How to Make Rose Beads From Your Wedding Flowers
Making beads from rose petals is not difficult. A little patience is needed, but when you are done making them, your 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, your birthday, Valentine's Day, graduation, or any other holiday. Or just 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, 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.
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.
Ingredients and Cooking
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 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.
Preparing to make the beads is the most important part. You will not only need flowers, but you will need other supplies. 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)
How to proceed: Cooking first
- 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, turn the mixture off and let it cool. They should look a bit translucent, like a cooked vegetable. This might take 20-30 minutes. This is the first step to creating the dough.
Making 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 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 a 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.
Making 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.
Stringing Your 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 Michaels shop 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.
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 not get wet.