Although roses may not last forever, you can still enjoy the petals long after your rosebushes have gone dormant. Since they remain fragrant after they're dried, rose petals are just right for using in sweet-smelling crafts. You can use any kind of rose petal from your garden or from a bouquet; the petal colour will darken when dried.
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It's believed that rose petal beads were first used to make Catholic rosaries, though there is some debate over whether rose petal rosary beads go back to the 16th century or to the early 20th century. According to Paternoster-Row, a historical rosary research source, the name "rosary" comes from a legend involving roses, but the idea of making rosary beads out of actual roses is a much more recent invention. In any event, rose petals make sweet-smelling, natural beads, whether you use them for prayer beads or for ornamental jewellery. The process involves puréeing the petals with rosewater, orris root and gum arabic, simmering the mixture over several days and finally shaping the dough into beads, which dry over several weeks.
Add some dried rose petals to your handcrafted glycerine soap; the petals will add visual appeal, fragrance and a little bit of scrubbing abrasion to the moulded soaps. To make, melt a glycerine soap base as directed by the manufacturer. Stir in rose oil and the dried petals, and pour the soap into moulds. You can experiment with different flower, herb and spice blends by adding other ingredients, such as dried lavender, basil or cinnamon, along with the petals.
Potpourri is a simple way to use rose petals that requires little more than drying them. Remove the individual petals from your roses and place them in a bowl. Add some dry lavender or orris root, which acts as a fixative. Lay the petals flat on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and place them in a dry place for several days, or until the petals are completely dry. Place the petals in a glass jar and add a few drops of rose oil. Store, covered, for a couple of weeks before use. The potpourri can be placed in bowls to add scent to the air, or you can tie them into tiny tulle sachets.
Rose petals, if they haven't been treated with toxic chemicals, are entirely edible. Moisten fresh rose petals with beaten egg white and sprinkle them with fine sugar to make shimmery candied rose petals for cake decorating or use as a garnish. Country Living magazine suggests using rose petals to make an elegant rose-and-champagne sorbet worthy of the most special occasions. Plain fresh rose petals also make a fancy addition to salads; just sprinkle the petals on top of the salad just before serving.
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