paternoster string with walnut and amber beads
January 01, 2010: I made this paternoster as a christmas present for Karsten. I'm glad he liked it :-)
It is patterned after a string hold by Saint Joseph in a painting of the Magdalen reading by Rogier van der Weyden (which might actually be a surviving fragment of a lost altarpiece). Saint Joseph's string contains large amber beads (two times eight), three bone or ivory marker beads and black (?) tassels on both ends.
I did not find an affordable source for many amber beads of the same size... As wooden beads seem to have been very common,
I used round walnut beads I ordered here (a pity they only deliver in Switzerland and
what a pain it was to get these beads!) with large amber marker beads. The walnut beads are well-polished and show a nice
grain texture, so I'm quite happy with these. As my beads seem to be a little smaller than Saint Joseph's (the wooden ones
are c. 15 mm in diameter) I used three times eight beads instead of two times eight as in the Weyden painting.
I ordered dark blue silk thread (tight twist) from Devere Yarns for the string and the little tassels. I used a simple two loops technique to make the string (using more loops simply made it too thick for the beads). I wanted a turk's head knot on the tassels, but there was not enough time to make gimp thread (which would be easier to knot and would look much better) so I used a simple cord for the knot. Here is a useful tutorial an how to make the turk's head knot. Maybe I'll try again later with proper gimp thread... Anyway, here are some pictures of Karsten's new rosary:
Rather short linear paternosters with tassels are typically used by men. Here are some more examples from the artwork:
The one in the Arnolfini wedding picture has quite a large number of beads (29 if I counted correctly, which is very close to 28 as in my rosary :-) The tassels in the second picture might have turk's head knots - If they do, they are even made from a different colored thread than the tassel itself. The paternosters in the third and fourth picture seem might be made from wooden beads. The man in the last picture holds a string with rather few beads (so much for piety)...
(bettina, january 2010)