Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gifts and ghosts

I'm running a bit behind on the Christmas stuff here, but thought I would just mention that I have written about medieval-style rosaries as Christmas presents here. (The short version: yes, anyone who uses an ordinary modern rosary can say the same prayers on this one.)

If you want to make a medieval-style paternoster as a gift, and you have a friendly local bead store, everything you need should be there. There's a shopping list here and simple instructions here. It takes less than an hour to put one together (less than half an hour, really, unless you have difficulties making a tassel). You may want to take the trouble to braid the cord you string the beads on from thinner thread, as it's likely to be more durable.

I wanted to share a few photos of several more modern-style strung rosaries I've made, all variations on a theme. The community I work for has a number of symbols they're fond of, including the color blue, an anchor (for hope), a heart, and a rose, and all of these were made for members or friends of the community.

This one is sodalite, with mother-of-pearl markers:


This one is mother-of-pearl, with lapis lazuli markers and a striped glass heart:


Mother-of-pearl again, but the marker beads are flat blue glass roses:


I particularly like this one, which is blue "goldstone" (a type of glass) with cloisonné markers:

Ann's beads

And a detail:

Ann Shoff-detail

I also passed a sad little milestone this week: for the first time, one of the rosaries I've made has been laid to rest. I made this one a couple of years ago for a friend's elderly mother. By special request it was rose quartz (her favorite color) with mother-of-pearl markers, the Virgin Mary with roses, and a cross with shamrocks. My friend's mother died this past week, and it was buried with her. I hope it brought some comfort to her and to her family.

Here is the one I made for her:

Rose quartz rosary

Perhaps hundreds of years from now, when the world has changed completely and these electrons are all dust, some archaeologist will see these beads and be touched by the thought that they brought someone a sense of peace.

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Blogger Jane said...

Thank you for showing these modern-style ones, and for the link to what your kit for beginners usually contains. I have been following your blog for a couple of months and I find the beads-on-string style of rosaries to be really appealing, compared to the beads-on-chain style that's prevalent now. I've been thinking of trying to make such a rosary, and it's good to see a list of all the components laid out (being a total beginner, I wouldn't have thought about crimps).

Are these types of rosaries fairly easy to re-string if the string gets broken? My husband is very tough on his rosaries and often breaks the chains, and they are difficult to repair. The only rosaries that withstand his use are the plastic ones, or nylon cord rosaries, but they are generally pretty ugly. Do you have any ideas for making a rosary that is both elegant and either durable or easy to repair?

3:05 PM  
Blogger Chris Laning said...

To you and to anyone else who wants to make a strung rosary, I have one big piece of advice: use a braided string. I have had yet another rosary I made for someone break because I used plain twisted silk. The holes in glass beads, even 8mm glass beads, are not very large, but I'd suggest that a 4-strand braid of some good strong silk or polyester sewing thread would be well worth the extra work for a longer life. You may also be able to buy braided bead stringing thread the right size, though it's likely to be synthetic: but if you're making a modern rosary, you are probably not trying for the it-dropped-through-a-time-machine-into-my-living-room degree of historical accuracy anyway!

This advice will have to be tested by time, of course, but I'm definitely doing all my new ones this way. We'll see how they hold up. ;)

5:13 PM  
Blogger Chris Laning said...

But to answer your actual question: alas, strung rosaries do seem to be more prone to breakage than the metal linked kind. Plastic coated "flexwire" doesn't have that problem, so if sturdiness is your aim and you don't mind the rather different look and feel, try that (see my earlier posts on the subject). Any strung rosary, though, is pretty much going to have to be completely re=strung if it breaks. Be sure you keep a stash of appropriate string and tools somewhere you can find them again for repairs.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Mrs.KAOS said...

Hi this is my first time stopping by your blog. I too am in the SCA, I focus on France during the hundred years war. I just wanted to say I love the paternoster style modern rosaries. I hope to make one of my own some day, and it looks like your site will be very helpful in doing so.

Thanks you, and Peace be with you.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Chris, I to have had a rosary "laid to rest". Well it was a rosary bracelet of hematite that I had made for my boss. When his mother died they could not locate her rosary and my boss being the sensitive creature that he is could not bear the thought of his mom being buried without a rosary in her hands. So he asked me at the prayers if he could bury his bracelet with his mom. Of course I agreed and I of course had to make him another bracelet!

8:56 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I have used flex wire for all my modern rosaries. the best and strongest I find is Flexalon 49 strand .019 diameter. I am hard on rosaries myself and this wire holds up just fine.
There are also wire covers that you can buy at bead shops. You slip the wire into them,(They look like a horseshoe). they will protect the wire at stress points such as the cross and the center.
Hope this helps

10:03 AM  

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