Dala horse factory, Nüsnas

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Everyone knows what a genuine Dala horse should look like: hand carved from a single piece of wood and individually decorated in the rich traditional patterns of flowers and flourishes which are based on very old forms of peasant ‘kurbits’ painting. All Dala horses are still being made by hand. The Dala horse factories in Nüsnas are open for public who is interested in the proces of making a real Swedish Dala horse.

How the Dala horse gained it’s popularity

The Dala horse gained it’s popularity during the World Exhibition in New York in 1939. The Swedish exhibition architect had the brilliant idea of erecting a huge Dala horse outside the Swedish pavillon and it was an enormous success! The world’s press sent home countless photographs and inspiring articles about the amazing horse. During the year after the exhibition Grannas Anders made 20.000 Dala horses – a very impressive figure for that time.

Dala horse factory in Nusnäs

The small village Nusnäs is where two Dala horse factories are located. Everyone is welcome to see the exhibition “History of the Dala horse” and the production of Dala horses.  The production of a Dala horse takes two weeks! It is all done by hand. The production proces goes as follows:

  • A plank of pine or alder is planed and marked/ stencilled with the outline of a horse.
  • Contour-sawing in the first band saw
  • Profile sawing in the second band saw. Sawing by free had, forming of a head, legs and stomach. The horse is now called a workpiece.
  • Woodcarving with a knife
  • Dipping in water based paint (first coat)
  • Puttying and polishing
  • Final dipping in the first coat colour.
  • Oil painting in the kurbits style
  • Dipping in clear laquer. When the oil paint has dried after about two days, the horse is dipped in a clear varnish to protect the design and to give it a finish.
    (source: http://www.grannas.com/)

I visited both factories in Nusnäs to see the ‘behind the scenes’ of the beautiful Dala horse. Entrance is free for everyone btw 🙂

Dala horse factory

© My Little Travel Stories

The shaping of the horses

All the wood that is being used to make these Dala horses originates from trees around Lake Siljan and is first selected and prepared. A template is then used to mark the outline of a horse onto the wood. With an electric saw, the horses are cut out and given their raw, general form. The horse is then being wood crafted with a knife by hand until they have obtained the desired shape. Each woodcrafter shapes the horse differently. Which woodcrafter shaped the horse can be recognized by it’s shape. This makes every horse even more unique.

Handmade dalahorses

Using electric saws, the horses are cut out. © My Little Travel Stories

Shaping the dala horses

Shaping the Dala horses © My Little Travel Stories

Coating the horses

All horses will be painted twice. The whole horse is dipped in the bath, and then put onto a plate. The redundnt paint is run off onto a plate, and then put on to a tray to dry. The horse is placed leaning backwards to avoid “tjillor” in other words drops of paint drying under the stomach.

Dala horse factory

Dipping in water based paint (first coat) © My Little Travel Stories

After two layers of base coating the horses will be decorated by hand in kurbits style.

Dala horse factory

Oil painting in the kurbits style © My Little Travel Stories

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