Danish craftsman Povl Kjer made his first rocking sheep for his niece, Julie, as a reminder of her family’s farming heritage. Since production began in 1981, the design of the now iconic – hand-made wooden rocking sheep has remained the same. The brand launched on AlexandAlexa.com earlier this year, and we are one of the few retailers to stock authentic Povl Kjer rocking sheep. We caught up with Povl to find out more about the construction process, his Danish workshop, and how to identify the genuine article.
Typically how long will it take to construct a sheep from start to finish?
From the start many years ago I made 2-3 rocking sheep at a time, and then I could easily take a couple of days to finish them. Today I am working on series of 20-50 at a time, finishing and shipping maybe 10-15 at a time. Today some of my work is collecting parts of the woodwork from the small workshops and doing some of the work myself. Still I make much of the work on my own in my workshop, and I always assemble and put on the sheepskin, packing every sheep to send out all over the world.
What was the hardest part of the process to perfect?
The hardest part is covering the rocking sheep with a sheepskin, it’s hard on your fingers, and you have to be very accurate in collecting the right sheepskin.
How many people work with you in your team?
I’ve never had any employees in my workshop, the freedom of being myself is very important. In the last few years my work has been very popular, so instead of employing, I have found small workshops, such as a woodturner and a woodcarver, to make parts for me.
Describe your workshop. Where is it based? What will we find in there?
Together with my wife I live in an old grocer´s in a little village in the Danish “lake district”, and my workshop is the old store. My work has always been divided in two parts. Making rocking sheep is the one, working as a woodcarver making mannequins in wood and other figures for museums is the other. So when you visit my workshop you might find a full size Viking warrior and his wife, the hens from the fairytale “it´s quite true” or you can find a herd of rocking sheep. What you always will find is a total mess of materials, old machines and lots of nice tools, and if you find a dusty man it will probably be me.
Can you please tell us a bit more about the origins of your lovely wool?
An ongoing work is finding high quality sheepskin for my rocking sheep. I work with several tanneries and use sheepskin from many countries, among others Iceland, England, Ireland and New Zealand. The hard work is making the tannery understand the quality of skins I need.
How can people recognise a genuine Povl Kjer?
A sheep is a very light animal with thin legs, and in my design I have tried to express this lightness and still make the work strong. I am proud the rocking sheep will last for more generations of children using it very heavily. I have never refused to make a repair of my rocking sheep, and I have never taken payment to do it. Today Povl Kjer is burned into a leg, before that I have carved a little PK in a leg. If you are in doubt, please send me a photo, and I can tell you if it is a real Povl Kjer rocking sheep.
Watch a video of Povl Kjer in his workshop here: