Kolrosing is a type of knife carving that involves using a Kolrosing knife to carve geometric patterns into wood. Because you are making grooves in the wood it is not really a form of chip carving.
It is a traditional Scandanavian art form that has been practiced for centuries. Today, kolrosing is gaining popularity as a way to add beauty and interest to woodworking projects.
There are a few things you'll need to get started in this wonderful hobby.
First, you'll need a kolrosing knife. These knives are specially designed to cut easily and are made by artisans one at a time.
You'll also need a piece of wood to practice on.
Finally, you'll need a kolrosing pattern. With the right tools, this technique is easy to learn and can add a beautiful touch to your woodworking projects.
Where Did This Carving Method Come From?
Kolrosing is an old Scandinavian tradition, which dates back to Viking times. It was most often used to decorate utilitarian objects, such as spoons, small bowls or boxes, and cups. Very few pieces from that time era are in existence today because the pieces were actually used instead of being decorations.
Kolrosing involves using a knife to carve linear designs into wood. The designs are usually geometric in nature, and they often incorporate rune symbols. It was a highly skilled art form.
Today, there are still artists who practice this ancient art form. Their work is highly sought after by collectors. It is a fascinating part of Scandinavian history, and it is clear that this tradition has stood the test of time.
The earliest Kolrosing was done by using a tip of an old leather belt. The belt made decorative grooves in the wood.
They then rubbed coal dust in the groove to give it an accented color and make the pattern come alive. Today, traditionalists use coffee grounds to create the effect and are food safe. They simply rub the coffee into the grooves to create the accents in the wood.
This ancient art form is enjoying a renaissance in recent years. More and more people are discovering the beauty and satisfaction of creating their own Kolrosed pieces.
Prepping For Your Kolrosing Designs
Basswood is one of the best woods to use for Kolrosing due to its smooth surface and the light colored wood.
The softness of the wood also makes it easy to carve, and the even grain ensures that the carving will be сrisp and clean.
In addition, basswood is an ideal material for beginners, as it is very forgiving and easy to work with.
If you've decided to make a wooden spoon, go ahead and trace your spoon design on the wood. Cut it out and start the wood carving portion of your spoon. When the spoon is carved go ahead and start prepping for the Kolrosing.
The preparation of the basswood starts with sanding the wood smooth. This will help to ensure that your finished product has a clean, professional look.
Once the wood is sanded, you'll need to apply a sealer. As you seal the wood, it will protect the wood from moisture and other damage.
After the sealer has been applied, you should lightly sand it. This will help make sure that it's properly adhered to the surface.
Grab your kolrosing patterns and start transferring your design onto the basswood. You can simply draw your design on the wood with a pencil or use a piece of paper and graphite transfer paper to trace the pattern onto the wood. Make pencil lines to line up your pattern and keep everything on the straight and narrow. Pencil marks are easily erasable after you have finished.
Cutting with the Kolrosing Knife
Cutting involves making a shallow cut in the wood, just deep enough to score it. This creates a groove that can be filled with fine coffee powder.
There are two methods of incising: pushing and pulling. Pushing is best suited for simpler, geometric designs while pulling is better for more intricate designs. We like to push the knife to make straight lines.
The kolrosing knife is a specialized woodcarving tool that can create intricate patterns known as rosemaling.
Unlike standard carving knives, the kolrosing knife is held like a pencil, with the sharp edge pointing away from the user. This allows for greater control when making tight turns and curving lines. Holding the knife is pretty easy.
To incise a rosemaling design, the left thumb is placed against the back of the round knife blade, with the pushing pressure coming at the left corner of your thumbnail. This technique takes some practice to master.
Finishing Your Kolrosing Project
Now that you have your design cut out, it's time to give it some depth. First, you'll need to rub in a darkening agent. This will help the details of your design to stand out.
Traditionally, sawdust from the bark of a walnut tree is used for this purpose. However, fine dry coffee grounds work just as well - and they smell great! Just make sure that the coffee is ground extra fine before you rub it in. Once you've rubbed the compound into the wood, wipe off any excess with a paper towel.
Now it's time to sand the piece again. This will smooth out any raised cuts.
Use 400 or 600 grit sandpaper for this - and don't worry about sanding out your design. It's deep enough to withstand the sanding. Now you're ready to move on to the next step and give your piece a beautiful finish!
The final step in your Kolrosing project is to apply some type of oil or beeswax finish.
Our preference is natural beeswax. It has no petroleum solvents in it and is very safe to use. If you plan to use the kolrosing spoons or other utensils it is very important to use a food-safe finish like beeswax.
Apply a couple more coats of wax. Let each coat dry a couple of hours between coats. You'll love the soft finish.
Want to learn more about kolrosing? Order an instructional DVD here by Judy Ritgers.