Thursday, April 29, 2010

Homemade Rosaries Photo Diary

There is a former Tibetan Buddhist monk who sits with anyone who will come to his gift shop, Little Moon, on Wednesday evenings.  Several people that I know have met him on separate occasions; it seems that some of my friends simply like to go in and have a chat with him every once in awhile!  He is always open for a conversation, deep or otherwise, even with perfect strangers.  As a thank you for the opportunity to sit with others so close to my home, I picked up several wooden prayer braclets from his shop one night.  On another occasion, I bought fair trade turqois beads from India at the Lark Street Festival.

Every month or so I would take the beads out and appreciate their natural beauty, knowing that the money was given to the craftswomen and men who made them.  I hold them in my hands, feeling the smooth substanital weight of the wood and the cool rough of the stone, and wonder what they would become.  Well, this week, I realized that they were to become a handmade rosary for my sister's birthday.  Here are the steps it takes to make a handmade rosary!

First you will want to buy some beads.  I decided to make a family rosary for my sister and her twin 4-year old boys, so the beads were bigger than they usually are for rosaries.  The bigger beads will allow the boys to handle the rosaries together if they wish and focus on one bead at a time.

You will need 53 smaller beads and 6 larger beads.  I inverted this because of the number of beads I had, but, then decoratively separated out the smaller single beads.

You will also need a three looped medalion to bring the two strands of beads together and a cross.  You can purchase these online.  I thought since my rosary was a family rosary, I would let the family pick out the medalion and the cross together themselves.  You can skip the whole wire working stuff if you want by buying the wire rings online as well.  In this case, you will need different jewelry working tools than those pictured and discussed here (see the video below for instructions).  I wanted to make as much by hand as possible!
Next, you will need to buy a couple tools.  A set of cheap jewelry making wire cutters and some jewlery pliers will do.  Make sure you get a pair of wire cutters, a pair of fully rounded pliers, and a pair of flat pliers.

You will also need some wire, but I do not recommend jewelry wire because it is too delicate.  I had this steel garden wire (for taming unruly tomato plants) which I excavted in the back of my mop closet.  That worked just fine and I like the idea of my nephews' beads being attached with steel.  Even if they manage to pry them apart, Mary will be able to join the thing back together again, no harm done.  This wire must be fairly strong to endure tugging, but thin enough to go through the holes of the beads.  I would suggest buying the beads first, then the wire. 

Then, you will cut enough wire to go through a single small bead (one of the 53).  Form a loop on each end by twisting the wire around the rounded pliers.  Use the flat edged pliers to close the loop.  Do this again with another bead, but leave one end open.  Loop the open-ended portion through the completed loop of the other bead.  Then close.  Keep this going until you have completed a string of ten beads, keeping the last wire end open to attach to the larger bead. 

Now you are ready to add one of the 6 larger beads.  I did something fancy here, but it is not necessary.  I looped the wire three times before putting it into the bead to symbolize the trinity.  I then joined the middle loop to the 10-bead string bead.  I did the same on the other side.  This offered a little decorative ornament which makes the string look handmade but ornate.  When you are done with the primary ring of beads (10 small, 1 large, 10 small, 1 large, 10 small, 1 large, 10 small, 1 large, 10 small), use the remaining beads by making the string that will attach the medalion and the cross, completing the rosary.

Connect the rosary together using the medalion, then add the cross.   

Finally, wrap it and do not forget to make a homemade tag to go with it that explains the significance of you making it for them! 

Remind them to have it blessed by a priest too! 

Making a Rosary Only Out of Twine
There is also this tradition of making rosaries out of twine.  It requires the ability to understand how to make a complicated knot, but that is about it.  It is probably the least expensive option available and could be fun to do with kids.

Need A Video to Help?
If you are unfamiliar with jewlery making altogether and cannot get your mind around it, you can also watch a step by step visual guide through the process by watching this video.  I think this woman is the best; the video comes in parts so that she can take her time and walk you through each step.

About the Picture
All the pictures were taken by me.  The diagram was borrowed from "Real Men Pray the Rosary", without their permission, which is fitting since the rosary is for my nephews.  It is basically a guide book on how to pray the rosary while encouraging men to become comfortable saying the Hail Mary, etc.

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