Thursday, January 20, 2005

Bishop Bob's beads :)

One day when I was supposed to be doing something really important with a deadline attached, I took some time off instead to do something totally frivolous -- I made some miniature paternosters.

This one is made from #6 seed beads, strung on red silk, and is supposed to look like amber. I made it as a gift for my friend Nancy Spies, author of a wonderful book on tablet weaving.

Bishop Bob's beads

I was fortunate enough to be in the audience the year that Nancy gave her paper on brocaded tablet-weaving at the International Congress on Medieval Studies (held in Kalamazoo, Michigan every May). Before her talk, she had spread out on the front table her silk and gold pattern samples, made and photographed for the book's cover. But she had held back one of her demonstration pieces.

When the first slide of "Bishop Bob" appeared on the screen, the entire audience cracked up with laughter. The good Bishop is an 18-inch plastic skeleton, whose "burial vestments" -- liberally trimmed with brocaded card-weaving -- are patterned on those of a 13th-century bishop.

Bishop Bob in his coffin

He has a cope, a dalmatic and an alb, all with tablet-woven trim on edges, cuffs and neckline. Around his neck is a tablet-woven stole, on his wrist is a maniple, and around his waist is a gold-brocaded tablet-woven cincture, complete with braided fringe.


He also has a bishop's mitre with tablet-woven trim around the edge, and two streamers of tablet weaving down the back.


He has a knitted pillow on which to rest his head, and one glove with tablet-woven trim at the cuff -- Nancy said it was hard enough to knit that small that she decided to just do one, and make it a "relic" rather than a pair of actual gloves for his hands.


I decided that Bishop Bob needed a paternoster as a finishing touch, so I enclosed the little "amber" rosary in a padded envelope and sent it off to Nancy. Two days later I got an e-mail from her that began, "After we picked ourselves up off the floor laughing..."

Here's Bishop Bob with his authentic knitted stockings, shoes and paternoster!


My friend Heather Jones has been making a set of cloth rag-dolls in historically authentic clothing of various periods -- Bronze Age, Egyptian, and so forth -- and since she too made a bishop (this one based on a 14th-century bishop from Nubia), I decided he needed a paternoster as well. Since he's from North Africa, he's made of natural colored linen (rather than white) and his paternoster, the same size as Bishop Bob's, is opaque blue, representing lapis lazuli. His pectoral cross is half an earring from the thrift store.

Bishop Timotheus