DIY: Rose Bead Instructions

| June/July 1996

  • Rose petals from the garden undergo a profound transformation: they are cooked slowly into a fragrant mash, which is then rolled into beads. When dry, the beads are strung and packaged in airtight jars.


• 2–3 quarts clean rose petals
• Large stainless-steel pot
• Water
• Blender or food processor
• Jelly bag or cheesecloth
• Iron pot or skillet
• Rubber gloves
• Tray
• Newspapers
• Paper towels
• Rose essence
• Plastic containers with tight-fitting lids
• 1/2-teaspoon measuring spoon
• Butter paddles (optional)
• 3/64-inch brass wire, cut into 12-inch lengths
• Empty small box or Styrofoam tray
• Glass jars with lids
• Fine sandpaper
• Unwaxed dental floss
• An assortment of other kinds of beads, if desired

1. Making the mash: Place the rose petals in the stainless-steel pot with water to cover, about 1 quart. Bring the contents to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly for 2 to 6 hours, stirring occasionally. You can cook the petals all day or cook them for a while one day, turn off the heat, and finish up the next day. The longer you cook the petals, the more the cellulose breaks down and the easier the job of pureeing the mash.

2. In the blender or food processor, puree the cooled mash in batches. Add just enough extra water to each batch to enable the machine to puree it thoroughly at the highest speed. The finer the mash, the smoother and more uniform the bead. Drain the mash through the jelly bag or cheesecloth to remove any excess water.

Slow cooking: Place the drained, pureed mash into the iron pot or skillet. When the mash is cooked in iron, a chemical reaction of the acid in the petals with the iron turns it black. (Once the mash turns black, it badly stains whatever it touches, so wear rubber gloves and old clothes when working with it.) Because the mash will remove the patina from an iron pot, you may want to use an old one and reserve it for bead making. Cook the mash, covered, over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally, for 2 or 3 days, or until it is black and about the consistency of soft cream cheese. You can cook it for a few hours, turn it off, and finish cooking it later. Keep it covered to prevent a crust from forming. The mash can also be baked, covered, at 250°F for 1 to 2 days.

Cooling, draining: Layer the tray thickly with newspapers and cover with a layer of paper towels. (The mash will stick to newspaper, but not to paper towels.) Turn the mash out to cool on the prepared tray, and cover it with another layer of paper towels. Let it drain. Change the newspaper padding when the mash has soaked through; this can take a few hours or overnight and may need to be done two or three times. Add a few drops of rose essence to the mash—6 or 7 drops to 1 cup of mash—and knead it in.



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