Sunday, October 04, 2015


The past week has been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows -- as usual. My very best friend in the world went in for surgery, and thank heavens, came out the other side better than she went in. I knew something was going on before I received the news she was in the hospital -- I had this pit of anxiety in my gut that kept waking me up with her on my mind. The next day she texted to say she was sick. A lot of emotional energy goes into worry. To let off a bit of steam, I went to Cambria, CA, about 30 minutes from home, with one of my older son's who was here for a day trip. I'd forgotten how lovely and pleasant Cambria was. They're in the throes of their annual 'Scarecrow Festival' and every shop and corner in the wee little town had a scarecrow on display. I found a sweet shop there called 'Verde' which is based around tea and fairies, and found bags of honey powder for sale, so, of course, I bought three. Honey soap is on the agenda this cool, cloudy, and damp Sunday. The shop keep offered to mail more honey powder to me if I was ever in need, then asked if I was a local, which I guess I am, so I turned down her offer of sending powder by post -- Cambria's too fun to miss even if I'm only going for a bag of honey powder. And the beaches there are divine. Not your summer fun-in-the-sun California beach, but a windswept, salty sea spray fogging up your glasses, coastal pines bending low to the ground, and tremendously vicious surf and rip tides kind of divine. Very grounding kind of environment.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Soap List -- She is Growing

So this is what I got so far -- a batch of smoky, pitchy, piney, resinous goodness; a batch of straight up Kyphi incense soap (those lovely dark bars), and a batch of herbal yumminess in the form of a spike lavender, palmarosa, myrtle, and wee bits of vanilla soap. All very fragrant, all made with organic oils, including hemp seed, all made chunky and big. The next batch on the list is the Poppymint, then sunflower (if I can pull it off), and then maybe something with pink lotus in it, perhaps a little red champa for 'sparkle', and a dollop of cananga to deepen and sweeten the soap. Then something else after that. Maybe. I'm a little rusty in the soap making department having not made any in a couple of months, and then none before that for even longer. I really should make an effort to make soap at least once or twice a month just to keep the skills honed.

I did write a bit yesterday, mostly a couple of recipes I was working on. The book is coming along, however, the plodding pace is beginning to wear me down. To my own credit, there is much more black print than red these days. When I started, the entire thing was a mash of red notes and outlines to flesh out at a later date. Once I got the pace the book writing was setting, I was able to fall in and get more work done. But still. It's just taking forever.

While doing some research, I found this diagram in a book written in 1917 entitled 'Sex and Sex Worship (Phallic Worship)' by Otto Augustus Wall. The source of the diagram was just as surprising and intriguing as the diagram itself, which outlines Piesse's Odophone in use.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kyphi Incense Soap -- the Real Deal

The idea of turning a small batch of Kyphi incense into soap has been bouncing around in my mind for a couple years now, but until just today, I hadn't made the move to bring that idea to fruition. Today, with the remains of the Kyphi workshop after the students took their share, I built a lovely and oh, so very fragrant all natural zero essential oils included Kyphi incense soap. I had about a half pound of still quite gooey Kyphi resin which I melted into the base oils on very, very low heat. That took the bulk of the soap making time, the melting of that Kyphi, because I didn't want to injure the oils or the Kyphi's unique scent profile. I knew beforehand I'd have to move quickly because of the honey content in the Kyphi -- honey, as most soap makers are aware, heats and seizes soap very quickly -- so despite being aware, I still ended up plopping the soap into the mold. I didn't wrap it or warm it because I knew the honey would do the work for me, and boy, did it! The Kyphi soap gelled within 10 minutes of being plopped into the mold. Cooling quickly was the next step -- again, to preserve the fragrance. Now it's a waiting game for the soap to cool completely and solidify, then it's out of the mold and onto the next batch.
Kyphi Incense Soap 9/29/2015

I've got a spike lavender and some other stuff (clary sage, etc.) soap on the roster, as well as the Poppymint soap that everybody requests. I'll probably end up making more than one batch of the Poppymint soap this season. After that I think I'll make up a faux sunflower soap, maybe a hydrangea, and then back to the pure raw materials, sans natural isolates, for the remainder of the soaps.

I really should get going on the book again -- I do write in it every day, even if it's just a sentence or two, but I haven't written pages in a week or more, and I'm really behind on the deadline.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Experimenting with Fantasy Accords of Natural and Near Natural Origin

I've been experimenting a lot with accords since my own accord stash was scattered to the wind during the move two years ago. How it happened, I'll never know, but it's only now that I'm looking for things that I realize something may have gotten lost in the shuffle. Anyway, I began working on new accords for the new book and came up with some pretty cool fantasy accords using natural raw materials in conjunction with natural isolates. Like sunflower. Years ago I made a sunflower soap using a fragrance oil that I purchased from one of the big soap frag places and I made it well known that it wasn't natural when I showed the soap at the craft event. Apparently it didn't matter because I sold out of that soap in about three hours of hanging my shingle the first day of the show. Besides the Poppymint soap I make every year, that sunflower soap was the fastest moving soap I ever made. Now I've created what I feel to be a close approximation to that sunflower fragrance oil out of natural raw materials and a few drops of natural isolates. I've also got a hellebore, a hydrangea, a pansy, a wallflower, and a freesia. Hydrangea really doesn't have a scent as I grow them and, well, the scent is negligent, however the 'feel' of a scent is there, something cool and sweet and delicately light in nature with dashes of green leaves. Hellebore too -- it has a scent but it's hard to describe, and then there's the whole 'stinking' aspect of hellebore, the slight skunky smell, which isn't entirely fair because -- well, because it actually smells nice. My 'fantasy' accord for hellebore includes hops essential oil, black currant bud absolute, vanilla, and a touch of hydroxycitronellal natural isolate. More experiments abound and most will be turned into soap. It is through the working out of these fantasy accords that the natural isolates really seem to work their magic.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Writing, Baking, and Soap

The writing hasn't begun again since getting back home from teaching the Kyphi class last week. I did go through the roughly 43,000 words for a quick edit yesterday, but didn't feel even the slightest inkling to begin work on it again. The inkling is coming back, though, so writing might happen later today or tomorrow. One of the subjects in the book is cookery with natural perfumery ingredients, and I've already got quite a stockpile of delicious recipes to add -- one that is literally fermenting as I write this is a sweet little sparkling wine made with fresh organic blackberries and lavender syrup (homemade, of course). The bottles for this beautiful rose colored confection are on their way and once they arrive, I will bottle them, label them, then pop them into the fridge until the holidays when they will be shared, chilled and sparkling and darkly herbal. I made a peach and rose pan tart as well with preserved peaches and a titch of organic rose otto. People hereabouts are wary of my baked goods because I do use so many aromatics that it's hard to slip one past them, but this one I did easily. I could smell and taste the rosy goodness, but no one else had a clue as they inhaled the sweet, fruity and delectable dessert.

I finally got to begin the soap making season with a strange little addition to the library -- a lovely elemi, cedar wood, ginger root, choya loban, angelica root and orange oil concoction that screams elemi (balance) with tendrils of creamy, woody Himalayan cedar and sparkling bitter notes of ginger root throughout. I wanted to add some punch to the usually drab colors so I played around with some turmeric powder, dragon's blood resin powder, and some deliciously fragrant and powdery sweet patchouli powder -- the effect isn't quite as swirly pretty as more fluid colorants and in spots it looks a bit gloppy. I like it. I've always been one to appreciate pretty-ugly in all things. Not quite sure what's on the soap making agenda next as I have a tendency to free style these things, but they all promise to be special, unusual, and made with purpose. The ingredients in this newest soap are extra virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, organic fair trade palm oil, and organic hemp seed oil scented with ginger root, Himalayan cedar wood, elemi, choya loban, angelica root oil colored with turmeric powder, patchouli powder, and fine dragon's blood powder.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Gather Ye Rosebuds

After the hub bub of getting my 15 minutes of fame, which turned out to be more like 10 minutes with commercials, I'm settling into my fall routine of soap making, incense making, butter making, balm making, and generally scenting things until they can't stand themselves. The going's been slow, though, what with the babysitting and all -- a two-month-old is very hard to please when the mindset is full speed ahead, no time to stop and plunk a bottle in the mouth, so listen up and pay attention, wee bitty apprentice soap maker, and stop yer pouting. Brainstorming the soaps and I've decided what I'm going to do with all these aged bottles of hydrosol -- the still good, been locked in a dark, cool closet, tightly sealed and squirreled away hydrosols -- they're going to become an ingredient in the soap, which if I don't get off this useless machine, will never come to fruition.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Doing the Happy Freaking Soap Dance!

So, with all the busy-ness of the past few weeks over, and some much deserved good, great, fabulous news (another one of those hurdles jumped), I'm feeling with all my heart and soul the vodou call of soap making -- yes, the thrumming, humming voice of gorgeous emerald green olive oil and sweet coconutty coconut oil, and the fulgent illumination of beautifully distilled essential oils, gorgeous absolutes, and carefully tended infusions and pommades -- oh! And I found to my utter glee and happy-happy-joy-joy a discounted bottle of organic hemp seed oil! I just love that stuff -- what it does for hair and skin is astonishing, so in it goes with the soap fixin's. While I was gone, the house fell a bit into disarray, so that's first on the agenda, in between the washing of the dog and the washing of the new baby granddaughter, and the caring for new baby granddaughter while her mum's gone off to make her fortune -- basically she's just gone off to work. But I will take my time today, there is a lot to catch up on and I don't want to hurry over any of it.

Soon -- very, very soon -- I will be releasing the newest perfumes from The Scented Djinn Apothecary -- Durraq and Wardi. I did a lot of testing of Durraq these past few weeks, spritzing and spraying unsuspecting family and friends, and across the board the vote has been that she is a winner. She's also dressed in shades of natural isolates as Wardi is not. I may be creating some skincare items with Durraq and Wardi as the scenting formula to go along. As a matter of fact, because of their similarities, Durraq and Wardi could be layered for those who prefer something richer and more intense. Not that either is weak and feeble on their own.

Off to formulate perfume bases for the soap and then -- well, in a week or two days, there will be soap. Lovely, taking-up-space-and-stinking-up-the-house-soap. Oh, and Blessed Mabon, for those who are about to faint from happiness that fall is finally here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Kyphi Workshop, a Vlogger, and Chuck Leonard, KAIL, Channel 53 & The Central Valley Buzz!

It has been a roller coaster of events this past weekend for me and my posse. I'm joking -- I don't really have a posse. It was mostly just me and my friend Shannon, proprietress of Seasons of Spirit botanical gardens and gift shop in Sanger, CA. Anywho, the Kyphi Workshop was fabulous despite the fact that a few people I was looking forward to hobnobbing with were unfortunately unable to make it -- maybe next time? We had about a dozen folks show up for the workshop and everyone was chattering among themselves, asking questions, grinding herbs and resins in mortars, and generally having a good time. It was more of a community gathering than a strict teaching gig. One of the attendees took some video for her YouTube channel to make a 'newscast' type vlog post about the Kyphi Workshop -- more info about that later as it won't be ready for public consumption for a few more weeks. The Kyphi itself turned out beautifully, completely infused with good vibes and great positive energy. And I was asked to appear on a local TV talk show called The Central Valley Buzz with Chuck Leonard (Channel 53, KAIL, Fresno, CA) and I agreed even though that type of thing is so far out of my comfort zone and I felt completely unprepared. I have this new philosophy about my life and that is to live it. Jump into the deep end of the pool without the floaties, I say, because joy and accomplishment won't appear if you're just sitting on the side of the pool wishing for the fear to subside. Sometimes you have to look at fear and say, "Get lost!" Or something more strongly worded, preferably something with profanity.

So I did the TV show and I looked like a goober doing it, but I did it. Me, ol' Miss Melt in a Puddle of Fear, sat on a comfy chair and talked mad gobs of crap about Kyphi and natural perfumery and soap making to the host, Chuck Leonard -- I stumbled, lost my train of thought, my mouth dried up and I looked like a horse chewing gum trying to wet my lips, I blushed, I waved my hands around like a crazy person -- but I did it. Me - 1; Hurdle - 0.

It airs today (September 22, 2015) from 12-1PM on Channel 53, KAIL, seen through the great state of CA from Modesto to Bakersfield (about 200,000 viewers thereabouts) and in a few weeks I'm hoping it'll be up on YouTube for your comedy entertainment (I'll post a link so we can all laugh at me together). There are opportunities to go back on the show, for which I think I am going to take advantage, but I'll be more prepared and I'll take more stuff to share now that I know what it's like. I'll still be as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but I'll do it.

It was a fun, exhausting, and productive weekend and I can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nerves and Jitters

The Kyphi workshop is coming up quickly and I've had little time to prepare for it. I have all the materials together (I think), and I've made Kyphi before (obviously) -- many, many times before, and I know that building Kyphi in a group makes the process a thousand times more spiritually infused than building it alone, though alone has its reverential perks too. There was business in Fresno Monday, nothing I can talk about, but stuff that puts a person on edge, makes them jumpy and uncomfortable and fearful of what the future may hold. I think a lot of my insecurities from all these non-related-to-Kyphi-building events is leaking into the Kyphi event. I have all of tonight and tomorrow to really prep and print out anything pertinent for the class, then it's on a bus/train Friday to set the whole thing up. Oh! And I was invited to do a podcast interview with a local Fresno TV/radio celebrity who wants to promote the workshop, but I can't make it because I won't be back in Fresno until Friday . . . it seems like I always miss these opportunities to educate people about natural perfumery and its related aromatic fields. It is ironic that I lived in Fresno nearly my whole life and I begin to get local recognition only after I've moved away! For two years I busted my bum trying to get the community interested and involved in natural perfumery and Kyphi and distillation and perfumed food with little (call it zero) results, but now -- now that I'm two hours away, I'm getting requests for interviews and local people are signing up for the classes and workshops I present over there. Funny how life works out. I guess in order to get folks on the coast interested, I'll have to move somewhere else. The desert maybe. Alaska. The moon.

I'm jonesing to build soap again. It's soap season and I'm behind right now. I'm waiting for the workshop to be done with before jumping into soap making for the holidays. I've already got some projects going for holiday gifts for family and friends, perfumed wines and whatnot -- homemade rootbeer, perfumed goodies, and soap and perfume and incense. I guess this could be considered incense season as well since it's when I'm most inspired to create incense. I'm ready to get some incense sticks going again. I've been getting requests for them, which always surprises me. I sell direct from Etsy and I do a brisk business from September to January, then things settle down to a more plodding pace, and surprisingly, as much as I do during the holidays, only about 50% of sales (perhaps a little less, maybe 45% or even 40%) receive feedback -- so what surprises me is that people who aren't leaving feedback on previous purchases from the apothecary are usually the customers who want to know when something will be in stock again. And here I thought you didn't like what you got.

Writing in the book has become mostly red notes again -- brief outlines of what I want to write about -- ideas that come in and need writing down before they're forgotten. I've woken up in the middle of the night to rush down to the computer and jot things down in red, so that when I'm more caffeinated I can flesh it all out. I'm up to just over 43,000 words now and still (and I say this all the time) no where near close to done. But I'm getting there! Slowly. There's just so much to impart and I'm not even scratching the surface because it can be overwhelming and some of it is just bull pucky anyway -- mostly in the gadgetry department. Must have this _______ (fill in the blank) machine or your perfume won't be good, or must have -- you get it, right? Magnetic stirrers and ultrasonics and vacuum filters and -- geesh, how can anyone just learning stick with it with all the 'must haves' when we all know perfectly well that it can be done simply and effectively (and inexpensively) the old fashioned way -- by waiting, by taking time and allowing the art to come to light on its own. Can you tell I've scaled way down in my own production and attitude about natural perfumery? Anyway, that's just my way and not everyone agrees with my attitudes about natural perfumery. I'm not into the commercialization of my art anyway. Do I want to sell it? Sure, it feeds my obsession and keeps me experimenting; do I want to sell cases of my art at Barney's? No way. I've done production before and it totally sucks the life out of the work because it all boils down to costs. They want it as cheaply as they can get it, and I want to get what it's worth, and those two concepts rarely match up. Years ago when I was selling cases of soap, I literally made something like .02 per bar because I refused to compromise on the quality of the raw materials. I could have made a dollar fifty a bar if I'd used cheaper materials, but I couldn't make myself do it because it wouldn't be my work anymore, it would be me trying to make money and not presenting the customer with a quality product. That's not what I was in it for (well, at first I was, then later I wasn't). So commercialization and mass production of anything I make these days isn't even a consideration.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hot, Muggy & Aromatic

It's been unseasonably hot and humid the past couple of days, with today promising to be the worst for the week. I'm so over summer, can I have some autumn now? Please?

My favorite tea shop is moving from just down the block to halfway across town, which, to be fair, isn't very far considering 'town' is small. I'm hoping for some opportunities to teach in their new location, which is bigger, grander, and more holisticky (?) than the wee shop they're in now. I've spoken to the owner a time or two about classes and workshops there, plus perhaps using her commercial kitchen to whip up some sellable (?) perfumed dishes. The owner has also shown some interest in obtaining some kopi luwak (civet coffee) for her shop, which I will be purchasing from her to distill for oil and hydrosols -- I'd go it on my own but I don't need much for my purposes, and I think it would be kind of fun to take something from the tea shop and bring something else back made from what I took from the tea shop. I'm happy that they have this wonderful opportunity for growth, but I'm a bit bummed that I can't just drag my bum down the road for a cup and a chat anymore. It's time to get the bicycle now, don't you think so?

The tuberose enfleurage has been put on hold again -- with the trips back and forth to Fresno and just the general schedule of who is doing what when has thrown a monkey wrench in my ability to be at the market where the tuberoses are being sold. The tuberose lady told me she sells well into October, so hopefully I'll get a few more rounds before then and have this super densely scented pommade to play with. So far it's pretty well saturated. I can smear on a wee dot of the stuff and it smells for a good hour or longer, pretty good for a pommade. I've been using it to hold down a couple of the perfumes I've been building over the summer -- the layering makes for an exquisitely classic floral bouquet perfume. Maybe I'll sell the perfumes with a wee tub of tuberose pommade for just that purpose.

I just evaluated a gorgeous valerian absolute from India, circa 2005 -- beautiful! Smells of sweet pipe tobacco, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and has kind of a cola back note -- fizzy and tickly. So unlike valerian root -- none of the ripened cheese, dirty, sweaty feet essence is here at all. The left nostril perceives a coolness to it, like high mountain ponds filled with desiccated conifers and wet moss -- life! The right nostril finds the brackish notes, the tobacco and the caramel and molasses, the darkness that resides there. Valerian absolute is a surprise in its complexity and lack of valerian root ugliness.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Book Reviews, Oh, How I Loathe Thee!

I hate reading book reviews. My book reviews, other writers' book reviews, just book reviews in general. They really aren't helpful to me anymore because I have something of an insider's viewpoint. I know that most self-published books are favorably reviewed by the author's friends and family, which isn't an accurate way to audit a book for content, as nice as all those lovely filled in stars can be. Also, people who personally dislike an author will write horrid reviews based on their hatred, and not on the book or the writing or content, or basically anything that effing matters to people who have zero affiliation and want to see a fair review to determine whether or not they want to spend time and money on a book! Phew. And then there are the trolls -- I've been one and I've been served by many. I no longer 'troll' because I have a conscience. I feel bad when I say something mean or snarky meant to put someone in their place; and I feel worse when I get trolled for trolling! So I don't. Troll, that is. Is 'troll' a verb or a noun?

Anyway, trolls. Mean people. Cruel people. People who can never be pleased no matter what a person does. The ones who poop on your parade, pee in your sweet tea, shame you for having a voice, call you out for some indiscretion, imaged or real. And the worst are the trolls who troll trolls (and this post may be doing just that). I've read book reviews wherein all-out troll wars were started, dragging the author in, then pulling her out to bicker among themselves, then back in, and out again, basically beating the crap out of her until moving on to the next victim. And you don't need me to tell you that this phenomenon is pervasive online. I'm no intellectual, and I have serious issues with attention deficit and processing information and overwhelming empathy that sometimes I just don't 'get it', whatever 'it' is, until hours or days or weeks later, making me a perfect target for these people. I sometimes have brief moments of genius, as elusive as the Victorian ankle, and then I become giddy with awe of myself in those moments, that I ultimately goof myself out of it. Back to hum drum dumb. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I just can't handle those assholes ~ ha!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Writing Inspires Writing

After a few more tweaks to the new perfume formulation, I've put him to bed. Durraq, a languid, creamy-dreamy sweet fleshy peach and soft powdery orris & moss perfume is resting as I write this. Wardi is passing the time until the six-week evaluation date is reached (and so is Durraq now). I'm anticipating that nothing more will need to be done with either of them. Wardi grows more and more lush and beautiful as the days roll by, and Durraq needs time to embrace the natural isolates (to my nose, anyway) so that it stutters less and becomes seamless. In the four days since the final adjustment was made to Durraq, I've noticed a huge change -- the opening isn't just the mallow cream sweetness anymore; more of the jasmine and rose and peach peek out. I'm hoping this progression continues and the opening fades into the background as a supporting note for the vanilla and orris rather than the note one gets upon first sniff. Wardi I've nothing much to say about because she is near perfection already. Special. Dilution has done her wonders.

The writing. Man. The writing has become monstrously important lately. There is so much of 'me' in this new book that it is almost a diary -- a perfumer's diary filled with hits and failures and indecision and bold choices. I'm plowing through even the most boring of topics,most of which I have since cut from the book altogether once I decided that if I was bored writing it, you would be bored reading it and wouldn't get from it what you want. And I finally 'get' what you may want. Inspiration. Technique. No holds barred guerilla perfumery. I'm wrapping up the instructional bits of the book and am beginning to work more on the formulations, ideas for formulations, and home study portions. One fact that cannot be overlooked or understated is that you will never be a proficient natural perfumer by reading books -- it won't happen -- until you sit down in a quiet room with the raw materials, some scent strips, a pen and a notebook and study each and every one of those materials with concentrated effort. Forget the fancy bottles and the vacuum pumps and ultrasonics and magnetic stirrers and 'collections' -- none of that crap matters and can be overwhelming to a beginner or intermediate natural perfumer -- all that matters are those aromatics, your nose, and your imagination. Period.

** Sidetracked! I just opened the book file on my computer while in the middle of this post and ended up writing over 1000 words! Writing inspires writing. Amazing.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Inner Artist

It's been a week of intense writing and formulating. Work continues on the new perfume(s) with Durraq taking a very serious turn into the land of candied fruits and jellies and mallow cream pie. Durraq is an experimental perfume -- my first serious try incorporating natural isolates into the fray. I made it a point to really build up the perfume with raw whole naturals before attempting to fiddle the natural isolates in. These natural aroma chemicals are not easy to work with -- they're demanding and bold and they try very hard to conduct the perfume in their direction. Manipulation of the aromatics takes time and patience (of which I am in very short supply lately) and accounts for a great deal of ridiculous frustration. Durraq now opens with this crazy sweet marshmallowy fruit note that segues into powdery soft peaches -- and then it flows back and forth this way for a while -- mallow sweet, soft peaches, mallow sweet, soft peaches. The longer it ages, the more cohesive and refined the scent becomes -- on day one the yuzu was a screaming mimi zipping and zapping throughout the mallow opening, and it came off as discordant, bitter yellow slashes amid a puffy pillow of languid candy cream. I thought at that point it was a wash. In my head it worked out, or I wouldn't have done it -- I was certain beyond certainty that it was going to be fabulous, and then my certainty dimmed considerably once the yuzu swam about in the soup. But now -- now that the juice has had time to sit and contemplate its existence, now that the wee molecules in the sauce have gotten to know one another better -- now -- now it is good. Better than good. Unexpectedly divine. I see a few more tweaks on the horizon, just a boosting of notes already in the formulation, then I'll allow Durraq to settle in and mellow. Wardi is as she's ever been. I periodically check on her to see if she's changed or needs changing, and so far so good. I've diluted her some to kind of open her up, but nothing more.

I got a very unhappy comment from a very unhappy, yet anonymous, reader of my blog about my last post and how they think I am illogical and unlearned in my belief that essential oils and other natural raw materials possess no life force (I think the words were 'natural forces'). I posted their comment, as this blog is moderated, and then my response, but the longer I left the comments up, the more I realized that perhaps I'd misspoken -- my intent was not to say that there weren't any magical forces at work in eo's -- that's a realm of work I'm very familiar with -- but that there wasn't anything living, as in a 'being' living in the eo's. They aren't alive. But they are magical. Two different things. A rock isn't alive, but crystals and other 'special' rocks do possess some magical attributes. If that makes me sound like a nut -- well, too bad. I guess it all boils down to what you consider 'magic'. Perhaps I am illogical and unlearned, but I'm happy in it and I'm hurting no one. Suffice it to say, I rewrote that paragraph in the book to redefine my meaning. Not alive; are magical -- oh, and 'vastly therapeutic'. And I removed the comments here on the blog because I felt that anonymous and I were both a bit out of line in our commentary.

Again with the writing -- I've cut another entire chapter from the book because the direction of the 'story'  is more artistic and focuses on creating natural perfumes rather than marketing and selling and all that crap, so the marketing and selling and crap chapter is gone. As we all know, I've never been good at that part of this business anyway. I've never been into commercialism; I can't decide on which beautiful bottles I want to use, so I use them all; I've taken my sweet ass time coming up with a decent logo that I'm happy with, and I waver daily between opening a shop and keeping things at the home studio -- flaky is the word I've used to describe this aspect of my business. Hell, I dread all two tax times a year with the same gut bunching angst as a day in court or a root canal, and buying liability insurance makes me hyperventilate! So nix on the biz part because it's definitely not in my wheelhouse. I've come to realize in the short time I've been on this planet that even though I consider myself a stoic realist, my actions deem me artist to the core. I harbor not-so-deep-seated desires and wishes for silly things, like accolades for my art, living a quiet, peaceful and abundant life in the country, traveling the world, flying like a bird, seeing sparkles come out of the end of my wand when I'm doing witchy work. I'm not interested in huge commercial success or awards (I lie only a little bit here with the awards thing) or acolyte adoration. Especially the acolyte thing -- it makes me very uncomfortable and anxious, that. I'd rather have friends than followers any day. So in a nutshell, I am coming to terms with my not-so-inner artist.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ghosts in the Juice

I was on a roll yesterday with the writing. I started early and before the usual computer routine of checking emails, checking money generating websites (mine), then hopping onto FB and basically wasting time while pretending to 'catch up' with what everyone else is doing; I got up, poured myself a cup of tea, sat down, opened the book document and began writing -- and writing and writing, and by 1 AM this morning I stopped writing and editing (bad habit, can't help but clean up as I go) and went to bed. I did pop into FB a time or two, stopped to make meals for the fam, drove someone to school and dropped off a forgotten thingamabob for somebody, but in the interim I was writing. A lot. And good stuff, too. I'm working on the chemistry of essential oils and now that I actually have some chemistry (very little) under my belt, I can confidently relay the information. All the work I'm doing in the book has inspired the perfuming as well -- Durraq is still a peach perfume, but with many more nuances and a sensuality that was missing. Drop by drop, the creation is becoming live. During one of the book writing breaks, I pulled out a couple of treasure boxes and began evaluating the current juice with eval materials to find which would work well, and I found several fascinating choices, about a half dozen are going to be added to the work to get it where I want it. My previous statement about having this ready by the end of September may not actually happen. I'm thinking closer to the end of October, maybe even the end of the year.

Here is a snippet from the book to give you a taste of what's to come:

"Working with natural raw materials can be a moving and deeply spiritual experience for a natural perfumer, however, the raw materials – the essential oils specifically – do not embody ‘plant spirits’ as many in the business have claimed. Essential oils are functional components of the plant (insect repellent, bee attracting), and waste materials of the plant – the poo, as it were – and it is inappropriate and downright silly to give them a designation of divinity. With the dubious exception of cold-pressed oils, essential oils, absolutes, concretes and CO2 extractions are the end result of applying heat, cold, solvents, or cold and intense pressure to a plant, squeezing out any possibility of a ‘life force’ residing in them. It would be the same as if we stated that the collard greens we cooked for 45 minutes possessed a ‘life force’. However wonderful the essential oils make us feel, there are no wee plant ghosts, spirits, or natural forces hovering in and around our natural perfume compositions."

*UPDATE! I have since rewritten the above ^^ in the book to something more palatable for both myself and others who DO see magic in the essential oils. Magic, not life.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Durraq ~ A Peach Perfume

Durraq is a new perfume that was inspired by the summer fragrance challenge hosted by natural perfumer Lyn Ayre. While working with the raw materials used in that challenge, I began to think about expanding the fragrance using other materials, and sort of switching the theme of the original from rose-peach to more of a peach-rose. While creating the perfume for the challenge, I was simultaneously writing the chapter in the new book on the subject of natural isolates, and I kept finding natural isolates in my research that would perfectly suit the perfume theme. I used a few, mostly aldehydes, to kind of deepen the rose and enhance the peach, and I added a lovely aged oakmoss tincture that I've been holding onto for something special. It's not quite done yet. I'm still in the tweaking stage, but I hope to have it bottled and ready for sale sometime in late September.

And there is Wardi, the rose-peach, not to be confused with Durraq, the peach-rose ~ ha ~ that is natural isolate free and splendidly rose tinged peach. I'm thinking of marketing them as a set for layering.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


The writing is becoming a little easier. I heard back from one of my good friends, a mentor and alchemist, about putting forth the weird little circle thing with all the bleed over, and was reassured that I'm on the right track, that the work is genuine and useful. That's really all I was concerned about. I'm not trying to re-write anything here; it's all the same stuff, just a different way of looking at it. And it doesn't surprise me that in my mind's eye the construction of natural perfume is a series of circles -- everything I 'see' in my mind's eye is circles -- years, for example, in my mind are circles. When I was four I drew out a 'year' in crayon for my mother and she thought -- well, I'm not sure what exactly, but I think she was a little surprised and maybe a bit confounded. On my little year graph, I had made each season its own color, and each month as well, like a splendiferous rainbow pie. My spelling was poor as I had just learned to read and wasn't familiar with writing -- everything was phonetic. I think perhaps that's when my 'genius' peaked as I wasn't a particularly good student in school. I remember in first grade being publicly shamed by my teacher for not having an answer to a math question because I was daydreaming and had colored every one of my fingernails with a pencil. Math was a bore and that teacher, in my very vivid imagination, was a witch -- short pin curled black hair, white powdered skin, and bright red lips on a pruney face. She was a mean one, that lady, and she more than lived up to my imagination. I had a rather traumatic and colorful childhood, both at home and in school. Oh, the yarns of self-humiliation I could spin for you.

The point is, I'm going to continue doing what I'm doing in the new book -- continue with my POV and toss the 'right' way of doing it because honestly, my best work ever was done completely the 'wrong' way. Experimentation is my middle name! Not really.

We all, over time, develop our own way of formulating natural perfume, despite all the books and courses we may take, and so long as the end result is a lovely (and marketable) perfume, then the work was done correctly. Now I feel like I'm over explaining . . .

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Writing, Evaluating, and Finding Lost Treasure

I've really been knocking my head against the wall with this writing thing. I've put myself on a deadline -- this book will be done by October 12th or I'll eat meat. I'm a vegetarian -- hehehe. The problem is that the more I write, the more I need to write about. The new natural perfumery book is more free style, more personable, like this blog, than the first book. I caught a lot -- A LOT -- of crap from other natural perfumers about the book being a piece of -- well, crap. I tend to agree as it was mostly just rewritten stuff from the course I teach, minus a lot of instruction and hands-on stuff. Plus, I think people expected something more -- like detail and formulations and -- I don't know what -- blood? But I get it. I understand how someone who already has some formulating skills under their belt would feel cheated by a book that literally teaches the absolute basics of creating natural perfume -- compounding and whatnot, and not 'recipes' and all my secrets. The new book is full of secrets and silliness and instruction and formulations and ideas and permissiveness.

Like this thing that I started doing a while back when I realized that natural perfume compounds don't behave like traditional aroma chemical perfume compounds ~

~ that natural perfumery doesn't play by the rules, really. The head/heart and base note set-up with traditional perfume formulating doesn't apply to naturals. This also came about because so many natural perfumers were saying things like, well, it doesn't matter if you start your perfume at the top or the bottom, there's not hard and fast rule here, and all I could think of was, what about the theme? What about the meat of the perfume? The core? What the composition is trying to say? So I started thinking in terms of this circle thing and began working perfumes from the middle to the outside, all around, not up or down. Do you get it? All the notes in a natural perfume should enhance and extend what the theme of the perfume is, and if they don't, they don't belong in the composition.

Maybe this will help define the concept a little more:

There's overlay and extension and -- well, no up or down but all around.

And in my mind's eye, it can look like this too, with the petit grain not just sitting there on the cusp of both the core and the enhancer, but spreading all the way across the spectrum to include the whole perfume.

Is any of this making sense? I hope so, because it's in my head, and now here and I'd hate to think I'm the only one on the planet who gets this weird thing.

I've received a couple more natural isolates to add to the new book, and I think I'm going to stop now. There are dozens more that I could add, but the book isn't just about natural isolates (I'll leave that to the experts) but a book about opening your eyes to the potential of expanding creativity using what is available, legal, and accepted. Besides, I'm learning a LOT about natural perfumery studying the natural isolates.

So this morning I was thinking about creating more solid perfumes based on some liquid perfumes I have in the works when serendipity struck. Whilst escorting the wee one to the can, I perused the shelf of many scents and found an unlabeled tin of natural solid perfume I made last winter, and when I opened it -- aaahhhh! Sublimely beautiful and so much better (I'm sure) than when I first made it. So the trick to creating good natural solids, as with liquid natural perfume, is time. Time and a label so I can find the formula in the books.


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