13 Oct 2011
I am constantly running out of crosses and I want to be able to make some cross (or crucifix) of my own. This year I started with my first handmade rosary and now happily have a growing selection. See: Rosary Gallery
But I have been hankering to making some of my own crosses and rosary centers. I never seem to have enough or not have just the one with the right touch that goes with the rest of the rosary.
A few weeks ago, I started in earnest to research some handmade rosaries and then I played around to see if I could make my own versions.
Collected here are my first attempts. All of these handmade crosses/crucifixes can be used in a rosary, as pendants, as charms, etc.
Construction: first make chainmail cross. I used Byzantine weave. I am not sure if that is the name as I modified it to a tight Byzantine weave to give it more solidity and rigidity. My rings are both open and closed, silver plated over brass. Lead & Nickel free.
Then I wire wrapped beads around it. The beads are Swarovskii #5328 bicone crystal beads (4mm. Crystal Silver Night, Crystal). And on 3 of the arms, I wire-sewed in Swarovski Chaton Montee (Crystal AB).
This is back of the cross. You can see the chainmail Byzantine weave. Make the tall vertical section. Then "pick up" and make the arms.
You can also quite clearly see the Swarovski Chaton Montees at the tips of the arms and leg.
This shows the top of the cross/crucifix in great detail. This is to show that there are many options possible (due to its chainmail nature) for how and to what the cross can be attached. This can be used in a rosary or as a pendant or as a charm.
This is what a basic chainmail cross, in (tight) Byzantine weave looks like. Without the wire wrapping (as seen above), this cross remains non-rigid and flexible.
Note: this cross was used in the Handmade Hematite & Moonstone rosary
This chainmail cross is flexilbe, as shown. Ideal for the fiddler kind of person :D
Start the Byzantine chainmail weave.
I am using 2 different colors here so that it is easier to see.
Silver - closed ring
Gold - open rings
Loop the open gold and close silver rings. Here I am using a spare (copper) wire to hold to make the weave easier. You can also use a paperclip, safety pin, etc.
Carry on with the Byzantine chainmail weave. Make it to the length you want for the height of the cross.
You don't need to but here, at the bottom, I added more (open gold) rings to fill up the last loops.
Next, determine where the horizontal arm of the cross is going to be. Using a headpin, isolate 2 side rings.
Attach 2 open (gold) rings per side.
TIP: It would be a good idea to attach 2 closed (silver) rings at the same time as well. -- see next photo
After you have 2 gold and 2 open (per side), just carry on with Byzantine chainmail weave till you get the desired length you want for the arms of your cross.
Then seed beads are sewn in "Xs" over the surface of the cross. Here I used thin wire (0.25mm) to give the cross more rigidity and strength. The beaded bail is created with the same wire.
Below, on the left is a close up of the handmade beaded cross. It shows one side - the front.
The one on the right shows the other side of the cross (where no beading over the surface has been done). You can see the RAW weave much better here.
* the bail is a closed ring worked into the piece while bead weaving the initial RAW foundation.
* the center of the cross has been beaded over with a different/contrasting "X" for contrast. Not so clear here but it does add something extra to the piece.
This technique is adaptable to so many variations.
Now this one I really like as well.
The base is made as the handmade crosses above - right angle weave (RAW) beading. I have used seamless metal beads (4mm). They are silver plated over brass; lead and nickel free. (Pb & Ni free)
Swarovski Beading Overlay: The front is done in Swarovski crystal pearls (3mm, Powder Rose) and Swarovski bicone (4mm, Cyclamen Opal), with a center Swarovski Rose Montee (Purple Velvet). The baill (made of 2.5mm seamless metal beads) is made at the same time as the Swarovski beading overlay. Instead of beading thread, I used thin wire (0.25mm) to do the bail and beading overlay. Much stronger finish.
Note that the beading is not X's as above examples. The Swarovski beads overlay is done more in this style:
Click this image to see the full jewelry set made in that beading style.
I have simply called this the Rod & Bead cross. That is basically what it is.
The horizontal rod I imported from BeadSmith, USA specifically for this purpose. One of the simplest way to create a customized cross - especially for rosary making.
The beads then can match the rest of the rosary. In this case here, the beads are 6mm hematite gemstone beads.
I also employed some wire coiling to make the bail.
The vertical column was made with putting 2 thin head pins through the beads and horizontal rod. These head pins were luckily thin. The are silver plated over copper.
Once it all the way up, I curved to make a bail. Like making a look on a head pin. Then I used a 0.4mm wire (silver plated over brass) and starting at top or bottom, it doesn't matter, I made the coiling for the bail and for the rest of the body.
The horizontal bar uses one of my most beloved, delicious 5-hole connector rod (jewelry findings).
I sell them. I have only a few packets left. I LOVE them so yes, I have my own stash :D
Anyway, apart from being so strong, versatile, and shiny, the rod finding has nice big holes. I used a thick wire (1mm), folded in half (fold is at the bottom) and put it through the center hole in the rod.
The beading on the cross is done in 2 stages.
The foundation beads is made of Swarovski #5328 bicone crystals (4mm, Cyclamen Opal, Violet Opal).
Usiing a thinner wire (0.25mm) I attached it to the base of the cross (where the folded end of the thick wire is). Then strung the beads up, making sure that at the appropriate height, the beading wire goes through the center hole of the horizontal rod. This then sets the height of the bottom section.
Carry on stringing on beads for both arms. Make use of holes on horizontal rod where appropriate.
Carry on to top of cross. After string enough beads to make the top look balanced, coil enough of the thin wire around the top double thick wire. Coil enough to make loop/bail and cut off any excess of the thick wire. Make the bail and use any of the thin wire left to merge the bail back onto body.
2nd part of beading:
with new thin wires, thread small beads (I used Swarovski 2.5mm bicone crystals for the front and Miyuki clear seed beads on the back) so that you can wrap around the cross. This is also to secure the first layering of beads firmly to the cross structure.
If you click on photo to see magnified details of the back of this handmade cross, you might think it looks a bit messy. Me too.
However in real life, it looks Charming :)
It has a rustic elegance in both looks and feel. So I am happy.
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