Friday, January 13, 2012



I've recently become interested in fibulas.....and I'm not talking about bones....although I'm interested in bones, too. The kind of fibula I'm talking about is a brooch or pin, usually made of beaten wire, where the pin part is an integral part of the design. The early Romans used fibulas to hold their tunics and robes closed. A safety pin is a type of fibula.

Here in the Pacific NW Ramona Solberg was quite known for her bead fibulas. She collected incredibly beautiful beads from Africa ....India ....and all over the world. Many of these treasures found there way into her jewelry. The fibula below is an example of her work.

Alexander Calder is another artist who loved working with wire and made this fibula for Georgia O'Keeffe. It is in the shape of an OK....her initials. In truth this may be a pin instead of a fibula but either way it is an incredible example of some of Calder's jewelry. Georgia loved this pin and rarely took it off. In the second photo you can catch a glimpse of it again.

Using these two inspiring artists as inspiration, I took a small leap into the world of fibulas. For my first try I wanted to use only wire and not depend upon beads or other elements for the interest. With the silver market being so high, I decided to practice using 16 gauge copper wire....much more affordable. When my confidence improved I tackled making the hand fibula (shown at the top of the post)... for my friend, Kristi, for Christmas. She is a massage therapist and her hands are her best tools. She is always drawn to art and jewelry that feature hands so I knew this would be the perfect gift....if I could pull it off. I may have been a little over's tricky. After making this piece I have decided to go back to the basics and make some very simple fibulas for a while. The trick is getting a nice flowing design that has a simplicity and an elegance about it. I do like it that the hand is slightly abstract but once you 'see' it, the design jumps out at you. My hand fibula is made of 16 gauge sterling silver wire and is 3 inches long.

This is how I packaged Kristi's gift. I printed her image on almost transparent gampi paper and adhered the image to kraft paper. I tied the package up with a copper chain and embellished with a small metal beetle. I liked the vintage look of the wrapping and thought Kristi would, too.

I will continue to work at my fibula making and will probably eventually add some charms or small found objects for interest and color. So stay tuned.

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