I bet you never thought you’d see the words Pope and craft in the same sentence, right? Well, Pope Francis is making a historic visit to the U.S. this week – making it a perfect time to learn how to make prayer beads.
Thousands are celebrating his visit, but if you’re not Catholic, there are plenty of other ways you can use these beautiful beads. I’ve listed a few ideas at the end of this post. But before you scroll down, check out this amazingly simple tutorial.
How to Make Prayer Beads
- Paper from your office shredder
- Dried rose petals
- School glue
- Bamboo skewers
I make my beads in small batches. But if you want to make a bunch at one time, feel free to double or triple this recipe. There’s no real reason why I make it in small batches. It’s just how I roll.
- Start by taking one cup of paper out of your shredder. Make sure it’s only paper! If there’s plastic in there (like from envelopes or credit cards) it could really mess up your blender! Plus, plastic bits don’t hold up in the beads.
- Add the paper to a blender. Now cover the paper with warm water and blend away.
- Pour your pulp into a strainer. Push the pulp against the strainer with your hand or a spatula. We’re trying to press out most of the water, leaving behind just the pulp.
Dump the pulp into a bowl.
- Take 1/4 cup of dried rose petals and crush them over top of the pulp. The smell will be amazing! Just for giggles, I added some dried mint to mine – only because I had some handy. And I love the green flecks it made in the beads.
- Pour 1-2 teaspoons of glue into the bowl.
- Combine until a “dough” forms.
- Pinch out about a teaspoon of the dough and form into a ball. Prayer beads are pretty small, so a teaspoon is a good size. But you can make them any size you want.
- Squeeze out excess moisture. The bead should still be damp, but not sopping wet. If it’s really wet, it might fall apart and it will take forever to dry.
- Slide your bead onto a bamboo skewer. The skewer is a good place for them to dry, and it makes a hole in the center of the bead that you’ll need for stringing later. You might have to reshape your bead a little once it’s on the skewer – that’s ok.
- Keep your beads in a cool, dry place. If they’re small, it should only take 24-36 hours to dry completely. If you’re super impatient, then you can put them in a low oven (like 175 degrees) for a few hours.
- About half way through their drying time, the beads should feel spongy. This is a good time to re-shape them, and give them a little slide down the skewer to make sure they don’t stick.
- When the beads are fully dry, I coat them with a little more glue. This will give them a shiny appearance.
- When the glue is dry, string them on thread, yarn or whatever you have handy. I only had kitchen twine, and that worked great.
If you’re not into prayer beads…
I’m not Catholic, so I won’t be making these beads for myself. However, I do have lots of friends and family who are Catholic, and I think they would very much enjoy these beads as a gift, especially if the rose petals come from a significant event in their lives – like a wedding, anniversary or even a funeral.
You could also make these beads to wear. Combine them with other beads from a craft store and this could make quite a beautiful piece of jewelry.
Lastly, make the beads big and chunky and you’ve created play beads for your daughter or son. Paint them pink and silver for a princess. Paint them gold for a pirate get-up. Halloween is coming up, so get creative!
I few years ago, I made a similar type of bead for Mardis Gras. I also made it with homemade glue. If you’d to see how I created these beads, just click HERE for a video tutorial.