Anglo-Saxon Disc Brooch

Largesse was requested for the royal gift exchange at Gulf Wars 2018. Coming off making coronets, it felt like I had too much free time, so I volunteered for something metal. Calontir had Meridies, who's current royals were 12th century English and Anglo-Saxon. After spending some time looking around the British Museum collection, I decided on a disc brooch, based on this.


The disc brooch appeared to be two layers riveted together at five points, with a pin riveted on the back along the line formed by three of the rivets. The museum lists the brooch as being made of gilded brass for the back and silver for the top, along with some niello (silver mixed with sulfur, creates a black inlay) in a cross pattern.

There was a nice overhead shot provided by the museum, so I was able to play with it in GIMP and make a template for sawing out.

After sawing it out, I had the pattern for the top in place, but the edges were square, while the extant piece had very beveled edges. 

To try to fix this, I used a graver to cut the edges off the pattern. I initially tried using a file or a ball burr, but the cut out areas were too small to really get in to effectively.

Once the whole layer was engraved down, I cut a circle out of the brass backing and used pumice powder to give it a satin finish to try to match the look of the original piece.

At this point, holes needed to be drilled for the rivets to go in, which is always a nerve wracking process; drilling holes in something you've spent hours working on.

Finally, a pin was cut from sheet and included in the stack as it was riveted together. The whole piece got polished, and some black enamel paint was added to try to simulate the niello inlay. 

I picked up a light box with some Christmas money to start photographing these projects nicely too, since my projects aren't hanging around my shop long once they're done.