Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fibular Pin Design Notes

Fibular Pin Designs

The term Fibular comes from the Latin term, fibulae, referring to brooches.  While the overall structure of a fibular pin is limitless to your imagination (just do an image search the term “Fibular Pin” in a search engine and see the thousands of different styles that come up!), every fibular pin has the same technical components: Hinge, Body, Spring and Pin.
 The body is the flat plate between the hinge and spring where, in beaded and wire worked pins, most of the decoration occurs.

The hinge, located at one end of the body section, will have some kind of cup, hook or other structure to tuck the pin end into to keep the pin secured shut.  This part can also be extremely fancy and beaded.  It is often hidden in a brooch design.

The spring, located at the opposite end of the body to the hinge, also is the beginning of the pin.  The spring is one or more coiled loops of wire that stores tension for the pin.  Again, think of a safety pin and how force must be applied to close the safety pin shut.  The tension is provided by the loop in the spring. A minimum of 1.5 rotations is enough to cause sufficient tension.  Beads are often dangled here or the spring loops are exaggerated or multiplied as a design feature of the brooch.

The pin (from herein referred to as the PIN SHAFT) is the section that begins at the spring and ends in a sharp point.  This will be pushed through material and then the sharp end hooked into the hinge to close the brooch.  No decoration is put on the pin lest it gets caught up in the material.  For the rest of this tutorial, “pin” will refer to the whole fibular brooch while “pin shaft” will refer to the pin section as labeled in the above safety pin photograph.

An important feature for the fibular pin design to work effectively is that the connection between the hinge, body and spring must be secure and immobile.  Each component in the pin can be made by a different section of wire in the design, but those three sections need to be wired together solidly so that the whole pin design does not pull out of shape.

This fibular pin is unattached at the 3 sections and will pull apart out of shape when the pin shaft is closed into the hinge.
In this brooch, the base the spring and base of the hinge have both been wired to the twisted core section of the wings, which forms the body.  This pin will not bend out of shape.

So in designing your own fibular pin design, the sections can come from any components of the wire work, but careful planning needs to happen in order to know how the Spring, Body and Hinge will be attached together to create a solid backbone for your fibular pin to work.

Once you understand this concept, then you can get very creative with making fibular pin designs in wire and beads!  Some designs have the hinge start as a long thin wrapped loop curled up to protect the pin shaft tip.  The hinge can just be a simple “U” shape made of wire.

It is important to think of the type of material on which the brooch will sit, as the gauge of wire used and the overall design can ruin the very material if not careful!  Below is a rough chart of material types and design features to keep in mind when planning your brooch design.

Type of Material
Type of Design Features to Know
Tightly woven cotton (button down shirts, twill, corduroy, tightly woven wool material)

knit wear (knit jersey)

Delicate material (thin scarves)

Delicate Hand knit materials
  • Pin shift needs to be thin, less than 1 mm as any bigger would cause permanent hole and sever the fibres of the material.
  • Hinge should be a rounded cup with no sharp points or edges to catch on material.
  • No sharp beads or points to catch on material.
  • Whole design needs to be light in weight so it doesn’t rip a hole in the thin material from sheer weight.
Loosely woven material (like on large threaded woolen jackets)

Winter scarves that are thick
  • Pin shaft can be thicker than 1 mm, but if using 2 mm a caution should be delivered with the pin to use only on loosely woven materials.
  • Hinge can be U-shaped wire hook.
  • Whole design can be more heavy as the thicker threads in the fabric will support the weight without ripping.
  • All sharp points should be rounded to not catch on fibre.
Hand Knit style material
  • Any pin shaft diameter can be used.
  • Hinge should be a rounded cup with no sharp points or edges to catch on and pull out yarn.
  • No sharp beads or points to snag yarn.
  • Overall design weight depends on how thin the yarn and hand knit fabric is (obviously a cobweb yarn shawl will need a lighter brooch than a thick wooly winter scarf with aran worsted weight yarn).
It is always best to test the wire gauge you will use on a discrete, hidden place of a wide variety of materials in your wardrobe so you have a better sense of what gauge suits what kind of materials.  This is a case where hands on testing is the only way you can get a thorough understanding.  When in doubt, it is best to put your beaded design onto a manufactured pin mechanism you can purchase in most bead and craft shops.

Happy Beading!

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