Monday, August 18, 2008

Still more pretty pictures

part 3

This next batch of medieval-style rosaries were made for friends as special gifts. Among the people I hang out with, many are medieval re-enactors, so a medieval rosary is an appreciated gift, whether the recipient actually uses such a thing for religious purposes or not.

Since "decoding" the instructions given by Alanus de Rupe for a special rosary for a penitent knight, I've made several sets of these beads with special markers.

It took me quite a while when I made the first set to find a "multi-colored" bead I liked for the first marker. Most of the multicolored beads I could find in catalogs were either very cheap and badly made, or they were covered with little pink rosebuds. I didn't think that was very suitable for a bead supposed to symbolize our "multitude of sins." Eventually I found a millefiori bead, as you can see in this example.


The light-colored marker bead is mother of pearl here, the red is carnelian, the black is jet, and the gold is a foiled-glass Venetian bead from Venetian Bead Shop. Once I found sources, I bought several of each of these types in the 10-millimeter size, so I can now put together a set of "Beads of Death" without having to run out and shop for the parts.

The small beads for this rosary are green glass, the cross is another one from Rosary Workshop, and the little silvery-looking pendant is a hollow sterling-silver bead, with the ends plugged, and a few grains of earth from the Holy Land inside. One can fairly easily buy little "souvenir" containers of "Terra Sancta" and water from the River Jordan, but I happened to acquire little vials of both a few years ago that were about to be thrown out, and I've made good use of them.

This next set of beads is a "tenner." I have a couple of strings of 14-millimeter jasper beads, which seem to be about the right size for this common men's accessory, so that part was easy.


The hardest part of shopping for "tenners" is finding a good thumb-ring for the top. It's not at all difficult to find nice-looking plain silver rings in "finger" sizes, but finding a sturdy, closed ring about an inch in diameter and without egregiously non-period decoration isn't easy. I hoard them when I find them, and I had this one in my stash, so I used it.

The brass "gold" ring suggested using small brass "gold" beads between the larger jaspers, but what to do for the end? The friend I made this for said he wouldn't mind having a cross, but I didn't see anything affordable in the right size that I liked. Then I thought about the dark jasper cross that I'd picked up at the craft store, without any project in mind. I've never seen anything quite like it in a medieval context, but there are certainly coral and rock-crystal crosses (though not this shape) and the occasional wide-armed cross (though I usually can't tell what material they are -- I suspect wood). I decided this was good enough, and after wrestling with it a bit to get the flimsy silver-colored bail off, added it to the string.

The little gold pelican is definitely not medieval in style, but the pelican on a nest is a well-known medieval symbol of self-sacrifice, since the pelican was thought by classical authors to feed its young by stabbing its own breast so the offspring could feed on its blood.

The recipient has, he tells me, already to put this string to good use. He used it to amuse himself during a very long meeting by keeping count of the rounds of applause every time someone received yet another award.