Monday, May 16, 2011

The making of rose petal rosaries

Ek het 'n paar jaar gelede aan 'n retraite deelgeneem waar die begeleier 'n Rosary gebruik het waarvan die krale van egte roosblaar krale gemaak is. Dit gee 'n heerlike geur af terwyl dit deur jou vingers glip en die geur van jou gebed bly op jou hande, lank na jy klaar gebid het. Die simboliek van jou gebede is op jou hande en jou gebede het 'n aangename geur help my baie in my denke/geloof oor gebed.
Ek het bietjie rondgekrap en op hierdie resep afgekom vir die maak van roosblaar-krale vir 'n rosary. Die hele organiese proses van skep, van organies, van dooie blare wat aanhou leef...gryp my verbeelding ook aan. Dalk 'n lekker gebedsoefening wat jy selfs saam met jou kinders een Saterdagoggend kan doen. Die link na die webwerf met die resep is 

The making of rose petal rosaries is a very ancient craft, and one that many people enjoy both from a craft making perspective and also from a religious faith perspective. This has been particularly true within the Catholic Faith. Apparently, Pope Leo the Tenth gave official sanction for the Catholic Church to use rose petal beads or rosaries! That was in 1520 A.D. Prayer beads made from rose petals have a rich and lengthy history.

Originally there was always 165 beads on a strand and they were made solely of rolled rose petals, which is where the word rosary, derived from "Rosarium" (or rose garden) came from.

The Victorians developed the process with the use of fixatives and binders which made the beads stronger and able to retain their scent for a much longer time. Victorians used these beads for scenting clothes, jewellery and prayer. You and your roses have all the ingredients close at hand, so let's make some rose petal rosaries.

The best roses to use are the older Damask or Apothecary roses. The newer hybrid Tea roses, Floribundas and David Austins don't contain the same amount of oils so the beads made from them lack substance and strong fragrance.

Cut your full blooms in the morning and make sure they are dry. Quality, unblemished blooms, which have not been sprayed, are best. Pick the petals and discard the rest. Cut out the white base of the petal. You will need quite a lot of blooms: a dozen blooms or enough petals to fill a large bowl. Your most fragrant red petals are best but they will turn burgundy/brown or black when the process is complete.

Grind the petals in a food processor with about 1/2 a cup of rose water. (This is often found in specialty grocery stores, especially those selling Indian or Pakistani foods.) Grind this paste for as long as you can stand it! The smaller the petal particles the better. Original recipes suggest grinding for up to three weeks! Rose petal rosary makers of old, had lots of patience.

Now is the time to add fixative and/or binders if you choose to. The fixatives keep the aroma around for a longer time. Binders help hold the pulp of the beads together.  The two major organic fixatives are Gum Benzoin and Ground Orris root. The first is a vanilla smelling resin and the second smells a little like violets. Binding can be improved by adding Guar gum or Gum Arabic: very small amounts in powder form will help you form the shape and make them easier to mould. So where to you buy these strange sounding items? The best thing to do is ask at your local health food store about them or about any local stores that sell exotic herbs. You could of course try an online search.

Now you can cook the ground up leaves, either by microwave(plastic pot) or in an iron pot if you are going to cook on the stove.(not aluminium!) Either way, don't let the mixture dry out, and cook many times. Simmer a couple of times a day for several days. Do not boil.
When the mixture is ready and looking a bit like dark play dough, oil your fingers a little and roll out the mixture into a thin sausage.  Use a plastic mat or cutting board and protect yourself...this dough will stain everything! Cut off small cubes and roll between the fingers to make beads. Pierce with a knitting needle or darning needle and thread on a string so that you can hang them up to dry. Nylon twine works well.

The beads can take up to two weeks to dry properly, during which time you should move them up and down the thread a little, to prevent them sticking to it. Some speed up the drying process by hanging them in the sun and others hang them in a low temperature oven.
Check them daily and move them around, on the string, twice a day. When dry, they can be re-threaded as you desire, and/or polished up with fine sandpaper. Don't coat them with anything such as varnish: you need the aroma to come thru, although some use a very light coating of shellac.

Now you can make up your rose petal rosaries, 165 to a strand, or perhaps a smaller version or even a costume jewellery version, with added stones between. Silver wire can be used for necklaces or ear-rings.

Store them in an airtight container to preserve the scent.
Don't wear them in the rain, but do wear them next to the skin, as body oils help release the smells.

Making rose petal rosaries; a very ancient craft, using the Roses in your garden. Why not try some with your own petals this year.

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