Book of Answers

WELCOME!

The Textile Center residency is located in the remote and rural location of Blönduós, north-western Iceland. This guide will help you navigate and overcome some of the challenges of living in a foreign place. 

COVID-19 updates and news

Yes, Ós residency is up and running! 

We follow the guidelines of the Icelandic health authorities. From February 25th (2022) onwards, all Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted in Iceland - domestically, as well as at the border. This means that procedures for entering Iceland will return to pre-pandemic arrangements. That said, it is recommended that people with symptoms stay home and/or isolate for 5 days, and face masks are still recommended when interacting with at-risk people. You can find all information on Covid-19 in Iceland on the website www.covid.is. If you test positive for Covid-19 during your stay at the residency, please let us know. 

Please make sure you have valid health insurance in case you need medical assistance or care while staying in Iceland and consult with your embassy if unsure about travel permits. You can check the website of Keflavík Airport for updates regarding flights. 

We look forward to welcome you at the residency and wish you safe travels!


GETTING HERE

How do I travel to Iceland and Reykjavík? 

Arriving at Keflavik Airport (Reykjavik) by plane: Distance to Blönduós is 300 km. Many airlines fly to Keflavik. The Icelandic airline is called Icelandair. More info and flights can be found at www.kefairport.is.

Airport Shuttle from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik: There is a Flybus (www.flybus.is) from Keflavík Airport to the Reykjavík bus terminal BSI (duration is 45 minutes). If you are staying at a hotel or guest house, ask if the bus stops there. Tickets are bought online, on the plane or in the arrivals area after baggage claim.

How do I travel from Reykjavik to Blönduós? 

Bus from Reykjavik to Blönduós: The bus company is called Strætó (www.straeto.is). 
Bus 57 goes from BSÍ / Mjódd bus station (Reykjavík) to Blönduós. You can find bus times, fares, and other information on their website. You can pay for your fare online, via the Stræto/Klapp app, or once you board the bus (cash). Their booking phone number: (+354) 540 2700. 

Buses during your residency: A timetable is hanging up in the kitchen in the residency.

Where can I stay in Reykjavík? 

You may choose to spend some time in Reykjavík before or after your stay in Blönduós. There are plenty of guesthouses and hotels to chose from. Former artists in residence have recommended a stay at the guesthouse of SÍM, Association for Icelandic Artists (www.sim.is). The guesthouse has 4 private rooms (shared kitchen and bathroom). It’s located in the centre of downtown Reykjavík. Walking distance to almost everything.


ARRIVAL

When should I arrive at the Textile Center? 

Residencies always start on the first and end on the day before the last day of a given month. During the month prior to your residency, you will receive an email where we introduce artists in residence to each other and ask about arrival times. If you haven’t received anything by the 20th of a given month, please contact the office or katharina@textilmidstod.is  If you arrive on a weekday (Mon-Fri) and during office hours (8am - 4 pm), we might be able to pick you up from the bus station and welcome you in person. 

"Does this mean I have to arrive on a 1st? Or should I be there the day before my residency starts, on the 31st? If I can't arrive until the 6th, is that too late? I can't make the weekday, can I come on a weekend?" 

No, no, no, and yes. Let's say you 're a December 2022 resident. You're arriving in Iceland on November 29th and would like to come to Blönduós right away. But that wouldn't work: your room is most likely still occupied by a November artist in residence and there needs to be time to clean, so we would ask you stay in Reykjavík until December 1st.

December 1st is a Tuesday, so if you are able to catch the morning bus from Reykjavík, great. You'll arrive in Blönduós during office hours and we would come pick you up from the bus station.

Then again, you might prefer the evening bus. Which is fine, but then you would get here very late and we would not be able to pick you up. There are no taxis i Blönduós, so you most probably would have to walk to the residency. (It's a ten minute walk from the bus station, very manageable in summer if you don't bring a lot of luggage.) Same goes for weekends. In that case, we would email you information on how to get to and into the building. 

Maybe you're flying to Iceland on December 2nd and won't be able to get here until Thursday, December 3d. That is fine, too. You can arrive as late as you like, really, just keep in mind that you might not be able to make most of your time here if you succumb to the pleasures of the city (Reykjavík) and arrive on, say, December 15th. 

Your residency ends on December 30, so you might want to leave Blönduós on January 1st - unfortunately, this is not possible. New artists will be arriving that day, so it would have to be December 30 midday at the latest. We always recommend artists in residence keep an eye on the weather forecast, bus timetables, etc., and you might even have to leave earlier. Always leave room for a night or two in Reykjavík to make sure you can catch your flight back home, especially during the winter months (September - May). 

If you have any other questions regarding arrivals / departures, just send us an email at residency@textilecenter.is!

What type of accommodation will I have at the Textile Center? 

The Textile Center Residency main housing is inside Kvennaskólinn, the former women’s college in Blönduós. Kvennaskólinn is a much-beloved heritage building and over 100 years old, which is rare in Iceland. Please be mindful of this historic house and its quirks. 

When you apply for a residency, you choose the type of room you would prefer (riverside / standard / larger room with extra space). The main residency housing is located on the second floor of the building. There is no elevator. On the residency floor, you have your own private bedroom, shared kitchen, shared bathroom, and living room. The second floor is also where the main studio is located. Rooms are for one artist alone. If you have children and / or a spouse who need to be with you, please discuss this with us. Extra fees apply and family accommodation in a different location in town can possibly be arranged. We also offer accommodation in a newly renovated house right next door (no. 35), which can be rented as individual rooms or as a whole (4 guest max.) This might suit collaborators or groups, or simply anyone wishing for a bit more privacy. Same goes for house no. 33, which is also located right next door, but older and not newly renovated. Prices for accommodation vary depending on location / size / view, but always include access to work facilities, equipment, and studio space in the main house. 

Please be courteous and considerate when sharing a house, which means you cleaning up after yourself (including doing your dishes, cleaning your hair from the shower drain, wiping tables, cleaning the fridge, and throwing away garbage). Glass bottles, cans and plastic bottles (only!) go into the recycling bins in opposite the kitchen. You must leave your accommodation as clean as you found it. 

Windows: When cooking in the kitchen, or showering in the bathroom, there is likely to be steam. So please remember to open the window to let steam out. Otherwise mold will form, damaging the house.

The laundry room is in the basement, please arrange a schedule amongst yourselves. (Houses 33 and 35 have their own laundry rooms.) Make sure to open the window regularly and keep things tidy. Linens are supplied; artists must launder their linen upon departure. Sheets and towels must always be washed separately from other clothes and at a minimum of 60 degrees (Celcius). 

If you are leaving the house for a trip, make sure ALL windows are closed (and fire doors), as you don’t know if the weather will change and bring a storm unexpectedly. Not fun to return to!

Broken Items: If you happen to break anything, please inform us so it can be replaced.

Your residency fee includes all bills and you do not have to pay for electricity etc. However please be eco-conscious, and turn off lights and heating if you are not using them. A good average gauge on heating is to keep it around ‘3’, and '1' in summer.

Smoking is not allowed in the house no matter what time of year. You may smoke outside.

Do not forget your swimsuits. In Blönduós we have an impressive swimming pool and sports facilities.

Do I need to bring bed linens and towels?  

No. Unless you want to, of course. Artists are responsible for all living expenses. The Textile Center will assist and provide things like tea-towels, sponges, dish-washing brush, and linen. And some consumables like toilet paper, dish soap, and washing machine detergent (not for textile work, though, e.g. felting). Please buy your own supplies to work with. 

What is the intern’s role? 

Sometimes we have an intern staying in the residency. The intern assists the daily operation of the residency, including a role of ‘facilitator’ to the other artists. Typical activities during an intern shift are: communicating with us, assisting with the residency programming (artist talks, spontaneous initiatives, Open House exhibition/open studios, involvement in town events/festivals). The Intern is NOT here as a cleaner. Household chores, taking out the trash and putting away the dishes etc., are everybody’s concern and these tasks should be shared.

Please regularly check your emails as there might be information send to you regarding upcoming trips, etc. 

The intern can let their fellow artists know when they’re available, e.g. on a calendar in the kitchen, so that they can keep their personal time for themselves and their projects. As the intern is living in the residency, the hours offer a guideline to help artists know how, when and where to contact the intern, and to give boundaries for the intern to work on their own residency projects. If there is an emergency, you can always contact the Textile Center staff. Phone numbers are listed on a message board on the first floor.

If you are interested in an internship and have been here as an artist in residence before (requirement!), let us know!

 

How is the residency structured? 

Our residency, called "Ós" (Icelandic for estuary; Kvennaskólinn is located on the banks of glacial river Blanda overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean) is a non-profit organization run under the same management and with the same staff as the Icelandic Textile Center. Staff members not only manage the residency, but work on many unrelated projects as well, including research, community activities, educational programs, events, EU-funded projects and other international collaborations. There's a lot of grant writing, event planning, conferencing and project managing going on in the offices downstairs. There are not very many of us, so we've structured the residency to be rather self-sufficient.  

We want to enable artists to work with focus and no limits in time, and according to their own schedule. Ós provides artists with a home and studio space for the duration of their residency period, which typically lasts 1 - 3 months. Most artists arrive on the first day of a given month. Each artist in residence has their own bedroom, house key and room key. 

We invite everyone to an introductory meeting ("artist talk"), coffee chat and art exhibition or open house at the end of the month, but this is all optional. You are free to use your time as you please. There is 24/7 hour access to the main and dye studios, 7 days a week, so any schedule of working can be accommodated. Quiet hours do apply - please be mindful of your fellow artists in residence.

The residency assumes no legal responsibility for artists. The Textile Center does not insure artists or their work. Artists must claim through travel or other insurance they have prearranged.

Will I get an introduction to the residency and other artists? 

In the beginning of each month, we always invite artists in residence for an informal - and optional - artist talk.  This usually happens during the first week of a given month and gives you the opportunity to present who you are and what you work with (5 mins. max!). It's meant to be relaxed and informal, and there is no need to prepare a fully-blown presentation; showing your website or a few images of your work is fine, too. During the artist talk, we will also tell you about events that might be happening during the month and ask whether you are interested in visiting the Wool Washery in Blönduós and the Textile Museum next door.

I have kids. Can I travel with my family? 

Yes and no. We do have a "no kids policy" in the main house and studios - apologies, but we've tried and it just doesn't work. Kvennaskólinn with its steep staircases, small bedrooms and shared work space isn't a house well suited for families, and artists in residence are promised peace and quiet to focus on their work. If you are travelling with a partner who will take care of the kids while you are working, we can recommend private accommodation in town (availability depends on the season). House 33 (the newly renovated three-bedroom house next door to Kvennaskólinn) and House 35 can also be rented as whole.

 

THE STUDIOS

When can I work in the studios?

It is great to be together and work under the same roof. The open plan studio enables artists to work along each other and to relate to each other’s work if desired. As a shared space, courtesy and consideration for others is important. Artists are responsible for the studio. It is an extension of your space. It is advisable to keep to the same guidelines as at home, empty the garbage regularly, place recyclables in the recycle bin, and keep spaces tidy.

The main studio and the dye studio are accessible 24/7. You can work on any schedule you like, at any time. Your work space is your responsibility – but please be mindful of your fellow artists - quiet hours do apply. It is required that you clean your working space in the studio before you leave – the next artist should find a space as tidy as you did. It will include sweeping and wiping the desk and floor.

Music should be enjoyed via headphones, particularly if you work with sound art or film. Please respect that other people may need quiet in order to work. If there is only a couple of people in the studios, and they have the same taste and enjoy working to music, this may be ok. Please feel free to use the living room as well as the sitting room on the first floor as a meeting place.

Which materials should I bring?

Artists should bring all materials required for their residency projects. While we do have looms and studio space for dyeing and felting projects, we do not provide wool, yarn, dyes, etc. We've also cut down on buying essentials like scissors, measuring tape, needles etc. as they keep getting misplaced or disappear altogether, so please remember to bring your own! 

We do have communal shelving in the studio where the community and previous residents have donated some items such as, but not limited to: fabric, paint, wood, wire, yarn, thread, sewing needles, etc. These communal supplies vary from month to month, though. 

Supplies may also be bought online or over the phone from stores in Reykjavik who may post items to you. 

What are the studio house rules?

Parties are strictly forbidden in the studio, it is a work place and should be respected as such. Smoking is forbidden inside and on the balcony for safety reasons. Please also keep in mind that: 

  • There is a no shoes policy indoors, please bring slippers or indoor shoes with you.
  • LOCKING UP: All artists have a key to the front door, if they lock themselves out there is a keybox with an emergency key at the main entrance. The door is left unlocked when the offices are open, but staff lock the doors when they leave, so always take your front door key when going out. If artists leave the house when the offices are closed, they must leave the door locked. Kvennaskólinn has valuables and expensive equipment. Don't worry, crime isn't really a thing around here, but locking up is still a must!
  • Please use headphones when listening to music in the studio.
  • All common areas are to be kept clean, organized, and tidy for your fellow artists. This includes the rooms, and the studios. Everyone is involved in this act.
  • At the end of the month each artist is responsible for cleaning his/her studio space. Please clean the table, sweep the floor and empty the shelves.
  • Quiet hours are from 10PM – 9AM (22-9). This includes the weaving studio.
  • If you are travelling with a family, please note that you can not bring young children into the studios. This includes all studios in the Textile Center. 

What are the weaving studio guidelines?

Please note that although the looms are functional and can (and should!) be used, please keep in mind that the looms of Kvennaskólinn are historic artefacts and need to be treated accordingly. Please contact us if you have any specific questions or unsure about studio guidelines. We do not employ a weaving teacher or technician to provide assistance, so you need to be able to help yourself if you are encountering any problems once you are here. 

Please do:

  • Make sure to shut the door, switch off the lights when finished working in the weaving studio and help us keep the studio tidy.
  • Make sure that the humidifier has enough to drink.
  • Please close the windows when it is windy.
  • When choosing a loom, take a look at the instructions on the wall. There you can see how many harnesses each loom can have.
  • All common areas are to be kept clean, organized, and tidy for your fellow artists. This includes the rooms, and the studios. Everyone is involved in this act.
  • At the end of the month each artist is responsible for cleaning his/her studio space.

Please do not:

  • Move looms without permission. 
  • Take parts from looms without placing them back on the looms.
  • Replace missing parts from looms – please let us know if you think a specific loom needs repair!

 What are the main studio guidelines? 

Please do:

  • Make sure to shut the door, switch off the lights, unplug the hotplates, when finished working in the studio and help us keep the studio tidy.
  • Ventilate when needed.
  • Return rocks, leaves, dried flowers and jars of seawater back to nature.
  • Make sure that the table is cleared and dried.
  • All common areas are to be kept clean, organized, and tidy for your fellow artists. This includes the rooms, and the studios. Everyone is involved in this act
  • At the end of the month each artist is responsible for cleaning his/her studio space. Please clean the table, sweep the floor and empty the shelves.

Please do not:

  • Take something from the kitchen and bring to the dye studio and vice versa.
  • Leave anything in the sink or on the table.
  • Leave anything behind that is unlabelled or undated.

What are the dye studio guidelines? 

Please do:
  • Always open the windows if there is lots of steam (ironing/hot water running). Loud processes (consider offices/exams in building during office hours), messy work, or natural dye work should use the dye studio across the street.
  • Always clean the sink after felting. The wool often gets stuck in the pipes. Please clean up afterwards including the space next to the sink so everyone can work in a clean space.
  • Make sure to shut the door, switch off the lights, unplug the irons, when finished working in the studio and help us keep the studio tidy.
  • All common areas are to be kept clean, organized, and tidy for your fellow artists. This includes the rooms, and the studios. Everyone is involved in this act
  • At the end of the month each artist is responsible for cleaning his/her studio space. Please clean the table, sweep the floor and empty the shelves.
  • Return rocks, leaves, dried flowers and jars of seawater back to nature.
  • At the end of the month each artist is responsible for cleaning their studio space. Please clean the table, sweep the floor and empty the shelves.
Please do not:
  • Use turpentine or any other solvents with strong odors. Use lamp and linseed oil instead.
  • Leave behind any materials unless they are really useful for somebody else.

 Can I learn textile techniques at the residency or participate in workshops? 

Yes and no. We do sometimes offer classes or skill-share workshops, but not regularly. Artists may chose to teach each other during their stay here, but you can't ever expect it. Our weaving expert Ragnheiður Þorsdóttir comes in about twice a month to check on the loom studio and TC2 digital looms, but please note that she is very limited in her time. You can sign up for an embroidery session with Jóhanna Pálmadóttir on the Vatnsdæla Tapestry, if she is available - the Tapestry is a privately run project. This would be a one time private or group session; then you would be able to continue on your own, if you like.  

What is the TextileLab and can I use it?

The TextileLab is a makerspace run by the Textile Center that offers access to state-of-the-art textile equipment and digital technology: two Tc2 digital looms, a felt loom, laser cutter, laser printer, heat press, digital embroidery machine & knitting machine (coming soon). The project received a development grant from the Icelandic Infrastructure Fund, Lóa Innovation Fund and is part of the Textile Center's ongoing European collaboration CENTRINNO, funded by the research and innovation program Horizon2020. 

The TextileLab is open to anyone interested in working with textiles. This includes the local community, makers, scholars, students... It's a space for experimentation and learning - sample work rather than full-blown production - with an emphasis on sustainable and local resources. (Think Icelandic wool, seaweed and fish leather.) You don't need to have a perfectly detailed or finished project idea in mind. Our Lab manager, Margrét Katrín Guttormsdóttir, is a product designer and has the expertise to help develop ideas and will also teach you how to use equipment. 

Access is not included in the residency, but you can choose the "lab ad-on" when applying for a residency. 

 

DAILY LIFE

Cleaning 

Yes, we do have a staff member who makes sure the Textile Center and Ós Residency is clean and presentable BUT said staff member does not come in every day and is not your private cleaner! We don't expect you to mop the floors, but please keep things tidy and acceptable for everyone sharing the work space, kitchen etc. with you. Communicate with each other and maybe even set up a schedule together that works for your group.  If you make a mess, don't wait for someone else to clean it up. There are cleaning supplies and a vacuum cleaner accessible on the residency floor. Living together isn't always easy, so communication and sharing responsibilities are key.  Let us know if you think things are not as they should be and you're frustrated because you feel like the one tidying up after everyone! At the end of the month, please make sure your room and work space looks the way it did when you first arrived, and take your personal belongings. ( See also the section "Leaving" below). 

Does the residency have internet and phone service? 

Wi-Fi internet is free in the Textile Center. While the Textile Center’s Wi-Fi is the largest plan available in Iceland, it is still limited. Please do not download large files such as music, movies, tv shows, etc. Even streaming movies and TV shows exhausts the monthly allotted internet bandwidth. Once exhausted, there is no more internet for the rest of the month, which is not fun for anyone at the Textile Center. Please use the internet conservatively!

Artists are welcome to use the office phone for calls within Iceland if need be, during office hours.

When dialing in Iceland, there is no area code (do not enter +354). To find a listed phone number you can check the directory website www.ja.is.

What do I do in case of emergency or if I need medical or pharmacy assistance? 

Dial 112. In the case of emergency, please also notify Textile Center staff. Phone numbers are displayed on a message board on the first floor. 

In Blönduós: If you need a doctor in a hurry, there is a hospital in Blönduós with a doctor’s surgery. It is the big white building with a red roof on the left after the bridge. Enter from the car park around the back (not the side of the main road). Location: Flúðabakka 2 | 540 Blönduós

You can call ahead to make an appointment: 455 4100

Or send an e-mail to blonduos@hsn.is Website: www.hsn.is

If the doctor at Blönduós has recommended it, you can receive more comprehensive assistance at the Akureyri hospital. 

For the dentist, you can take a bus to Sauðárkrókur or Akureyri, where there are excellent practitioners who speak fluent English. Check the phone directory www.ja.is for more info. That said, waiting lists have gotten quite long in recent years, so you might not be able to get an appointment right away. 

What can I find in Blönduós? 

The town is a small, rural village on the edge of the sea in the north-western coast line of Iceland. It is a remote place without city conveniences, so please be prepared in mind and when it comes to materials. The town has a population of approx. 940 people.

In Blönduós, you'll find grocery store "Kjörbúðinn", flower / gift store / café "Húnabúð", two gas stations, several restaurants / bar, café "TENI" (they also do lunch and Ethiopian dishes!), a medical center and pharmacy, schools (kindergarten & elementary school), sports hall with a gym, excellent pool with two hot pots and a steam room, occasional dance or sport classes. There's a hairdresser, bank, post office (across the bridge), mayor’s office, police station, church, several smaller companies, businesses and many farms nearby. The library ("Bókasafn") is located next to the post office. It's open 13-17 Monday - Thursday, as well as the first Saturday of each month, and has a small but good selection of English books. The Textile Museum is located next door to the residency. In the old part of town, there are several guesthouses, a pub/restaurant, tourist information and handcrafts / Cintamani store "Hitt og Þetta Handverk". 

What are the seasons like in Blönduós? 

Summer (June, July, August)

Complete accessibility! The landscape reveals itself and invites you to have picnics and barbecues. The midnight sun means long days and hikes at 10pm. The sun does not set, it simply dips the horizon with the longest day on June 21. It never gets very hot in Iceland, but there are warm and sunny days. The weather can change fast, though, and it is recommended to bring warm woolens and rain jackets and prepare for cold and windy weather all year round. 

Autumn (September, October, November)

The transitional season of autumn means a manageable weather forecast. The weather shifts can bring occasional rains, or warmer days reminiscent of summer, with cold snaps and snow storms soon after. There might be northern lights. "Réttir" horse and sheep round ups are held at the beginning of September/October all around the country. It is also blueberry season in Iceland!

Winter (December, January, February)

The short days bring a very particular and beautiful light. Often the roads are covered in snow and ice, and there might be blizzards that last a couple of days. We encourage artists to embrace the winter and treat it as an adventure. If you are prone to depression, or if you need light to wake up, it may be advisable to bring a dawn simulating lamp. In winter the sun rises and sets at different times every day; in December, the shortest day is December 21st, with about 2 hours daylight. The residency becomes very homey with a close knit group of artists who are less fazed by winter weather and inspired by its dramatic temperament. The increments between sunrise and sunset each day increases dramatically. By March, we are back to almost 12 hours night and 12 hours light. 

Spring: (March, April, May)

The spring brings a lot of bird life and activity in the landscape. The snow is still present but gradually melts closer to summer. The river runs with clear melting glacial water, and the landscape emerges before your eyes from its blanket of snow. The migratory birds will begin appearing for nesting come May/June. The northern lights will often still appear, and the landscape calms down with the winter storms subsiding. Days grow longer each day, and the seas outside our studio window can be rough one day and calm the next. It will be windy a lot. Weather is in a transitional phase and fog, rain, or warm clear days can appear. Be prepared to see Iceland in almost every state of being.

Does Blönduós have any local events?

January/February: “Þorrablót” (February-blood) – an old Viking tradition to celebrate the Viking gods and the month of Þorri. We no longer make animal sacrifices to the gods but the feast includes traditional Icelandic food like dried fish, fermented shark, sheep-heads, haggis, pickled rams testicles and other strange food. This is washed down with Brennivín aka Black Death.

April: The third Thursday of the month, we celebrate the first day of summer “Sumardagurinn fyrsti.” This is often held in a last snow storm, just to remind us that winter will be here again soon.

May: 1st is a public holiday, International Labour Day, celebrated with a cake buffet in the local community.

June: The last Saturday of May or first Saturday of June is the “Fisherman’s Day” in Iceland. In Skagaströnd, it is a major event with festivities and competitions such as rowing and tug-of-war. In the second weekend of June, the annual Knitting Festival takes place in Blönduós. Iceland's Independence Day is June 17th with festivities, a parade in Blönduós and some other activities. The summer solstice is on June 21st., the longest day of the year, the sun skims the horizon.

May through July: Blönduós is very close to the polar circle where the midnight sun never sets. The months of May through July are therefore very bright with only part dusk/dawn in the middle of the night. The sun in fact circles the sky, touching on north, south, east, and west. Húnavaka, a three day long city festival, takes place the third weekend in July. There are lots of free events and live music in the evening.

August: The first weekend in August, "Verslunamannahelgi" is a bank holiday, with town festivals and all sorts of events taking place all around the country - in August in general, until school starts again at the end of the month. 

September: The sheep and horse roundup is something not to be missed. This gathering of farmers and locals gathering hundreds of wild sheep and horses to bring them back home from the mountains at the end of the summer is a true event. There are often country balls after the round up. If you decide to visit one of the roundups, please keep in mind that - albeit fun - this is not a tourist affair, but actual work, and follow the set rules and guidelines. Dates vary year to year depending on the weather, it is usually the first weekend of September, but it can also be held earlier / later. 

October through January: Because of the latitude of Blönduós, the sun plays a part with only about 3-5 hours of daylight in winter and the sun barely above the horizon, rising and setting in the south (south east to south west). This makes very long and beautiful sunsets. The coldest time of the year is December through February, but not as cold as you think. The gulf stream and our coastal location ensures the constant freezing then thawing as temperatures rise above and below 0°C. But it does get windy here in Northern Iceland, and the northerly winds in particular can be quite icy. From late November onwards, there will be Christmas-themed events such as the "jólahlaðborð" (Christmas buffets), Christmas markets, and plenty of Christmas lights and decorations. New Year's Eve is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks. 

What forms of payment are accepted in Iceland?

Credit cards and debit cards and a variety of online / app payment methods (e.g. Apple Pay) are widely accepted in all bars, hotels, shops, stores, gas stations and most places you need to spend money in Iceland. 

There is a bank in Blönduós, near the supermarket. The ATM is available 24 hours a day. 

How are the living expenses in Blönduós?

Artists buy their own food, perishables or consumables, personal toiletries, etc. Ós residency provides housing and studios and some bathroom / kitchen essentials, such as soap, toilet paper, laundry and dishwasher detergent. Soap and dishwasher detergent for textile work (e.g. felting) are not provided. Please don't use the toilet paper we provide for work projects. 

Of course, each person’s living costs will differ according to their needs. Most will find that the cost of living in Iceland is higher than in their home countries.

The supermarket Kjörbúðin is situated a few minutes’ walk from the Residency. It has a fair amount of everyday goods, fresh vegetables, fish, meat and bread - but no longer sells yarn, unfortunately. If you’re able to, we recommend stocking up on groceries from larger stores (Bonus, Kronan...) located in Reykjavik and Akureyri. Prices at Kjörbúðin can be double what you might find at those supermarkets.

There are a few restaurants here, but you may find them expensive. This also depends on currency exchange rates, of course. You can get (relatively) inexpensive fast food such as hot dogs and pizza at local hangout and gas station N1. On weekdays, "TENI" café serves a very good buffet-style lunch. 

How and where can I recycle glass, plastic, paper and metal?

  • Plastic, glass jars and other non-drink glass items go into the trash or can be taken to the recycling center next to ISTEX wool washery on Efstabraut 2. The area is open on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday afternoon. 
  • All paper recycling items (including milk cartons and other Tetra Paks) go directly into the blue bins outside the front door (around the corner to the left).
  • All recycleable bottles (glass and plastic) and cans go into the plastic bin in the spare room opposite the bathroom. Please rinse the bottles before dropping them into the box.

 

WORK LIFE

Can I have an exhibition at the Textile Center?

Ós residency primarily considers the research, development, and process based residency most important. This emphasizes our primary goal – to provide space for artistic processes. It is through this out of context placement of your work that creates new perspectives, developments, while key strategies in your work may be formed, revisited, or completely turned upside down.

We don't curate or facilitate exhibitions. You are very welcome to initiate your own exhibition in the area with the Textile Center as a local base, and we can assist in finding spaces or helping you to present your work in the town of Blönduós. If artists like, they can organize an open house or an exhibition in our makeshift “Bílskúr Gallerí” or the TextileLab at the end of the month. 

The artists are at all times responsible for presenting their own work: installing it, packing it down, and returning the space back to normal. The Textile Center simply does not have the staff to operate an on-site gallery or install team. All work should be taken home with the artist, as we are not an acquisitive institution.

Where can I buy art/textile materials or wool?

As mentioned, Blönduós is a remote and rural place. This means we receive most supplies from other towns: Sauðárkrókur, Reykjavik or Akureyri. You can order most things online and if it is being sent from within Iceland, postage is usually within 2 business days. International shipping, however, can take weeks or even months. 

There is no store in Blönduós that specializes in art supplies. You used to be able to buy a variety of yarn and basic office / arts and crafts supplies at the supermarket and in local gift shops, but unfortunately, yarn is no longer available at Kjörbúðin supermarket. You might be able to buy some yarn at a shop called "Hitt og Þetta Handverk" in the old part of town, and online when in Iceland (make sure to order from the Icelandic page of e.g. Alafoss for inland orders). There is quite a large selection of yarn at the supermarket in Sauðárkrókur, a 45 min drive from Blönduós. 

We don't process or sell wool. There are not many farms in Iceland selling wool or wool products directly ("farm shops"). You might be able to get some sample wool at the TextileLab or buy wool locally from Ístex factory/wool washery in Blönduós, depending on the time of year (sheep shearing season is from November - May). You can send them an email at istex@istex.is. Generally speaking, we recommend that you bring all the materials you need for your artwork. If you want to buy artist materials, there are good art supply stores in Reykjavík - the shop(ping) landscape changes quickly in Iceland, so best search for e.g. "art supply stores Reykjavík" online to get the most up-to-date information. You could also check the larger suppliers directly online in case they mail online orders. 

Can I get a grant for my work at the residency?

The Textile Center is not a funding or granting body. We advertise scholarships when they are available. Unfortunately, there isn’t much funding for the arts in this region. We suggest looking towards your own country for organizations that have an exchange with Scandinavia or Iceland. For example, Americans can apply for funding through the Fulbright Program and/or through the American-Scandinavian Foundation.

We also recommend Kickstarter, where you can campaign to raise money for your residency.

Who covers insurance at the residency? 

Ós residency does not administer insurance to artists.

Ós residency does not assume any legal responsibility for the artist, their work, their guests, or their travels, or any other activities while attending Ós Residency.

Ós residency does not insure artists or their artworks.

All claims made by the artist must relate to their private insurance, travel insurance, or workplace insurance (or any other applicable insurances). Artists are highly encouraged to sort these matters out before arriving to the residency.

Can I mail supplies to the Textile Center? 

Yes, but unless you absolutely have to, don't! We always recommend you bring everything you need with you. We have received quite a few notifications for package pick-up after artists' departures over the years, especially since the pandemic slowed down the world. There's a daily storage fee at the post office that applies if you send things too far ahead. We can't pick things up for you, also for security reasons. You most probably will have to deal with Icelandic customs, no matter what is is the package - and this is a battle we can't fight for you, either. If you're ok with all that, great - just know that the whole process just might be more time consuming and complicated than what you are used to. (Truth be told, unless you are staying here for 2-3 months, it's probably not going to be worth it.)

Always mail packages to yourself, c/o Ós residency:  *Insert Your Name Here* c/o Ós Residency, Árbraut 31, 540 Blönduós, Iceland. You will receive a notification letter when you can collect your package at the post office in Blönduós. (You will have to do this in person. Please note that staff members can not do this for you. ) We always place letters / notifications to artists in residence that land in our post box in front of the black board on top of the stairs leading up to the residency floor. 

  • For custom benefits, it is important to write: “Personal belongings, no commercial value – may be opened by customs" (if it applies). If someone sends you personal items / gifts, be sure they tick “gift” or clearly declare they are sending items with no commercial value – personal belongings ($/€0 value).  If customs have doubts or further questions, they will send you an email asking for further explanation / documentation. This happens a lot, so please check your email for messages from them (Icelandic: "Tollurinn"). You can submit / upload this information online (www.tollur.is), using a link provided in the email. Solving custom issues may take a few days or even weeks, so please make sure you label everything correctly. 
  • New items sent are subject to a tax you must pay before collection. This import tax is very high. If you are ordering items from Amazon or other online retailers abroad, you will be charged according to their attached invoice. This tax can sometimes be as high as 60%. You may want to consider ordering things online from places located within Iceland only. Locally purchased items from within Iceland are not subject to this import tax, and if you spend a large amount on an item you will get the tax back at the airport.

Delivery times:

Check with the postal service in your own country to be advised about transit times. Please note that since 2018, Icelandic post offices charge for keeping packages longer than 10 days - in other words, after 10 days, a storage fee applies (approx. 200 kr. per day), so try avoiding sending materials too far in advance. 

If ordering things while here from Ebay, Amazon, or other international online retailers, delivery times can vary between 2 - 4 weeks depending on human error in the international postal services. Amazon are usually very good with their postal estimates. Most items should be here within 2 weeks, but it may also take 1-2 weeks longer than that. Once it reaches Iceland it should only be 1-2 days from Reykjavik, unless there is a problem or hold up with customs (see above). Please note that a daily storage fee applies at customs (after 7 days) and the Blönduós post office (after 10 days) - see also Posturinn's website. 

How can I send artwork home from the Textile Center?

The Textile Center does not acquire artworks, nor can we store them. You can arrange to send your artwork home from the local post office in Blönduós. The post office does not have any cylindrical tubes to send rolled up canvass or papers. If your work is too large and cannot be sent home, you can always return the raw materials from whence they came.

 

TRAVEL

Does the residency organize sightseeing trips?

The Textile Center does not organize or facilitate sightseeing. Still, there are many places close by that you may enjoy seeing. In this case we recommend renting a car with other resident artists, or catching a bus to destinations (like Sauðárkrokur or Akureyri) where you can connect with some tour operators. We can help arrange group visits for artists to textile / arts related destinations such as the Wool Washery in Blönduós and the NES residency in Skagaströnd (appointment only, no transport.)  

Do I need a rental car / How can I hire a car?

Public transport (busses) will get you to most places in Iceland. With a rental car, you are more flexible, of course. There are plenty of car rental offices at the airport and all around the country. Unfortunately, there is no car rental office in Blönduós. If you are planning on renting a car locally to go on daytrips etc., talk to Textile Center staff for more information. Rental cars are quite expensive in Iceland, especially 4x4's, so we recommend you do a bit of research before booking and see what your needs are (read a helpful traveller's blog on the subject here.) 

The interior of Iceland and some dangerous routes are closed for car travel from September and during winter due to poor road conditions (mostly they are impassable dirt roads covered in snow and ice in winter). All cars must, by law, have winter tires during winter months and icy conditions.

To check the road conditions, go to the website www.road.is.

To check weather go to http://en.vedur.is/.

Whatever it says there, take it seriously. Never underestimate the weather or road conditions in Iceland, all year round!

 

LEAVING 

What will be required at the end of my residency?

The studios – please make sure you sweep the floor of your studio before you go, and clear all belongings from the space, and wipe down all surfaces. Furniture can stay, as the next artist will use it.

If you have reusable art materials you aren’t going to take with you, find a suitable place in the communal supply shelves to leave them. It should be kept tidy for future artists to navigate.

Take your work with you. If you physically cannot take what you’ve made, we ask you to do one of two things.

1) Return the work - for recycled materials for others to use, back to the scrap yard, or back to the earth for decomposing if it’s natural

2) Give it back to the community. If you have made connections with people here, you may like to donate the work to someone in the town.

Please do not leave it at the Textile Center; there isn’t storage space to hold onto works in progress or objects that are worked on here.

Your room – Make sure your room is cleaned out and looks like it did when you first arrived. This applies to all the rooms, whether you are staying in the main house, house 33 or 35. Wash and dry your bed sheets and towels on the morning you leave – please plan so that it will be dry by the time you depart. Do NOT take your room key with you. Please give it back to us, preferably before you leave - there are far too many keys crossing the oceans of this world on airplanes to find their way back to Blönduós. 

The fridge – please clean out the fridge, take away your food and return dishes to the correct place … no one likes to arrive to a residency to find surprises in the fridge! This is a team effort, so make sure everyone works together to help keep the house tidy upon departure.

Please don’t assume the last person to leave will deal with everything!

How do I leave Blönduós?

All good things must end. Here’s the run down:

You will most likely be familiar with the buses after your time here.

Ensure you have an idea of your travel arrangements once you arrive to Mjódd bus station in Reykjavik, as the ticket booth may be closed. Call ahead to Strætó (540 2700) to find out which bus you need, or you may need to call for a taxi to your overnight accommodation, BSÍ /airport busses.

Please be aware of traveling time from Blönduós. If you have a flight in the afternoon, you have to leave Blönduós the day before if you are planning to go with the bus. It is absolutely necessary to check the weather forecast a few days in advance to see whether you will be able to travel at all on a chosen date, especially in winter, but really all year round. During a snowstorm, roads may be closed and busses cancelled. You might have to leave days earlier than expected. 

Airport buses leave from BSÍ bus station to the Keflavik airport.

 

OTHER FAQs

What are the opening hours for Kvennaskólinn?

Kvennaskólinn is a historic house not generally open to the public, but there may be visitors. The association Vinir Kvennaskólans (founded by former students and teachers of Kvennaskólinn) has established an exhibition related to Kvennaskólinn history in the building, which may be open during the summer months, usually from 1pm – 5pm, Monday to Friday (June 1 – August 31). 

The artist residency floor in the Kvennaskólinn building is private, however, the studios may attract some interest from visitors to the exhibition and the Textile Museum located next door (this isn't saying we let them disturb you!) We will let you know in advance if we are expecting guests and show them around the house. 

And then there's the Vatnsdæla tapestry, a privately run project, where visitors may contribute with embroidery-work on the tapestry located on the first floor in Kvennaskólinn. If the supervisor is around (there are special opening hours), you can book a session and learn how embroider on the tapestry (pay by the hour). 

In the basement, there are distance learning facilities university students living locally have access to once they've registered with us (the Textile Center). There's a separate entrance and the space isn't used very much, mostly during exam season (November - December / April - May). 

To sum it all up ... an artist journal of her time in Blönduós! 

"Hello, my name is Carol Cooke, and I am a textile artist from Canberra, Australia.

During my stay at this wonderful Icelandic residency I have been asked questions by artists who are interested in coming here or are planning to come . So I thought it might be helpful to send you my thoughts and hopefully helpful hints to make this a stress free journey for you.

It is a dream come true to be accepted here for a number of reasons. I am a textile artist who specialises in embroidery and I was keen to work on the amazing tapestry about the Icelandic Saga, a story set in this region. Under supervision by the nicest woman, I was able to make my mark on this amazing work, even if you are not trained in embroidery it is not hard and well worth having a go as they teach you and make sure you are on track with the technical aspects.

My second aim was to get to connect and understand the local people (as well as the other resident artists) and respond to their stories. For weavers I am sure it’s a dream come true as they have a fully equipped dyeing room and many weaving looms to chose from. But any textiles skills would be considered for your application.

The application process was easy. A few photos and an idea on what you ‘might’ work on and a website, and Instagram site might be helpful in the assessment.

Getting there

It took 4 planes and one bus ride to get here. But quite a few artists live much closer and it can be as easy as one flight and a hitchhike to Blönduos. So planning flights and transport is, of course, up to you. The bus from Reykjavík did not need to be booked and I just caught taxis to the main bus stop. Go to bus stop number 57 and it leaves at 9am. You will meet other artists on the bus to begin your journey.

A handy hint…if you are over 60 ask for the discount, it is considerable discount for travel and entry into museums and pools. I used my seniors card from home but I think they just took your word for it. Student cards will also get you discounts. It stops twice for toilet breaks and snacks at well stocked petrol station/cafes. You get the chance to eat your first hotdog, a Icelandic specialty possibly because it is less expensive!

The bus trip is about 4 hours and as we arrived on a week day we were picked up in a car and our luggage was taken to the residency. If you arrive on a weekend one of the artists is asked to come up and get you. Then you get a brief on the little town of Blönduós on you walk. If this happens I recommend backpack or wheels on a suitcase. It’s not a long walk. And paved the whole way.

I know a few artists did hitchhike. It is normal here and I was reassured it was very safe.

The Town of Blönduós

Blönduós has two sections, divided by a glacial river. Old Blönduós has a tourist information centre, a couple of restaurants, library, post office and of course is an interesting walk. There is a sea wall walk and a view across to the Westfjords. The new town has a doctors clinic, bank, gym hotpot and pool complex, a supermarket and small grog shop. I recommend you buy alcoholic beverages duty free before you get to Iceland.

The new Blönduós has the yellow cafe (opposite the pool) open during the day that does hot food and coffee. They have a ‘special of the day’ that is less expensive. This idea is often offered in cafes and is the most cost effective. Next to the petrol station where the bus arrives is a restaurant called BS and it does burgers etc. They have a soup and salad buffet until about 6.30pm which is better value. I had a fabulous lamb dish with salad potatoes and a beer but it was very expensive.

I also popped in to see what was available at the flower gift and coffee shop. They seem great local wool, buttons and also some really interesting reindeer buttons made from found old antlers. The owner is delightful and happy to chat while you have a coffee and a piece of cake. Look out for her occasional cake and coffee afternoons. No less than 15 cakes which are replenished as soon as one is finished.

You have arrived

Rooms vary in cost and size. Most are small with a single bed, a desk and clothing storage. Some have an extra couch. You will have a view of the glacial river or the ocean, rolling hills and part of the industrial part of town. From these windows you will see the ever changing landscape and weather. It’s a wonderful place to sit and contemplate. And maybe work.

There is good internet! A password will give you access to the world and allow you to call home. I used Viber which worked well and was free. Make sure the relatives and friends at home have the app. ready to take your calls. We used Viber which was free and worked well as our phone contract didn’t include Iceland! I was in the totally opposite time zone so I chatted to my man before he went to bed when I got up and visa versa. It worked fine.

Towels, pillows and bed linen is provided. A laundry on the bottom floor is well equipped with washer, dryer, laundry soap and also a big drying rack for items that don’t go in a dryer, I also dried some ‘smalls’ on my heater in the room. I used an extra supplied towel for the swimming pool. It’s up to you to leave your room cleaned and the bed made before you leave. It’s a nice thing to arrive to a made bed! So do the same for the next person. You need to keep the kitchen clean and dispose of rubbish and recycling but a cleaner comes and does the floors outside your room, the bathrooms and kitchen. The bathrooms are communal but I have never had to wait to use one. We all lead different hours and timings. One bathroom is brand new and lovely. There is no hairdryers so I bought a small travel hairdryer to make sure I didn’t look like a mad artist. 

I also bought a pillow. Just more comfortable than the ones provided. Leave it behind if you are struggling with space. Another alternative to showering is to go to the swimming pool. After you soak at the pool, use the shower facilities including dryer are all available. They also provide free coffee. Bonus. 

Let’s eat!

The kitchen provides you with a shelf in one of the two fridges, and a pantry shelf . There are also freezers. Loads of spices, flavour bottles and flours ect are left by other residents for you to use. There are plenty of pans, an oven, microwave , toaster and coffee maker. Bring your own coffee and tea! It saves money and you bring what is familiar to the start of your day. A good cuppa for me. You are allowed to bring in up to 3 kgs. of dried food into Iceland , so I packed coffee, tea, muesli and Australian biscuits to share with the group. Whatever you feel are must haves. Many of us don’t eat meat here because of the cost or you might be a vegetarian. But there is plenty of options for dietary restrictions at the supermarket.

We set up a ‘potluck’ dinner in Thursday’s as everyone does their own thing and it’s nice to get together for a sit down. Get to know the others as you will be surrounded by an international crew of creative minds. All ages come here. And everyone has a different outlook on life. I loved getting to know them more. Often just a corridor chat or while we all made a meal . Food is expensive. So be mindful of this if you need to save money before you come. You can live on a tight budget but make sure you have enough to buy wool etc if you weave. It is not as expensive as home and they have some wonderful colours and quality that is great for the weavers in the store room here.

There is a big studio to work and also a large cupboard with bits and bobs from wool, knitting needles fabrics and stuff you might be able to use. It is left by other artists. Some of the residents used the studio but I loved working in my room. The view was so lovely , changing all the time. Bring your music or podcasts and of course ear plugs if you are working in a room with others .

Time to exercise, chill out and get fresh air.

So you can’t work all the time and you need to get some fresh air. It’s about a 5 minute walk to the shops. And there are paths everywhere. Go explore. It is totally safe and you will be able to walk on a black beach, a stone wall or up into the surrounding hills. And, of course, go over the bridge and explore the old town. There is a bird island accessible by a small bridge which is open 10 months of the year. Lovely walk. On my walk I found mushrooms, thyme and wild blueberries.

But the big MUST is to go to the swimming pool. (bring goggles if you swim.) All the water is geothermal heated and it is a fantastic experience. Most of us went almost every day. I used the gym. So I bought a 10 unit pass for the gym and pool. Again if you are over 60 ask for a seniors discount. That counts for all travel and entry to art galleries and museums . Lovely surprise for some. Student discounts with international student cards are accepted as well. 

These baths will be a new experience for some of you. So let me tell you what you need to know. First get over yourself ! Don’t miss this experience because of possible body issues. I am 62 years old and have a figure of a mature , childbearing, overweight body. Who cares? No one. PS don’t wear jewellery in these water opportunities. It discolours silver.

 

The hotpot experience......What happens?

After you pay you will see a rack for your shoes. Take them off and get them on the way out. Go to the women’s section and find a locker. You will be given a silver token to use for locking. Get undressed. Lock up and take your towel to the next section for storage. Have shower without your bathers on. Believe it or not there is a law that says you must not wash with them on. This is a must because the pools are no chlorinated and hygiene allows them to keep it that way. Get your bathers on after you have washed and pop outside for a swim/soak. There are different temperatures and a shallow pool for kids, parents and grandparents. There is also a tub with cold water about 5 degrees for the ultimate tingling experience. Try not to scream out loud!

And the bonus is you can drink free coffee in the hotpot. This was the time I got to chat to locals. I loved it and they loved to chat back. Say hi. See if you get a response and more often than not you will begin to immersive yourself in local culture while relaxing in warm water. Soak away you thoughts and aches from working too long at the loom or desk. Stretch, relax. You are having a fabulous Iceland experience. These soaking pots are everywhere and well worth doing if you travel more in Iceland.

And one more thing look for the spin machine for your bathers. The best invention— ever. In 8 seconds you can carry home almost dry bathers instead of water. They also have discounts if you buy in set of 10 entry tickets. Most of us went daily as it was such a relaxing activity. The pool is about 25 metres and long enough for laps and I used the gym quite a few times. An extra cost but a healthy body is a healthy mind .

The Looms and Dye room

My new friend Anja from Scotland added some words to this section as I am not a weaver. There are plenty of looms which you discuss with the admin staff and decide on before you arrive. That allows you to bring the yarn etc. they sell plenty of yarn which they were raving about. There is really nice quality of Icelandic wool but the colours are limited so it is recommended buying warp yarns in advance to make sure you have enough. 

The dye house is fully set up and often artists leave mordants behind. But the advice is bring what you need as it may not be there. Local plants such as lupin leaves are available in abundance. Bilberries are seasonal and there are plenty in August. We would recommend visiting one of local dye artists Gudrun Bjarnadóttir whose studio is in Borgarnes.

The Artist Exhibition

Each four weeks the resident artists are invited to set up the entrance to the Dye room as an exhibit. It was fun. One of the artist did a flyer which we dropped of at the main shops. We did a punch ( white wine, lemonade and frozen berries and ice. A few chips and some basic units. About 14 people turned up. It was also a chance to have a sit down and chat with the other artists. What have they been doing in their hideaway over the past few months. Everyone was excited and really enjoyed the fun afternoon. Two big tool kits are provided with tools and nails. But maybe bring some blue tac, wire, fishing wire if you think that will help your installation.

We all celebrated with some bubbly back at the residence when we closed the exhibit.

Time to go see what’s over that hill.

Of course, most of us want to see a bit more and many are on time limits and commitments back home. So get on a bus or hire a car ( share the costs with some of the others) and plan a day or two out and about. There is one car for hire in town and is a Hyundai i20 so it’s small. Or do what we did and take the bus to Saudárkrókur where there are more cars to choose from. We took the only bus at 1:15pm from the petrol station and set off for where the views continued to amaze us. We returned it the next day to work in with the bus back to Blönduós at about midday.

It is said there is a festival somewhere in Iceland every weekend during the summers months. The tourist info people will give you information on this for your time of year. They are all very helpful with any problems. 

What else to do locally?

Walk or swim in the Arctic sea. The warm currents make this an option. So do it at least once. We have a resident who swims most days in the ocean. Maybe take some waterproof sandals for this experience.

The textile museum

A wool exploration at Ístex wool washery is available at some times of the year.

Wander round the building as it is also a museum

Work on the Saga tapestry

Read from the extensive library

There are books in the dining room cupboard in various languages and I managed to get some new reads while I was visiting. I guess it’s leave a book or take a book. I also bought some Australian magazine for everyone which I left for others. It’s a great place to read.

And then there is the Vatnsdæla Tapestry!

It is incredible work of art, about 46 metres long. Learn from the experts as they supervise you and make sure you do it the justice it deserves. I am an embroidery artist and to work on the local saga was a real treat. During the summer months it is available to us and the public to do your bit. It is not hard and a very pleasant way to spent a few hours with one of the local superstars of Blönduós.

Icelandictextilecenter, textílmiðstöð, Blönduos, Iceland are all great references to start on Instagram as you begin to think about your textile residency in Iceland.

Have a wonderful time!" 

CAROL COOKE