Starkweather woman brings traditional wooden goods to Norsk Høstfest

Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 5:22 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. (KFYR) - It’s JoAnn Copeland’s 42nd year at the Høstfest, and she came prepared with dozens of one-of-a-kind hand-painted wooden bowls, plaques and other bobbles.

The unique designs are formed from a traditional Norwegian painting technique called rosemaling, which translates to “rose painting.”

As a Norwegian herself, JoAnn is no stranger to the craft. She says it all began in 17th-century Norway when men would travel from home to home, painting items for food and lodging. By the 18th century, the craft made it to the U.S.

She says she always wanted to learn the art of rosemaling and started taking classes in 1979 when her kids were old enough for her to leave home.

She became a master herself, teaching school children the art in her hometown of Leads.

At one point, she had seven woodworking employees under her, but now, she says she puts her retired farmer husband to task carving the items for her to paint.

“Even the Americans pretend they’re Norwegian when it comes time for the Hostfest. It’s a fun time, but for me, it’s a lot of preparation, a lot of work, a lot of painting before I get here,” said JoAnn Copeland.

JoAnn says she tries to paint what her U.S. customers want but refuses to use pinks and purples, saying she prefers the traditional reds, blues and golds.

She says if you like a design, but it doesn’t match your home decor, you can always do what the Norwegians did and repaint your home to match the rosemaling.

To purchase a piece of traditional rosemaling from JoAnn, email or call (701) 739-5683.