Tuuma, a magacine of Friends of Building Traditions 3 / 2001:

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Kaakeliuunien Suomen Perinneyhdistys ry,

The Finnish Tiled Oven Heritage Society

Antti-Pekka Mustonen
Maritta Tolvanen

An age-old tiled oven radiates warmth into an autumn evening.Your gaze is fixed on its glowing embers. You touch the oven′s evenly warm surface as you poke the fire.

The oldest exhibits in the Society′s exhibition

The Finnish Tiled Oven Heritage Society was founded in September 2002. The meeting was held in Suomenlinna, at the Naval Academy sauna, the largest in Finland, and supposedly meaning that there is no sauna larger in the whole world. The reason for meeting in the sauna derives from Chairwoman and convener of the meeting, Maritta Tolvanen′s, background. She is the Chairwoman of Bastu, an active sauna club in Suomenlinna. However, Suomenlinna is also the place where Helsinki′s first tiled ovens were installed.

In the picture, the door from a fireplace-oven from Suomenlinna.

The founding meeting was attended by seven masters of the field: Building Contractor Uki Niemeläinen, from Liperi, who has dismantled about three hundred ovens, Masons Heikki Koskinen and Hannu Uksjärvi from Pori, Erkki Kallonen, with over six hundred tiled ovens dismantled to his credit in the region around the capital and Maritta Tolvanen and A-P Mustonen, also both from Helsinki.

Subsequently, restorers, Jorma Pulla from Vihti and Camilla Ståhle from Kemiö, have joined the Society. Masons joining the team are Matti Räisänen and Pekka Alajoki, who also makes contemporary tiled ovens. Oven dismantling is the realm of Antero Raita from Pori and Reino Kajavainen from Vantaa. There are fourteen members in all.

The concept to form the Society was the idea of Maritta Tolvanen, who had previously worked in the antiques trade. She ”found” tiled ovens about seven years ago. Nowadays, she has a vast private collection of oven tiles, the oldest of which date back to the 17th century. As an antique expert she is aware of different trends. Therefore, one can always be sure of finding an appropriate oven for any location, the right oven for the right place.

Tiles have undoubtedly been produced in the Nordic countries since the 16th century.

The Heritage Society was formed with the intention of bringing experts together to share a common interest. Everyone can learn something new by exchanging knowledge and opinions. The Society meets two or three times a year when one of the members convenes. The next meeting will be held in conjunction with the closing of an exhibition and Vice Chairman, Jorma Pulla, will instruct on the making of plaster moulds, at his Olkkala mansion in Vihti. In spring we are planning to visit Markku Potila′s brickworks in Hämeenkyrö, to learn more about the secrets of hand made bricks.

The Society is not, therefore, a national organization open to all, but a club where experts can pass on their skills to each other. It is not the intention to increase the membership noticeably as the present size of the group is suitable for, amongst other things, easily arranging various events. The basis for activities, however, is purely non-profit-making.

The Finnish Tiled Oven Heritage Society arranges its first tiled oven exhibition at the Olkkala mansion in vihti, some 50km north west, along the old Pori road. Jorma Pulla, restorer, kindly offered the Society a working granary in his mansion as studio exhibition space for the event. As a result of intensive planning and implementation, the exhibition was able to be opened on 12th August, in the grounds and exhibition space of the mansion.

The presentation by Carl Irjala, from Kotka, enlightened some fifty or more invited guests, on the colourful history and present day of tiled ovens.

Ovens from different periods are on display at the exhibition, which is open until 27th October. The star of the exhibition is an 1880′s Swedish neo-renaissance, Rörstrand oven, complete with its fine gilding and mirrors. More everyday, yet still an interesting Jugend-style oven on exhibit, is a beautifully glazed fireplace oven, made in Rakkolanjoki, situated on the Karelian Isthmus.

Contemporary products and foreign imports are on exhibit, too. The artistic village smithy from Jollas, Heikki O. Suikki, can be seen in these pictures. There are some showpieces of Potila′s hand made bricks and mortar. Various organizations have brought their brochures, etc, including some copies of Tuuma magazine.

The exhibition has received well-deserved attention: amongst others, the TV channel, MTV 3 and radio programme Ylen Aikainen covered the event, as did, of course, local papers and some interior design press.

People have become more interested in tiled ovens recently. Bases left empty by old ovens having been demolished have once again been adorned with beautiful, suitably styled tiled ovens. Its beauty compared with modern ovens is incomparable, but, as an antique, it is also an investment, the value of which can only increase.

Up to even five times heavier and with hollow tiles, its heat storage properties are manifold.

Whether you are planning to buy tiled ovens or just interested in them, come along and visit the Tiled Oven Heritage Society′s exhibition in Olkkala, Vihti, open daily from 10am till 6pm.

Further information about tiled ovens and the Society will gladly be given by the Chairwoman, Maritta Tolvanen, tel. +358 40-585 3283.

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