Rosary cross - something that I once used to take for granted and hardly paid attention to till I started making my own rosaries. Then I wanted crucifixes that would specifically match the rosary itself. And discovered that the only way I was likely to get that was if I could make my own crosses. But how do you make a cross? It turned out to be harder and easier than it seems. But definitely Fun!
I was constantly running out of crosses and it came to a point when I knew I had to be able to make my own. This year (2011), I made my first handmade rosary and now have a happy, growing selection. (See my Jewelry Design page on Handmade Rosaries)
It wasn't just the crucifixes I wanted; it was also the rosary centers. I either never seem to have enough of them or I did not have the right one, with just that right tone that would go perfectly with the rest of the rosary.
So a few weeks ago, I started in earnest to research some handmade rosary cross and rosary center. Then I played around to see if I could make my own versions.
This here is a collection of my attempts. All of these handmade crosses/crucifixes can be used a rosary cross, as a pendant, as charms, etc. Quite versatile really.
I have put them into different sections, loosely based on techniques used, so that it is easier to go directly to the one that might interest you.
First make the chain maille cross - I used the Byzantine weave. I am not sure if you can call it a true Byzantine weave as I modified it to a (what I call) "tight Byzantine" weave. I needed a bit more solidity and rigidity than would have been possible with the standard Byzantine weave. I used both open and closed rings. They are all brass (silver plated) rings; lead & nickel free.
This below shows the back of the (completed) cross. You can see the "tight" chain maille Byzantine weave. Make the tall vertical section of the cross first. Then "pick up" and make the arms of the cross.
After the Byzantine rosary cross has been made, I then wire wrapped beads around the rosary cross. The beads used are Swarovski #5328 XILION bicone beads (4mm, Crystal Silver Night, and Crystal). For the arms and foot of the cross, I wire-sewed in a Swarovski Chaton Montee (Crystal AB) at their tips.
This next photo shows the cross being propped up. It shows how the cross has a strong, rigid body and can hold its own shape. The final rigidity of the cross comes from the wire-wrapping around the body rather than the "tight" Byzantine weave (though that also helps).
This is my basic chainmail cross in "tight" Byzantine weave. Without the wire-wrapping around the body (as in the Wire Wrapped Chainmail Cross above), the body of this cross remains flexible and non-rigid.
This chainmail cross retains its shape but remains flexible and rather attractive in its own right. Also ideal for the person who likes to fiddle!
The photos below were taken with my iPhone and are not very clear. And they were taken in the middle of the night, which didn't help. But hopefully, they will give enough of an overview to be of use.
Start the Byzantine chain maille weave.
I am using 2 different colored jump rings here so that it is easier to see what is going on.
Silver - closed jump rings
Gold - open jump rings
Loop the open (gold) and the closed (silver) silver rings together to start. Here I am using a spare (copper) wire to hold the start, which will make the weave easier to process.
Carry on with the Byzantine chainmail weave. Make it to the length you want for the height of the cross.
Optional: At the bottom, I added more (open/gold) jump rings to fill up the space.
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.
After you have 2 closed (silver) and 2 open (gold) per side, just carry on with Byzantine chainmail weave till you get the desired length you want for the arms of your rosary cross.
This rosary cross, done in light blue crystals (4mm bicones) is the first beaded cross. The beading weave is RAW (Right Angle Weave). Seed beads are sewn in "Xs" over the surface of the cross. Here I used a thin wire (0.25mm) as the sewing "thread" to give the cross more body, rigidity, and strength. The beaded bails is created with the same sewing wire.
This next photo shows a close up of the handmade beaded cross. That is the front side of the cross.
This next is the reverse side. There is no "X" seed bead sewn over on this side. You can see the RAW stitch much better in this photo.
This second cross is done in the same technique.
Apart from the obvious difference in types and colors of beads used, the more subtle differences are:
This technique is adaptable to many variations.
Now this is my particular favourite rosary cross.
The cross base is as above: done in RAW. I have used 4mm seamless metal beads. (Anti-nickle and Anti-lead silver plated brass beads). This is the back of the cross.
For the front of the cross, I have done a Swarovski "Beading Overlay". I use thin wire (0.25mm) as the sewing wire and sewed on the Swarovski Pearls, Crystals, and Chaton Montee - over the base RAW foundation. The bail is made as the same time as this overlay layer is done.
The "overlay" layer is made up of Swarovski Crystal Pearls (3mm, Power Rose), Swarovski XILION bicone (4mm, Cyclamen Opal), and the center: Swarovski Rose Montee (Purple Velvet). The bail is made up of 2.5mm seamless metal beads.
I have simply named this the "Rod & Bead" cross because that is basically what it is.
The horizontal rod I got from BeadSmith, USA specifically for this purpose. This is one of the simples way to create a customized cross or rosary crucifix. Simply choose the beads to match up with the rest of the rosary. In this case, the beads are 6mm round Hematite gemstone beads.
The vertical column was made by putting two thin head pins through the beads and the hole in the horizontal bar. These head pins were luckily thin enough to fit both of them through snugly. They are long copper head pins with ball head (silver plated).
Once the pins are up all the way, I curved the exiting head pins to make the shape of a bail. Then using a 0.4mm dia (silver plated) brass wire, and either starting at the top or bottom (it doesn't matter), I made the coiling around the bail and then wound it round the rest of the body.
This is another of my favourites. Though this rosary cross may look it, it is not so hard to make.
For this rosary cross, I used one of my favourite findings - a 5-hole connector rod. The rod is strong and versatile. It has nice big holes. I used a thick wire (1mm), folded it in half (fold is at the bottom of the cross) and put it through the rod's center hole.
The beading for the cross is done in 2 stages.
The foundation beads is made with Swarovski #5328 XILION bicone crystals (4mm, Cyclamen Opal, Violet Opal).
Using a thin wire (0.25mm), I attached it to the base of the cross (to the folded end of the thick wire). Then I strung the beads onto the thin wire, making sure at the appropriate height, the thin wire goes through the rod's center hole as well. This then sets the length of the bottom half of the vertical section for the cross.
Carry on stringing beads along the horizontal arm of the cross, making use of the holes in the rod connector, where appropriate.
Carry on stringing needed beads to the top of the cross. After stringing enough beads to make the top of the cross look balanced, coil enough of the thin wire around the double-thick wires at the top to be able to make a bail. Make the bail and use any of the remaining thin wire to merge/join the bail back to the body of the cross.