All pictures on this page are of Judy Ritger's work, or her hands at work.


BASICS OF KOLROSING   (pronounced "coal-rose-ing")  

by Judy Ritger and Del Stubbs

Kolrosing is a very old method of giving fine line surface decoration to wood.  It started centuries ago with simply using the tip of ones' belt knife to make fine decorative cuts - and then rubbing coal dust into it to bring out the pattern.  The inner bark of various trees is also traditionally used (barkrosing).  Kolrosing is an old Scandinavian tradition, dating back to Viking times and was most often used to decorate utilitarian objects, such as spoons, small bowls or boxes, cups, etc.  This is why very few of the old pieces have survived - they were meant to be used.  

In Viking times, the designs were more geometric or "Celtic" in origin.  These types of designs are very effective and popular today.  In the Telemark area of Norway, we find designs which show the influence of rosemaling which use the flower, leaf, and vine forms.  Contemporary kolrosing is not limited to traditional patterns - any design which can be drawn with a pencil can be done with a kolrosing knife, from simple borders to animal forms.  Use your imagination!  Try your local library for books on Celtic and rosemaling patterns and any kind of line drawing.


1.) Wood choice:

Judy Ritgers' favorite is spoons, but she feels that unless you learn to make your own spoons,  you won't find many commercially available spoons that are suitable for kolrosing.

2.) Preparing the wood:

3.) Incising Techniques:

4.) Coloring and Finishing:

5.) Sharpening:

Judy Ritger Kolrosing a Pattern

note how every finger is used strongly

Closeup Showing Finger Positions

the edge is facing away , the tool is levered against side of the thumb.

Pushing the knife forward with the end of the thumb


levering back against the side of the thumb for the finest control in turns


Here Judy is freehand drawing


Del is rubbing super fine coffee powder into his first kolrosing, after this it is brushed off with a clean rag, then sanded and finished.

Click here for next page of  Kolrosing Photos - Finished Pieces

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