Here is a collection of the most common questions I get about the posaments.
Where were the posaments found?
The vast majority of the posaments have been found in Birka Sweden (8-10th century), but a few other contemporary or later finds are located across Europe. This interactive map includes all the posaments and posament-type items that have been able to be identified. Please note that all the Birka materials are represented by a single point. Not all the items on the map are posaments as strictly defined in Birka III, but are related or frequently conflated techniques. These non-posament relatives are represented by different colored pins on the map. (If you have other examples, please share so they may be added to the resource.)
How much tenntråd do I need to complete my project?
Please see the page on Material Requirements for calculations.
Can I wash spiral posaments?
The washability of the finished spiral posament work is another common question, as detaching and reattaching the delicate posament work to launder a garment would be onerous. While most posaments were on accessories rather than body garments, some do seem to be on clothing items that would have needed to be washed periodically. Three samples (one each in 0.25, 0.3, and 0.35 tenntråd) of a posament similar to P14 were sewed loosely (only at the top and the bottom of each pattern repeat) to a piece of linen and washed and dried in home appliances. (The base fabric in the experiment was linen from fabrics-store.com (IL019, 5.3 oz/yard, Autumn Gold).) Remarkably little damage was observed – the bands need to be straightened out a little after each washing and loose ends became tangled, but no significant damage to the tenntråd itself was observed! The deformation that was observed could have been minimized by sewing the posaments down more tightly, focusing on the protruding portions and small details.
Based on experiments performed on spiral posaments, as long as the posaments are at least tacked down on each pattern repeat and the base material is relatively firm, YES, they can be washed.
(Note: please do not refer to the weaving pattern in these images – there’s a reason these were the potentially sacrificial posaments!)
How durable are the spiral posaments?
To test the durability of the commercially available soft tin (96%) and silver (4%) tenntråd, a ring was made of 0.25 tenntråd following a pattern similar to that on the top of the finial posaments P21 and P22. A test subject was instructed not to be kind or precious about the ring and wore it for about four months, removing it daily. This resulted in clear evidence of wear and deformation of the pattern and the wire, but there was minimal actual breakage and loss of wire. Based on the damage, however, failure of the tenntråd at some point is likely and it cannot be recommended as jewelry for daily wear. However, it is durable enough for regular reenactment wear, even with modern laundering (see “Can I wash spiral posaments?”).
New ring of 0.25 tenntråd (left) and ring of 0.25 tenntråd that has been worn and removed daily for four months (right).