Awhile back Elaine had a review on some scandinavian kolrosing knives she bought. There seemed to be some confusion about what it was and where it came from. I know a little of the history about kolrosing and have done a little of it myself.
For those of you not familiar with kolrosing, it isn’t really wood carving as such,but it definitely is a woodworking craft which can rise to the status of art when done by creative hands.
Doing kolrosing consists of making incisions, or etching into wood, but not taking out any waste. The incisions are then rubbed with finely ground or sanded bark mixed with oil. This makes the pattern stand out very well. This art form actually originated in Scandinavia among the Laplanders, a nomadic people in the north who moved with their reindeer herds pretty freely between Norway, Sweden and Finland. The descendants of these people are still living In these areas and still herding reindeer, but are less Nomadic than they were earlier.
Kolrosing actually started with the etching of patterns on horn and bone materials and then rubbing the patterns with a mixture of burned out wood coals from their open pit fires and animal fat. I’m not sure, but I think the Inuit people do something similar. The practice has been extended to include kolrosing in wood. They look three dimensional, but are actually flat. Below are some pictures of old kolrosing on bone and horn done by Laplanders and followed by a current example in wood by Norwegian artist Leif Ottar Flaten. Hope you find them interesting. Sorry the pics aren’t of the best quality.
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.