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North House + Sätergläntan

If you are wondering "Who is Sätergläntan?" and why it's  so exciting they're coming to North House, read on for background on how both schools are working to strengthen traditional craft.

Posted on February 10, 2023

Sätergläntan and North House Folk School are each working in their own way to ensure the continuation of traditional crafts.

 In June, a group of Sätergläntan instructors, along with the school's director, are visiting North House to celebrate Sätergläntan's 100th anniversary.

Sätergläntan is in the Dalarna region of Sweden, north of the capital Stockholm. Lots of crafts have roots in this region, including the Mora Knife factory and the Dala Horse factory. Sätergläntan has trained generations of craftspeople, preserving and carrying forward centuries-old Scandinavian handcraft traditions in woodworking, weaving, sewing and metalwork into the 21st century.

Pioneer Public Television recently filmed Made in Sweden, a short documentary featuring Sätergläntan students and instructors.

In its 100 year history, there have been several iterations, but it is tied with Willie Sundqvist, widely recognized for keeping slöjd and especially green woodworking traditions alive in recent decades. His son Jögge has visited and taught at North House many times. It is widely respected as one of the finest schools for handwork in Europe.

North House has partnered with Sätergläntan a few times in the recent past and is looking to enhance this partnership going forward:

  • Beth Moen, the head of the Woods program and a key staff person at Sätergläntan visited and taught at North House in 2016.
  • A group of North House staff, board, and instructors (Jim Sannerud, Carol Colburn, Harley Refsal) visited Sweden in 2017.
  • In 2018, Beth Moen (Woods), Johanna Runbäck (Sewing), and school director Monika Jönsson visited North House during the Instructor Retreat.
  • In 2020, two third-year students from Sätergläntan, Susana and Talon, visited North House for a few weeks.
  • Several North House Artisans-in-Development have visited Sätergläntan on their capstone trip to meet scandanivian craftspeople and mentors. (Read Christine Novotny's travelogue from early 2022.)

Sätergläntan's study program is two years long, and is supported by the Swedish government to reduce barriers for attendance and to steward Swedish craft heritage and identity. Students attend instead of, prior to, or after university. A third year that provides a technical/vocational accreditation is optional.

You don't have to be Swedish to attend, but instruction is in the Swedish language, so you'd need to learn on your feet. The focus areas are Sewing, Woods, Blacksmithing, and Weaving. Students mostly live on campus, where it's rural and somewhat isolated. The programs each have a Head Teacher, but many guest teachers cycle through to teach specific projects and skills.

Many North House instructors (and countless people from all over the world) attend the "short courses" Sätergläntan hosts in the summer, which are a lot like classes at North House: about five days long instead of two years. Unlike classes at North House, you have to go all the way to Sweden! Thankfully, room and board are included.