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Metalworking: Omega fibula

Ratna Drost (NL)

The fibula was worn by both men, women and children. The more elaborated ones with gems or precious stones, were made for the rich upper-class. One of the easiest fibulae easiest to make, is the ‘omega’ fibula. The Romans were very fond of jewelry. Women as well as men, wore rings, bracelets and necklaces. A special, but at the same time ordinary, piece of jewelry was the ‘fibula’. Roman clothing was frequently pinned rather than sewn and the Romans used a fibula for this purpose. Many of these fasteners, were made of gold and elaborately decorated with precious jewels. Some of the gold was carved with beautiful designs and the Romans also favored the cameo as a decoration.

Thin brass wire (1/1,5 or 2 mm).
Anvil (we use pieces of rail tracks).
Files and spars.
Example sheet.

Instruction for an ‘omega’ fibula:
1. Start out by cutting pieces of 9cm. and pieces of 4cm. of brass wire.
2. Flatten both ends of the 9cm. piece using a hammer and the anvil. Do not hammer until the flattened tip falls off, flattening the tips makes it easier to work with the wire in the next steps.
3. Take a plier to make a small curl out of the flattened tips: Place the end of the flattened tip in the rounded upper part of the plier, hold it tightly and push the wire around the beak of the plier. Make sure that the wire can still come off. The circles you’ve created is supposed to be a single closed circles, like the first half of a pigtail.
4. To give your fibula the rounded ‘omega’ shape, bend it around a small piece of wooden bar, while keeping the curls facing upwards. Now you have an ‘omega’.

5. Flatten out one tip of the smaller, 4cm. piece of brass wire.
6. Repeat step 3, but do not complete the circle. Stop pushing when it looks like a hook.
7. Complete the fibula by connecting the two pieces together by placing the hook in the middle of the ‘omega’. Close the hook using the plier. Make sure the pieces cannot disconnect.
8. To round it up, polish the needle of the fibula using a file until it’s sharp.

Keep an eye on small children while making fibulae. They might need some help to keep them from hitting their fingers and bending the wires. In Archeon, we hand out an instruction paper, explaining everything that needs to be done, but people tend to ask you what to do without even reading the instructions.



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Roman, 1st -2nd century BC, UK