Rose petals have been used for making beads for centuries. While usually made into necklaces, bracelets and earrings, rose beads can be combined with sterling silver beads to create one-of-a-kind rosaries. Using a simple recipe and items easily found in craft shops, you can make one of these beauties for yourself or as a special gift.
Things You'll Need
Several handfuls of very fragrant petals from three or four unsprayed red roses
Enough water to barely cover petals
Powdered orris root (optional)
A needle of the same size as the wire
Silk thread or sterling silver wire
Small sterling silver beads, diameters of your choice, and a cross
Remove the white "heels" of the rose petals. Place petals in a food processor, a blender or a mortar and pestle. Lacking these, chop them up finely with a knife. The pieces should be about the size of a grain of couscous.
Place rose-petal pieces in a small saucepan with barely enough water to cover. Using an enameled pan will preserve the roses' original color. A cast-iron pan will turn the petals a deep burgundy color. Barely simmer the mixture for an hour (boiling releases the fragrance and would reduce the lovely smell of the beads.) Turn off the heat and let the pan cool for an hour. Simmer again for another hour. Allow mixture to cool to lukewarm.
Pinch off small pieces of the cooked-rose "dough" that are about twice the size of the beads you want to make. They'll contract about 50 percent as they dry. Roll the dough into the shape you want. Spheres are the most common, but there's no reason you couldn't make egg-shaped beads if you preferred.
Pierce your beads with the thin wire. You can string several on the same length of wire as long as they remain separated. Dry them in a gas oven that has a pilot light or lay them on a paper towel for a day or so. Watch the drying process carefully. If dried too quickly, they'll tend to crumble. If dried too slowly or incompletely, they could develop mold.
When the beads are dried to your satisfaction, you may want to roll them in powdered orris root, the ground-up rhizomes of a species of iris. While this step is optional, orris root has been used in the past as an herbal preservative that prolongs the life of floral essences.
Thread the needle with silk thread or prepare a length of silver wire for your rosary. String the beads in the appropriate order, alternating the rose beads with sterling silver ones. When you have the main portion of the rosary strung, connect the two ends and draw them through a larger decorative bead, add the correct number of rose beads and smaller silver beads. Attach to the crucifix.
Polish the finished rosary with a soft cloth moistened with a drop or two of rose essential oil to make them shiny.
Store your rose-petal rosary in a small, dark velvet pouch when not in use.
Periodic polishing will keep it beautifully fragrant longer.