Going over my Pinterest board, I started taking note of some features of various crystal balls in slings. More behind the cut... (Apologies to anyone still following this on LJ. I long ago forgot how to make an lj-cut on Typepad.)
Kentish Ball in Silver Sling: Ball is smaller than suspension ring. Capsule-style top, looks closed (there's a shine at the top that might be the bent-over metal). Can't tell what the bottom cross-over looks like. Arms decorated with two long rows of punched dots with a raised (?) stripe down the center. Capsule undecorated.
Bedfordshire Ball in Copper Alloy Sling: Capsule missing. Four arms don't quite meet at top of ball. String is modern. Suspension ring goes through two arms, other two have rivets (?). Maybe they held the capsule on? Arms look undecorated, bottom cross-over not visible.
Chessel Down Ball: British Museum notes: "Crystal ball pendant, clear, with sling of 2 grooved & circle-punched silver strips and double-knotted suspension ring. [Curator's comments to a research request:] Examination of the object to establish whether any of the metal components were later.
The bands holding the ball as well as the slipknot ring are fully compatible with early med. metal compositions. The small wire hooked through the slings towards the bottom of the ball could be early medieval or modern, composition uncertain, but manufacturing technique of wire unlikely to be 19th c. The top, where the bindings meet currently held together by modern string and adhesive."
X-ray seems to show a rivet (?) at the bottom, although curator's description makes it sound like the arms are folded back on themselves and hooked together by the small wire. Unless the small wire is just there, hanging out? In the front view, it certainly looks like one arm overlaps the other at the cross-over. Another image with a ruler makes me estimate the ball diameter at 1.5" to 1.75". Slings arms are (a bit less than?) 0.25".
The sling arms are bound to a central bar of (silver?) metal. This produces the spacing also seen on the Bedfordshire ball. None of the sling arms visible have piercings (including on the X-ray) - the central spacer bar is pierced and the suspension ring runs through that.
Observation: Trying to wrangle the sling arms on the labradorite ball was difficult. This central spacer bar would have made things much easier! (But if Bedfordshire had a spacer, how were the rivets (?) attached to the arms and the capsule (?)?)
Second Chessel Down Ball in Silver Sling: Sling arms decorated with 4 grooves, which barely suggest a slightly wider middle section framed by two narrow bands. Sling arms visibly meet at a roundel on the bottom of the ball; seems to be a bit of a groove of the roundel, indicating further ornamentation. I don't see any obvious join - maybe all cut from one piece? Or whitesmithed so skillfully the join has disappeared. Capsule appears to be a simple wrap of metal ribbon - the free end is visible in the picture. Pierced for suspension as usual, and capsule not decorated. Some kind of wire or sprue or something sticking out between capsule and one of the arms.
Rock crystal ball in Wire Sling at the Museum of Liverpool: No idea where this find comes from. Wire sling - the only one I've seen yet - where the wires clearly overlap at the cross-over. Hard to tell, but it looks like they are all soldered together at the top into a short, thicker stem, at the top of which is a small metal circle (not the usual wire suspension ring, this is integral to the sling). Color of the metal may indicate tarnished silver.
Sarr Ball in Gold Sling: Only have a watercolor for this one. Ball about 1.5 - 1.75 times the diameter of the gold pendants shown. Sling arms aren't drawn as if they overlap; decorated with two lines/grooves running down their length at either edge, with a section of flat gold in the center. Capsule is cylindrical, with decoration at top and bottom edge. Some kind of granulation? Capsule pierced for suspension ring.
Kentish Ball in Silver Sling: Sling arms decorated with lines/grooves. Doesn't look like they overlap. Cylindrical capsule with granulated (?) wire decoration at bottom edge, where it meets ball. Capsule pierced for suspension. Ball about 1.5" diameter.
Temple Hill Ball in Silver Sling: Sling arms decorated with longitudinal lines/grooves all the way across their width. Hard to tell, but it looks like they all meet at a square boss at the cross-over - so, each arm soldered to a central square? Maybe there's a rivet or circular decoration I can make out? Capsule absent. Sling arms form a square, just touching at corners. Two arms pierced for suspension ring. Other visible arm shows a hole (?) inside a circle of less-tarnished metal. Hole (?) not quite centered. Was a rivet there?
Why are the sling arms, rivets and suspension rings surviving, but the capsules aren't (in several cases)? Different metal that corroded away? Organic material?
Giberville Ball in Silver Sling: Capsule closed and decorated with grooves running around the circumferance. No holes for suspension seen, but it might be caked with soil - there looks to be a break in the capsule. And old seam where it was soldered? Sling arms are decorated with three evenly spaced grooves, overlap at the cross-over, and are secured there by a visible rivet. Doesn't look like they touch where they go under the capsule. Maybe 2.7 cm diameter ball? (About 1")
Pandhof Ball in Silver Sling: Sling arms again decorated with three evenly spaced grooves. The overlap at the cross-over although I don't see a rivet (but it would be hard to see in this picture). Arms somehow attach to a cast silver capsule/hanger that's like the bigger, beefier brother to the Museum of Liverpool piece. Capsule is rectangular in cross-section and is decorated with incised lines around its circumferance up the shank and about 1/3 of the way up either half of the suspension loop/eyelet for a loop. Circular mark on the shank - a rivet holding the arms inside? 2.7 cm or so, sling arms 3.5-4 mm.
Saint Denis no. 11: Highly decorated gold sling with hefty gold capsule holding clear crystal sphere. Looks like one sling arm may cross over the other. Decorated with what looks like flattened beaded wire along either edge of the sling arms, and a series of raised gold chevrons filling the center of the arms. Capsule is square in cross section, tapered slighly toward the top. Plain raised lip around the bottom of capsule. Gold granulations around both holes for suspension loop. Rounded corners seem to indicate closed capsule. Sling arms just touch at corners where they enter the capsule. Surviving silver suspension ring made of very low gauge wire, much thicker than others. Ball about 2cm diameter.
Saint Denis no. 11 and a larger ball in silver sling: No. 11 a little blurry, but this shows the cross-over and I don't see a rivet. Sling arm 90 degrees from suspension ring piercings is on the top - not sure, but I think that's how the others have been as well. Other ball is twice the size but in a simpler silver setting. Sling arms are silver bars, slightly rounded, and decorated with incised latitudinal lines for a small area around the ball's equator. Sling arms do not overlap, but all meet at a silver circular feature. Not sure if this is a boss that they are soldered to, or a rivet (to what?), or a decoration, or what. Capsule looks round in cross-section, basal raised lip, and possibly some kind of lip around the holes for the suspension ring.
Large clear crystal in silver sling: Original pin had it as 5cm diameter. Sling appears to be cut from one piece of metal - no joins, rivets, etc in evidence, unless a good silversmith can make a join disappear? Decorated with punched rings and a figure made of incised lines (a rectangle with an X inside) and raised dots (in each quadrant). Capsule not in evidence, and the sling arms are bound tightly together.
Crystal in gold sling at auction: Sling arms either rolled at edge or wires soldered on. Capsule is rectangular in cross-section and, uniquely in this group, wider than it is high. Looks like gold wire frames the holes for the suspension ring. Cross-over not visible.
I'm not including a couple interesting pins that are regrettably without much information; I'm not sure when/where they're from. One of them has sling arms much proportionally wider than all of these, but otherwise it's very much in-family.
There appears to be another design of sling that, rather than having the arms meet in a capsule, has them meet at a low-profile circular or rectangular boss on the top of the ball. Of the four examples I have, three are gold, and all are fairly elaborately decorated. The gold ones feature raised designs in gold wire, and the silver one appears to be trying to mimic that look with incisions or punched designs. However, all of these finds are Continental; I haven't yet seen an English ball that's slung in this fashion. It may be limited to the upper crust of the Merovingian royals (who were richer in gold than their Kentish brethren, as I understand it).
The 0.005" bronze I've picked up is suitable. Most of the slings seem to be silver, but there's gold ones, and one copper alloy. (Bronze and brass are copper alloy.)
I can cut the sling in one piece! That doesn't appear common - it would waste a lot of material, or at least render a large sheet of material down into 5 smaller pieces. But it does look like it happens, and I'm not especially working with scarce, rare materials. If I were making this out of sterling silver or gold, I'd be looking into rivets. But I'm not.
If the thin sheet bronze (or was it brass?) is too floppy to stay where it's put, I can use a central post of some kind to help position the free ends of the sling arms. The post will need to be punched/drilled/otherwise pierced for the suspension ring.
The usual suspects of incised lines and punched dots will be fine decoration. A rolled edge helped stabilize the pewter sling, and that's a valid design option, too.
The capsule remains tricky. It's mmmaybe appropriate to just use a wrap-around bit of metal without a top cap (the second Chessel Down ball) but a clean closed cap looks to be most common. These brass end caps just about fit the bill. They feature an integral cast loop at the top, much like the Liverpool and some of the Continental finds. (But they look nothing like the extant finds. Conceptually the same, execution much different.) I could try snipping off the loop, filing it down, and piercing the sides? Can you use a hand power drill without a drill press to do that on bronze or brass?
(Well, they are selling a set of eight caps, so I'd have a few to experiment on...)
Given how frequently the capsules don't survive, I think I'd have some standing to make one out of wood or bone, too.