Traditional Rosary Beads Very Different From Rose Petal Fimo Beads

Rose Petal Rosary Beads

1) How to make a rosary with beads that are colorful instead of just brown or black.

2) Preparing fresh roses for making traditional rosaries is much different than the flower drying techniques used to make polymer clay rose petal beads.

Today’s questions were sent in by Phyliss Martine and Lisa Graham:

Q-1: I bought rosaries made from dried flowers i would like to make my own. When I tried all the beads came out dark brown, How do i get different colors for my rosaries. Thank you. ~Phyliss Martine

A-1: Phyliss, it sounds to me like you are using the traditional method for making rosary or prayer beads. They are made from the pulp that remains after the flower petals are simmered in hot water. The colorful rosaries that you purchased were probably made by mixing dried flower petals into polymer clay. These two methods of making beads are very different from each.

The traditional type of rosary bead is made by chopping fresh rose petals very fine, covering them with water and simmering in a cast iron pot for hours, even days. Because of the nature of the process, these beads are dark brown or black with a slight fragrance to them. Here is a recipe:

  • Use fresh rose petals collected in the morning.
  • Chop fine.
  • Cover with water in a pan and simmer several hours until the petals turn to pulp. Add water as needed to keep your simmer from drying out. This process can actually take a few days if you are doing a large batch.
  • When the pulp becomes sticky enough to press together in your fingers, stop cooking and roll your beads.
  • Pierce beads with large pin or small nail.
  • Now string the rosary beads a on heavy thread to dry.
  • Drying should take place in a warm location for about a week, turning occasionally.
  • Store these rose petal beads in a box or jar when you are not wearing them to preserve the fragrance.

Now… the more ‘modern’ version of the rose petal rosary bead is made using dried rose petals which are broken into small pieces and mixed into translucent polymer clay or Fimo. Tiny amounts of colored clay can also be mixed in with the translucent to give the beads varying shades of color.

The polymer clay flower petal beads are the type of beads that I teach about and have discussed in several posts. Here’s some reference links:

Q-2: I have collected bags and bags of beautiful rose petals. I’m afraid if I don’t make the clay ASAP I will lose them. Please help if you can.  Your consideration and thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated. ~Lisa Graham

A-2: Fresh flower petals will rot. Especially if damp and kept in a big plastic bag with no airflow. So keep them on sheets of paper towel or newspaper in a single layer until you are ready to work with them.

Lisa, what you do with those flower petals depends on which type of rose petal bead you want to make. If you are going for the traditional brown or black rosary beads, then keep the petals fresh and use the recipe outlined above. However, if it is the more modern version, review the article references I provided, also above.

Thank you to Phyliss and Lisa for your input. If you have any further questions about rosary beads or rose petal bead making techniques, feel free to ask away in the comments section below.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Phyliss Martine, 23 August, 2008

    Thanks for the info. I have one more question I do not want the dried flower bead to look like a glass bead would the polymer clay keep it like a dried flower, and I would like to add more color

  2. Cindy Lietz, 23 August, 2008

    Phyliss, I’m sorry but I’m not really sure what you mean.

    Is it that you still want to make the traditional rosary beads by cooking the petals, but you would like them to have more color?

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Traditional Rosary Beads Very Different From Rose Petal Fimo Beads

  3. Keri Lee Sereika, 26 August, 2008

    What an interesting read…I had no idea rosary beads were actually made of real roses!

  4. Cindy Lietz, 26 August, 2008

    I didn’t either Keri Lee until just awhile ago. Cool Eh?!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Blue Flower Earrings – A Jewelry Making Project Using Premo Sculpey

  5. Beth hylan, 07 September, 2008

    I have made the real rosary beads, it is a long and messy thing to do.I had trouble shaping beads as the rose petal clay is very lumpy even though I used a blender and yes a seive and wood spoon to push it with. My family thought I spent more time on this project than last years thanksgiving diner. The smell was interesting and the finished product ugly. after about 10 hours I ended up tossing everything. I can’t wait to try your bead project. Thanks for all you help. B

  6. Cindy Lietz, 07 September, 2008

    Oh Beth, forgive me for being evil, but I couldn’t help giggling when I read your story! I’ve never bothered making the traditional rosary beads, now I really don’t want to!!

    You could probably make the polymer clay rose petal beads and the Turkey dinner in the same amount of time this Thanksgiving!

    Thank you for the heads up and the laugh!

  7. Cindy Lietz, 02 October, 2008

    I received an email question from a subscriber (Paula) who saw some “…beautiful jewelry beads made from rose petals, sterling silver findings and Sawarovski crystals. One of my favorites are little angel pendants which are popular as mementos from funeral flowers. All of the articles I have seen explain the process, but say the beads will all turn out dark. Some beads I’ve seen are obviously treated with a lacquer, but they are also the color of the roses used. I believe they may be using a polymer – any other possible ideas of how to keep colors intact?”

    Paula sent me a photo to look at and here is my response…

    First off Paula, be sure to read the article above if you have not already. It discusses how the traditional rosary bead making technique differs from how polymer clay rose petal beads are made?

    The texture of the beads in the photo you sent, leads me to belief they there are traditional rose petal beads that have been painted with the original color of the flowers. It does not look like she is using polymer clay.

  8. Diane Lange, 15 April, 2009

    Hi Cindy,

    I am making the flower petal beads per your instructions, but the problem is some turn out wonderful and some break apart and crumble. Right now I have an order for 3 rosaries and I feel like I am re-doing half of my beads.

    What am I doing wrong? Please help me. Thanks Bunches.


  9. Katharine, 17 June, 2009

    I have just started making rose petal beads the traditional way. I love every step of it, from collecting the fresh petals to stringing the dried beads. Texture is important to me and I love the feel of the fresh petals, the feel of the paste as I roll it into beads and the stringing. I love the deep mahogany color of the natural beads. There is a creative challenge in finding good colors to complement and “show” mahogany well. Also, since people like other colors, I use a good (Grumbacher) acrylic paint to create many other colors of beads. I am even making some very glittery Mardi Gras (for next year) beads, by mixing generous amounts of glitter in with the paste before rolling it into beads. The same does not work with pigment. One must paint them after they have dried. By the way, if you use only fresh white petals, they turn the nastiest shade of rot yellow. So I added some yellow food coloring to make it a pretty yellow. Nooooo! They turned a lovely, deep forest green instead. I strung those up and mounted an Opal as the center bead. My favorite necklace. Cheers to all.

  10. Cindy Lietz, 28 June, 2009

    @Diane: I am so sorry Diane, I somehow missed your question. Hopefully you are subscribed to the post and you see this. You are either putting in too many petals in the clay and it won’t hold together, or you are not baking long enough. Make sure to only use a strong brand of clay, like Fimo, Premo or Kato clay. Bake at 265F for 1 hour and you should be fine.

    @Katherine: Wow it sounds like you’re having fun! Yeah that is weird how the prettiest white petals turn so icky! Must be an oxidization thing. I like your idea for adding fool coloring… clever!

  11. Cindy Lietz, 12 August, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some flower petal bead, jewelry project pictures have just been added to a Spotlight Feature showcasing Marsha Nelson, a member who is very much appreciated here at this supportive polymer clay community. Click on the “Flower Petal Beads” link by my name above to have a look.

  12. Cindy Lietz, 19 September, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some project pictures have just been added to a Spotlight Feature article showcasing Mollie Hubenak and her flower petal beads. Mollie is a supportive member of this supportive polymer clay community. Click on the “Keepsake Jewelry” link by my name above to have a look.

  13. Michelle, 27 November, 2009

    What is the best way to add essence oil to the beads so they smell like roses or any other flower you have used?

  14. Cindy Lietz, 12 December, 2009

    The best way is to add the oil to the clay Michelle. I wrote an article about it awhile ago. If you click the link by my name you can read it and learn more. Also if you type ‘scents’ into the search box at the top of the page, more articles will pop up.

  15. Mary, 03 March, 2010

    I make beads from roses, I blend the roses til they make a powder. Do you know how could color them?

  16. Phaedrakat, 05 March, 2010

    @Mary: Hi Mary, did you read the article above? There are links to 5 other articles about the rose & flower beads. I checked the first one, and it has some ideas about adding color, like adding a pinch of colored clay to your mix. Check the articles and the comments as well. I think there are more ideas about adding color (I think I remember something about inks?)

  17. Gina A, 14 December, 2012

    My sister and I have the off-spring of our Grandmother’s iris. She died in 1951, and before they tore down her house, some 30 or more years later, our Mom retrieved the iris plants. This spring my sister and I are going to collect and dry the petals to create a rosary for our mother. How cool is it that polymer clay allows us a means to do such things? We thought of trying to do it for Mother’s Day, but I am in Tennessee and she is in Indiana (five hours further north), and I have blooms in April where she has them in late May. Looks like Mom will be getting an even more special, not-on-Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day gift, haha.

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