20 February 2015 – Fibulae

I finally got the fibulae I cast in Dublin last month finished and fitted with pins. They polished up nicely and look a lot more shiny than their counterparts in museums. I still have a hammer and a couple other castings to clean up. Meanwhile a new batch of waxes are in moulds and if the weather behaves they could get cast up in the next couple weeks.

This is a large one, 8.5 cm long. It's the type you'd need for holding a heavy woolen cloak as you patrolled along The Wall.
This is a large one, 8.5 cm long. It’s the type you’d need for holding a heavy woolen cloak as you patrolled along The Wall.

 

This one is a bit smaller at 4.5 cm, but still a sturdy brooch.
This one is a bit smaller at 4.5 cm, but still a sturdy brooch.

 

This one was snapped up by Cordula before it was even out of the mould! Cordula was steadily pumping the bellows while I had the cushy job of pouring the metal.
This one was snapped up by Cordula before it was even out of the mould! Cordula earned it after steadily pumping the bellows most of the day while I had the cushy job of pouring the metal.

 

There’s even a slow motion film of one of these guys being cast thanks to the folks at UCD.

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Traces of Empire – Video!

 

In the summer of 2014 Weston Park Museum here in Sheffield approached me about making a film about how metalwork would have been done in Roman Britain. Most of what I do is related to the Bronze Age, but I jumped at the chance to do something new. We set up a time to go take a look at the brooches they would have on display. After photographing them and taking measurements, I made some waxes and then put them into moulds. The process is explained in the video.

I also realised that bag bellows would probably not be the way to go, so I built the bellows that are described in the tutorial on this website.

Alan Sylvester, the filmmaker for Museums Sheffield and Lucy Creighton, (now the acting curator of archaeology) both spent long hours at Heeley City Farm helping me build the furnace and pump the bellows. After a day of filming Alan felt he needed more shots of metal being poured, and so we went back for a second day of filming. This time I had some of the pieces I cast earlier, so we could show a bit of the clean-up process.

It was a great experience. Later I gave a talk at Weston Park Museum about making the film and the importance of experimental archaeology. I also brought along the bellows and some of my tools. If you go see the exhibit, there’s a shorter version of the film on a loop near the display.

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