By Jessica Byler
Sometimes beading objects can be quite complex! A cool Egyptian broad collar (31-27-303) came into the lab and needed to be restrung. The collar has six alternating rows of blue and black faience beads and a final row of teardrop beads with falcon-headed terminals.
Although the beads are in excellent condition, they are on modern cotton thread which was starting to degrade. In several areas, the string had broken and been reknotted or tied to other close by strings. To make sure the collar was stable enough for display, it was decided to restring the broad collar.
Four strands of white braided Dacron (polyester fiber), each about 6 meters long, were used. To keep track of the strings, the ends were color coded using markers and each strand used a different dental needle. Half of each strand was wound onto color coded spindles made from bamboo skewers so that restringing began in the middle of each strand. The spindles were stuck into the side of the foam tray to keep them out of the way.
The collar was restrung from top to bottom, moving across each row. Two strings moving in opposite directions were passed through each of the beads in the row to create a ladder-like system to hold them vertically. I cut and removed the old cotton string as I worked across each row in order to keep the beads in place.
After all the rows were restrung across the collar, additional string was passed through to connect the columns of beads. The flexible dental needles we use for restringing were key here – they can bend at odd angles to pass the string through a column even when the beads were not lined up exactly. The larger teardrop beads at the bottom were also attached by running the string up to the top of the collar and back. Finally, the strings were knotted at the terminals.
In the end, the collar was restrung using approximately 25 meters of braided Dacron string!