In a more romantic time, ladies of the court made their own beads for rosaries out of rose petals. These beads were not only headily scented but served to provide them with objects of faith. You, too, can make DIY rose beads. The project is not only fun but has a historical significance and religious background. Making rose beads is an activity in which even the smallest members of the family can join and produce heirlooms that will last for years, endowed with memories of your fragrant garden.
What are Rose Beads?
Preserving rose petals is a common sentimental process. You may also want to try making rose beads from these lovely flowers. They are easy to make, take few tools and very little skill but can make an interesting way to save a treasured memory. Rose beads may become part of a necklace or bracelet, something that will stand the test of time and can be passed down to your children.
Many of us have received a bouquet of roses and pressed a few between the pages of a favorite book. But in times long gone by, observant young ladies would create their own rosaries to use while at prayer from roses. The original process likely involved a mortar and pestle, which can also be used today.
The rose beads served as objects of reverence but also contained the scent of the rose garden and were an inexpensive way to make these sacred necklaces. Rosary actually comes from the Latin rosarium, meaning “garland of roses.” The fragrance released as the beads were fingered in prayer were thought to please God and encourage Him to listen to those heartfelt prayers.
The first step in how to make rose beads is to gather the petals. These may be from a bouquet or simply harvested from your garden. Remove the petals from the ovary and stem so that all remains is the velvety, aromatic material. The color doesn’t matter much, as the beads will dry to reddish brown or even black.
Next, get out the electric blender or a mortar and pestle. You are now going to make a fragrant pulp. For every 2 cups (473 grams) of petals, you will need 1/4 cup (59 grams) of water. The type of water is up to you. Some tap waters may contain minerals and chemicals that can affect the scent of the beads, so diluted or rainwater are better choices.
After you have processed the petals into a gel-like pulp, it needs to be heated at medium in a saucepan. For black beads, use a cast iron pan which oxidizes and darkens the petal mash. Stir consistently with a wooden spoon to prevent burning until the mash is the consistency of clay. Remove the pan and let the mixture cool to a comfortable temperature with which to work.
You are going to get your hands in the stuff and mold it. If it is still a bit too moist, squeeze it in a paper towel or cheesecloth to get extra water out and tighten it up enough to hold a shape. This is your chance to enhance the scent if some of the rose aroma has faded by using a rose oil prior to forming the beads.
The last part of your DIY rose beads is to shape them. You will need a firm skewer or knitting needle or whatever works to make holes in the beads. Roll small pieces of the firmed rose mash in your hands or on a counter to make round or oval beads. Shape them around the skewer and carefully pull them off with a nice central pierce. This part can be tricky and may take a few attempts to master.
Lay each bead out on a cookie sheet or rack for several days to dry. Roll them each day to expose each side for faster drying. Once dry, you can create jewelry from them that will last for years and possibly even generations. It would make a thoughtful gift for a loved one or a “something borrowed” for a blushing bride.