Cast iron waffle makers from Norway

Whenever I find second hand cast iron waffle makers at flea markets, I list them available for purchase in the vintage section of my Etsy shop.

In this blog posting I present different types of vintage cast iron and cast aluminium waffle pans I have come across in Norway, especially special pans for making thin waffles known as krumkake and goro. I also explain that unlike usual in the United States, base rings are not used in Norway when making krumkake or goro. In addition, I present other cast iron specialities.

Cast iron waffle pans are not for everybody, but those who use them tend to have a passionate relationship to their pans. Cast iron waffle makers need to be maintained properly, but if you put some extra time and effort in taking care of your pan, it will serve you faithfully for decades. A cast iron waffle maker tolerates higher temperatures than teflon waffle pan, and waffles become nice and crispy.

Different kinds of waffles are an important tradition in Norway, from heart shaped, thick waffles which remind Belgian waffles, to cone shaped krumkake and ever so thin, delicately textured goro. There are special pans for each waffle type, and several Norwegian companies, for example Jøtul and Mustad, have long history of making quality waffle irons. As far as I know, none of these companies produce cast iron waffle pans any more as most people will rather have electric waffle makers. However, it is possible to find used cast iron pans at flea markets.

I regularly receive inquiries concerning base rings to Norwegian waffle irons. Base rings are very uncommon in Norway. Please find more information on base rings further in this text.

The Jøtul krumkake iron below is possibly from the 1960’s and it has bakelite handles. The pan is solid, sturdy and heavy — almost 2,4 kg even though it is quite small. The baking plates are about 14 cm in diameter. The pan has a beautiful, floral pattern with a heart in the middle and it makes fantastic krumkake waffles. The pattern is known as Østerdalsmønster (Østerdal pattern), which refers to a geografical area in South-East Norway.

Jøtul is a well known Norwegian producer of ovens and other cast iron products, with its headquarters placed in Fredrikstad in South-East Norway.

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Krumkake is a special Norwegian waffle which is rolled into a cone while hot. In an earlier blog post I describe how I made krumkake using a cast aluminium pan. Aluminium pans are not so usual to find, but they are just fine to use.

Cast iron pans found at flea markets usually suffer from lack of maintenance. They need to be thoroughly cleaned at first and then used, cleaned, and seasoned a couple of times in order to restore their former glory. There are different meanings on how to clean cast iron pans which have not been properly cared for. Some people prefer to use extreme heat to burn and remove all dirt deep in the pores of the pan, and rub the pan with unsalted animal fat. I tend to be more conservative and settle for manual cleaning, moderate heating, and seasoning with oil, especially in the case of the pans I am going to sell. Buyers will decide how they want to maintain their pans and whether they prefer the dramatic measures or not.

This is another typical Norwegian waffle iron by Jøtul. The sturdy pan with bakelite handles makes cute, heart shaped waffles which are thicker than krumkake waffles.

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The waffle iron below is an older version of the heart shape waffle maker. The handles are not covered with bakelite, which makes this pan somewhat harder to use. The pan looks and feels old, and when I found it at a flea market, there was rust, dirt and possibly soot as well, suggesting that the pan has been used on a firewood heated stove. On the other hand, it is possible to put the whole pan into an oven to clean it by burning the dirt from the pores of the iron. This is a dramatic method of cleaning which I have only heard of, not experienced myself.

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Goro waffles are thin but unlike krumkake, they are served flat. Goro irons are textured and they leave delicate pattern to the waffles. Please see my earlier blog post.

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Another important waffle pan producer is Mustad, a company which started making nails, horseshoes and other metal objects in 1832 in a small town called Gjøvik. The company was previously known as O. Mustad & Søn. Older Mustad irons are marked with stamp ‘O.M. & S.’. Nowadays Mustad produces world famous fish hooks. The Mustad krumkake iron below has handles covered with pieces of thick leather and the absolutely most beautiful waffle pattern ever made. This asymmetric floral pattern has a hint of art nouveau style.

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Mustad goro irons have a floral pattern which differs from the Jøtul pattern.

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At times I come across vintage cast iron waffle makers at flea markets, and since I already possess a couple of them, I offer extra pans for sale in my Etsy shop. You will find available cast iron pans in my shop’s vintage section.

Now that you have seen how these pans look like after I have cleaned them, here are examples of the condition they are in — in the worst case! — when I buy them. None of the waffle irons above were this bad when I bought them.

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The krumkake iron with a base is a rare find in Norway. During my eleven years in Norway I have only seen two irons with base rings. This pan may be from the 1920’s, and the base was possibly made to be used on a firewood stove. It may also be made for gas stoves which are very unusual in Norway.

In the 19th century and the early 20th century notable amounts of people from Scandinavia immigrated into the United States, especially in districts where the climate and nature were not very different from their home countries. The following generations of these immigrants fostered their food traditions and provided a market for special Scandinavian kitchenware. Unlike in Norway, krumkake irons produced in the US typically come with a base which is necessary as many households have gas stoves. Also the decorations on the frying plates in the US differ from decorations in Norway. The gorgeous floral patterns are typically Norwegian, and there are two main types, the Østerdal heart pattern and the asymmetrical art nouveau inspired pattern. Some pans have two similar sides, like the cleaned and oiled pans above. Some have two different sides, like the pan with the base.

The other iron in the picture above is a Mustad number 7. After lots of rubbing with a steel sponge, heating, soaking in boiling water for two hours, brushing with a steel brush, and seasoning with sunflower oil, the pan looks like this:

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The pan with the base ring is the oldest krumkake iron I have even seen. It may well be from the 1920’s. There is no manufacturer’s name visible. The photo below shows how the iron looked like after I had rubbed it with steel sponge and brushed with steel brush. The pan turned out fantastic  when I got rid of all the rust and most of the dirt. This beauty makes it possible to enjoy not only one, but two different, typically Norwegian floral krumkake ornaments.

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I oiled the ring with sewing machine oil. Even though I was able to remove only some of the rust, the ring looks much better. The pan itself looks old and fabulous.

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I was extremely lucky to find the goro iron below at a flea market. The iron looks like it is never used and it has a base ring. I wonder whether it was made for export, especially for the US market.

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The iron is absolutely gorgeous!

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The base ring is formed for easy grip on both sides and it has a cup like form at the end which fits the ball hinge of the iron.

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Back in the 1970’s, I wonder if it was possible to find a househould in Norway without a Jøtul krumkake maker like the one below. With the usual heart shape Østerdal pattern and bakelite handles, these pans are still fully functional. The pans are about 40 cm long and weigh almost 2,5 kg.

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Immediately after baking while the krumkake still is hot, it is rolled into a cone by using a krumkake roller. This roller is possibly from the 1950’s.

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The aluminium clip keeps the krumkake in place while rolling to avoid burning your fingertips. This roller is sold but when I find another one, I will make it available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

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I have heard from elderly Norwegians that rich mansion owners used to have krumkake patterns of their own. Less wealthy families had their krumcakes made by travelling krumkake makers, who carried their own irons. It is possible that local patterns stem from the tradition of travelling krumkake makers. I have not been able to verify this information in written sources.

While cast iron is the most usual material in waffle makers, aluminium has also been used. This Høyang krumkake maker is just as good to bake krumkake as any cast iron pan, but easier to handle as it weighs under 900 g. It is also somewhat easier to maintain and keep clean. This krumkake maker is a flea market find and has not been maintained properly. I gave it a good rubbing with steel sponge, but some dirt is still left. When used and cleaned regularly, it will become better. Unfortunately the uncovered handles will be warm during baking and require some extra carefulness.

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IL-O-Van Aluminiumvarefabrikk A/S was located in Moss in South-East Norway. The company produced aluminium kitchenware from 1922 until 1968. Ilovan became Høyang later on.

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Aluminium was used to make goro irons as well. The goro waffle maker below is produced by Høyang and has most fantastic pattern. Is this a rooster or not? Goro waffle is a traditionally served at Christmas, but a rooster cookie will be nice at Easter!

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The krumkake irons below have bakelite handles. The upper iron is a newer version of the Mustad model number 7, but the other iron is a more unusual Dravn number 13. This pan is made by Drammens Jernstøberi & Mek. Værksted, a company which produced various iron and steel products from ovens to steam ships and road maintenance machinery. The company was active from 1846 until 1986.

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The floral pattern of the Dravn differs from the patterns used by Jøtul, Høyang and Mustad.

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Donuts or doughnuts are usually baked in oven, but the pan below is made for stovetop.

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There is no indication of the manufacturer of this donut pan. It looks old, possible from the early 1900’s. However, it looks similar to a pan known as Cloverleaf Doughnut Form, manufactured by a company in the US.

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Please visit the vintage section of my Etsy shop to see the waffle makers which are available for purchase at the moment.

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‘Klokkestreng’ bell pull tradition in the Nordic countries

Originally, ‘klokkestreng’ (= bell pull) refers to a thick, decorative cord attached to a lever and a bell which you could ring by pulling the cord. It was used in manor houses, country houses and bourgeoise homes to call servants in England and in North America. The cord developed into a narrow, delicately decorated, hand made textile. Embroidery, cross-stitch and weaving were the techniques used. Simple bell pull consisted of a cord or a narrow tapestry and a lever and a bell right above. The problem was that in order to hear the bell, the servants had to be nearby. Later on complex mechanical systems were developed and the distance between cords and bells was several rooms and floors.

Later on the ‘bell pull’ lost its original function and became a decorative object. My special interest is how the English manor house bell pull tradition was adopted in Scandinavia as a rural imitation. Instead of expensive upper class materials like thin yarn and brass metalwork, the rural tradition is characterized by thick wool yarn and wrought iron metalwork.

Bell pull, ‘klokkestreng’ in Norwegian and ‘klokkestrenge’ in Danish, literally ‘bell string’, were hugely popular in the 1960’s and 70’s. Thick wool yarn was used and patterns were usually traditional ornaments or floral. Cross-stitching was women’s activity while the wrought iron hardware were either purchased or made by young men of the families as school projects. There were numerous variations of the basic metal work and many of them had a ringlike form to the bottom as a reminder of the original function. Wrought iron was the most common material, but other metals and combinations of wood and metal were also used. Decorations varied. Sometimes there were two identical hardware at both ends, sometimes different ones, sometimes there were wool yarn fringes in the other end.

Bell pull ornament patterns were published in crafting magazines and DIY sets with pattern, instructions and yarn were sold in craft shops. By the 1990’s the bell pull tradition withered and was considered old-fashioned and dull.

I find the bell pull tradition fascinating, but instead of copying the old cross-stitching patterns, my perspective is playful and whimsical. I want to combine new, modern materials and surprising solutions to the tradition of Scandinavian klokkestreng.

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You will find this modern klokkestreng wall decoration in my Etsy shop.

There is a doctoral dissertation describing the development of the mechanical servant bell systems. I am still looking for a complete study on the history of the bell pull as handicraft and textile industry product.

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DIY Idea: Vietnamese Tết decor

The first time I visited in Vietnam was during Tết in 2010. I arrived the country just two days before the holidays. It was only after the holiday week was over that I realized Vietnam is not like that always!

I bought some Tết decorations to use during Yule and New Year. They suit perfectly. Bright red and gold are Yule, and Tết is celebration of the Lunar New Year.

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I hang the decorations at a window, using the same wooden stick where I usually hang the crystals as described in an earlier blog post.

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DIY Idea: Window decor with vintage crystals

Days are short in winter in the Northern Europe, and I notice I miss sunlight. I compensate the lack of enough daylight with some extra glitter in the house.

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I found some vintage lamp crystals at a flea market. I had jump rings, pieces of different chrome coloured chains in stock as well as a branch from a hornbeam in my garden.

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The crystals give an illusion of more light than there really is in a cloudy day and in afternoon sunset.

The rare occasions of direct sunlight make the crystals sparkle and cast rainbows on walls. It does not matter that the crystals are different in shapes and sizes, and that there are some scratches. I wash them a couple of times a year in warm water and a drop of mild soap.

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My Dragon Lamp dresses for all the celebrations of a year

Happy Independence Day, Finland!

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I have a fantastically kitsch and silly dragon lamp in my living room. I have made appropriate accessories for the dragon to mark all the celebrations of a year. Here is an Easter witch hat made of a cardboard cone, yellow wool fabric, feathers and decor eggs.

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I am pretty pleased with the hat. I made another outfit to celebrate the Independence Day in Finland. My intention was to make a humorous commentary on the strong military emphasis of the Finnish Independence Day tradition. This hat imitates the white fur hats worn by high rank officers. Medals are made of champagne bottle cork caps and decor ribbons.

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I also have a fantastic 1st of May outfit, as well as wedding anniversary decor and Midsummer headpiece for the dragon. I will post photos later. You can sure imagine how the dragon’s Christmas outfit looks like (actually that is the most boring…

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Newsboy caps for women

Newsboy caps are popular because they are so practical and uncomplicated. They are stylish in a relaxed way and protect your head and face. I have made a variety of newsboy caps for sale in my Etsy shop. Please check my shop for more information on the caps I briefly present in this blog post.

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This cap is suitable in autumn and spring. It is made of striped cotton fabric and lined with black linen blend fabric. The blue cord runs inside the band and the side of the hat can be adjusted by tightening the cord.

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This grey wool blend cap is oversized. It is fully lined with purple cotton batik and the peak is decorated with buttons. A cord runs inside the band and laces in the back.

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Wool blend fabric and fleece lining make this cap warm enough for winter.

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This oversized blood-red cap is made of cotton velvet and lined with viscose. Button decorated band and a cord which laces in the back.

Please visit my Etsy shop for more information.

 

 

 

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DIY Ideas: Home Decor Tassels

Cushions, table runners and tassels, we have seen those already. Why not put tassels somewhere else?

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A wooden stick, an eye bolt, a ceramic bead and a tassel made of dark brown wool yarn. This is actually a wedge and it is used to prevent a window banging in the wind when ventilating. When not in use, the wedge is placed on the window ledge, the tassel hanging over the edge. Visitors often ask what it is for 🙂

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This tassel is made of lustrous, gold colored viscose blend yarn which has a nice, heavy fall. Unfortunately the yarn unwinds easily and I had to secure each end with glue. It was messy and time consuming, but the end result is worth the trouble. The tassel decorates the key of a display cabinet.

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DIY Idea: Making trivets and coasters using bathroom tiles

I have lived in houses where previous owners have left piles of unused bathroom tiles behind. Small tiles are ideal as coasters. Take a piece of medium thick, non-fraying wool felt fabric, glue a piece under a tile, and cut the excess fabric when the glue is dry.

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I used ordinary, water-based household glue and dark brown felt fabric. The tiles are easy to wipe clean.

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I also made a couple of matching trivets. I bought simple cork trivets and glued four small tiles onto them. It does not matter if the tiles are slightly bigger than the cork trivet.

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Cork and tile trivets are practical at dinner table and kitchen. I use bigger tiles under flower pots, protecting surfaces from water leaks or humidity coming through clay. DSC_7716

Making trivets and coasters is easy and fun, and it does not cost much if you can use spare tiles, for example, from your neighbours’ bathroom decoration, or tiles that came with the house, like mine.

If you want a a better finish, you could paint the sides of the tiles or cover them with fabric, cord or band.

 

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DIY Idea: Advent Calendar

There are plenty of possibilities to make a reusable advent calendar. Here is one idea for a minimalistic calendar which can be used years after years, and which looks decorative also when all the pouches have been emptied.

You just need some burlap, felt fabric and band. Use a heart shaped Christmas cookie cutter as a pattern.

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This calendar had been in use every Yule since the early 1990’s. The pouches are not filled yet in the photo above.

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All the pouches are filled! December may come!

 

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Hooded scarf for women

This hooded scarf, designed and sewn by myself, is available for purchase in my Etsy shop. I combined two different fabrics to make this scarf. First, I used lustrous, silver grey polyester velvet fabric with black leaf motifs and a heavy fall for the infinity scarf. Second, I made reversible the hood out of the silver grey fabric and black linen. The hood can be used both ways.

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Stunning and versatile!

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Please visit my shop for more information on this scarf, and my other creations.

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