Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Real Rose Petal Beads

By on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 11 Comments

Real rose petal beads have been made for centuries. The Catholic Church sanctioned the use of rose petal beads in rosaries back in the 16th century. Indeed, the word rosary comes from the Latin rosarium or rose garden.

The craft was practiced by convent sisters,Victorians and even by mission people in early California. It is easy to understand why the beads were so popular for they give out a lovely fragrance especially when worn or handled.

Making rose petal beads at home is fairly easy although time-consuming. It's a great way to make use of roses from your garden. You do need a fair amount. The major steps are harvesting, chopping up the petals - some people use a food processor - and slowly simmering the pulp once or twice a day for several days to prevent mold growing. The pulp is then rolled into beads and dried. Some people use small amounts of a binding compound to help the beads keep their shape. Skewers, nails, needles hat pins and so on are used to create the holes. Note that the process results in black or near black beads.

 Heidi Kneale's method involves making a powder out of the rose pulp first to get smoother beads. She also gives good tips on drilling the holes.

If you are not up to the task, you can always buy handmade beads. Shown above is jewelry made by Shipwreckcreation on Etsy who does the hard work of making these beads. They are sold by the dozen. She also sells ready made rose petal jewelry from her other Etsy store, Justbeadit101 (Update - link no longer works).

What sparked this post was a treasured keepsake my friend and co-instructor, Debbie showed me. She received it from her grandmother back in 1973. It was a Californian made necklace her grandmother bought in the USA in 1925, making it 84 years old.

Debbie originally thought it might be rose petal beads but it couldn't be as it was sold as hand carved (see box). Real rose petal beads would have crumbled if anyone tried to carve it. The green color was another giveaway as rose petal beads are usually black.

After some digging in the internet, I found out the necklace was likely made by one of two companies back in the early 1900's selling carved plaster beads as "California Flower Beads". Debbie's box had a printed paragraph describing the history of real rose petal beads but did not disclose the plaster inspirations. So if you happen to pick up vintage beads at a garage sale that look like these, you'll know what they are.

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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  1. One of the gals at work I am close to, had the roses from her mother's funeral last year made into beads and then into rosaries. There is a woman nearby who does them to order for people who want beads or a rosary made from the flowers from your loved ones memorial.

    1. I would like to know where to purchase the real rose petal beads. I want them for jewelry making

    2. I have seen them on Etsy. So you could try there. Or consider making your own -

  2. What a fascinating topic. I never knew beads were made from real rose petals -now that's true jewelry from nature! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I had no idea there was such a thing! The Beading Gem's Journal is now officially my mains source for "very cool things I didn't know before". Thanks AGAIN Pearl!

  4. It's 2012 now so I guess it's not a big surprise that the link to Diane Merill is not good. At least not for me. I keep getting an Error message.

    But YOU wowed me again! I have never heard of this before! And I am on line waaayyyy too much :-D

    Great job and I await the next great thing I learn thanks to you!

  5. Hi Pearl, I am doing some research on rose petal beads would you mind shearing your resource.
    Thank you, Rebecca

    1. I have researched the subject of making your own rose petal beads and will certainly share. The post will be out in early June. That is when roses bloom!!

  6. OK I was curious about the research on this "The Catholic Church sanctioned the use of rose petal beads in rosaries back in the 16th century". As I need it before June I will keep looking. thank you Rebecca

    1. Ah, that kind of research. Try getting hold of books as there isn't that much on the internet about the sanctioning of rose petal beads.

  7. OK thank you .... not haveing any luck that is why I asked you as you seemed to have some but thanks anyway