Meaning of the dala horse

Dala horses in Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint - Dala Muses

When you have seen my blog’s logo, you know that a horse is the central element, to be specific: the Dala horse. To me the horse is 200% cuteness, it’s also the symbol of the province I live in, a symbol for Sweden and even for my own journey. I just have to use it in my home decor! Last week I made a wall decoration in my kitchen with small wooden dala horses and repurposed tin plates. The last finishing touch in Christmas decor before Christmas!

But let’s go back to the ‘symbol’ first. We live in the South of the province of Dalarna. It was in the small villages of 18th century Dalarna that the wooden Dala or Dalecarlian horse was born. Woodcarvers carved horses (at the time a very important animal) as a toy for the children. The horses were later painted with patterns similar to those seen on furniture in Dalarna and they became items of barter. The art of horse carving and painting, with roots in furniture painting, developed into a cottage industry as many families needed the horse production as a source of income. One of the centres of horse making was Nusnäs, a village close to Mora, and today dala horses are still being produced there.

Dala horse - Dala Muses

Tiniest Dala horse we have at home. It’s about the size of a candle light holder.

When we visited Nusnäs two years ago, my oldest son was very enthousiastic about the wood carving of the dala horse. I still remember that evening, he and his dad carved for hours. Back home in Belgium he finished the horse and chose it as the theme for an assignment at school. I love the dala horse for all those reasons: its cuteness, the roots in furniture painting but also the memories of that december evening. When I think about it: it was exactly this week two years ago, it could even be exactly this date. In Nusnäs I bought about 30 wooden unpainted dala horses for myself. I painted them in all the different colours of Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint and played a bit with my camera.  Eventually Marian Parsons (Miss Mustard Seed) selected these two pictures for her second lookbook.

Dala horses in Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint - Dala Muses

Dala horses - Swedish Blue - Dala Muses

So, two years later, in the darkest week of the year, I finished another small project with old tin plates and wooden dala horses.  I liked the round shape, but not so much the material, so I painted the plates. The colour black is used much more in interior design over here than what I was used to. It took a while, but I’m starting to like black a lot more! Ash from Fusion Mineral Paint is the perfect black, because it isn’t 100% black :). Because the material was a shiny metal, I applied a thin layer of Fusion’s Ultra Grip first to guarantee the adherence of the paint.

I painted the horses in Tricycle from Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. It turned out a bit too bright for what I had in mind, but after applying some antiquing wax it was perfect. I racked my brain about hanging the plates, but couldn’t come up with a solution without ruining them or making holes in the wall, until I found something called ‘glue pads’ while shopping for groceries. It’s a flexible and reusable adhesive you can use to stick paper to a wall. My husband was VERY sceptical about my idea to hang the plates with ‘that sort of gum’, but I wanted to give it a try. Ofcourse my idea worked ;-). I’m just not telling you how many pieces of gum are sticking to the back of the plates! Since it worked for the plates, I also used it to keep the horses in place. Very practical!

Repurposed plates with Dala horses- Dala Muses
And more horses this month: I painted several boxes for our local flower shop ‘Lilla Wextverk‘. The owner Solveig picked out the perfect flowers for the boxes. And … she inspired me to use more greenery when styling something in my home.


I’m wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

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