rose beads

here’s another one of those art activities that starts out with the best intentions, and then falls sort of flat in the end. though, it is my aim to share all of our art-experiements with you, dear readers, so that maybe you can try it with better luck, perhaps, and learn from our mistakes.


my sweet husband brought home two dozen beautiful red roses a while back. we’re not big fans of purchasing cut flowers over here (lovely as they are, they are kind of a waste of money and our cats usually just eat them, knock over the vase, and later vomit flower-parts up onto the rug.) regardless, the roses were romantic, and quite pretty for that temporary while. and husband assures me they were on sale. hopefully this blog comes at just about the time when your valentine flowers are dunzo and can begin their second life. when my roses’ vibrant petals started dropping, i thought there must be something we could do with them.

a zillion things came to mind from rosewater to rose baths (but who am i kidding? i hardly soak in a bath anymore and who knows if there are pesticides on these) to potpourri (but that just collects dust at grandmothers’ houses, right? gross.) so i googled a bit, and found out about rose beads. alright, cool and useful recycling, i thought. i’m a long-time beader… and maybe N will enjoy this. i figured i could make a meaningful, very personal mala from these… so N happily helped me to pick off the wilted petals.

then i followed the instructions for rose beads that i found on learn to know, and ground up my limp (but not dried) petals in our food processor until they were couscous-like.

the next step was to simmer the petals in just enough water to cover them, using a cast iron pot. i don’t have a cast iron pot, so i just used a regular one. the thing i read promised that our house would smell delightful. WRONG! it started to stink. i am not sure why, but it kinda grossed us all out.

after a few sessions of boiling, we squeezed out as much water as we could (through a screen strainer) and let the pulp dry by keeping it out for a couple of days. after it was a tacky consistency, we were able to pinch off pieces of it to roll into little balls. if it’s still really wet at this stage, the balls fall apart easily, so i’ll forewarn you that your little friends with tiny fingers can get easily frustrated by this. make sure it’s kind of like paste before you begin this step with a kiddo-helper. (i regret not taking a lot of photos of this as we did it, but i didn’t really know if it would be blog-worthy at the time. honestly, i still don’t know that it is, but i do know that it was a lot of effort expended… read on…)

so we placed our rolled rose petal balls (which smelled a bit putrid, i have to admit) onto a piece of cardboard and let them dry out in the garage for days.

the thing is, i was supposed to wait until they were mostly, but not totally dry, and stick a pin or a stiff wire through them to make holes in each bead (to string it!) but i neglected to do this, as i forgot they were out there. weeks turned into months. uh oh. now we are left with some hole-less, spheres of dried rose petals… i imagine i could put sturdy beading wire through them and still string them as a mala strand or even a mala bracelet… but i may just chalk this one up to an art-gone-wrong activity. somewhat due to the stench (why?! maybe they had pesticides on them?? they were grocery store sale roses afterall…) and mostly due to my negligence in attending to them at the proper stage for piercing.

we’re open to suggestions… what should we do with these little floral orbs now?


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  • Margaux Laughlin

    I tried making rose-petal beads with my dementia patients at the nursing home where I do art therapy. It was definitely a big failure. The directions I got didn’t involved simmering, just grinding them in a blender. They kept falling apart even while wet, and when they dire became flaky mess. Big disappointment. But at least we got to enjoy picking the petals off the roses. Sorry your project went wrong,

  • Margaux Laughlin

    oops, sorry about the typing errors… 🙂

  • Thats too bad that is didn’t go as planned. But, i think you could still use them. You could paint them and then glue them to the center of flowers for hair clips or other decor…Did you toss them already?

  • jen

    no, i didn’t toss them – i never toss stuff like this. i’m all about repurposing art-gone-wrong. 🙂 thanks for the cool ideas!!!

  • Lori Walker

    How about scrapbooking a shadow box frame with a picture of your husband and use the rose beads to to shape a heart inside of it, add a love qoute in with it.