Materials needed :
Two to three quarts
of fresh rose petals
A large stainless steel pot
Food processor or a blender- maybe get one at a yard sale or something???
Iron pot or iron skillet- hit the yard sale for this one too.
Cookie sheet or a tray
Rose essence (essential oil)
3/64 brass wire cut into 1 foot lengths
Small empty box
Lidded glass jars
Fine grit sandpaper
Dental floss- unwaxed or your choice of stringing material
Other misc. beads/findings if you wish
First: Dump the rose petals into the stainless steel pot with enough water to cover, maybe about 1 quart. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer slowly for 2-6 hours, stirring occasionally. Depending on the last all important ingredient, and how much you have of it, you can do it one or two ways- cook all day OR cook for a while one day, allow to cool then finish the cooking process the next day. ( My intuition tells me not to go past that extra day, you might start breeding penicillin or something.) Please note that the longer you cook the petals, the easier the actual making of the beads will be.
Second: Once the cooked petals have cooled, you're going to want to get the blender/processor out and puree the mush in small batches. You might need to add water to allow the mixture to thoroughly puree on high speed. The smoother and finer the blended mush is, the smoother and finer your finished product will be. Sometimes it's worth it to take your time! Drain the mash in cheesecloth to remove any excess water.
Third, or more cooking: Once you have the mush drained, get out that iron pot/skillet. Please note that when it is cooked in iron, there is a chemical reaction that causes the mush to turn black. The reaction also causes the patina to come off the pot, we don't want you using your favorite pot for this it's likely to be ruined. Be sure to wear your rubber gloves when handling the mush cooked in the iron pot, otherwise your fingers will get stained. Cook the mush, over the lowest heat possible for 2-3 days, Yes, days. Until it's black and the consistency of soft cream cheese. You may cook it a few hours, allow it to cool, and finish cooking later, but you might run into that penicillin thing if you forget about it. Be sure to keep it covered, otherwise it will get dry and crusty. Now, if you feel like baking for a change, you can do the following- bake in the iron pot, covered of course at 250F for 1 to 2 days.
Fourth: Get out that cookie sheet and thickly line with newspapers and then cover with paper towels. (The mush will not stick to the paper towels, but will to the newspaper, so it sounds like you shouldn't skip this step.) Cover the paper towels with a layer of mush and cover the mush with a layer of paper towels. Allow it to drain and change the layers of newspaper once it is soaked. This may take overnight for it to happen, and may need to be changed several times. Now you want to dig out the essential oil and add 5-10 drops for each cup of mush. Knead the mush to evenly distribute the scent.
Fifth: Now you can start making beads, or store the mush. To store, do so in an airtight container and refrigerate a week, or freeze for several months. It can be thawed and refrozen if need be. To start making the beads, WEAR YOUR GLOVES!!! Measure out a slightly rounded 1/2 teaspoonful of mush. Keep in mind that the beads will shrink by 1/3 as they dry, so if it seems big, it's ok. Knead the spooned out mush in your palm to make sure there are no lumps and stuff. Remove any lumps you might find. Then, roll each bead between your palms with firm even pressure til you get a nice round ball. If you see any cracks, now is the time to correct that. Dip the beads in some water and smooth them out. This is important because the cracks will only get bigger as they dry! If you get beads that you aren't happy with and have already dried, save them aside and toss them into the next batch that you cook. They'll break down and can be re-used.
Sixth: Take the beads you have made and carefully slide them onto the wire. You might want to do this as you complete each bead so that they have the holes immediately. Ten beads can go on the 12 inch length of wire. Place beaded wires across empty box and allow them to stay like that so the air can circulate evenly. Keep away from drafts and sunny windows. If the beads dry too fast, they will crack. If the air is cold and damp (cellar) they might get moldy. Turn the beads daily for the first week, and slide on the wire so they move easily. Keep on the wires for another 1-2 weeks so you know that they are completely dry. Once they are dry, store beads in the glass jars, tightly covered. You can recycle the wires, but some of the mush may stick to them. A quick application of sandpaper will smooth them out just fine.
Seventh: String beads on dental floss, or whatever you choose for stringing material, to the length you want. You can mix in other beads too. Shorter necklaces will need a clasp, which you can usually find in a craft store. Once the necklace is done, store in a small glass jar with a cotton ball glued to the lid that has some essential oil dabbed on it.
Wear and enjoy, or give as a gift!
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page added 4.17.98