The only noble prize winner from Iceland is the man that told us about Bjartur in Sumarhús in his 1943 story Independent People. Bjartur is a picture of a farmer and his life far up in the Icelandic highlands, a paradise on a summer’s day and a battle field in winter. A situation which is a constant encouragement and motivation, to the point it might become painful but that despite all is a great source of creativity, courage and resourcefulness. One of our honorable mountain heroes was Mr. Jón Aðalsteinn Stefánsson from Möðrudalur in the highlands in North East Iceland. Additionally to a strong survival instinct, self sufficiency and endurance he had an artistic spirit which shows in his paintings, constructions and in minor details in how he gave a new life to common objects which he crafted for the household.
Several participants in MAKE by Þorpið are of Jón’s kin, one of them being his great granddaughter Mrs. Hulda Eðvaldsdóttir, a dental nurse in Egilsstaðir. She has undoubtably learned some fundamental principles from her grand father and is now running a production line of her first ever product design which is inspired by her grandfather’s ingenious house hold items. In 2009 Mrs. Eðvaldsdóttir attended a winter long workshop in design organized by MAKE by Þorpið and East Iceland Education Centre. Since then she has been developing her graduation piece which was derived from her great grandfather’s wall hanger made from lamb horns. She works under the name Gibbagibb and is producing a limited collection of hanger solutions which is now being sold in design and art stores around the country.
Each hook is unique, made of a real set of horns from East Iceland mountain lambs, the ones that you see commonly standing on the middle of the highway during summer. The material is hard to access and due to strict regulations for treatment of sheep horn most horns are thrown away. Mrs. Eðvaldsdóttir goes through a thorough process of boiling and treating the horns before working with them and finally spray painting the hangers in various colours. The production process is a technical and time consuming process and she had to go through an extensive periods of experiments before she got it all working.
“The technicians at the workshop are just so helpful, they make sure that everything works out. Mrs. Lára Vilbergsdóttir, the project manager has also been very supportive and motivating for me.”
The hangers have been very popular and are showcased along with selected Icelandic designs in the Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt on an exhibition on Icelandic Design; On The Cutting Edge which is open from September 2011 to February 2012. Mrs. Eðvaldsdóttir is now looking for efficient production possibilities for Gibbagibb as she has found herself spending all spear time on the production line having little time for design work. “I am looking forward to further development with lamb and sheep horns, I have grown very fond of them and I have got a few ideas brewing.”