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Isle of plenty

— Gotland


When most European craft communities are struggling, how does the Swedish island of Gotland manage not only to survive but to thrive? A little bit of magic, according to those who work here, but also its mix of reasonably priced studio space and abundance of raw materials, including its famous wool.

Barbro Lomakka, Craft, Island craft, Leva Husfabrik, Skulpturfabriken

For most people, Gotland is best known as the setting for many of the late director Ingmar Bergman’s films. But the island is also home to a thriving craft industry, a tradition firmly rooted in the local materials: wool, limestone and wood. While most craft communities in Europe have died out as manufacturers have opted to outsource for cheaper materials and labour, Gotland’s craft community isn’t just ­surviving, it’s booming.

One reason is the quality of the raw materials. When Barbro Lomakka arrived in Gotland 17 years ago, like many of the…


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