How to Make Beads From Roses

Overview

That classic Victorian craft, making rose petal beads, owes much to the remarkable similarity of crushed rose petals to wet clay. Unlike clay beads, however, rose beads retain the haunting fragrance of a rose garden for generations. Of course, the practice of turning roses into beads predates the Victorians by hundreds of years. In fact, the original rosary beads really were made out of roses, as their name suggests. When making these fragrant spheres at home, use the darkest roses, and if possible a rusty cast iron pot, to achieve fragrant, richly-hued beads resembling mahogany in color and sheen.

Modern Method

Step 1

Gather fresh rose petals from your garden or from a floral shop specializing in pesticide-free buds. For 60 beads --- enough to string a long necklace -- you will need a half-bushel, or about one grocery bag's worth of petals. Try to take only the petals, rather than the entire rose, to save time in the kitchen.

Step 2

Process the petals lightly in a food processor. Alternatively, snip the roses with garden shears.

Step 3

Pour water into a cast-iron pot. For every 4 cups of roses gathered, measure 1 cup water. Simmer the petals and the water for one hour.

Step 4

Remove the pot from the burner and let the mixture sit overnight.

Step 5

Repeat steps 3 and 4 twice, adding extra water as needed.

Step 6

Set the pot aside, checking after two days that the consistency is that of wet clay. If not, wait another day or two.

Step 7

Roll small pieces of the rose mixture into balls the size of marbles, using all of the mixture. Rolling the balls in a circular motion between your hands will achieve an evenly-shaped ball.

Step 8

Dry on paper towels for one to two days, until the mixture feels somewhat drier, but still yields to the touch.

Step 9

Thread dental floss or fishing line through a large needle. String beads through one or several lengths of the floss or fishing line.

Step 10

Hang the strands of beads horizontally to dry, keeping beads from touching one another. Rotate them often to make sure the rose medium doesn't close in over the floss. Remove the beads after one week.

Step 11

Polish the beads individually with a soft cloth, or wait until stringing to polish them at the same time.

Old-Fashioned Technique

Step 1

Gather fresh rose petals from your garden or from a floral shop specializing in pesticide-free buds. For 60 beads --- enough to string a long necklace -- you will need a half-bushel, or about one grocery bag's worth of petals. Try to take only the petals, rather than the entire rose, to save time in the kitchen.

Step 2

Grind the rose petals with a mortar and pestle or a food grinder.

Step 3

Place the ground rose petals in a cast iron pot for one day.

Step 4

Regrind the petals each day for two weeks, always returning the rose mixture to the cast iron pot between grindings.

Step 5

Form all of the mixture into small, evenly-shaped balls the size of marbles when the mixture is the consistency of wet clay.

Step 6

Put a large pin through each ball and spear the pins into a soft board, such as a bulletin board. Keep the pins apart so the beads don't touch.

Step 7

Remove the beads from the pin after at least two weeks. Polish the beads with a soft cloth.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/2 bushel rose petals
  • Food processor, food grinder or mortar and pestle
  • Cast iron pot
  • Large needle or pin
  • Paper towels (modern method only)
  • Dental floss or fishing line (modern method only)
  • Flannel or other soft cloth
  • Chain or thread
  • Clasp (optional)

References

  • Herbal Treasures; Phyllis V. Shaudys; 1990
  • Mother Earth News

Who Can Help

  • The Bead Site
Keywords: rose petal beads, rose beads, rosary, make beads, Victorian craft

About this Author

Melissa Jordan-Reilly has been a writer for 20 years, both as a newspaper reporter and as an editor of nonprofit newsletters. Among the publications in which she has published are, "The Winsted Journal," "Taconic" and "Compass Magazine." A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Jordan-Reilly also pursues sustainable agriculture techniques and tends a market garden at her Northwestern Connecticut home.