Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Wear or Not to Wear

Just posting a link today to a blog post and related comments that rosary makers and users might find interesting. The post was written by a Franciscan priest and is called "Faculties for Blessing Fashion Accessories".

A new thing for Etsy shoppers  - coupon codes! Any reader of this blog can receive a 20% discount on their order from my Etsy shop (not counting tax and shipping) by entering the coupon code: BLOG2. If you haven't been to my Etsy shop, you can find it here. This offer is subject to change. 

And since it will soon be December, here's a link to a December birthstone rosary I made recently using genuine blue zircon (as usual, clicking on the picture will take you to more photos and information). When I have a chance to take photos of it, I'll be listing one made of blue topaz (sometimes used as a substitute for the pricier blue zircon); when my supplies arrive, I'll be making one of blue zircon colored Czech glass (which is almost as hard to find as the real thing).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Tale of Two Rosaries

At least some of my vast following (ha!) have said they like to read stories about how particular rosaries came to be. The last two rosaries I've listed have a tale to tell. They were originally going to be one rosary. In fact, I'd been planning it for months. The gold twisted beads looked very Christmasy to me, and what better to go with them than my most recently discovered angels? This set was lampwork, and cute, and I especially liked them because, with their dark hair and eyes and duskier-than-usual faces, they could be seen as almost any ethnic group.

So both sets of beads had been sitting in the drawer where I keep those that have been paired up and are ready to be made into rosaries. Every once in awhile when I opened the drawer I'd catch a glimpse of them and get excited about how that rosary would look. Then I started making Christmas rosaries and, a couple of days ago, it was time to actually put the beads together. As soon as I had them on the table in front of me, I knew it wasn't going to work.

Not only were the angels "cute" while the twisted beads were "beautiful," but I evidently hadn't noticed the pastel trim on the angels' robes, or how very yellow their wings were. The disconnect of tone between the two was jarring. And when I set up a decade to see how it would really look, the angels were overwhelmed by the gold beads. No good at all.

So I headed where I often do - to my "stash". I think everyone who does any kind of crafting must have a stash. It's the place where you keep things that you don't know how you're going to use but, somehow, know they're going to be useful some day. My stash is mostly a result of three things: 1) beads being on sale;  2) buying a set of beads I specifically need for something, and ordering more stuff from that Etsy shop (or other online source) in order to save on shipping cost;  3) buying a set of beads simply because I love them, even though I don't know what I'm going to do with them. 

The twisted gold beads found a partner through a combination of numbers 2 and 3. I'd fallen in love with the black and gold rectangles and had bought them when I was ordering something else from an Etsy shop. I knew they were gorgeous - stunning, even in the photos - but I also knew it was going to take a special kind of bead to hold its own with them without the whole effect being too much. I'd been holding onto them for ages.

As a writer, I'm familiar with the process of trying to find the right word, possibly for hours or days, then having the moment of excitement when the perfect word comes to mind: "Yes! That's the word I want!" It's a triumphant feeling. And I've had it a few times when I've been putting beads (or sometimes a center or cross) together for a rosary. I definitely had it when I put the twisted gold beads together with the black and gold swirled, glass rectangles. Here's the result (more pictures and a description if you click on the photo):

The little angels were more difficult because, at first, I couldn't let go of wanting them to be "Christmasy". I had a Christmas Rosaries section in my shop, after all, and had to have a few things there. And every rosary I'd ever made using angels for the "Our Father" beads had been Christmas themed. But that pastel trim on the angels' robes said something different. I'm putting the rosary in my Christmas section, but if it's still around when I next have a Springtime Rosaries section, it'll go there, too. Half of the angels have pink trim on their robes and half have light green. In my stash, I had some light green cats-eye beads that were a perfect match for the green trim. It wasn't as exciting a moment as the black-and-gold one, but I'm very happy with the result.

The cats-eye beads were in my stash because of reason number 1 (see above). I'm on Fusion Bead's email list, and whenever they have a sale I get a notice about it. Occasionally they have something on sale that I'm interested in. This time it was for a number of types of beads that they were discontinuing. I bought a few, including these light green beads. I wasn't thinking at the time, "I really need some light green cats-eye beads," but they were certainly something that might be useful in the future. And they were. (I still have some beads from that order that I haven't yet found a use for, but I'm sure I will.)

Oh, we should look at that rosary, too, shouldn 't we:

By the way, the center of that rosary is one I had left over from my Lutheran prayer beads experiment. You just never know.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another Vote for Tornado Crimps

Ever since the Christmas in July/August sale, all rosaries in my Etsy shop have been ones made with tornado crimps. Or so I thought. When I was pulling the older ones out of commission, I ran across one that surprised me. I'd thought it was one of my earliest rosaries, but it was clearly made with tornado crimps (it's easy to tell which kind of crimp has been used just by looking at it). I shrugged and put it down to my poor sense of time. I'd evidently made the rosary more recently than I'd thought, so it stayed in the shop.

Then last week, when I was packing up rosaries for a craft show, that rosary fell apart. I was shocked - out of the couple of hundred rosaries I'd made with tornado crimps, none had ever come apart (that I know of)! I looked more closely at the rosary and realized that its crimps had been half-and-half. It had originally been made with old-style crimps, but then must have had the stem reattached with tornado crimps. It was those on the stem I'd seen when deciding to keep the rosary in the shop. It was, of course, one of the old-style crimps that had come loose. I feel better now, although it still means I'll have to completely restring the rosary - using all tornado crimps this time.

Here's what the rosary looked like before its demise - and pretty much what it will look like again after I restring it:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Because of How He Lived

Because I've been really busy lately, and because busyness doesn't lead to profound thoughts, I'm copying something straight from my website.  It regards a saint's day coming up this week, on November 11:

November 11 is Veterans Day. It also happens to be the feast day of one of the patron saints of soldiers, Martin of Tours. Somewhat ironically, this patron saint is someone who left the army when he became Christian - but that was the Roman army. There's a legend that says Martin met a beggar on the road who had nothing to wear against the cold. Martin used his Roman army sword to cut in half his luxurious Roman army cloak, and gave half of the cloak to the beggar. Then he had a dream (vision?) in which he saw Jesus wearing the cloak he had given to the beggar. An experience like that could certainly make someone think about changing careers.

Being a liturgy geek, I find Saint Martin's feast day to be particularly fascinating. It's officially labeled a Memorial, which is the normal run-of-the-mill remembrance for most saints. But everything about its liturgy - the prayers and Scripture readings at Mass, the psalms used in the Liturgy of the Hours, etc. - is set up as if it were a Feast (one step up from a Memorial, to commemorate Very Important Saints). As far as I know, there's no other day like it on the calendar. By all accounts, the explanation is that Saint Martin was once considered to be a Very Important Saint, important enough to rate a Feast. Over the centuries what had made him special became pretty hum-drum, so he was demoted to a Memorial. But evidently no one's had the heart to take away his Feast-like celebration.

What made Martin special was that he wasn't a martyr. If that sounds hum-drum to us, well, that's the point. But Martin was the first person to be officially declared a Saint who wasn't a martyr. So at the time it was important news.

The whole Saint (as opposed to saint) thing started in the Roman catacombs, where Christians met during the Roman persecution for "the breaking of the bread" (a.k.a. the Mass). Now that Mass is in English, the priest has a number of options for the Eucharistic Prayer, the central prayer of the Mass which in "the old days" was called the Canon. But for most of its life, the Latin Mass had only one Canon, and our current Eucharistic Prayer I is simply a translation of that Latin prayer into English. And embedded in that prayer is something that remains from the days of the catacombs: a list of Saints. The priest today has the option of shortening the list if he wants to, but the long form names quite a few Saints, all of whom were martyred during the Roman persecution. The origin of the list is the practice during the persecution of announcing the names of members of the community who had been put to death. The names were also inscribed on walls in the catacombs. Adding a person's name to the list that was read during the Canon was canonizing the person, which is still the word used for declaring someone officially a Saint.

But a strange thing happened when Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire: since members of the community were no longer being martyred, no one was being added to the list. As is true today, the early Church considered the people who were canonized to be examples of holiness and dedication for other members of the community. With the end of the persecutions, the Christians in Rome had a couple of choices: they could either stop where they were and not offer the community any new examples of holiness, or they could begin recognizing the holiness of people who hadn't been martyred. Of course, they chose the latter. But as with most new ideas, some people needed convincing. They could hopefully be won over if the first non-martyred person added to the list was someone whose holiness was so widely recognized that no one could question it. We don't know much about Martin's life, but we know that the community was so sure of his holiness that they picked him to be the first canonized person who wasn't a martyr.

The mentions of Martin in his feast-day liturgy speak over and over about how he glorified God not by how he died but by how he lived. If someone doesn't know the history behind his canonization, it sounds pretty hum-drum. But if someone does know the history, it can be interesting and even somewhat exciting to know that this bit of the past is still recognized in the present. After all, most of us will also be called to glorify God by how we live - which the early Church understood when deciding to give us Martin as an example.