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Making Rose Petal Beads

Published: 8th February 2008 18:13

Making Rose Petal Beads

The history of beads made out of rose petals is a long one. Various sources trace them back to ancient Greece, medieval times, and Victorian England. It seems to be widely accepted that rosaries got their name from the rose beads that they were originally made out of.

Rose petals are the traditional choice, but any flowers will do.

First, get some flower petals. Ideally you should have a rosebush in your or a friend's garden .

Almost all flower petals work (leaves do not: chlorophyll is too slimy. If you want green beads that match the rose beads for your projects, try following these instructions with green paper instead of petals). You'll need one double handful of petals for about two dozen beads. The more vivid and fragrant the blooms, the better.

Now that you have the petals, you need to reduce them to a clay-like paste. 

The old fashioned method is this:

Gather the roses and chop the petals as finely as you can. Put them in a saucepan and barely cover with water. (If you have a cast iron skillet, the iron will impart a lovely deep hue to the beads.) Heat for an hour but do not let it boil. Repeat this for three or four days and if necessary, add more water. It is important to never let the water boil but to warm it up each day over a moderate heat.

NB Ask an adult for help with chopping and heating the rose petals if you are not usually allowed to use a knife or the hob!

However, the simplest way is to toss the petals and some water into the blender.The almighty blender!This is a different batch of petals than the above picture...

Pull the goop out of the blender and drain the water off. This is actually less messy than it looks, and smells wonderful. Pick up a pinch of this stuff and squeeze water out of it until you can gently roll it into a bead. Make the beads about a half inch in diameter at this point, because they shrink a lot when drying.

Stick a pin through the bead and put it somewhere that it can dry. Pinning the drying beads to a corkboard works well, as they need air to flow otherwisae they go mouldy. 

In two or three days the beads will be dry enough to work with. Be sure to move them around a little while they're drying, or they might get stuck to the pin.

Here's a scan of a finished necklace, made with dried beads.
The smaller beads are standard seed beads.

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