Elyn spent the last 30 years in China, coming home in the summer to cook American food and have fun doing craft projects with her family.
Rose Petal Beads Make Lovely, Meaningful Jewelry
Making beads from rose petals is not difficult. A little patience is needed, but when you are done making them, the flowers from your wedding can be turned into a lovely necklace that you will be able to wear forever. These beads are high quality and won't fall apart.
You can also make beads from flowers you receive on any other important occasion, such as your birthday, Valentine's Day, graduation, or any other holiday. Or you can just make them from your garden when there are flowers blooming. Anytime you have a lovely bouquet, you can make the petals into lovely beads for necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, or perhaps a rosary. They also make good bridesmaid gifts.
What Colors to Use
Every time you cook up roses to make rose beads, the color changes. Some colors change in a beautiful way, and some change to colors you wouldn't expect because of the process of oxidation. White roses usually turn a grey or dark beige that is not very pretty. You can make them white instead of brown, but you will need to add other things to them.
Yellow roses can be a little disappointing. When you cook them, they turn a brown color, which isn't very pleasing. You have a few choices. The good news is that I have found a way to make yellow beads, which is a good thing because my mother loves yellow roses more than anything else. Yellow with some red roses turn out beautifully, but they will not be yellow.
Note That the Cast-Iron Skillet Method Affects the Color
All rose beads will be black or very dark brown if you use the old way of cooking them in a cast-iron skillet. Do not make this older recipe for rose beads if the color is important.
What Kind of Flowers to Use
You don't even need to wait for a wedding! You can just go out into a summer garden or simply buy flowers at the store. You do not need to use extremely fresh flowers, either. If your local flower shop has older flowers they are throwing away, then these are fine to use, too.
I used chrysanthemums, too, and the beads were fine, but I have found that flowers with "meatier" petals worked best. Dry papery petals are not as good for bead-making, but you can try any flower in your garden. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results. The beads are often a brown color, which looks a little like clay.
How to Make Rose Beads
Preparing to make the beads is the most important part. You will not only need flowers, but you will need other supplies.
Ingredients and Equipment
For making the rose dough, you will need:
- Petals from at least 8 to 12 roses
- Distilled water
- Frying pan, non-stick, or if you want the traditional black beads you should use a traditional black cast iron pan. An old cast iron chicken fryer works as well.
- Blender (critical for smooth, good-looking beads)
Step 1: Cook the Petals
- Put the petals in a non-stick or cast iron frying pan. You can snip them into strips for easier cooking. Do not include the ball inside the flower that becomes the rose hip later, and try to knock out all the little round seed-like things from inside the bud before putting the petals in the pot.
- Add about 1/2 cup water (using distilled water guarantees a purer fragrance) and cook just under the boiling point until the petals get soft.
- Be careful not to let all the water evaporate. Keep watching the pot carefully and add water if necessary.
- When the petals are very soft, let them cool. They should look a bit translucent, like a cooked vegetable. This might take 20 to 30 minutes. This is the first step to creating the dough.
Step 2: Make the Dough
- Take the rose petal mix and put it in a blender, adding enough water for the mixture to get thoroughly blended, like a smoothie. It would be hard to blend it too much, but easy not to blend it enough. You can see in the picture the difference between the petals before they were blended and after.
- Make you're your final "glop" looks glossy and a bit like pudding, and you do not see separate pieces of rose petal in it.
- Put it back in the skillet, and bring it to just under a boil, stirring constantly. Repeat this procedure until much of the water has evaporated off and the mixture is drier than applesauce.
- You can add rose oil at this point if your original roses had no smell. This is an art—you will need to try several times until you get the feeling.
- If your rose petal sauce is as wet as applesauce, you will not be able to add much to the clay. It is better to have it dry, like a dry jam, or even like clay. I like to put the sauce/clay on parchment paper and let it sit in my oven overnight. Since it is a gas oven, the pilot lights keep it ever so slightly warm, and the clay dries out. You can peel it off the parchment paper in the morning.
Step 3: Make the Beads
Making the final dough:
- You can carefully shape bits of the rose clay into beads—round or oval work well. Depending on the amount of water in your dough, the beads will shrink accordingly. The less water, the better the bead will be.
- Put a nail (or big quilting pin) through the center of each and push into a piece of Styrofoam. Start with the beads at the top of the nail, and then a few hours later push the bead to the bottom of the pin.
- Keep pushing the beads up and down on the pins or nails so that they don't stick. If you want to make a bracelet, you should use a stainless steel nail, wire brads do well, and that makes the hole larger to take elastic beading thread. Take the bead off the nail after 24 hours unless the clay was very wet.
- Let the beads dry for a few days. Longer never hurts. If it is summer, you can put them out in the sun to dry and they will lose their water faster. If you wear the beads, they will continue to darken and polish, and release their fragrance.
- Do not store in a plastic bag, but leave out in a dry place for several months until they have thoroughly lost all their water. You can also store them in a box with rose petals.
- Please make sure your beads don't get wet. They are organic, not made of glass or stone. Some rain falling on them will not hurt them if you dry them afterwards, but if you leave them outside in the rain, or spend time in a swimming pool with them on, they will disintegrate.
Step 4: String the Beads
This is where you really get creative! To string the beads you can use bead-stringing kits from craft shops or bead stores. I found everything I needed at Michaels, and Joann Fabrics has supplies too.
- I used a strong bead wire called "tiger-tail" which came in a kit along with the hooks and rings, as well as crimping beads to secure the wire. If you go to a shop you can look in some of their instructional books and see how to do it. If you would make more than one, a "crimping tool" is a nice tool to have.
- Michael's had a cheap bead-layout board so you could see how the final necklace would look. Make sure to take some of the final beads with you to check the colors. I was surprised to discover that purple looked very good with all the rose bead colors and that the reds that Michael's had were not as appealing in my opinion. So don't forget to take the rose beads when you go!
- You can make the beads go further by adding glass, seed, or crystal beads in between the rose beads, and it adds some color to the necklace. The smell is dreamy, and even if you don't wear them, you could put them in your clothes drawer and enjoy the lovely fragrance.
- You can string your beads on cotton embroidery floss that has been soaked in rose oil for a number of weeks before you string them into a necklace, or you can put a small piece of tissue that is saturated with the oil in the box you keep them in. Either way, they will retain the smell of roses.
Sunflower petals are too thin to be made into beads easily.
When my Mom was ill before she passed away, she craved sunflowers. I understood. They have the essence of sunshine in them and seem to be full of energy. I have always wanted to live in a farming area where they plant sunflowers in the summer. Wouldn't that be a great place to be? I made this necklace from her sunflowers, and it makes me think of her.
You can make bracelets using beading thread that is elastic. I like to use bigger nails and then have plenty of room to fit two strings of elastic thread through to make it sturdier. If the person you are giving it to has arthritis, this is a wonderful way to get around having to hook the bracelet on their wrist. It works very well, and the convenience is well worth it. Make sure you use two strands of thinner beading thread for a sturdier bracelet.
In this photo, you can see how rose beads can be combined with other beads, stones, and pearls to make lovely jewelry. If you don't have a lot of beads to give to your bridesmaids, you can always use one or two beads, and then add stones and pearls to complete the bracelet.
Care and Maintenance for Rose Beads
You can protect your beads a little by rubbing rose oil on them after they are dry. The traditional recipe here will hold up well this way, although you will still need to take care that they do not get wet.
Questions & Answers
Question: While making rose beads, what do you do to keep your beads the same color as your roses, and can I add peonies to the rose petals when processing?
Answer: Since rose petals are a natural, living object and not plastic or stone, there is nothing you can do that will keep the beads the same color as your roses. As the petal dries, the color will change. Like the beautiful red and yellow leaves on trees in autumn that finally turn brown. If you want to know the flowers I have tested to see if peonies will work well - there is a very inexpensive book about this on Amazon called "Rose Beads - Everything you need to know about making beads from your wedding and other special occasion flowers." It has much more information about making rose beads than this page.
Question: I’m not quite understanding. Do you add this rose goop to anything? At one point you mention “if the Rose mix is too wet you won’t be able to add much to the clay.” I’ve read it a couple of times and can’t see any reference to clay in the ingredients list. Or are you just making the beads out of the stewed rose petal mix?
Answer: Simple rose beads are made with just rose petals. The upside is that your beads will contain only roses. The downside is that because of oxidation; the beads will turn brown-black. If you like the idea of rose-colored beads, then there is a more complicated process that includes clay, which I have detailed in my book, Rose Beads, which is available on Amazon.
Question: Have you tried dandelion, calendula, aster, tulips, or sweet peas?
Answer: Flowers react differently, depending on the thickness of the petal and other factors. Even with roses, which all work well, there is a difference depending on the variety. Petals that are more fibrous are not as good at making beads. I recommend you try a very small amount and see how it works.
Question: Do you have directions for how you made your sunflower beads? How did you get them to stay yellow?
Answer: These sunflower beads were from flowers I had when my mother passed away, and I was anxious that they not turn brown, so I added some coloring to the clay. There are two kinds of coloring to try - food coloring, which makes a less natural color, or watercolor paints. You can add color to light colored pastes - but if the petals turn dark brown with oxidation, there is nothing you can do to change that, and they will not get lighter after that.
Question: Approximately how many rose beads does a batch of 8-12 roses make? Has anyone tried adding a different scent besides Rose oil?
Answer: This is a difficult question to answer. The number of beads will vary widely depending on two things: how big the roses are, and the size of beads you make. Once you have made the basic wet dough, it will be clear about how many beads you will get. Please don't forget, the wet dough shrinks as it dries, so if you have a specific size of bead in mind, you will have to make slightly bigger beads in order to end up with the right size for your necklace. Rose beads are lovely strung with other beads. So if you don't have enough, you can add other complimentary beads to make the length you need. You could try another scent with a test bead. Rub the scent on after the bead is dry.
Question: How might lily petals turn out for rose beads? Can You mix lily or carnation petals with roses when making rose beads?
Answer: Lily petals are more fibrous than roses or carnations, but if you mixed them together, it should work.
Question: How do you make rose oil?
Answer: I have no idea how to make rose oil, but I can tell you that you can find it in health food stores, Whole Foods, and on Amazon. I have always bought the rose oil that I used in the beads.
Question: Can you use spring water instead of distilled water when making rose beads?
Question: How do I get my white roses to have a pinkish tone in the beads?
Answer: White roses tend to oxidize and turn brown, so pink is not really an option for white roses.
What Do You Think?
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 15, 2019:
This is great information. I've made rose beads before but I didn't have a blender. My dough had little flecks of rose petals still in it and looked more lumpy than the ones in your photos.
Hello you. Ame is Sandra on January 06, 2019:
What is the name of your book?
How can I buy a copy of your book?
Thank 4so much for Sharing all this info, I found it very unique and I can not wait to try it.
Lori on February 04, 2018:
It says you can add other things to keep white roses white. What are those things?
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on January 09, 2018:
It doesn't take several months - but it might be best to wait a week.
Jessica Vartholomatos on January 02, 2018:
I can't wait to try this! But I'm wondering if there is a faster way to dry the beads than taking several months?
Gerry on September 15, 2017:
What do you add to the mixture to keep white roses clay white and yellow roses clay yellow? Thank you
Mary R Hayes on July 11, 2017:
I cannot wait to try these
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on July 04, 2017:
Leaves are usually too fibrous to make beads from, alas.
Rita on May 20, 2017:
Thank you for such detailed information. My father in law recently passed away and we wanted to " preserve" some roses from his funeral flowers. I am anxious to try this.
yazzie0 on February 09, 2017:
What an amazing tutorial! I often look at various left over stuff like fabric cuttings, wood shavings, glass bits from broken vases and bottles and try to conceive ways of how they could be reused in making beautiful pieces for jewellry - but this one one has been one of the best ideas I have read about. I am into fragrant roses and have one bush of dark red roses which give off the most divine scent, and I am always sad about not being able to recreate something with the petals. Thank you for this lovely presentation!
rskias on September 17, 2016:
I have made my flower clay and formed some beads. They start out nice and round but have dried to become quite irregular. Is there something that can be added to the flower clay to make the beads more uniform, a little denser and smoother? I'd like the beads to look homemade but not quite so irregular. I'd like to purchase your book but I'm not a kindle subscriber and can't find it anywhere else. HELP! I have fallen in love with bead making. My polymer clay beads have come out very nice.
Fiona from South Africa on May 09, 2016:
This is such an awesome idea and a lot more practical than having your bouquet preserved. I had my wedding flowers preserved and they looked okay but now they are at the back of a cupboard somewhere, in a box so they don't get dusty - this is a much better way to enjoy them.
sasa on December 12, 2015:
what a wonderful idea. Can I make beads from leaves too?
Barb Johnson from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula on July 30, 2015:
What a wonderful idea. Have experimented with making other textured beads . Hadn't heard of this one. They are beautiful...and the possibilities. Thanks for this article.
Nimblepins on May 27, 2015:
This is a fabulous idea. I love that it's a keepsake that you can wear.
Claudia Porter on April 16, 2015:
This is so cool! I had no idea one could do this. Will definitely have to try this out.
Dee Jeansonne on November 17, 2014:
thanks for sharing. my Mother passed & I wanted to make something with her flowers but did not know how. I will try my hand at this.
Linda Hoxie from Idaho on August 10, 2014:
Very interesting, I had no clue you could make beads from Rose petals, thank you!
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on July 27, 2014:
@fluffy62: There are a number of ways to coat them. I think sometimes varnish can change the color. The book has a number of ways listed.
fluffy62 on July 26, 2014:
can you varnish them
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on July 16, 2014:
@Faye Rutledge: You are welcome! It's a pleasure.
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on July 16, 2014:
@ecogranny: You are so welcome. Thanks for coming by....
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on July 16, 2014:
I rarely wear jewelry, and I have never seen rose beads before, but I love this idea! I'm going to share it with a friend who makes paper beads. I know she will be interested. Thank you so much!
Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on July 14, 2014:
I love this idea. Wish I'd know about it before. Thanks for your visit and comment to my LotD today! :)
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on May 18, 2014:
@michelle-shambora: You won't need to worry about spraying them if they aren't going to be worn around the neck - you can use any kind of clear spray that will seal them. :-) Good idea!
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on May 18, 2014:
@GEMNITYA5: Thanks so much! So glad you liked them.
michelle-shambora on May 18, 2014:
I would like to make rose beads out of memorial service flowers for the gran & great gran kids, I want to make them into a topper for a beaded bookmarks for their bibles. Can I spray them with something to protect them?
GEMNITYA5 on May 17, 2014:
Also shared on Facebook :)
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on May 17, 2014:
@AnnaMKB: You can use other flowers. I have a list in the book - I know flowers are expensive, but sometimes you can get a friend who has a big bouquet to give you the roses or other flowers when they go limp or fade... I always use "old" roses, after I have enjoyed them for a week or so.
AnnaMKB on May 08, 2014:
Very nice! I have instructions on how to make rose petal beads in one of my herb books. Slightly different than yours, but then, no blender, either. ;-) I've always wanted to try it, but I don't normally have roses around to use.
Monica Lobenstein from Western Wisconsin on May 08, 2014:
I have never made of or even heard of rose beads. What a creative way to commemorate a special event! Thanks for sharing!
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on April 29, 2014:
@carlee-cunningham-73: Hi Carlee - I will send you an email about how to get the Kindle on your computer.
getupandgrow on April 25, 2014:
What an amazing, original and nature-friendly idea. I would never have dreamed this was possible.
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on March 15, 2014:
@Rideauview: What a charming idea - yes, there are lots of ways to save flowers. Yours is lovely too!
Rideauview on March 15, 2014:
No I haven't but many years ago I started drying my rose bouquets that I received on Valentine's Day and putting them in amongst the pot pourri I had in a china chamber pot in the bathroom,. That pot has been filled and refilled many times. Just recently I had a brainwave. I had an old large grapevine wreath in the kitchen that was showing its age. So now I dry the roses leaving a short piece of the stem just push them into the wreath. They look fabulous. I have learned over the years not to leave the roses too long before removing the leaves, I know it is hard to take them out of the vase but you won't be sorry don't leave them until the petals start falling off, you will have them to look at for many years. Just hang them upside down in the kitchen window for a couple of weeks to dry then decorate your wreath.
Although I love the bead idea, this less time consuming.
acreativethinker on January 19, 2014:
Lovely lens and very interesting. Thanks for sharing. :)
suzyjahi on January 05, 2014:
AWESOME AND VERY CREATIVE!
Takkhis on December 20, 2013:
This lens is very beautiful and informative, I love it :)
PartyLocations5 on December 02, 2013:
This is so great idea.First time I read something about this.Necklace from the roses-amazing!
Giovanna from UK on November 21, 2013:
I'd love to make these but I know I won't! I'm always too busy for these craty things. I think these are beautiful. Thanks for sharing your skills.
gottaloveit2 on November 21, 2013:
Wow, very interesting. What a great way to preserve a cherished memory.
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on November 17, 2013:
@kowalke: All I can say is check one and see. There are suggestions for finishing the beads to make them waterproof in the book.
kowalke on November 17, 2013:
I was wondering, If you arent worried about the beads continuing to smell could a person put a clear coat on them to help prevent the chance of them getting ruined from water or body sweat? Do you think that by doing so it would alter the color of the beads?
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on November 03, 2013:
@Cinnamonbite: The good news is that you don't need a cast iron pot. Isn't that great?
Cinnamonbite on October 18, 2013:
I wanted to make these when I was a kid but didn't have a cast iron pot. Then for the short time I had a cast iron pot (those things are horrible to clean and take care of, I threw it away after a couple of months) I didn't have roses. Live. Sometimes things just don't work out, does it? LOL
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on October 06, 2013:
@miaponzo: Yes - saving flowers is a wonderful way to remember a special day. I love having necklaces from flowers from Valentine's Day or Christmas or Mother's Day. Any special flowers work.