Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Vikings are coming....

Not really - but I have been looking into their arts and crafts - let me explain.....

This semester, one of our units is 'Art History and Art Theory' and in the first week, we had to choose a period in history (on a time line given to us), research and give the class a 15 minute presentation on either an artist from the period, or failing that, the style of the period - we also had to include environmental influences, ie social, political, etc etc.  and discuss their arts and crafts.

I really do not know what drew me to the Vikings - apart from their pillage and plunder of my homeland a thousand or so years ago, I didn't have a great deal of knowledge about them - and the name of a Viking artist didn't really spring to mind.  I knew they wore horned helmets and were very violent.....

Well, they were violent - some of them anyway - and they didn't wear horned helmets - and surprisingly they were quite civilised.

In the course of my research, I came across a type of weaving that Viking women were very proficient at - it's called Tablet weaving - it produces a type of braid that they sewed onto their clothes etc - there is a lot of information about it on the net and  I picked up a fabulous old weaving book from the school library - and it's very easy to do at home - so I thought I'd have a crack.

First I had to make the 'tablets' - I made mine out of playing cards but Viking women would have made theirs out of leather, wood, stone or bone.  Next was the threading of the warps, followed by the actual weaving.....

the tablet - I made 8 of these

the first attempt at threading was a bit of a disaster
threading again
all threaded and looking a little more orderly

getting the hang of it - the tablets are rotated in 4 x 1/4 turns forward, then 4 backward (otherwise the warp threads start to weave themselves - ask me how I know!)

 Here's the braid so far..

I used some crappy cotton yarn I found that I think I bought in the 80's!

By threading up different colours in the holes, adding more tablets, turning the tablets in different directions and swapping the order of the tablets as you go along creates other patterns - you can even create the alphabet and make a name braid....

So I'm going to take this practice braid off the clamps and make some more tablets - I'm thinking lots more tablets because I want to use perle thread for the warps (so I'll need heaps otherwise it's going to look like a cord, rather than a braid!), because I've had an idea about what I want to produce for the textile piece we have to hand in at the end of the semester...oh, and my BFF found a Youtube vid that shows you how to do Viking knitting with metal (jewelers will know all about Viking chains) and I want to have a crack at that too....


  1. I am amazed you can do that, and still rather lost on the how it works bit. But looking forward to seeing the finished results. And knitting with metal?! Off you go. That I want to see.

  2. wow! you are truelly inspired! look forward to seeing the finished work xx

  3. Ok, that's pretty cool. Looking forward to seeing your not-practice piece :)

  4. Oh wow. That looks really really interesting. You lost me too on how it works but Im looking forward to seeing the results.

  5. That's pretty incredible . Good on you for giving it a crack. My head hurt just from the little bit of technical you dropped into this post.

    My relatives were Vikings. So I suspect way back when your lot knew my lot. I hope we weren't too horrible to you while we plundered and what not.

  6. You're so brave to try new things!


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