Monday, September 28, 2015

Roses n Rose Beads



Pot-pourri & rose bead necklaces
When I began to think of my 'Menus' of class offerings for 'Red Thread Sessions,' Grandmother's Rose Beads came to mind as a lovely offering.  
Rose Bead Necklaces

My grandmother Mary grew herbs & worked with them. As a teen, my mom & I experiemented with making rosebeads, as she had an old necklace grandma Mary made 30 or 40 years before!

My first attempt to make rose beads, using a recipe from 'American Girl Mag' looked rather like raisins, as the instructions didn't include any mashing! Next go - round, I ran the petals thru the Foley mill, & later ground them in the blender, with better results.


I used little brass beads from the fishing supply (my dad was a fly fisherman), as we didn't have any bead shops, & often strung them on fishing line. The outer necklace is 50 years old, & made by this method. The inner, strung with rose quartz, about 25 years old was  made with my dried petal method. 

In an herb class in the late 80s, Glen Nagle suggested drying herbs whole, then whizzing in a small coffee mill when ready to use.  Ah- ha! I could do that with the rose petals, as I often used a combo of fresh & dried for my beads. Viola, an easy way to store the petals (powdered or whole in zip lock bags or tins) & simply reconstitute ~ 1/4 Cup of prepared petals with a rose petal, lavender & rose geranium leaf 'tea' when ready to make beads. You can add a splash of Rose water as well.
Grind as much into powder as you want, & store in glass jars or canisters till ready to use. Choose petals from fragrant 'old fashioned' roses - the David Austin clones are often wonderfully fragrant, with extended season. You'll want to remove the petals from the centers, &; I sift the ground petal mix, so the powder is as smooth as possible.

Jude the Obscure (David Austin)
I usually add ground cinnamon, nutmeg & cardamom to the roses, & have found that a small 'simmer pot' is ideal for the heating & mash making process. (these are often available from thrift stores) My original recipe called for simmering the petals an hour a day for 3 days, so I often heat them up a couple of times before making the beads.
Glen recommended having the herbs 'crispy dry' before grinding. Any combination of traditional Potpourrie spices can be used: whole cloves, grated nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, corriander, fennel, and star anise, added these to your petals while grinding, as can a spoonful of lavender flowers. I grind spices with part of the petals, then grind other petals separately, so the spices don't overpower the rose fragrance. These days, I pour rose 'tea' over 1/4 - 1/2 C petals in a simmer pot, stir a bit, & cook for an hour or so.  Pour some tea for yourself as well - ahh :) You can place some of the mash in the fridge or freezer at any point, if you can't make the whole batch into beads. I've heard of folks trying other flowers, but I've never had that work for me.I often simmer the petals for awhile the day before, then reheat the next day. You want your mash a 'playdough' consistency. Roll the beads in the palm of your hand, about twice as big as you want - they'll shrink! Yes, it's messy! But oh, so sweetly fragrant! I make several size beads, & like to string in patterns of 3s & 5s.

Store the finished necklaces in tins or jars with rose potpourri, a few whole roses & sprigs of lavender. They will last for years when kept in dry in tins.     For a class, I purchase tins at thrift stores, & make a bag or sprinkle potpourri in the bottom, to gift the students. The beads smell more fragrant when worn, as your body heat warms them. Just keep them dry, & they'll last a long, long time! Tiger tail coated wire is nice for stringing beads, & you can find a number of closures for necklaces. 

Rose flower essences are some of my favorites! & a pinch of the dried rose powder is great for staunching blood - what a nice way to deal with a bloody nose! 

Enjoy your play with Rose Beads!! 
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