Say “Wire” to Me

By Lady Mary of Montevale
Features Reporter, Pennsic Independent

Baroness Betha, an instructor at Viking Wire Weaving Day in Artisan’s Row, first got into the craft when a friend visited a reconstructed Viking village in Denmark, saw samples of wire weaving and picked her up a set of directions (in Danish). The directions were delivered with this accompanying remark, “Here, I think this is up your alley.”
Twenty years later…
Her Excellency has written a book on wire weaving (see her web page at, teaches frequent classes at Pennsic, and was prepared on Saturday to spend all day teaching at Artisan’s Row because, in her own words, “Say ‘wire’ to me and I don’t stop.”
Archibald of Stoke-on-Trent (Æthelmearc) knew when he read about the Artisan’s Row that he had to come to the Viking Wire Weaving Day because he could “stay here all day until I get it right.” (His last attempt at wire weaving was at Pennsic about ten years ago.) He loves the format of the Artisan’s Row.
So did about a dozen other gentles, ranging in age from 9 to 63, as they worked with #2 pencils and 24-gauge copper wire (available at any craft store) in their initial attempts to wind the wire in a spiral around the pencil (a dowel could also be used) and then threading the wire through all the spirals to keep them connected. The trick is not to lose your place in the threading and not miss any of the spirals.
Sabine Eastwind (East), who’d never tried wire weaving before, admitted that while starting was a little tricky, once she got the idea, it was pretty easy…definitely fun!
After threading the wire through all the loops, you remove the piece from the pencil and pull it through a special draw plate to compress and stretch everything. As Archibald pointed out with a smile, “After that you won’t see your imperfections and joinings of wire.”
The draw plate can be made of wood or bone. The wooden one looks like a paddle with neat rows of drilled holes in successively smaller sizes. The more often the wire “chain” is drawn through a series of smaller holes, the more its appearance will change.