Gold Medal In: Weaving, 1985
Occupation: Homemaker/retired elementary school teacher
Residence at time of award: Decorah, Iowa
Life Dates: Born 1941, Belview, Minnesota
Ribbons Won: 1982 White ribbon for runner in Vestfold technique; 1984 Blue ribbon for blue and white runner; 1984 White ribbon for three-piece set of altar cloths; 1984 White ribbon for runner in Vestfold technique; 1985 Red ribbon for single-point krokbragd wall hanging
Artist Statement: Being of Norwegian descent and having a mother who was very skilled in many textile techniques, especially Norwegian knitting, it was natural that I would be drawn to Norwegian folk art. My love of beauty and art began as a very young child when my mother taught me to knit and gave me a garden plot, where I planted flower seeds.
I graduated from Luther College with a B.A. in music, got married, had three children, and took several weaving classes in Milwaukee and Topeka, KS, before moving to Decorah. It was there that I learned about weaving in the Norwegian tradition. The Vestfold technique I learned from Lila Nelson, who, at that time, was Curator of Textiles at Vesterheim, and from Norwegians Marit Anne Tvenge (aakle and picture weaving) and Elsa Bjork (double weave). I credit Lila Nelson and Vesterheim for nurturing my development as a weaver.
I was awarded the Gold Medal in Weaving by Vesterheim in 1985 and the Handweaver's Guild of America Award in 1984. Two of my weavings traveled to Hamar, Norway with a Vesterheim folk art exhibit. My weavings are also pictured in two books: Traveler's Guide to American Crafts by Suzanne Carmichael and Crafts of America by Constance Stapleton. Pictures of my weavings were used in a presentation by Constance Stapleton at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
I am inspired by beautiful music, nature, and visiting art museums and botanical gardens. I spend much of my time teaching grandchildren weaving, knitting, quilting, cloth-doll making, and gardening. I also plant and tend a large flower garden on city property. Weaving brings me much joy and if I live to be 105, I intend to spend as much of that time as possible weaving up all the yarn in the 30 boxes I have stored in closet.
-Julie Gryting Brende, 2008