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If you are wanting to upgrade parts of your early period kit, I cannot recommend enough that you consider trying something beyond "absolute" symmetry in your strands of beads for certain times and places. Why? Because often what we see is not a grouping of beads where the left and right sides of the strand can mirror each other identically. Frequently the beads in a single find are a scattering of types and styles.
Celtic finds, Migration Period, Viking Age... so many periods were the beads seem to be valued for their uniqueness, rather than "matching" in a mirroring sort of way. In some collections we see a possibility for balance in the stringing (we often do not know exactly how they were strung during life, and many reconstructions opt for at least balance in the overall look if exact symmetry is not possible), but not that mirroring effect.
I know that my first Viking strands were always painfully symmetrical, and they never really looked "right" to me. I was definitely over engineering. I am happier with the things that I make now, where I let different beads speak to me and get included for what each one brings to my mind.
Below are some examples of extant groupings of beads that show off balance (with out absolute symmetry) and and some collections that really are a delightfully chaotic mix of things that seem to speak more to me of the people and places from which these items came.
Many museums have beads online and its sometimes worth it to just spend hours surfing until inspiration hits (unimus.no, National Museum of Denmark, Saxon beads are also easy to track down... heck, this is the one time I am actually going to recommend surfing the hated Pinterest for inspiration).
Honestly? I would LOVE to see more of this type of work, these things that make the piece unique, in the modern world as well.
Birka 971... definitely balance was sought after here, but the beads themselves do not show absolute symmetry in size or type from left to right. Also, this one does something else I love, which a large grouping of a single color of bead and a few in the center that really are shown well because of the arrangment.
I am mother to a billion cats and am on journey to recreate the past via costume, textiles, culture and food.
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Blogroll of SCA & Costume Bloggers
Below is a collection of some of my favorite places online to look for SCA and historic costuming information.
More Amie Sparrow - 16th Century German Costuming
Gianetta Veronese - SCA and Costuming Blog
Grazia Morgano - 16th Century A&S
Mistress Sahra -Dress From Medieval Turku
Loose Threads: Cathy's Costume Blog
Mistress Mathilde Bourrette - By My Measure: 14th and 15th Century Costuming
More than Cod: Exploring Medieval Norway