Somehow or another I've got the hang of this lampworking thing well enough to finish the ave beads for my paternoster project! I ended up being able to produce enough 7-9mm beads for a Seraphic rosary, or Franciscan Crown, which has seven decades (72 beads in all once you add the bit at the end). Yay!
I'm super excited about this for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's a really interesting form of paternoster and one of the few that can be documented to a specific time period. Franciscan historians date it to 1422 (see http://www.shrinesf.org/rosary.htm), when a young friar had a vision of the Virgin. Second, the focus is on the joys of the Mary rather than the more common (at least today) sorrows or wounds that you tend to see in "special" forms of the devotion (though if you do the standard 15 mysteries only 5 of those are sorrowful). I'm all about some extra joy right now, so I find this particular form of the prayer really appealing. Lastly, I really like St. Francis. My grandmother, who was a huge force in my early life had a particular affinity for St. Francis and when I visited Assisi in high school I found the experience particularly moving. I wasn't even Catholic yet, but I found it to be one of the most peaceful and prayerful places I've ever visited. The brothers that we met there were some of the kindest, warmest people I have had the honor to met.
When I set out to make the beads for a paternoster I was really hoping I would be able to do a Franciscan Crown, but I wasn't sure if the actual glass working was going to go well. I took the time to practice, and didn't try to do anything more ambitious that 72 simple beads that are more or less the same size (which is, I hope, ambition enough for my eventual judges), but so far it's looking really good. Here you can see everything laid out, waiting for the gauds. I found that if I sorted the decades into similar sizes you notice the variations in size much less.
The Rosary Workshop. Hearts were quite popular and they have a couple of suitable sacred hearts that should be about the right size. I'd like to avoid a tassel, though if I don't find a cross or something else that goes well with whatever gauds I end up with that's what I'll use. I had planned to tablet weave the cord for the beads, as something similar is shown in one of the MOL books, but the hole in the beads is a little too small so I'll thread them on a heavy linen cord.