Friday, November 29, 2019

A New Necklace for the Völva

The completed necklace.  I may trim the cord later.
After months of dithering, I have finally assembled what I  consider to be a reasonable necklace for my völva costume.  See the photograph with this post.  The bead colors shown are pretty close to the actual colors, though the brown fabric in the background is very grayed out for some reason.

For reasons of cost, most of this necklace consists of glass pony beads, which I was able to obtain very cheaply in a reasonable size.  (Beads of that shape and size have been found among Viking age remains, but not typically in the quantities that I'm using.)  I've also added a few beads that look like bone, but appear actually to be glass, to give a little variation to the strand (and because decorated glass beads were more than my budget can presently manage.  That was one reason why I took so long to complete this project).  The two big blue beads near the ends are actually made from polymer modeling clay, but they don't look obtrusively anachronistic, so I included them in the finished product.  

In light of the absence of large, fancily decorated beads, my völva is clearly not wealthy as völvas go.  But then, there is no indication that the völva in Eric the Red's saga was unusually wealthy except for her gem-ornamented cloak. Making my version of that cloak will be a project for another time.

It occurred to me while I was finishing the necklace that it applies for the current Historical Sew Monthly ("HSM") theme which is "Above the Belt", so I'm providing hat information below.

The Challenge:  November--Above the Belt

Material:  Glass beads (with two polymer clay beads added), leather cord.

Pattern:   None needed.  I did attempt to stick with types consistent with bead types I've seen in pictures of Viking age bead finds.

Year:  Viking age, that is, early medieval.  Roughly ninth-eleventh centuries CE.

Notions:  Same as materials, see above.

How historically accurate is it?  We don't know what Viking beads were strung on since they are usually found loose in the grave, with the stringing material disintegrated and vanished.  Glass beads of similar shapes have been found in Viking age graves, and collections of a comparable number (50-60) and similar sizes have been found.  On the other hand, polymer clay with random swirls in it didn't exist in the Viking age.  So maybe 75%.

Hours to complete:  About a half an hour for arranging and stringing (somewhat longer to decide what beads to purchase, but I didn't keep track of that).

First Worn:  Tonight, to see whether the strand is long enough to remove without untying it, and whether I can make a hood that is open enough for the beads to be visible.  (The answer seems to be "yes"; the necklace is longer than I thought it would be.)

Total Cost:  About $15.50 USD; approximately $2.50 for the leather cord at my local JoAnn Fabrics store, and $13.02 (including shipping) for all the beads but the two polymer beads.  Those I've had for years; they were purchased for a project that never worked out.


  1. Nice! The colour and variation of beads is really attractive.

  2. Thanks! The packet of beads I got was really nice. A good variety of color; all I needed to do was make sure I didn't put too many of the same or similar color next to each other.

    1. They also look like period-appropriate colours, but I'm not familiar enough with early medieval glasswork to know for sure.