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("A Family Heirloom")


fresh rose petals (3 blossoms = 2 small beads from multi-petaled roses, other roses require more per bead)
corsage pins (about 18 to 24)
nylon fish line (30#) or dental floss or buttonhole twist
blender or food processor
pestle or wooden spoon or wooden potato masher
corkboard or styrofoam block (1 x 4 x 10-inch)
cast-iron or enamel container


Start early in rose season and make all summer long.

Day 1: Gather as many fresh rose petals as you can. Choose fragrant roses; old fashioned roses have fewer petals, but are more fragrant. Mix them. Even though you mix different colors, they turn out black. Pluck petals when they are just about to fall off, before the edges turn brown and curl. Process in blender. Should be a fine and smooth consistency. Put in a small iron container. Crush and/or pound with pestle or similar object. Leave in iron container during the rest of the process. As you pass during the day, crush petals with the pestle or masher. Leave uncovered.

Days 2, 3 and 4: Repeat steps of day one.

End of Day 4: Your petals should resemble a black clay-like paste. Form into balls, rolling in the palm of your hand. Make beads twice as big as you want as they shrink while drying. Use about 1/3 teaspoon clay per bead. You may rub your hands with rose oil if you like before forming beads. Push the pin through the center of each bead. You can space a couple on each pin, allowing for air circulation.

Days 5 and 6: Allow to dry out of drafts and/or sun to prevent drying too fast and cracking outside of bead.

Day 7: If beads are completely dry, remove carefully from pins. Take a handful and rub vigorously together to smooth beads and test for strength. String on fish line (30#). String alternately with glass, semi-precious stones or gold or silver nuggets. The black rose bead is enhanced by the addition of other beads. Ivory-colored pearls with tiny glass beads in between makes an attractive combination. For a necklace that goes over your hairdo, no clasp is necessary. For shorter necklaces, you will need a clasp. The scent lasts for years. Wearing and handling gives off a sweet aroma.

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