The Art of Darkness

Rose Beads

April 16th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Rose Beads (Photo from Mother Earth News)Spring is finally here, which means roses will soon be in bloom. I have a selection of antique roses–dog rose, apothecary’s rose, and a couple of others–which are vastly superior to modern hybrid roses in terms of fragrance. They do have one quirk, however, in that all the roses on the entire plant bloom more or less simultaneously and then drop their petals with a single mighty Fwoomp. If you find yourself similarly possessed of a windfall of rose petals–or if you don’t mind harvesting and dismantling a lot of hybrid roses–rose beads are an intriguing and unusual way to use them.

The general idea is to turn the petals into a sort of dough via a combination of chopping and gentle heat, then roll them into beads and dry them. The amount of petals you need depends upon the number and size of beads you want to make, but bear in mind that the finished beads shrink by more than half, so get more petals than you think you’ll need.

The more fragrant the roses, the longer the beads’ scent will last. Dark red petals will result in wine-colored beads; other petals will give you brown or black beads, so plan accordingly. (Note: Be careful not to use roses that have been sprayed with chemicals or which have had a systemic pesticide applied. “Toxic” may be a goth watchword, but not when smeared on one’s skin.)

You will need:

  • At least 4 cups clean rose petals
  • Food processor, blender, or spice mill
  • Cast-iron pot
  • Fine sieve or several thicknesses of cheesecloth
  • Rosewater or rose essential oil (optional)
  • Powdered cinnamon, cloves, and/or nutmeg (optional)
  • Darning needle or coat hanger

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