Fibulas are ornamental objects used, just as pins, to hold together the edges of clothes or as an additional ornament.
As the success of different types (or models) is strongly related to time, fibulas are among the best chronological indicators; they also represent good evidence of cultural links with other areas in protohistoric Italy. Different types of fibulas included in grave furnishings provide useful indications on costumes, cultural relations, and chronology.
In fact, though their design varies considerably, they can be grouped in types some of which are present over widespread regions whereas others are distinctive of definite cultural areas. Their distribution can provide precious indications on costumes, on metallurgical handicraft and of relationships between different areas. Finally different types adopted by men and women are related to the different clothing fashion.

Types found in VERUCCHIO, near Pennabilli, in the earliest stages are well known in other regions of Italy, mainly in areas with Villanovian facies. Later, local types in bronze, glass, bone and amber are present and new techniques were developed, sometimes innovative and very sophisticated ones, in particular with regards to the processing of amber.

The fibula is a kind of clasp that serves since prehistoric times to fasten cloaks, tunics etc.

During the workshop, the participants will be shown slides and other visual materials of both ancient and contemporary work. Actual examples will be available to examine (and aehm... to buy)

The normal size of a "fibula" may range from "thumb nail" small up to two hands large. Its essential parts are the receptacle, which captures the"point, the pin shaft, the spring coil and the "bow",the part which defines the aesthetic value of the fibula. The spring coil is rather difficult to make.

We offer you a text by an acknowledged master of the fibula
Prospective - Workshop - A Hands on Hands off study of the fibula. Conducted by Phillip Fike in 1981

The purpose and intent of the workshop is to understand the essential components of a "clasp", ancient or otherwise, with particular concern about its mechanical features wich influence both its manner of function and the way it was manufactured. The fibula is examined as a form of reflecting customs and aestehic modes of human life. In the process of analysis of many types and their combinations of formal components, the individual may rapidly gain new perceptions, which promises to to lead the craftsman into a variety of creative experiences.
Participation will be allowed to those who wish only to observe, in which instance the individual may be an art historian, archaeologist, anthropologist, ar a lay person, who wishes to collect information rather than engage in the design and manufacture of a fibula. The craftsman participant is expected to begin work with one or two models, hopefully passing through an expected preliminary phase leading to a major piece, obviously requiring more time than the workshop period allows.
The participant will be shown slides and other visual materials of both ancient and contemporary work. Actual examples will be available to examine. Procedural and technical demonstrations will be included to assist all participants, either as a group and more frequently on an individual basis.
The participant who expects to begin work on a fibula will be required to provide some of their own tools and most of their materials. Please refer to the list of suggested equipment beneficial in the production of small metal forms. Some iron and mild steel gauges will be supplied.
The variety of materials employed in both historic and contemporary fibulas is extensive and their uses must be viewed as fullfilling two distinct characteristics of the fibula: the chosen material will become structural and decorative as a single entity, or: the chosen materials will combine to assist each other performing simultaneously both structural and decorative requirements.
By your experience and interest you may choose to work with gold, silver, copper and bronze, iron and steel. You may choose to work in wax and cast your forms. you may employ gem materials, special hard woods, plastics and other synthetic sculptural substances. Or bone, fibers, leathers, feathers; glues, resins, pigments, paints; ceramic stuff -- fired clays, glazes, glass. The list should include common minerals; uncommon things from the marine world, and items from the greater plant realms, such as seeds, and though vegetable materials.
These "fibulas", if they become functioning representatives of their noble purposes midst humanity's customs, will never be a nutrient for the body, but promise to be intimate with its comfort and sheltering. Beyond this the "fibula" may be an agent of profound symbolic content, endowed with both beauty and mystery.

Aspectual --- Fibula Workshop. Approach to the components; the essential forms and inter-realshionships.
We begin with the point of a tapered rod --- a "pin", a "needle", a "probe", a long tapered "shaft", which is made by several common methods of metalsmithing. Filling. Hammer forging. Rolling or milling. While functioning regularly on a "fibula", the pin is viewed to be the end of an entire "clamping", "gathering", "cinching" or "seizing" device, rather than as a "needle" which passes through fibers and clothing. The normal size of a "fibula" may range from "thumb nail" small up to two hands large: The pin itself may be a short segment in the structure, but/or conceivably many times longer* throughout the form.
The "point" may be sharp, dull, blunt. It may have a sculptured form terminating it, which is many times larger than the shaft of the pin. In the case of a narrow or sharp point a prime feature of the fibula includes some type of plate, or trough, a shield, a groove, a hood, a slot, which insures protection to anyone or anything from injury by it. Often this can be accomplished with the point in full view, functioning as a decorative unit in the entire fibula. The important factor is to contain it in a manner which functions perfectly, while simultaneously existing in a mode of complete aestethic harmony with the other components associated with it, and also everything external which wears it as a "clasp".
The "shield" or "receptacle, which captures the"point", may often lead into a slotted form which serves as a guide or retainer for keeping the pin shaft in line with the shield or receptacle. This alignment retainer can be introduced into the form many different ways, including non-structural elements such as knobs or posts.
In a fibula made from a single flowing piece of wire, the essential components, in addition to the shield, the point, the guide retainer, would also include a spring coil and the "bow", or what could be termed the "main frame".These five features constitute the skeletal structure of the generative fibula form.
The spring coils wound by bronze age metalsmiths are not surpassed in modern technique. Lacking the tools for rolling or drawing wire into long lengths was not an insormountable barrier, and their skill in "swaging" wire is proven by extensive example. It is this example that is enough for the modern metalsmith to use as a guide into the fascinating problem of spring coils, as they are not easily achieved, and require intimate knowledge of metal conditions and forming techniques.
The "bow", or main frame, or "arch",is the component which defines the graceful shape of the gathering space. The human hand has its unique relationship between thumb and forefinger. The human fibula bone has its unique relationship with the tibia bone, which apparently became the original cause for the Roman identification of this prime clasps as a "fibula".
Phillip Fike 1981







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