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How to Make Rose Beads at Home
A Medieval Jewelry Favorite
Rose beads are a beautiful ancient tradition that has rarely been carried down into present times. (In fact, the word "rosary" exists because they were so often made of these beads!) Easy to make and lasting almost forever, making rose beads is a wonderful way to turn your sentimental flowers into a lovely permanent souvenir. Whether you want your wedding bouquet, valentine's day flowers, or other flowers turned into jewelry, these easy-to-follow instructions will help you make the unbelievable transformation from dying flowers or yard waste to exquisite jewelry in just a few days and very little of your time! This easy medieval craft could even become a business, if you enjoy it enough.
Supplies You Will Need
A cast-iron Dutch oven is the way to go. I have cast-iron pots and pans that are nearly 100 years old—these sturdy pots and pans will last just about forever!
I got an Osterizer blender back in 1980 and I am still using it today for just about any kitchen job. This may not be a fancy blender, but it is a great buy!
Orris root powder (it comes from the roots of the iris flower) is used as a fixative for fragrances. You can also use orris root when making potpourri.
You need a stiff wire for keeping the beads suspended while they dry. This wire is perfect for the job—and you can use it for making jewelry afterwards, too!
You don't need a high-performance pan for drying. In fact, you've probably already got the perfect pan laying around in your kitchen cabinets. This is just to show you what I am talking about in the directions.
Supplies You Will Need:
- Rose petals
- Cast-iron deep skillet or dutch oven
- Meat grinder, food processor, blender or mortar and pestle
- Powdered orris (iris) root
- Bead wire
- If you're using fresh roses, pull the petals off the flowers. You can also often get free petals from your florist, and if you get only a few at a time you can hold them in the refrigerator or freezer until you have enough to make the beads.
- Tear out the white part at the base of each petal.
- Fill your cast-iron pot or skillet with petals and enough water to cover them.
- Simmer the petals for one hour.
- Grind the petals in your food processor, blender, or meat grinder, or with your mortar and pestle.
- Refrigerate overnight.
- Simmer one hour, let cool, grind, and refrigerate each day for several days until the the petals lose all resistance and begin to take on a putty or clay-like texture. The cast-iron will cause the petals to blacken; this is normal and desirable.
- Add dried orris root (which is ground-up iris root) to the mixture and mix in well. This helps the finished product hold its fragrance for years.
- If your rose clay is too dry, add some moisture with a mister and mix in well. If your clay is too moist, you can place it on a screen until it dries to a workable consistency.
- Shape your clay into pieces about the size of marbles (they will shrink a lot). You can either make "snakes" and cut off or pinch off small pieces and shape them, or just form a ball in your hands. Pierce each piece with a bead wire and string them onto the wire, not touching, and lay the wire across a pan to keep the beads in the air.
- Place the beads in a place which has a fair amount of air circulation.
- Rotate the pieces every day to keep them from sticking to the wire. If they begin to deform, continue to reshape them.
- When the beads are dry, remove them from the wire and use as you would any other bead.
What to Do with Your New Beads
- Traditional uses for rose beads are to make rosaries and prayer ropes (the rose is traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary), but any place where the beads will meet your skin is a good place to wear your new jewelry; the warmth of your skin will release a bit of the rose fragrance, and the oils in your skin will keep them in good condition. The key to rose bead jewelry is to wear it often!
- Rose beads are fragile, so handle them with care. Do not clean except to dust them lightly. Do not varnish or use anything on the beads except for rose oil--otherwise the beads won't release their fragrance!
- The rose clay shrinks up dramatically as it dries, so it's best to make this in large batches.
- If you are sure the roses are from an organic source, you can save the liquid from cooking the roses for recipes. Rose lemonade is an elegant and refreshing drink.