Sunday, May 01, 2016

Intuitive Data Base

I know. I said I wouldn't be writing here for weeks or months because I have a lot to do. Turns out what I have to do will have to wait until the kids' move is done. I have some things that were backed up done -- the custom work is finished. The rest is too time and materials' intensive to get into with everything turned upside down as it is. So here I am. At your disposal. Sort of.

I wrote a bit about my granddaughter's (and mine) new little business venture, perfumes for children, which she named 'Lylli's Petals', but what I haven't written about is how a perfumer who 'plays' with raw materials long enough can 'intuitively' -- not really intuitively; more like scent memory built up over the years creating a rare data base of information in the brain -- pick just the right natural oil or natural isolate to create an effect. Like honeysuckle. While setting up the organ for the granddaughter, I was thinking of all the sweet and delicate scents that intrigued me as a child. Honeysuckle. Lily of the Valley. Sweet pea. Buttery rose. Peachy citrus. A lovely apricot body powder. For her first perfume, I chose heliotropin, methyl anthranilate, lots of citrus (orange and lemon and bergamot), lavender, a touch of spice (cloves), and roses, both natural and isolates, and a few other smells to fatten up the body of the scent. Even though I had played around a bit with the ratios prior to her beginning to formulate, it was her hand that dispensed the aromatics into the alcohol, so we're going to say she made these because some day, she will be doing it all on her own. Or so she says. Slowly, with each addition of the formula, a scent appeared -- honeysuckle with a shimmer of rose. I would be lying if I said I wasn't surprised by what we got. I knew it would be feminine, sweet, innocent, floral, girlie, but I had no idea it would be honeysuckle. After creating her first perfume, I began to pore over my books -- mostly the old ones that have formulations for honeysuckle and lily of the valley and sweet pea, and found to my utter surprise that all the materials I used to create this accidental honeysuckle were indeed in vintage formulas for honeysuckle accords. It was that intuitive-not-so-intuitive data base taking over . . . intuitively.

The CEO, COO, and President of Lylli's Petals has announced that her next project will be a rose perfume. Then after that, peach. I do so love that she is in love with perfume. It gives us just one more thing in common.

Tumultuous Times

I can't lie -- or, rather, I can't hide it anymore. I'm a mess right now. My daughter, her fiance, and our sweet little grandchildren are moving away. The house is in turmoil. Money's an issue (more on that a little later), and bad news just keeps coming.

A long-time online friend, someone who I admired and loved, passed away. We made cyber soap together, laughed at ourselves together, encouraged one another, and displayed our flaws for the other to see. It was a comfortable relationship full of trust. I will miss her words of wisdom more than anything. A couple that I thought were the poster children for surviving with a smile the roller coaster ride of marriage are splitting up. This news stunned me more than the dear friend's departure. I got a rather demeaning review on the first natural perfumery book, Working the Bench, on Amazon. Again. The remarks were aimed at illuminating how the book was for beginners, and people with no lab experience. No kidding? It's aim is that group, and it says so in the description. Granted, I'm not 100% proud of that book as it's very, very basic, and yes, a lot of the information can be got from the internet if you go searching for it. I think I'm more disappointed in myself for not doing better -- for not doing as well as I know I am capable of doing -- and then getting my panties twisted because someone points out what I already know about the work. Every time this happens, I am tempted to pull the plug on the books.

Money. Or lack thereof. It's why I can't get a firm foothold in my business. I won't take a loan, or look for investors because I can't be certain someone else's life won't bleed into mine and cause upheaval to the point of my becoming mentally paralyzed (usually it's someone causing undue fear in my life because they have it in theirs), thus wasting the investment. I'm almost positive I'm overthinking this -- at least I hope I am. And even though there will be more space in the house, what with half of the household moving away, I still long for an outside of the house studio. It's the negative energy flow I'm attempting to avoid. The energy here is not always good, despite routine ritual. That space I was looking at earlier this year is still sitting there. I even got a phone call in March from the owner, after I pushed a note with my written desire to occupy the space through the mail slot. Since then I've not been able to get back in contact with them. And the space is still open. Available. Waiting for me.

On a lighter note, F12016CH is getting better. In fact, I think I'm done. Time and alcohol and then more time (and alcohol for me), some cute spray bottles, and off she goes. With a name, of course. 

My little granddaughter, Lylli, and I started a business together called Lylli's Petals. She helps create the perfumes at Lylli's Petals (so far just one) by allowing me to tell her how the ingredients smell, and then her testing to make sure I'm not trying to fool her, and then she decides if she wants those ingredients in her perfumes, and then geared up in her apron and rubber gloves, she disperses a pre-measured amount of raw material into the blending flask. She's got a pretty decent nose for a little kid. The first perfume is an eau de toilette (I think they will all be edt's because her intent is to make them available to kids like herself) made up of citrus and florals and a few natural isolates that turn it into something else -- in this case, the first perfume from Lylli's Petals is called Honeysuckle Rose. We used a little heliotropin natural isolate, a little phenethyl alcohol natural isolate, a very little valerolactone gamma natural isolate, and loads of naturals, like rose, neroli, lemon, lavender, a vegetal musk, and a hint of cloves to create this pretty little perfume. When I say 'little' regarding the amounts of natural isolates used, I mean little, as in highly-diluted drops of 5 or 10 in a blending flask of natural perfume base and organic alcohol that measured out to about 100 milliliters to start. She even picked her label background and the font used to write 'Lylli's Petals'. She seems pretty sure of what she wants, which is a lot more than I can say of myself. We started her store on Etsy, and the profits from any sales will go into a savings account for college. Or to travel. She claims that when she grows up, she wants to be 'a traveler' and see 'stuff'.

Lylli's Petals ~ Honeysuckle Rose

You can find her perfume for children here, at Lylli's Petals.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Heed the Call

When did 'news' become advertising? I just followed a link for what appeared to be a juicy mystery, only to discover it was garbled sound bite style article writing surrounded by a dozen adverts for cars, drugs, and investment 'opportunities', followed by AT&T logos everywhere. The logo was even in the background of a photo used to illustrate the story. The story itself was a dud. Completely, but, man, the side bars were loaded with distracting stuff I neither need nor can afford. It makes me sad for our society that so much sh*t is being forced down our necks as 'necessary' to our survival when it is not necessary to anybody's survival except for the very financially wealthy, y'know, in order to keep them that way. I apologize if I sound a bit anti-capitalist -- I'm not -- not even close, I like money just as much as the next girl, but I've never found the idea of 14k gold water faucets as a plausible end goal. That kind of 'rich' is gaudy and desperate. Snap the handle off your bathtub and feed some hungry people, why don't you? Invest in education. Start some companies where people actually have jobs that create a living for them. Not everyone wants to be bloody rich; some just want to shop for their kids' school clothes at Target instead of Goodwill.

I'm done. For now. Ha!

The weekend was great. The soap workshop was a lot of fun, even if turnout wasn't the best it's been in the past. Fresno's a hard sale. As I've said before, that area isn't made for this type of work; people there are underpaid, overworked, and hanging onto their pennies -- because they have to. Soap workshops, perfume workshops, and Kyphi workshops just aren't in the budget for most. At any rate, it was a great class; my grandson showed up and was the alchemist's helper, stirring the pot, asking very important soap-related questions, sniffing, and moving things along at a near-manic pace. The gardens at Seasons were in bloom with rose geranium, different types of roses, lavender -- even the white sage, which now stand over six feet tall, are budding and blooming. The bees around the white sage were intense! Bumbles and honeys were everywhere, just giving those plants tons of bug love. Seasons now permanently hosts bee boxes, and white sage honey will be part of the honey crop this year.

I think I'm going to go off the grid a bit for the next few weeks. I've got tons of custom work that's backed up, plus I'm anxious to begin work on re-formulations and re-batches of perfumes that I'm getting requests for. I need to immerse myself in study again, re-acquaint myself with the creative, in what ever ways appear to me. Work/Creativity is beckoning and I must heed the call. That means I probably won't be posting much here for a while. For weeks. Maybe months. Love ya.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Soap Workshop April 23, 2016

The soap making workshop is this Saturday, the 23rd, from 1 to 4, or whenever we finish the work, at Seasons of Spirit in Sanger, CA (15 minutes east of Clovis, CA) ~

 I am offering a two-fer of sorts -- for every pair, couple, friends in twos, cousins in twos, mums and daughters, sons and fathers, etc., you get a discounted fee rate of $80 the pair instead of the $65 per person for those coming one-by-one. In other words, if you bring a friend, you get to ride the Soap Class Choo-Choo for less than if you came by yourself.

I'm working on the scent combination for the workshop sample soap today and finishing with the actual creation of the soap this evening. The soap will also be given away to participants of the workshop, along with my soap making booklet.  It'll be a lot of fun, so if you can, come on out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Camphor Wood of Indonesia

After a couple of years of searching for camphor WOOD -- not crystals, not essential oil, not tincture of crystals -- I finally found someone by pure happenstance who sells the shavings. If you've been creating Kyphi with camphor crystals or camphor oil, you're missing out on something enriching and historical. The camphor wood (Cinnamomum camphora) is so much more multi-faceted and layered than straight camphor crystals or oil; the wood is deeper, richer, woody (think of the dry sun soaked nature of cedar wood chips) and subtle at the same time. Unlike camphor crystals and white camphor oil, the wood contains high amounts of safrole, a toxic substance known to cause cancer. I initially thought I might make a nice camphor wood body incense, which I announced on my business FB page, but after a few minutes of research, I realized that won't be happening. I can, however, make a beautiful powder incense and Kyphi using small amounts of this luscious camphor wood. Camphor wood is the historical ingredient used in Kyphi, not the oil or crystals. I'm anxious to get a batch of Kyphi started and replacing my crystal/oil combination with the wood -- 7 grams, a minuscule amount compared to the weight of the whole  -- and watch as the scent unfolds over the next few months. It's exciting that the closer I get to using authentic ingredients in Egyptian Kyphi, the more I feel as if I'm stepping back in time and calling upon the same forces they might have called upon in ritual. One can (day) dream.

Camphor Wood Shavings
More and more ideas are rolling in, and I'm especially surprised by how those stupid 'memories' things that pop up on my feed at FB have turned on a few lights as well. For example, Vintage Rose 10 ml perfume oil that I made in 2014 popped up, and I'm sitting here wondering why I'm not making more of that and selling it for cookie money. It sold like mad and was very popular. I guess it's a problem with how I perceive certain types of work that I do. With Kyphi, production is complicated, semi-ritualistic, semi-experimental, and the time involved to raise the energy (mature) the incense can make even the most patient of people tear out their hair; with perfume, it's more the work of the alchemist, things are a bit more scientific, I have a better hold on how things will turn out, but again, it's a time thing, so more hair tearing. Those little oil works, the soliflores and the simples, those take almost no time at all because they're straight-forward, and the elements used in them are limited to what will enhance the core without overriding. I say that as if they are easy to create. They are, and they aren't. I mean, it only took me a dozen or so years of studying this art form to have that knowledge when something will work -- or not. So easy after years of hard work then. The rate at which I create things depends upon how long it will take to make it, and how deep into the closet I'm willing to dig. Mostly that. The digging thing. Yeah. I think that's why I buy so many new scenting elements -- because it's easier to have the package delivered to the door than it is to pull out box after box and dig through each one to find a bottle of whatzit that I need. So now I've got stockpiles of whatzits everywhere. Lame.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mote of the Strange

As the days have progressed, I have been working on F12016CH, and though it is turning out beautifully, if I do say so myself, it's missing something. I haven't as yet put my finger on what it's missing, but I hope that with ageing, the missing piece will present itself. It's something worth sleeping on. The last time I had this problem with a perfume not quite coming together, I was advised by another, very well-known, perfumer to add more jasmine. That may be the fix, but I'm looking for a prestige note to do the work for me. And I'm thinking green is the way to go. However, every single day I evaluate this new scent, I am surprised to find it is changed. It is possible that ageing is all it really needs, and some serious dilution. I'm finding that the more tinctures and alcoholic extracts I add, the more expansive and multi-faceted the scent becomes. Time may very well be the final component here. It never ceases to amaze me how something dreamed up in my tired old mind can become what I imagined it would only after time has been applied. Modhlim, for example, is now quite beautiful, much more so than when I first created it. All the sharp notes of basil and the dusty, rusty iron-like piercing quality of green tea mellow behind a veil of soft spices and lush florals. Perfuming with natural raw materials is never boring, as their chameleon qualities serve to enhance almost any pot they're thrown into, given time.

There are some advantages to living in a perfumer's (or creative's) bubble, and one is not allowing oneself to become influenced by trends. I've been a victim of trend following in the past, when I was seeking the all mighty dollar above all else, and it always ended disastrously. I would be left holding the bag, both figuratively and literally. The only times I've been rewarded for my creative work was when I went against the grain, when I did something different, or explored something with a mote of the strange -- or at least strange for my clientele.  The creative juices are flowing, my friends, and I'm back! It took reading off the grid works and a change of familial circumstance for the block to dislodge, and, boy, what a backlog of ideas and future projects came pouring out. I have yellow sticky notes posted everywhere with new ideas, names for future work, materials to explore. They're on my desk, on my computer's screen frame, on the walls around my work station, tagging up on pages in books stacked high on the blending desk, the kitchen table, the computer station, the chest freezer that serves as a printer stand. They're fluttering to the floor when papers are being shifted about, and have to be retrieved and arranged in an order my mind can make sense of. I feel lighter. Back in tune. Ready to create.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


My, how things change on a dime around here. I may not have to seek space outside of the home because the dynamics are changing -- again -- and I may have space here to use. I would still, at some point, like to have an actual shop, but for now, studio space may be available right here. As soon as July. It's kind of sad, the dynamics bit, but exciting too. Like most major changes along the path, this will be life altering. In a good way. One hopes.

What a gorgeous day today is turning out to be. And why am I sitting here on this box tip-tap-typing away? Because no reason. As soon as I'm done here, I'm going to run a brush through my 'do, throw on some jeans, and go for a walk.

Formula#1-2016 Chypre, which I'm now abbreviating to F1-2016CH for the sake of my aching fingers, is GORGEOUS! And she's not even done yet. The dry down is so pretty, soft, musky, warm, slightly fruity with a big floral flush. I think from here on out it's going to be tweaking things here and there and then moving on to dilution and more tweaking.

Here she is for her close-up. Those paper strips are what I transported the oak moss absolute into the formula.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


This week was supposed to be flush with rain storms and drizzly weather, but we dodged the bullet and instead are enjoying sunny skies and warmth. That's what I'm talking about when I say the weather here at the coast is so unpredictable. For example, the other afternoon we drove to the farmer's market in Los Osos and the weather there, right at the estuary, was warmer than here, inland about 20 minutes on the 41. And when we returned, we came from sunny skies and balmy weather to overcast skies and chilly weather. I like it, but it makes planning outdoor events a little bit sketchy. We are considering a hike this afternoon. Some exploration of the local woods. Or maybe I'll just walk around downtown a bit, see what's new. Stop for some artisan somethingorother, as those things flourish here in this strange little town.

Formula#1-2016 Chypre is coming along nicely, even though it's only been four days since her birth, so to speak. She's still gathering notes, musky, earthy notes, and what is happening to her is beyond my wildest dreams. Even this early in the game, I can tell this has the potential to be something fabulous. I just need to apply a little bit of that thinking outside of the box -- or in this case, outside of the bottle. I am using natural isolates, but I'm using many more natural raw because that's where the character lies. Sure, nat. iso's. are fab for boosting and enhancing, but the guts come from those luscious naturals, like full-bodied rosa bourbon absolute and fruity jasmine sambac absolute, or a dank, dark, musty patchouli and a bitter, earthy vetyver. I'm also using an entirely different program to keep track of what I'm doing rather than writing it all down in the book. The outline is in the book, the general idea and whatnot, but the actual formula is being laid down in a program that keeps track of inventory and costs, so I know exactly how much raw material I have left to work with, and what the current formulation costs me to produce in terms of materials. I've had this program for years but never fully embraced it. Now I'm open to the idea of doing this for a living -- a real living, so I have to set aside my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants attitude and work some actual business into the business. Gah.

I think something sparked a flame. I will carry on until this particular fire burns out.

Grow Already!

Watching and waiting for seedlings to take hold and grow is excruciating business. Someone -- yeah, that guy -- with size 11.5 shoes stomped all over my seedlings that were clearly visible while that same someone -- that jerk -- was cleaning out the rain gutters, so a few of my seedlings kicked the bucket. Thank the universe that I never use up all my seeds when I plant -- yes, for exactly this reason, because despite years -- YEARS -- of starting plants this way, years of all those someones enjoying eating what I grow, one or all inevitably fcks them up causing a late restart. It happens. Every. Time. Someone even weed whacked a Mother's Day azalea to death a few years back because 'it was in the way'. Let me tell you, that year, someone got his/her ear filled with what an irresponsible twaddler he/she was, and subsequently, he/she never picked up a weed whacker again.

At any rate, things are growing, but again, it's excruciating watching them.

Cherokee Purple tomato, organic, heirloom, doing well

Pumpkin, organic, heirloom, not doing so well -- day 2 in the dirt and a snail has already made a meal of it's first leaves, hence the pellets scattered about

Dill for pickling
Tomato, not sure what type, organic, heirloom, survived the foot

Tested Formula#1-2016 Chypre and it presents as very floral-fruity, mostly berries and violets (a theme I seem to keep coming back to) with almost no extending notes whatsoever. I'm happy with its progression as the scent is beginning to become cohesive -- though still very berryish and violety, it seems to have mellowed and is more of a harmonious scent rather than a raw, screechy scent as it was in the very beginning. I know, it's only day 2 (technically) but already things are changing and moving around. It might need more oakmoss if things don't mature the way they should. We shall see how she goes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Formula#1-2016 Chypre

In an effort to catch the inspiration wick alight, I began work on a fruity-floral chypre based on the notes found in the Kyoto Cherry Rose tea soap scent I made for the tea shop last month. The base is way too fruity (think juicy cherries, raspberries, and vanilla cream) to be a perfume on its own, though I know a couple of people who would like it in its original form. I'm working on a chypre project with the Natural Perfume Academy alumni, something we do once or twice a year to keep the pros on their toes. I've always been intrigued by fruity-floral chypres, ever since I experienced a vintage (1966) Mitsouko. This fruity-floral chypre I'm working on is no Mitsouko, though it does share some of Mitsouko's same 'notes'. At the moment, Formula#1-2016 Chypre is a mere shadow of what it will become, the flesh of the perfume still being formed as it is, and I'm slowly directing it toward a more robust, woody and earthy perfume with the fruity-floral aspects holding it all together. I'm even using my gorgeous bergamot orange tincture in this formula, with beautiful results. It feels strange to create perfume again, even though I do it more than I say, because it feels a bit like I'm starting from scratch -- new ideas, new thought processes, new techniques, new materials. I'm feeling a bit more like an alchemist these days than I ever have in the past.

Formula#1-2016 Chypre
Here's what I have so far:

rosa bourbon abs.
natural peach
violet accord
jasmine sambac abs.
bergamot tincture
raspberry ketone

There is still quite a ways to go, a few more extending notes, namely vetyver and perhaps a bit of red cedar to pull some of the sweetness out of this formula. And many more core notes.  And that beautifully effervescent natural isolate acetaldehyde for an expansive first whiff.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Little Tea & Company

Wow. The internet can be a really depressing place. Especially FB. It brings to the fore all of the super depressing crap on the 'net into one space. It's all there, the dumbing down of Americans, the greed, hypocrisy, sexism, hate. It's like a bazaar or swap meet of 'hey, don't get your hopes up'. It's not all bad, I suppose. There are the silly memes and links to studies that say drinking champagne can make you smarter, but for the most part, the ugh outweighs the yay. I'm sure I'm feeling this way because I've been spending a lot of time on FB and other social media the past week, being sick and all, there's not much to do but fall into a pit of Netflix and Candycrush and FB 'n' Twitter because reading isn't even an option. Mindlessness ruled this past week and thinking too hard actually hurt. Or at least made me dizzy. So I'm currently detoxing from FB -- fewer minutes there and more minutes with paper books in my hand will cure me. I'm accumulating quite a few of those paper books lately, some on perfumery, others on spirituality and history. The mindless reading, the romance and time travel and long lost love books are Nook'd for $1.99. This guarantees at least a couple of hours of half-brained engagement. Escape stuff, because everybody needs a few fluffy stuffed bunnies thrown into the reading bin every now and again. Reading encourages writing, and writing encourages inspiration, or at least I hope it does.

I dropped off two of the tea soaps at the shop yesterday, and what I thought were half hearted attempts turned out to be something fabulously beautiful to the tea shop folks. They loved them. I'm planning to batch up some of the Kyoto Cherry Rose formulation later today and I'm taking some of it to create a perfume for the Apothecary. I also remembered what the other tea shop soap was -- Lavender Cream Earl Grey! How could I forget? So the three left to complete are the Russian Caravan, Cinnamon Fig, and Lavender Cream Earl Grey. Oh, and I might have a new studio site to contemplate now. I'll have to think about it, though. It's not optimal in terms of access to water and whatnot, but it's worth ruminating.

I just noticed yesterday that while I was laid up in bed, the honeysuckle in back bloomed. Later this week, the wee one and I will be making an enfleurage of honeysuckle. She has the touch, that wee one. And she loves doing this kind of thing. For her it's like doing her art (painting and drawing) and cooking -- this is what she told me -- at the same time. Speaking of art, I have to go to the craft store later today to pick up more paints and brushes for her. I'll take her along to pick out the colors she wants. Maybe I'll grab her better paper too since she's been doing art on copy paper lately.

I recently ordered (yep, me with the ordering stuff I have no space for) sawdust from a woodworker -- I have coming ash, balsamo, camphor, cedar, kauri, oak, rosewood, and yew sawdusts. The camphor wood is a boon as it is one of the ingredients listed in the original Kyphi formulation. I've used mostly camphor leaf and camphor crystals to replace the wood. And before you ask, balsamo is tolu. That lovely, sweet, warm, vanilla and cinnamon scented balsam of tolu. Have you ever seen anyone so excited for sawdust? It reminds me of when I began making sawdust (pine) based incense about 20 or so years ago and how women on the Yahoo group forums used to laugh at me behind their hands about it. Why? I'm not sure. Because sawdust is considered inferior and nobody but hippies make sawdust based incense? Well, except for everyone who uses woods in their incense, which is just about everybody who makes incense. Woods are the building blocks of incense. And my old sawdust-based hippy incense was good, if I do say so myself. I'm being too defensive, aren't I? Once I receive the sawdusts, I'll report back here and let you know more about them. I find the subject fascinating.

I'm am now inspired to dig up my antique balsam of tolu resin and make soap of it. Wouldn't that be marvelous? Balsamo soap.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Just Perfume

I have to create something. I'm fielding emails from concerned customers about what's new coming up, how am I doing, and when will *fill in the blank* be back in the shop. I must admit, I'm a bit confounded by my unusual lack of enthusiasm to make something. Perhaps I'm still feeling the effects of finishing the book and that kind of dusting of the hands thing has segued into this protracted leave of absence. Mental blocks are just that -- mental -- and in no way an actual physical wall, right? Then why this? Why do I wake uninspired? Why do the usual manners and means of gaining inspiration seem not to be working? Have you ever wanted to get away from yourself? That's how I'm feeling right now. Like I need a vacation from me. I'm tired of hearing the excuses. I'm sick of falling into bed exhausted and not having accomplished much of anything. I hope it's just a slump and not a harbinger of the rest of my life. Damn. That would be seriously depressing.

There are so many new natural isolates that I've received lately and have hardly spoken of here. I'm not conducting full evaluations on them yet, just dipping in a scent strip and doing a very brief look-see. I'm finding them very interesting and multi-dimensional in terms of their potential use in natural perfumery. Though I don't think it would ever be a good idea for a natural perfumer to use natural isolates in greater amounts than natural raw materials in their work, I do see them as definite enhancers to the work. Judicious dosing and all. And the more I work with them, the more I realize how many natural perfumes include them. Perfumes from natural perfumers who use them and don't say so. No scandal here. Just an observation.

Someone wrote me the other day asking how to get started using natural isolates, like I'm the expert, right? I'm just playing around right now. But I answered the question anyway. My advice? Buy one. Just one. Linalool to begin. Linalool natural, perhaps bois de rose? The scent profile is citrusy, woody, green, with rosewood notes. It's a very fresh, clean scent, and would work beautifully in nearly any perfume composition. So, here's what you do. You make a perfume formulation, say a rose-based perfume, with enhancing notes of lemon, bergamot, and a wee smidge of neroli, core notes of rose, orange blossom, and let's mix it up a bit with some osmanthus and a drop of magnolia, and then an extending accord of frankincense, oakmoss (just a hint), Himalayan cedar, and a whisper of labdanum. Let that age a few weeks, then split it into two parts, then add a few drops of a 10% dilution of Linalool to one of the samples. Set them both aside for a couple of weeks, and then evaluate them. Note the differences between the two samples. Evaluate them to their deaths. Figure out what other types of compositions or notes the Linalool would work with -- follow your nose. Then after you've got Linalool down, as in you've worked it into a couple of different compositions, move onto another natural isolate. Try Acetaldehyde. That's a good one. You'll have a lot of fun playing with that one. It's like a sparkling magic wand, and it doesn't take much to achieve that effect. Just keep working from one nat. iso. to the next until you've got a collection of them, and use them in your compositions the way you trained with them -- as enhancers, modifiers, blenders, exalting factors and not as the entire composition. Loosen up. Try to have a little fun. It's just perfume.

Friday, April 08, 2016


When I look back over the past few months and take stock of what I have had the joy of possessing, even for a moment, I can't help but wonder at the bounty provided by those two boxes of bergamot oranges I received in late January. I was able to enfleurage the peel, distill the whole fruit, tincture the peel, cook with the peel, and drink the juice. I have in my collection of beautiful scents a lovely bergamot pommade, a bergamot tincture, and bergamot hydrosol, and now, bergamot orange seedlings. A lot of bergamot orange seedlings.

It will be years before they provide any fruit, but the fact that they're here and growing, and more are popping up every week, well, let's just say my heart is full. I am grateful for their tenacity.

I'm still fighting this virus. I wake with all good intentions of working in the studio to clean things up, and by 10 o'clock (AM), I'm woozy and popping aspirin for a creeping headache. I can't think straight and all I want to do is sleep. But there's work to be done! There are new natural isolates to evaluate, notes to write, a damned closet to clean!
A tree of another kind
The scent strip tree looks like this, and this, my friends, is a sampling of single note evaluations I've been working on over the past three or four weeks. Mostly natural isolates, and one or two formulations. To say that this is the most fragrant tree in the world is putting it very lightly. This tree stinks, however, not quite so nastily as the famous (or infamous) 'ornamental pear' in bloom. Google that. So not entirely idle throughout this illness, but no where near as productive as needed to keep this train on its track.

It is drizzly today. Drizzly and cool in California, imagine. El Nino never produced the kind of torrential rain predicted all of last year, but it has given us steady, absorb-able precipitation, especially here in the southern sector. Up north, those folks are getting gully washers and filling up the reservoirs to capacity. Down here, we're getting gentle steady rains that are filling local ponds and lakes and keeping the hillsides cloaked in a lush, ethereal green. Just recently a local landowner gifted the county with hundreds of acres of near pristine forest between Atascadero and San Luis Obispo as a preserve, and it makes me so happy to know that there will never, ever be housing projects or strip malls planted on that huge parcel. It's what makes this place so magickal. You can lose yourself in the drive through the hills here. There's so much nature that someone just last week ran over 400 pounds of it -- a black bear lumbered out onto the freeway and was struck by a car. Sadly, Mr. Bear didn't make it, and neither did the car. The driver survived. It was a very destructive way in which nature lets us know we're in her backyard, and not the other way around.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Slow Moving Through the Baubles and Bits

I'm still feeling the effects of that gastroenteritis or norovirus (same thing?) or whatever it was that kept me in bed last week, so the closet progress is slow. I have managed to get a lot of work done, but just not much sorting as yet. The sorting is going to take more time. And as usual, there are more things coming in the post almost daily that need storing as well. This shortage of storage space is really taking its toll. And I haven't actually sat down to create anything to sell to keep this thing going in a month or more. Not since the bergamot enfleurage pommade. I'm sure once I dig further into the closet I'll find things -- incense mostly, well aged and ready for sale -- and loads of stuff to make more stuff. The off-site studio space is still sorta, kinda on the table, just not imminent.

I found this box inside an even larger box that was full of packaged bundles of incense from White Lotus Aromatics ~

Lots of floral waxes and rare bits of other stuff

And I found this, the paper stamp, hidden under, well, some paper ~

And then while uploading photos from my camera to the computer, I found this ~

The wee one is really into art and painting and drawing and thinks the best canvas is her own face. This is something semi-abstract she was putting together. When asked what this image expressed, she stated, "It's hiding. You have to look for it."

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Going In

Today's the day. After much rumination, procrastination, and excuse-making, I'm opening the closet door and setting the contents to rights.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Gastroenteritis and 36,000 Milligrams of Vitamin C

So, that's what I've been doing the past two days, lying in bed with a horrendous headache, fever, stomach cramps, and other nasty things. But I have successfully managed to shove down 36,000 milligrams of vitamin C in three days' time in an effort to shut this crap down. And I think it might be working. I still feel a little woozy, but the headache is mostly gone, the feverishness has stopped, the stomach isn't so touchy, and the other nasty stuff has ceased. I'm sure FOOD will help once I get some in as I haven't eaten anything but a cup of soup (literally, 8 ounces) since Friday. On an up note, I'm only three or four more bouts of gastroenteritis away from my optimal weight.

One of my good online friends, Joseph DeLapp, has been named a finalist in the Art and Olfaction Awards. We all get to find out if he's won in May. I think the A&O Awards are perhaps the most legitimate for indie and artisan perfumers than any other awards, namely the FIFI's. Someday I hope to create something I feel confident enough to enter. There is hope. It just isn't going to happen today.

I finally cut the two loaves of tea shop soap -- and discovered that the little red pods (which I thought were weird potpourri things) in the butterscotch tea blend are actually pink peppercorns. Now, why would someone put pink peppercorns in butterscotch tea? I've tasted this tea and it has more of a chai feel to it, so that's got to be the answer. It's another type of chai. Overall, I'm pleased with how these two have turned out. Next week I hope to be working on the other two (or is it three?) tea shop soaps, which will prove a bit easier to manipulate than these two were. Russian Caravan is smoky and dark, and Cinnamon Fig is cinnamony (though very slightly) and dark fruit.

I have this soapmaking class coming up on April 23 and people are already concerned about the price. It's $65 for instruction, and includes a $16 booklet and a bar of finished soap (because the soap we make in class won't be ready for four weeks . . .) I run into this all the time. And I understand it, too, I mean, it has to be worth it in the long run, right? If you're learning because you want to make soap for yourself, you're probably better off reading a bunch of books and watching online tutorials, but if you're interested in starting a business or making lots of soap to give away as gifts to friends, family, and maybe even charities, then an in-person class is the better option. You can ask your teacher questions; a book won't answer, and neither will a YouTube video. And a teacher will show you how to cut through all the mistakes first-timers make. The bottom line is this; if you learn from books and tutorials, you're more likely to spend wads more money slogging through problems than you would had you just spent the $65. I know this from experience. No one was teaching soapmaking when I learned through books, and more books, and dozens and dozens of failed batches of soap. I probably spent $1500 the first year I made soap and didn't have but maybe five or six batches of viable soap to show for it. Yeah, I'm a slow learner, but I am also an avid experimenter, and that may have gotten me into more trouble than was necessary. That first year, I vividly remember spending hours in the garage/studio poring over five or six batches of soap at a time, formulating new scents, mixing different base oils, adding strange herbs, and listening to Dave Matthews, my constant soapmaking companion. I remember thinking I had a nice batch and then trying to sell it to a shop in downtown Clovis, CA, and the lady literally crinkled her nose and held up her hands as if she were being robbed. Yes, friends, they were that bad. Ashy, smelling a little bit sulphuric from all the natural non-eo stuff that was in there (this goes away, you learn, as the soap ages), and they were poorly molded and badly wrapped. Basically, they were crap.

I make great soap now, and on occasion, due to distraction mostly, a poor batch. It is an art and should be treated as such.


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