14th Century Hairpins

The upcoming reign i100_6840s a 14th c reign, with a high persona Coronation, so I’ve been working on a couple of things to augment what I do have, and being able to go as period as possible has been my aim with this particular project.  (Plus, up until this point, I had nothing that quite fit the time period, and Palaiologos dynasty Byzantine Empire is a bit too fussy for me, along with little pictorial representation of lower-ranking clothing.)

Of course, that led down a rabbit hole.  One of the Laurels in Drachenwald, whose  has a fantastic blog on 14th c life, and one of the things she made were a set of hairpins, based on a find in Finsbury Circus, London, dating back to the 14th c.  They’re pretty much hair forks with the two tines, and they’re relatively easy to make, with few supplies needed.  In fact, I had all the pieces I needed here at home.

Things you will need to make your own set of hair forks:

28 gauge non-tarnish brass wire
20 gauge brass rod, half-hard (you can also use a metal clothes hanger if you don’t have brass rod on hand, although you can purchase it for very little)
wire cutters
a cylindrical shape like a medicine bottle to use as a form
a file

100_6844Step one
Cut your brass rod to about 7″ long.  You will need two pieces for each braid.  This will be your substrate for the decorative coils, and will be the part that actually sticks into the braids on either side of the head.  If your cuts ended up on the sharp end, you can use a file to smooth them out.  Use your bottle to make a curve in the middle of the rod.  Set aside the excess rod for later use.

Step two100_6847
Use the excess rod to start making a coil with the 28 gauge wire, leaving at least a half inch of wire tail on either end.  You will need at least 5″ of coiled 28 gauge wire, taking care to keep it relatively even.  Once done, pull the coil off.  You will need two coils, one for each hair fork.

100_6853Step three
Once you’ve finished your coils, you’ll want to wrap the tail around one of your bent rods, and then, pulling the coil slightly to loosen it, wrap the coil around the rod, taking care to push the wire together 100_6856every so often.  Keep your secondary coil pushed together, and work until you’ve reached the other tail.  Work gently, twisting the wire closely together so that it interlocks with itself.  To finish, wrap the rest of the tail around the rod.  You may want to bend the pin some more so that it keeps your braid in place.

Once complete, the completed hairpins should look like the first photo, with the coiled coil wrap only covering the top portion of the pin.

5 thoughts on “14th Century Hairpins

  1. Reblogged this on A 14th Century Life and commented:
    Some of the best parts about the fourteenth century are the details. One of my favorite bits of ornamentation are hairpins – common throughout history but unique to each timeperiod. I made my own at one point, based on images I’d seen of extant hairpins.
    Although there have been other write-ups on how to make your own hairpins, I like Konstantia Kaloethina’s because it explains exactly the types of wire and rod you need – as well as providing great photos on each step of the process. She’s inspired me to try making hairpins again!


  2. Pingback: 2017 SCA Resolutions, revisited. . . | konstantia kaloethina

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