How to Make Fibula Brooches

Written by louise harding
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How to Make Fibula Brooches
Fibula brooches were worn by many ancient people to secure clothing. (brooch image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

Fibula brooches were worn by Romans, Saxons, Celts, Greeks, Vikings and other ancient people to secure robes, togas, cloaks and other loosefitting gown-like attire. Fibulas were primarily worn on the shoulder, both shoulders or at the centre of a garment. Sometimes a chain was connected from one fibula to another fibula for both decorative and functional purposes. Fibula brooches need to be constructed from a heavy pin made to withstand the weight of lengths of fabric without snapping or bending. Find flat backed brooch or pendants pieces for the decorative fronts of fibulas at craft and hobby stores.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Styrofoam block
  • 2 kilt pins, 3 inches long
  • Acetone
  • Cotton balls
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • 2 metal brooch fronts or pendants, about 3.25 inches long, width and diameter to preference
  • Metal epoxy
  • 2 small C-clamps

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Open and slide two kilt pins horizontally into a block of styrofoam at least six inches from each other. This secures the pins for a sturdy work surface and protects the bottom pin portion from leading glue. The top portion of the kilt pin not concealed within the foam will be the base of the fibula.

  2. 2

    Wet a cotton ball with acetone and clean the top portion of the kilt pins. Allow the pins to dry.

  3. 3

    Sand the surface of each top portion of the kilt pins with fine grit sandpaper. This creates texture to help facilitate bonding during the gluing process.

  4. 4

    Clean the flat backs of the brooches or pendants chosen to be the decorative fronts of the fibula with a cotton ball moistened with acetone. Use acetone sparingly so as not to damage the decorative coating on the metal fronts. Celtic knots are a popular fibula choice for re-enactors of many persuasions.

  5. 5

    Prepare the metal epoxy according to the manufacturer's instructions. Epoxies come in two or more parts that must be mixed in order to activate the glue. Usually you must cut the tops from two or more containers or syringes and mix a determined amount of each together.

  6. 6

    Apply the mixed epoxy to the sanded portion of the top of each kilt pin. Center the flat backs of the decorative fronts of the future fibula brooches over the epoxy-covered kilt pins and press, one at a time, the back to the pin. Hold the front piece to the pin for at least one minute.

  7. 7

    Slide a small C-clamp below the top portion of the kilt pin (between the foam and the metal pin) and carefully on top of the decorative front of the fibula. A small piece of felt may be used between the C-clamp and the decorative front if desired. Repeat for the second fibula. Clean away any excess epoxy with acetone-dampened cotton.

  8. 8

    Allow the epoxy to dry at least 24 hours before removing the fibula from the styrofoam block. Epoxies, metal epoxies included, take at least four hours to set up and at least 24 hours to reach full strength.

Tips and warnings

  • Use caution when working with epoxies of all variations. Epoxy contact with flesh will adhere flesh to objects and flesh, requiring acetone to remove. Irritation of the skin and inhalation passages is a common hazard. Always work with epoxy in a ventilated area. Seek medical attention for irritation, dizziness or any flesh glued to an object where acetone will not loosen the glued area.

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