Rose Petal Beads.

Q: I have countless recipes for rose petal beads which yield a dull ebony bead. My Aunt purchased a rose petal bead rosary in Spain in the 1970's. It is a soft red color and to this day, still smells like roses and is still somewhat oily to the touch. She said the shop keeper told her not to get the beads wet or they would come unfurled. Does anyone know how these beads are made?

A: Back issues of 'The Herb Companion' have recipies for these beads. Many herb-related sites probably do, too, but as I understand it, they are supposed to darken with age (and skin oils, etc.) If you find something really spectacular, I'd like to try that! I'm highly suspicious of any red rose petal bead. They may smell like roses, but I would hazard a guess that they weren't made with rose petals. If they had any rose petal material, it was a single petal wrapped around the outside of a clay-type bead. After researching and writing an article about making rose petal beads for 'Bead & Button' magazine last year, I found that by their very nature, rose petal beads will be dark. Depending on the type of roses you use, and if you process them in a cast iron pan (this makes them even darker). You can get lighter colored beads, but not the color Maggie describes as being 'soft red'. The fact that the shop keeper told her 'not to get them wet' would indicate to me that they were either painted, or made of a porous clay material that had been colored and then a rose oil applied to them afterwards. There are lots of recipes out there that tell you how to make rose petal beads, but without several key ingredients, they won't retain their fragrance for long.