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The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association is dedicated to promoting traditional handicrafts. Since 1910, the organisation has worked to enhance traditional craftmanship, pass on craft skills, and share the joy of making.

Naturally dyed yarn. Photo: Arild Larsen.

The organisation

The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association is a non-governmental organisation with 19 regional and over 350 local member groups across the country. Our members include more than 20 000 individuals, over 150 handicraft professionals organised in regional craft guilds and 34 handicraft shops.

The organisation is led by a central administration in Oslo and 18 craft advisors working within their region to promote local craft initiatives and support their regional craft guilds and local member groups.

 

Keeping craft traditions alive

In 2014 the Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association became the third UNESCO-accredited non-governmental organisation in Norway within intangible cultural heritage. We are proud to be acknowledged as an expert organisation in our field and to have an advisory role towards UNESCO’s work with the convention. UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) is adopted to ensure that our rich cultural heritage worldwide is kept safe and continually developing.

As part of the work with the UNESCO convention, the Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association participates in the international network ICHNGO-Forum. This is a network for NGO’s worldwide working to preserve intangible cultural heritage. The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association is also part of The Nordic and Baltic Network on ICH and the National Instructor Network of Norwegian NGO’s.

 

The Red List of endangered crafts

Traditional crafts have been passed down through generations, but today many craft skills are in danger of being lost with fewer practitioners. The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association’s Red List is a nationwide voluntary effort to document and register as many crafts skills and techniques as possible.

Through the superb work of our volunteer-driven local member groups, about a hundred craft skills are already documented and many more are in the works. Not only does this help preserve valuable knowledge and skills for the future, but it also breathes new life into forgotten crafts through raised awareness.

Read the article about the Red List, published on Safeguarding Practices:

Good Practice from Norway: The red list on traditional craft techniques.

Photo: Anne Marte Før.

Bunads and Folk costumes

There are over 450 different bunads and folk costumes in Norway, each connected to a specific region with local variations. Widespread use of bunads and folk costumes is common in Norway, and a whole field of craftsmanship feeds into this tradition, from fabrics to jewellery work, embroidery and sewing.

Read the text published on ICHNGO-Forum:
Bunads and Folk Costumes as wearable knowledge and cultural expression.

The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association works actively to maintain the rich cultural heritage of bunads and folk costumes in Norway. An important aspect of this is maintaining the professional craftmanship of bunad-making. Through our bunad and folk costume training programme we offer course modules that together meet the requirements for a professional bunad-making certificate. The training programme is offered in collaboration with Norsk FolkedraktforumNorway’s Youth Society, and the Association for Studies and Culture and Traditions.

The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association is working to nominate the widespread usage of bunads for Intangible Cultural Heritage status through UNESCO. This is a collaborative effort with five Norwegian NGO’s in the field of cultural heritage. By promoting the general and widespread use of bunads in Norway for UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, we hope to gain recognition for this unique tradition and hold on to the practices, handicrafts and knowledge that underpin it.

Read more about the project nominating bunads for UNESCO’s Representative List.

 

Teaching craft skills and sharing the joy of making

Teaching craft skills is a major part of the Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association’s work. Local member groups across the country offer a wide variety of courses, from woodwork and metal work to textiles and mending workshops. Often, classes vary with local traditions and access to local resource experts. Generally, however, classes within the field of textiles, such as bunad embroidery, weaving and knitting, are found most places around the country.

Through courses and workshops practical craft skills are kept alive, and with them intangible cultural heritage. These activities build community, and fill spaces with creativity, learning and social connection.

For an overview of current classes go to the course calendar (Norwegian).

 

Craft groups for youth

Sharing the joy of making and providing craft opportunities for children and young people is especially important. Over a 100 local member groups have specific craft groups for children and young people between the ages of 6 and 26. They host activities like summer camps, regular craft meetups and workshops. Here, children can play with colours and textures and learn basic crafts. Teenagers and young adults get to dig deeper into craft techniques, explore their creativity and learn about materials and tools.

Making things with your hands is fun and deeply satisfying! At the same time, introducing young people to crafts is crucial to keeping these traditional techniques and skills alive.

Read about the important work of craft groups for youth on Safeguarding Practices:
Good practice from Norway: Folk art and craft groups for youth.

 

International collaborations

The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association is an active member of the Nordic Folk Art and Craft Federation (NFACF) and the European Folk Art and Craft Federation (EFACF).

We are part of the annual campaign Nordic Craft Week on Facebook, which is a celebration of Nordic craft traditions. Over the course of a week each autumn the craft associations in the Nordic countries come together to showcase both our shared craft traditions and unique local variations.

Follow Nordic Craft Week on Facebook.

The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association also collaborates with the other Nordic craft associations in organising Young Craft, a bi-annual craft camp for youth. The first Nordic craft camp for youth was held in Norway in 2018.

Watch the film from the Nordic Craft Camp for Youth in Norway 2018.

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