I was inspired to make a set of Great Story Beads back in 2004 after seeing Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd give a presentation in Minneapolis. However, Connie and Michael's beads are not spaced to scale with the amount of time they represent; there are always two spacer beads between each pair of event beads. I reasoned that if I made a series of bead chains at different time scales -- billions of years, hundreds of millions, etc. -- I could then just count the beads to remember approximately when each event took place.
Connie and Michael use the colors of the spacer beads to represent the different epochs of cosmological and geological time. I use them instead to represent different lengths of time, in rainbow order, so that a red spacer bead is a billion years, an orange one is 100 million, and so on. This convention makes it easy to put the seven strings of beads in chronological order.
I found the process of going through the timeline and and selecting beads to be very meaningful and fulfilling. However, I would caution anyone who's interested in making a set of beads to shop carefully, as they can be surprisingly expensive. It's hard to believe, but my beads cost over $150! I probably could have found better deals through catalogs, the Internet, etc. rather than (or in addition to) visiting bead shops in person.
Click a string of beads to find out what they mean!