black and white version. From

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Why is Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC news concerned about school desks for children in Malawi, Africa? Please listen to what he has to say. It puts our lives into a much needed perspective. It is a "must watch". Very moving.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Göteborgs Remfabrik (Gothenburg Belting Works) is a small weaving mill equipped wit specialised looms for the production of heavy woven belting for industrial purposes such as power transmission and conveyance.The mill was established in 1891, but the present three-storey building dates from 1900  The texts come from here,
There are 35 looms, almost all of which were supplied by Robert Hall & Sons, Bury, England.

In 1914 electricity displaced steam power, and since then the whole environment remains largely unchanged. This is what makes the mill so interesting.

Today Göteborgs Remfabrik is a designated national building monument. The preservation order even includes all the machinery. It is owned by the City authorities but the technical operation of the mill and visits are in the hands of a voluntary preservation society (Föreningen Göteborgs Remfabrik).

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Liseberg amusement park is owned by the city of Gothenburg and all the proftis are put back into the park. This year's medieval village was very nice indeed.

Here you can buy material and patterns for historical costumes
Have a look at this slideshow from a previous Christmas.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Four weeks before Christmas (beginning on the first Sunday in advent), Swedes put electric candelabra in their windows and keep them on all night and also during darker days. Many have a candelabra in every window. Since Swedes rarely pull their curtains at night, it is beautiful to walk the streets and see the many lit candelabra. Though most Swedes are not particularly religious, they do enjoy the candlelights in the dark of the long winter. (This is oddly not a Danish customs)

The shops are full of them.
Here is one manufacturers page with a lot of different models. 

"Advent is the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, and it also marks the start of Christmas festivities in Sweden. More people visit Swedish churches on the first Sunday of Advent than any other time of year; they come to sing the well-known Yuletide hymns. This first Sunday is also the day communities decorate their streets and squares with wreaths, garlands, lights and Christmas trees. At home, Swedes light one candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, in special four-pronged candelabra. 

Another way of counting the days until Christmas is the Advent calendar, a card with "windows" that you open, one by one, for each passing day until Christmas Eve. These calendars, which were introduced as late as the 1930s, have become increasingly popular. Swedish radio and television broadcast daily Advent programs for children based on a specially published calendar.
During Advent many people hang luminous stars of paper, straw or perforated metal in their windows. Introduced from Germany around 1910, these stars have become a central feature of Swedish Advent celebrations."
Source: "Traditional Festivities in Sweden"; Author: Ingemar Liman; Published by: The Swedish Institute, ISBN 91-520-0113-X

Saturday, November 3, 2012


This is from my great great grandmother's scrap book.
The shape of the bottle looks very much like an Absolut Vodka bottle, but when this was written (around 1915), the vodka bottle and its distinctive shape had not been conceived. It was actually modeled (decades later) after an old medicine bottle found in an antique shop in Stockholm.
For those who have not seen the super-clever Absolute Vodka advertisements, here is a slideshow of some of them.

Monday, October 29, 2012


My great grandmother, American Anita Ball (related to George Washingtons's mother, Mary Ball-Washington) lived with my grandmother here in Sweden for long stretches. She was stern and often seen reading books and magazines. My mother said that the nine children used to come and talk to her and most often they got some money when they left.

When my grandmother died, I was given two large, handmade scrapbooks that had belonged to her mother, Anita Ball. 

The books are covered with black cloth and are obviously hand made.

The outside cover is roughly sewn on.

This book was made during the first World War and  this clipping shows women taking men's jobs at a farm in Missouri, USA.

Food was very scarce during the war, at least in Europe, and people took to raising chickens.

There is also interest in dancing steps .

How to build interesting garages -- always interesting to a woman of means.
The war kept the American steel industry in Pittsburg busy.

A clever thief with an extra arm!

Silk stocking advertisment

Typical sentimental domestic bliss scene.

More fashion

Something that must have struck her fancy.
She has pasted new things over previous clippings.

Recording artists of the time

Fancy Party Costumes

Anita Ball had many varying interests and these are just some of the many images in the book.