Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or Word formats.

Vkng-Wir-Weav-art - 9/1/14


"Viking Wire Weaving" by Sorcha inghean ui Coinin


NOTE: See also the files: Norse-msg, metals-msg, metal-sources-msg, jewelry-msg, Semi-Pre-Gems-art, Viking-Beads-art, smeltng-coper-msg, A-Lapidary-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Viking Wire Weaving

by Sorcha inghean ui Coinin


Why Viking Wire Weave?


Viking Wire Weave is a period correct art form that is fun, easy and inexpensive. Also known as trichinopoly or Viking Knitting, there is archeological evidence for wire chains constructed using "circular plaiting" (Graham-Campbell 1) in Viking burials and treasure hoards dating as early as the 8th century to as late as the 12th century. Examples have been found in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Scotland and throughout the British Isles. Viking Wire Weave was used in making a wide variety of decorative purposes including necklaces, pins, hair ornaments and to embellish the edges of clothing. Materials varied from silver to gold, to tin-alloys (Basinger 3). This is craft is small and portable, travels well, and is easy to do while watching TV or talking with friends. The start-up cost is relatively low and requires only basic jewelry tools: round-nose pliers, flat-nose pliers, a cutting tool, a mandrel of your choice and craft wire.


How does it work?


Viking Wire Weave uses very fine wire, usually 20-28 gauge to make a long knitted tube using a structured "looping technique" (Peterson 2) around a mandrel. The tube is then pulled through a series of progressively smaller holes drilled into a board, called a drawplate, until the weave is tight and smooth. The basic idea is to make the knitted tube to 3/4 the length of the desired for the final project. The ends of the final chain can be finished with metal cones, twisted wire, or elaborate animal head finials.


The Technique



The first step is to make the handle. The number of handle loops or petals determines the thickness and overall appearance of the chain. The number of petals determines how many columns the finished chain will have, I use a six petal technique because it makes a very thick, very sleek result.




Figure 1.     Anatomy of a Basic Chain from Ancient Wire, Helene Jacobs 4





Next wrap your copper wire around three fingers or the handles of jewelry pliers until you have 6 loops, then twist the middle of the loops till you have 6 petals that can be positioned independently and formed into what looks like a flower. Position the copper flower on top of the mandrel and form the petals around it till the petals are separate and of equal length. Take a length of wire (arm length is fine) and loop it around the bottom of each petal till all six petals are attached. Now bring the wire behind each newly formed loop and pull it tightly until it lines up neatly under the first loop, moving counter-clock-wise around all. six columns.







Adding a new length of wire


Make a small crochet hook at one end of the new length of wire  with your round-nose pliers and use the opposite end to pull the wire behind the last loop until the hook catches and fits snuggly around the last loop. Cut off the bit of wire remaining from your original piece, and your new wire is ready to continue the weave.






Additional Resources


24 gauge craft wire can be purchased from Walmart and Michaels, but when you are confident enough in your technique, step up to sterling silver wire.

Rio Grande.com

Sterling Silver 24 gauge round wire, dead soft, item # 103324

Sterling silver 18 gauge round wire, dead soft, item # 103318

Copper 18 gauge round wire Item # 132318


Bibliography & Sources


1.     Graham-Campbell, James. The Viking Age Gold and Silver of Scotland (AD 850-1100). Over Wallop, Hampshire, Britain, National Museums of Scotland, 1995.

2.     Peterson, Irene. Great Wire Jewelry. Lark Books, NY. 1998.

3.     Basinger, Teryl, MKA Ladyship Ivegard Sask,. Viking Knit Wire Jewelry, Class Handout, Uprising 2008.

4.     Jacobs, Helene. Ancient Wire: An Illustrated Guide To  Making Intricate Jewelry In The Manner Of The Viking And Other Ancient Cultures. 2005

5.     Illustrations from Stevens, Lora-Lynn, A Research Journey: Trichinopoly Chainwork Is It Viking Chain Knitting? 2004. Lady ├×hora "Amber" Ottersd├Âtter, m.k.a. Maggie Ahrens



Copyright 2010 by Collena W. Koskinen. <ckoskinen at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>


Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org