Best practice: Grannas A Olsson (Sweden)
If you are looking for an iconic Swedish symbol, then look no further than Dala horses (Dalahäst in Swedish). The small wooden horse figurines are a traditional gift in Sweden for weddings, births, anniversaries, graduations or opening ceremonies. They are also a popular souvenir for tourists.
Dala horses are traditionally made in Dalarna, a densely forested region in central Sweden, which has a long history in the wood industry. The horses have their origins in the 17th century when residents carved the wooden figurines to pass the time during the cold winter nights. Traditionally, Dala horses are painted red and lovingly decorated with a painted saddle and bridle. They come in all colours and sizes, from clear varnish to pink, in the national colours of Sweden or in individual designs for special occasions.
One of the traditional manufacturers of Dala horses is Grannas A Olsson Hemslöjd AB in Nusnäs. The family business was founded in 1922 in the heart of the province of Dalarna and has been making the wooden figurines for nearly 100 years, exporting them all over the world. The company’s turnover is around 17 million SEK (1.65 million EUR) and is managed by third and fourth generation family members.
In the early days, Grannas A Olsson made the Dala horses from wooden offcuts however, these days they have a professional production line that still demands a high degree of intricate manual work. The figurines are made from slowly grown, predominantly knot-free pine wood with narrow annual growth rings. 100 000 horses are produced every year in 17 sizes from the smallest at 1 cm high to the tallest at 50 cm.
There are nine steps to production. First, the boards (pine planks) are planed, then the figurine shapes are outlined and a band saw used for the first rough cut, followed by the finer detail. The final three-dimensional shape is carefully hand-carved - around 50 experienced wood carvers from the region carve the figurines at home for Grannas A Olsson Hemslöjd.
To finish the Dala horses, they are initially dipcoat-primed, then checked, puttied and sanded with sandpaper before being given a final coat in the dip tank. The decoration in traditional “kurbits” style is a detailed painting with floral elements, this is delicate work and is done by hand using oil paints. Finally, the Dala horses are sealed with a clear coat.
For over 20 years Grannas A Olsson Hemslöjd has relied on Teknos products, initially Wedevåg Färg, which has now been part of Teknos since 2012. The company currently coats their Dala horses and other figurines in the water-borne primer TEKNOCOAT AQUA PRIMER 1866-60 and sometimes uses the water-borne clear coat TEKNOCLEAR AQUA 1332-08 too. Supply and technical support is handled by specialist Teknos dealers and Teknos sales partner, ProChroma (Falun).
"We are very happy with Teknos paints and the cooperation with ProChroma", adds Christina Liljegren, who is responsible for company sales and export at Grannas A Olsson Hemslöjd. “The products meet our high expectations and the customer support is very good. ProChroma understands our requirements and always provides a good solution quickly if we have questions. This helps us achieve smooth production.”
Whether small or big, traditional or ornate, Dala horses from Grannas A Olsson Hemslöjd give enjoyment to many people as a national symbol for Sweden. Teknos has made a small contribution to this.
We are very satisfied with Teknos paints and the cooperation with ProChroma and the products meet our high requirements.
Traditional Swedish gift at weddings, births and anniversaries
Origin in the 17th century in the province of Dalarna
Traditional design painted red with detailed painting in “kurbits” style