Sunday, March 1, 2009

beware the hulder...

"These mountain trolls I have been telling you about sometimes marry, but very seldom because there are only a few troll women.  They are the most horrible, ugly old women, like witches, but they know a great deal of magic and are, therefore, very powerful.  However, as they very rarely appear, it is not at all likely that you will ever meet one of these old troll witches.  But it is quite likely that you may one day come across one of their daughters, who are called hulders.  Walking through a clearing in the woods where some cattle are grazing on a summer's evening, you may see a very beautiful young girl; so beautiful that you will stop to gaze at her.  She may be a hulder.  If she is, beware, for you must not talk to her, for anyone who says a single word to a hulder immediately becomes her captive.  Young shepherds were often so entranced by the beauty of one of these young girls that they would long to walk through the woods with her and talk to her and hold her hand; but if you wish to remain free you must remain absolutely silent.  This was often very difficult for the poor shepherd boys because the hulders appeared to be so really sweet and lovely and promised the shepherds mountains of silver and gold.  If, under this temptation, the shepherd broke his silence, he was forced to follow his enchantress into her mountain home, and the moment she got there she changed into her real self - and oh, how hideous she really was!  Now I'll tell you a secret, there is one way by which you can always discover a hulder: if you walk behind her you will find that she has a tail - a cow's tail - and this she simply cannot get rid of or hide!"

From 'Norwegian Fairy Tales' by Gert Strindberg

Ever since I read 'Norwegian Fairy Tales' (in the great summer where the library let me keep a whole array of Scandinavian folk tale books for four happy months) I have been thinking about hulders.  I think it was the excitement of learning about a folk tale 'species' that was entirely new to me.  The picture at the start of this post is my artist's impression of a hulder and also my first ever gocco print!  Yes, I did it!  Diving straight in at the deep end, I went for a two screen/two colour affair.  Registration was challenging but I have ended up with 73 acceptable prints (and a good 30 or so unacceptable which will be chopped up and hopefully used in some other way). 
Here they are, side by side and drying away.  I don't think there is a single print without some small imperfection in it but I really quite like that about them.  I actually printed these nearly a week ago but didn't want to blog about them until their first two recipients had received them.  I sent one to my mum for her birthday and one to Emily as a thank you gift because she very kindly gave me a copy of gocco instructions in English.  I think having instructions I could understand (even though they told me pretty much what I already thought I knew) was just the security blanket I needed to finally take the leap and print.

I can definitely see what everyone meant when they said I would be addicted to gocco as soon as I tried it.  There is just something so amazing about seeing you image appear each time you open the thing up.  It was like the thrill I got from making the Big Daddy prints times about 100.  I think there is still enough about gocco that I don't understand (maybe the weird bit on the Japanese video with the scientific diagram of the bulbs and their beams of light!?) for me to believe that there is some element of magic or luck, whereas lino printing just makes good scientific sense.  Both lots of fun and very satisfying though :)

Graham and I went to Ikea today and I bought a frame for mine.  (Emily - a quick tip to cut down on time and effort spent in Ikea: this print fits perfectly in a deep Ribba frame, black or white, which comes with a mount already cut in bish bash bosh style!)  This is the first piece of my art that we have hung in a 'communal' area i.e. not on my craft room's wall of many wonders.  It is hanging in the hall, just outside the bathroom, and is making me feel quite pleased with myself.

I have already planned my second gocco print (a nice simple one colour design this time) but am already out of bulbs and screens.  I'd better get trawling the net.  And so it begins...


  1. Dear Laura

    Please stop it with making awesome things as I want them all for the shop! Please give me some hulders too!

    Can't wait to see what you come up with next!

  2. I think it's about time you did a mafia market. Make her do it Claire.

  3. John is prostrate at your knees in thanks for the ikea tip! Can you feel that grateful pawing at your leg? That's him! Seriously, these are beautiful, I see a long and lustrious gocco career ahead :-)

  4. Thank you all :) I was away this week and when I came back I was really excited to see my hulder hanging in the hall. I think absence must have made my heart grow fonder. Yippee!


Hello! I'm sorry that I've had to turn on the word verification feature again, but my inbox was being flooded with very dull spam. Genuine comments always brighten my day though, so thank you for taking the time to leave one :)