Spectacle Fibula

November 26, 2010

The spectacle fibula is a type of coiled wire brooch from the late Bronze Age of southern Europe.  The ancient ones were made from bronze wire and would have been bright golden when they were new, but most now have a dark green patina.  To make the wire, a thin strip of bronze was chiselled from a larger sheet, then hammered and sanded into shape.  This would have taken more time and effort than the final coiling, which was relatively simple.  The shape is an attractive and mesmerizing double spiral, similar to the figure-8 “infinity” symbol or a double Uroboros.

My examples are made from copper and annealed black steel wire.  The smaller brooch shown below was copied from an ancient artifact and is nearly identical in size and shape.  It is made from 14-gauge copper.  The back has a pin with a simple catch.  The larger spiral is made from 12-gauge copper and has two loops on the back so I can make it into a belt buckle for a sash.

Copper Wire Double Spirals

The ancient brooches commonly had a single figure-8 at the center, though occasionally this was doubled or tripled, giving a more complex look.  I found that it also provides additional stability for thin wire.  The bracelet below was made from 14-gauge black steel wire.  There are two types of double-spiral links, both flattened in the center.  I’ve been making these for several years and they were a perfect match for the ornament.  One of the flat links was modified to create the clasp at the back.

Steel Wire Double Spiral Bracelet

Ring  made from a single piece of 16-gauge black steel wire:

Double Spiral Ring


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