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The Manufacture of Viking Oval Brooches

Many objects of personal adornment, such as brooches, were mass-produced in the Viking Age.

The technique of producing a mass-produced oval brooch, such as the 9th century example from Meløy, Norway shown on th right, is explained below.

The illustrations and descriptions are taken from “Mass Production in the Viking Age” by Signe Horn Fugelsang,
in “From Viking to Crusader” ,
Else Roesdahl, et. al. (eds), 1992.

 

  A master mould is made bearing the
  impression of either a ready-made brooch,
  or a newly-designed model.
     Casting models are formed in this master.
  Each wax model is retouched and details
  may be added.
     A mould is made by covering the wax model
  with many thin layers of tempered clay.
     The wax having been melted, runs away
  (known as cire perdue). Wax pegs are
  inserted for the hinge plates and catch-plate.
     A small piece of cloth is dipped in melted
  wax, and while still warm and flexible is
  pressed into the mould. This determines the
  shape and thickness of the resultant
  brooch.
     The lower piece of the mould is built up over
  the cloth with tempered clay. The complete
  mould is heated and the melted wax runs
  out.
     The two pieces of the mould are separated
  and the cloth removed. The mould is
  reassembled and the edges sealed.
     The mould is heated and bronze melted in a
  crucible. The molten metal is poured into
  the mould while it stands in the hearth.
     The mould gradually cools down. It is
  broken and the brooch removed.
     The upper surface of the brooch is
  reworked.
     The catch-plate is bent, holes are bored in
  the hinge plates and the pin attached.
  The brooch is ready.