A recent move to Panajachel (where there is a larger rose garden) and a relocation of my blog to my website where I'm spending beaucoup time revamping the site and blog layout - a slow but fun process - has left me no time to write. My rose beads tutorial is worth a timely re-post because there are so many rose bushes here, including one variety that sprouts red tiger striped flowers that I've been picking off the heads like a mad woman to see if I can make different-colored rose beads - not just the black coloration. I love making these beads and this is how I do it.
PICK ROSES FROM YOUR GARDEN
When I first moved to San Antonio Palópo (on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala) and saw the garden on the property below my house I was flabbergasted. It was full of avocados, gardenias, limes, coffee bushes, papayas, apple trees, and a plethora of flowering plants and trees for which I have no name. Among the Guatemalan roses are English roses and wild roses. No one except the caretaker and I were there to appreciate the flora at that time so I didn't feel too guilty when I plucked twenty or so heads from sweet smelling rose bushes to make these really cool beads.
MISTAKES ARE NO BIGGIE
First I put all the petals and only the petals in a rice cooker - at the time we had no gas and the aluminum electric ricer was the only appliance I had to boil water. From everything I read, that was a no-no but I went ahead with it anyway. You really should use a non-stick pan (I assume that means Teflon-coated) or preferably a cast iron pan. Apparently iron doesn't rob the petals of the much-needed oil which preserves the smell, and aluminum does. I added a few drops of rose oil because I didn't find the aroma strong enough since my ricer purged the petals of their smell.
SIMMER THE PETALS
Anyway, I submersed the petals from both kinds of bushes in a bit (maybe a cup) of water and cooked them until the petals were a bit translucent - like onions. It took about five minutes. Then I put petals and water into the blender and blasted the concoction until it was the consistency of a smoothie. It was an ugly brown so I added a bit of magenta acrylic paint unnecessarily as it turns out, to make it look pinkish, but the beads turned black anyway. I'm just telling it as I did it.
JAM, NOT SAUCE
Then I put the smoothie back in the ricer to cook it - stirring constantly. The slurry took about ten minutes to become the consistency of jam. If it only looks like applesauce you're not done. Keep cooking and stirring. I turned the mess out onto an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet and left it to dry in the sun for about four or five hours.
DRY IN THE SUN
Eventually, I saw that it was coming together just like the paper mache clay that I make. The water evaporated and the mixture was clayish. As soon as I could roll it in my hands to make beads, I did. The next step is to skewer the beads somehow to make the holes. I used an eighteen inch length of wire. You could use nails I suppose, but I strung the beads on the wire and supported the length of wire between two rocks and left the string of beads on the porch step to dry hard in the sun. I turned the beads every half hour or so to make sure they didn't stick to the wire. Once they stick you will never get them off.
Once the sun set I brought the beads-on-a-wire into the house and left them for 24 hours just sitting. It was an amazing transformation. The house smelled wonderful and the beads got smaller and smaller until they were half the size of the one's I'd originally rolled. Two days later I easily primed them from the wire and I now have 18 black rose beads. I've read you can make beads out of many flowers. I will investigate. I do know that there are at least twenty more rose buds in the garden to pick and I will surely be doing that. I plan on finding some interesting and unique local stones that I will add to the beads to make a one-of-a-kind necklace. There is a little girl in my extended family who I have not yet met. She will be the recipient of a Guatemalan rose bead necklace one day - from her auntie Dawn.
So now, fast-forward eight months later, and I've made more beads to add to this necklace. I wondered if different-colored rose petals would make a variety of bead colors and they don't. All the beads have turned black and they look lovely.
If you've tried making beads from any other flower, I'd love to hear from you. And, if you'd like me to make you some beads, just let me know via email. I always have roses in the garden.