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Interpreting an Established Tradition

Folk artists draw from established traditions. Some artists create new interpretations by applying old skills to new forms and uses. Others refresh existing traditions with elements from contemporary life.


Artist Rosemaling a Plate

Source: Wisconsin Folk Museum Collection


Violet Christophersen of Marinette, Wisconsin created the bowl and plate featured here. They combine traditional Norwegian rosemaling motifs taken from published folios with Per Lysne's distinctly Norwegian-American plate form. The folk phrase on the plate reads, "The smorgasbord is now spread. Enjoy!"

Extending rosemaling a step further, an unknown maker decorated the bowling pin featured here. It combines two elements of 20th century Wisconsin culture.


Rosemaled Plate, 1954

Created by Violet Christophersen.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.156


Rosemaled Bowling Pin, ca. 1979

Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.183


Rosemaled Ale Bowl, ca. 1989

Created by Violet Christophersen. This later Christophersen work displays similar decoration but now the message is in English.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.169


The artists of these containers created new interpretations by applying old skills to new forms and uses.

Norman Seamonson of Stoughton, Wisconsin, applied the traditional Norwegian practice of chip carving to a more modern object, the cordless phone holder. Chip carving is commonly found on more traditional forms such as trinket boxes and ironing boards.

Ruth Cloud applied her traditional basket-making expertise to a contemporary setting and created this basket to hold bingo cards and paraphernalia.


Chip-carved Phone Holder, 1985

Created by Norman Seamonson.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.238


Ho-Chunk Black Ash Bingo Basket, ca. 1986

Created by Ruth Cloud.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.120



Allie Crumble Working on a Quilt

Source: Book, "From Hardanger to Harleys"

Drawing from appliqué quilt traditions, Allie Crumble offers a portrait of her African-American church community.

Her Necktie Quilt is a pieced quilt that consists of thirty-six large squares, each appliquéd with portions of actual ties owned by the male members of Milwaukee's Metropolitan Baptist Church.

The name of each necktie's owner is embroidered next to it, beginning with the clergymen and deacons at the top and continuing with the brothers of the congregation. This object is a variation of a traditional album or friendship quilt.


Necktie Quilt, 1982

Created by Allie Crumble.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.16