Wednesday, August 15, 2012

making Herbal Beads

Herbal Beads

tapestry or carpet thread (smooth, not fuzzy)
a darning needle
a button
a small knife
dental floss (for the finished beads)
a food processor or spice mill (optional)

1/2 cup flowers or herb leaves, fresh or dried
3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
10-15 drops essential oil (complimentary to your

If you're using fresh flowers (or fresh scented geranium leaves),
take petals and discard the hard parts like stems and such. Try to
use only the parts that are aromatic. Process the herbs until they
are pureed or very finely chopped. The easiest way to do this is in
a food processor. If you are using dried herbs, process them the
same way or rub them through a sieve to make a powder.

Once you've pureed or finely chopped your plant material, begin
adding the all-purpose flour. The amount listed is approximate. You
will need more flour if your puree is soupy or your chopped herbs
are very moist. You may need less if your plant material is drier or
if you use powdered herbs.

If you use powdered plant material or if your plants are dry, you
may need to add water. Start with 1 tablespoon and begin mixing the
plant/flour mixture.

The dough should be about right when it looks like craft clay for
kids (e.g. Playdough). Add a little more flour to the mix if it
seems too soft or a teeny bit of water if it seems too stiff. The
dough will definitely be too soft if you pull on it and it easily
stretches like kneaded bread dough. I do most of my dough mixing
right in the food processor, periodically playing with the dough to
see if it feels workable.

When the dough seems right, begin by pinching off chunks and shaping
them into beads. You'll notice that chopped plant material will
cause your beads to look course at this point. They're still quite
attractive this way! Another way to make the beads is to roll a
chunk into a long tube or snake and then chop off bead-sized bits
with a knife.

The dough remains workable for quite some time, but if it starts to
feel very dry to the touch, it's starting to harden. Making the
amount specified above should keep them from beginning to harden
before you're done. If they start, try moistening the surface of the
dough very lightly and working the moisture in quickly.

Once the beads are shaped, you can add essential oil to them if you
like. Adding the oil sooner usually results in poorer quality beads
because the oil evaporates quickly when you mix everything together.

Once your beads are shaped, knot the end of the thread and string it
through the bottom of the button. Use enough thread to string your
beads with room between them for moving around as they dry. String
the beads carefully, being sure they have their holes where you want
them (some people may not want the hole to go right through the
middle). The beads will shrink slightly as they dry.

Hang the beads in a warm, dry place with plenty of circulation and
away from lights. It should take about 3 or 4 days to dry fully. The
size of your beads and the weather will make a difference.
Be sure to slide the beads on the string every so often tokeep them from
sticking together or to the string..

When the beads are dry, store them in an airtight container until
you're ready to string them together. I've found that dental floss
(not tape!) works best for stringing the beads together.

Other Hints and Tips

Dried, scented geranium leaves held their scent throughout the dough
drying process and required absolutely no essential oil.

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