About this blog
Notes from Björkåsa is a blog written by Juliane Strittmatter about crafts, dollmaking and gardening. Björkåsa is also the name of the place where Juliane lives, an old farmhouse in Ljungarum, a rural settlement south of Hässleholm, Sweden.
In this journal, Juliane shares glimpses of her life and work as a professional puppeteer and dollmaker, writes about vintage dresses and wildflowers, about her chickens and walks in the woods, about flea market finds and craft techniques, and about house renovations and her kitchen garden.
Björkåsa, pronounced [björ:k-å:sa], means ‘birch hill’ in Swedish.
A dollmaker. Apparently, that was what I wanted to become when I was thirteen years old, according to an old schoolfriend of mine. However, I cannot recall the slightest memory of
that I wanted a future career in dollmaking as a teenager. What I do remember though is
that I wanted to become a lawyer, a milliner, an interior designer and a translator when I was young. But a dollmaker? Is that even a profession? Really? Can you make a living from making… dolls?
How I ended up in the Swedish countryside is a long story, how I ended up making
dolls a shorter one:
I was born in Berlin in 1978 and I grew up in Germany. After I finished school, I didn’t become a lawyer, nor a milliner, interior designer or translator. Following a slight detour into classic song and scenography, my interest in performing arts took over. From 1999 to 2004, I studied puppetry at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Art (Hochschule für Schauspielkunst Ernst Busch) in Berlin. As a professionally trained puppeteer I worked for theatres in Germany, Switzerland and Norway.
In 2008 I began to make dolls for children under the name Fröken Skicklig as I enjoyed working from home instead of travelling through Europe as a puppeteer. The shift to making cloth dolls as toys and telling stories through photographs came naturally and easily after having worked in the theatre for such a long time. Since then I have been making dolls, teaching craft classes and working for magazines.
I chose to start this new blog to keep a journal about our life here at Björkåsa, an old farmhouse in Scania in the south of Sweden. We moved here in May 2015 and despite a lot of renovation work needed in the coming years, we have never regretted our decision to buy this house. Björkåsa is a peaceful place, a house on a hill, surrounded by birches and old oak trees and with a wonderful view across the meadows, the forests and Store Mosse, a large bog.
After our move, we immediately started to revive the overgrown kitchen garden that will
provide us with fruits and vegetables even in the colder season thanks to a mild climate. In 2017, we are planning a large makeover to adjust the garden to fit our demands. A proper potting shed, more space for growing vegetables and a better watering system are on our list. We have twelve chickens, a cat, and hopefully soon two, three colonies of bees and a couple of sheep. This year, we will also finish the renovation works on the shed to turn it into a bright studio for me.
I am passionate about gardening and about wildflowers and nature is my biggest sources of inspiration. Whenever my time allows, I take walks through the meadows and fields, the bog and the forest here in Ljungarum. Shifting my focus from dollmaking, photography and writing to listening to the wild geese in the sky and the sounds of soil underfoot helps me to stay creative. I literally walk my way from distraction to sanity. In 2013, I started a project on Instagram under the hashtag #onebouquetperday. You can find out more about my daily flower bouquets here.
It means a lot to me that you take the time to visit Björkåsa through this virtual window and
that you join me on my walks and in my studio via this blog. I hope you enjoy your stay!