Judith Johansson flat weave (röllakan) designer

Judith Johansson created over 400 designs for carpets and other fabrics during her life time. Together with her husband, she ran JJ Vävateljén in Knäred for 55 years and have made an everlasting imprint in the Swedish röllakan scenery.

Judith was born in Trollhättan in 1916, daughter to builder Per Johan Bengtsson and his wife Olga, who was a seamstress. She learned to weave already as a school girl, taught by her much loved grandmother, Olivia Eliasson. Working with yarn and being able to card, spin, twist, dye, weave, sew and crochet was an obvious necessity in her schooling. In her childhood home, the hand’s work was highly valued. Judith’s mother encouraged her to discover the values ​​of colors and find her own ways.

Her early career

Judith Johansson met her future husband John Johansson and partner at the age of 19. He ran a handicraft shop in Trollhättan, and in his home in Hishult he had hired weavers for the manufacture of rugs and smaller fabrics.

The couple started a weaving studio in Knäred in 1938. Judith created designs and weaved together with employees, while her husband set up the weave. In addition, he would warpe, solve and sometimes knit the fringes on the finished items. John took care of the administrative and supported his wife in her artistic creation so they were spouses but also workmates.

At the end of the 1940s, Judith Johansson studied at the Textile Institute in Borås (now the School of Textiles). She took inspiration from nature and began making the beautiful pattern compositions for which she is still known today.

Accomplishments and recognition

Judith Johansson was offered work as the artistic leader at the craft school Capellagården, founded in 1958 by Carl Malmsten. She declined and choose to continue her work with church textiles that had gained a prominent place in the studio’s work. Knäred’s congregation was the first to order a mat to the church. And after that, other churches, shipping companies, department stores and embassies ordered her rugs. So now Judith’s textiles can be found in some seventy churches around Sweden.

One of Judith’s most famous undertakings came from the Swedish king Gustaf VI Adolf. Judith was asked to adorn Prince Eugene’s room in the dormitory at Vadstena Monastery with a new carpet. So Judith took inspiration from “a dewdrop in midsummer time” and created the carpet “Blomsterkrans” (flower wreath).

She also made furniture fabrics for Carl Malmsten’s furniture, called “Eugen”. because the studio policy was to give furniture fabrics were given men’s names, while the curtain fabrics were given women’s names.

Judith Johansson’s patterns

Judith Johansson was inspired by nature so her patterns often bear the name of their source of inspiration. A characteristic of her rugs is the lack of “dead” space and the background colour is always mottled to reflect the natural shifts of colour and shades. Because of these popular traits, her patterns are still popular and include:

  • Riddarsporrar (Delphinium)
  • Meditation, inspired by snow melting in the gravel outside the studio
  • Timmerstockar (Logs), from Judith’s travels to the north of Sweden. The grey colours represent fir trees and the colourful parts represent pine trees. These rugs are often signed with the letter M in the right hand corner as they were often woven by the weaver Märtha.
  • Vädd (Scabious), designed in the 1970s
  • Sommarblomster (Summer flowers), designed in the 1960s
  • Lupiner (Lupines), one of the last rugs, designed in the mid 1980s
  • Myosotis, Latin for Forget-me-not
  • Rosenhäck (Rose hedge), is an overflowered rose hedge

All Judith’s rugs have an oriental border and her fringes are always square braided, usually röllakan rugs have simpler fringes.

Judith Johansson marked her creations JJ and this is sometimes combined with the initials of a weaver.

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