The Dala Horse, or Dalahast, a classic craft of Sweden, is a robust and beautiful design. Swedish lumbermen, away from home for extented periods, would use scrap wood to carve these horses for thier children. Legend tells of soldiers who would pay for thier room and board by carving horses for their host families. Today, the Dalahast is known worldwide as a symbol of Sweden.
The horses I make are heavily influenced by the Dalahast. I borrow the tough, deliberate design, while adding a few gentle curves. The result is a horse that's pleasing to the eye and tough enough for the chewing, playing, and general beating dealt out to a toy by a toddler. I only use non-toxic finishes and paints.
I like to decorate the horses with little flowers, shamrocks, or other designs. Traditional Dalahasts are fully painted, but paint covers the wood, and I like to show off the grain. A few coats of linseed oil or salad bowl finish can really make the wood shine.
I really love making these guys, especially for kids. These are gifts that will last.