Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Herbal Beads

Creativity can easily be thwarted when you consult the cabinets. I wanted to make cream but was out of beeswax. I wanted to make lip balm but was out of tubes. And on the list went. Out of frustration I forced myself to just look at what I did have, and see if there was something fun to make from that. What I did have, was some really fine herbal powders..... pink roses, red sandalwood, and green lavender...... and in the deep well of my "to-do-someday" list, herbal beads came up. 

I've never made them before, so I didn't know what to expect. I was suspicious that they wouldn't harden right or be durable. 

I mixed a simple paste from the recipes I have read and are also randomly listed on the internet, as approximately
1/2 cup herbal powder
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
water, little by little until you have a workable dough
essential oils, optional and added last.

What I didn't expect, was the length of time it took me to roll all the beads... somewhere around 4 hours. 
Of course, when your hands are filled with sweet aromas, it's not too hard to let go of the clock and loose yourself in the rhythm. 
I found that making the holes with a medium sized metal crochet needle was much smoother than using wood (toothpick) or a tiny needle. Once I had the hole made I carefully strung it onto some hemp cord to dry. Newspaper is a good bed. 

I enjoyed watching the colors shift as the water left and the beads solidified. They are still fragrant and oh so lovely. They hardened quite well.

I also read that the original rosary beads were made from roses (hence the name) and while I have no proof of this, it sure makes sense..... and even more so when I think of how many rose bushes adorn the homes in my local Italian neighborhoods. Especially the apricot colored ones. Supposedly they were made from fresh, though, not dried, by making a slow cooked mash. It's the dead of winter here so I can't harvest fresh ones. 
I'm not Catholic - but I am more than willing to pray along a string of roses! 

Now, I can't see these being that durable, considering the contents, I imagine a drop of water would simply melt it back to goo. But I wouldn't want to lacquer them either, as that would block all of the lovely scent, and probably the natural texture, too.

I have seen that The Essential Herbal sells herbal bead making kits ( I haven't tried it) so maybe they know some additional secrets that I don't, if you are inspired and want some guidance.

For now, I love my sweet and simple beads, and will keep them for special friends and meaningful moments. I cherish the odd shaped chunky ones my children fashioned, and the square ones their best -yet suspicious - friend made ("you're a..... green witch??? what does that mean?") she says, as she requests more of that yummy 'leaf fusion', and 'leaf' soup.


Michele said...

MMMMM, I have made these and here is my recipe if you would like to avoid the flour and use even more natural ingredients. This recipe produces a very hard bead..

1 ounce powder benzoin (the gum variety)
1 ounce powder acacia (the gum variety)
1/2 ounce powder orris root
1/2 ounce powder cinnamon
1/2 ounce powder clove
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 drops vanilla essence
2 tablespoons glycerine
10 drops honeysuckle essential oil or which essential oil you like to use
Mix all the ingredients together (except the essential oil) to form a paste.
Roll the paste into little balls.
Add 1 drop essential oil to each bead.
When dry enough to handle, make a hole in them by using a hot sewing needle, leaving the beads on the needle.
Put them on a tray and let them dry.

The Plant Whisperer said...

neat! thanks for sharing your recipe. I thought about using my orris and myrrh powders, but I really just wanted to take the 'simplers' route to start, to see how each powder behaved. And to keep their original scents. The sandalwood was the easiest to handle and didn't tend to crack. the rose was the most delicate.

Hibiscus Moon said...

Very interesting. I have never heard of these before but they sound fun.

Alette Siri Ane said...

I pick roses when they have opened.Put them in water ,not much, warm it in a iron crock.Do not boil.I repeat this 4 days leaving all in water.You then start making beads.Towards the end of drying stick a large needle thru.The Rose water I send to Spiritual friends.The roses are course and rustic.

tansy said...

they are lovely! i've always wanted to try to make these, just haven't yet. i'm going to have to make the time!

Laura Turner said...

I need to know where to buy these products -- the benzoin, acacia, orris root and glycerin.

I have great plans!