August 19, 2022
How are the Dala horses made? What wood and paint are used and what is the carving technique? Read the blog post to find out!
The Dala horses, also known as Dalecarlian horses, that are displayed on our website, are authentic, hand-carved and hand-painted statues of horses, produced by the best Scandinavian Dala horse artists. We thus support local artist communities in Sweden! Each piece you see on dalaart.com is unique and will increase in value with years.
We thus support local artist communities in Sweden! Each piece you see on dalaart.com is unique and will increase in value with years.
The simple answer is that Dala horses are cut out of wood using machines and then are hand-carved using a famous Mora knife. Mora is the heart of the Dalarna region in Sweden, which is considered to be the country’s cultural centre. Usually the horses are caved from a single piece of wood, but it can happen in the case of big horses, that several pieces of wood are glued together. That does not affect the quality of the final product though and it is the way that traditional Dala horses are made.
The rich Swedish forest provides wood for Dala horses. Artists use pinewood to create beautiful and long-lasting statues. Dalarna region, the place of birth of Dala horses, has the best climate for pines to grow densely, providing the best quality wood for producing the horses.
Pine timber is taken for processing at a nearby sawmill. For the smallest horses, Alderwood is used instead of pinewood.
The pieces of wood that have been chosen by the artist are stamped on and then the wood is processed and sawn out at the sawmill. The artist takes the horse statue and carves it by hand so it gains a nice and smooth shape. For this, the artist uses the Mora knife. This is the traditional way of carving the Dala horse!
When the shape is finalised, the horse statue is plunged into paint, which is the base color. The artist does it twice, so the statue receives two coats of primer. The artist usually works more on the shape of the horse after the first coat of paint, to fill in any irregularities. The statue is sanded if needed, before the final plunging into the last coat of paint. The base color is usually red, however, traditionally, a lot of other colors have been used as base as well.
After the last coating, the horse has to rest for a little while. The final stage in the making of the Dalecarlian horse is the painting of ornaments on the horse, which is also done by hand, using oil-based paints. Each Dala horse is individually decorated by skilled decorators in the rich traditional patterns of flowers and flourishes which are based on the very old forms of peasant "kurbits" painting. When this process is finalised, the horse statue is covered with a final coat of lacquer and that is it! The Dala horse is ready to travel the world!
Check out our beautiful collection of Dala horses, roosters and Dala moose!