Sunday, February 25, 2007

I Gotta Do It

It's really been bothering me, my 'Chicken Little' mentality when it comes to stuff like IFRA's 40th Amendment and all the screaming and wailing that's been going on about it.

So here's my chirp --

Cropwatch Ban on 40th IFRA Amendment

Perfumer and Flavorist article on Cropwatch's Ban and poll information

The sky is falling!

Well, it may not be falling exactly, but there is a leak in the bathroom ceiling.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Challenge: Ivy

Being handed a challenge such as this is -- well -- challenging!

I know exactly how I want ivy to smell. I know it's green, just a bit musky with hints of rich, loamy earth and a whiff of red fairy dust and sparkles, dew, wet stone, moss. And it smells slightly of flowers ~ nothing specific, really, just your basic garden variety fleur.

I decided to investigate the real thing.

It smells like squash.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pope Sauce

So this is where the sound of celestial harp playing is REALLY coming from! San Rafael, CA in this dude's garage!

And all this time I thought it was coming from Berkeley ~ or was that a ukelele?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How Sweet It Is

Got back into the making of the perfume smellin' stuff. Began a tincture of ambrette seeds. Also started one with oakmoss. Seriously considering tincturing up a sack of mixed herbs sent to me by a friend ~ this stuff smells stunning! It's a bag of rose petals, lavender flowers, orris root, oakmoss, cinnamon, cloves and anise. A lush, floral chypre that I hope will transfer well into alcohol. Then I'll have to hit up my friend again, eh?

Well, as you can see, my work space is a mess. Ah, that's how it is, no?

Started reading Rimmel again after reading (and re-reading, and wrinkling and reading again) the SF Chronicle article on Laurie Stern, parfumeur extraordinnaire. I haven't tried any of her juice, but I have it on the highest authority that Laurie is one of those rare, real artists ~ the direct quote from aforementioned authority reads: "It's not all about that other stuff, there are some folks who truly do it for the love & art, & you'll get reinspired." Just knowing there are people like this existing in this artform makes me feel inspired.

Anyway, back to Rimmel. Great book. Fast read. Kind of fun to work through the archaic English. Reminds me of BBC portrayals of all the Jane Austen stories. Y'know, the ones where you're sitting on the sofa with a smile on your face and tears in your eyes and everyone else in the room is asking, "What'd he say? I don't get it." And then rolling their eyes because you do. Ha!

Revisited a perfume balm called Amulette. Gawd. I don't know what it is about that scent, but I just can't seem to get enough. I want to wash my laundry with it so it infuses everything! I'd give you the link for this perfume, but the site is under construction and all 'fumes have been pulled.

Le Parfumeur Rebelle, a nifty little website for perfumers of every shade, is running a contest. Go check it out.

Friday, February 16, 2007


I say, how'd you like to have this as your perfume apothecary and learning center?

Too bad it's all busted up into separate office spaces. You'd be sharing your lovely perfumerie with a dentist.


Isn't this just the sweetest little building? Made almost entirely of stone.

It currently houses a cowboy store, y'know, saddles, tack, fringed leather jackets, sequined cowboy jackets a la Porter Wagner.

There's a huge metal fountain out front ~ d'you see it? Looks lethal.

Columbia Candles

Olfactory overload.

I took this picture standing behind the wood stove, facing the front counter.

They make these candles onsight ~ cool, eh?


Soaps, soaps, and more soaps!

Columbia Candle Works (and soaps), Columbia State Park, Columbia, CA.

Believe it or not, they sell this much soap in about a week. They're like potato chips ~ you can't stop at just one.

Next up ~ candles.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sittin' on a Bag of Seeds

Sittin' on a bag of seeds.

Sittin' on a bag of seeds.

Sittin' on a bag of seeds.

Everybody now!

Sittin' on a bag of seeds!
Sittin' on a bag of seeds!
Sittin' on a bag of seeds!

(Have you ever watched the Little Rascals?)

Sittin' on a bag of seeds, and boy, do they ever smell great!

Yes. Yes I have completely lost my mind.

That Thingey, Y'know, THAT!


Brain's on autopilot again.

I wanted to post something uplifting, something nice (for a change), since I've been in a funk over what's going on 'out there' ~ neurotic thinking.

Gotta get'a life.

So, for all you artists out there, you perfume making mamas, you scent directed individuals, or anyone who struggles with their creative demons, I give you this gem:

Ignore the thoughts of public achievement and throw yourself into your work for its own sake.
(Elizabeth Kostova said that).


Feel better?

I do.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bitter Pills

A few folks I know got great press by way of a San Francisco Chronicle interview of Laurie Stern, creatrix of 'Velvet and Sweet Pea's Purrfumery'. As it is an article primarily about Bay Area natural botanical perfumers, a few important people were left out (no, I'm not talking about me!) Just as a few noms de guerre were inserted, both of the Bay Area and non-Bay Area variety.


I read something yesterday that kind of bothered me. I found a book of names and what they mean, and the types of personalities associated with those names. I found mine and it aptly described some of my character traits, but so did a few of the other name descriptions that aren't mine. What bothered me was the characterization that people bearing my name (actually, it was a consonant compilation) usually never make it to the top of business, opting instead to go the small business route. I'm not sure why this bothers me so much. I do own a small business ~ two, in fact. And I'm not greatly successful ~ some might even say my businesses are quite stagnant. I'm comfortable with that right now because it's part of the build-up process, y'know, getting one's ducks in a row sort of thing. But that, too, is a character trait -- a negative trait -- of those who possess my particular consonants. Procrastination, I believe, was injected into this characterization.


So I choose to look at this objectively, now that it bugs so much, and call it all a pile of bullshit. Here I go -- It's a pile of bullshit!

By the way, the author of the book I chose to purchase bears my consonants.

About that perfume, dahling ~

I sent off a few packages to a couple of people who possess noses ~ just your average run-of-the-mill nose, not the nose nose types. Y'know, Jane Q. Public. Both chose a perfume I'd just about given up on as their favorite. One Jane Nose characterized the scent as 'sexy', and said that it drove her man wild. The other Jane Nose (who is really a nose nose in training) branded it 'sellable'.

I had to re-evaluate why I thought this particular perfume was a loser. Well, because I cheated when I blended it, that's why. I discounted it at the bench, before I ever really had the chance to let it culture out. I used an amber blend as one of the base notes, something that a few suppliers carry. They're very different from one another as there is no single formula for 'amber'. The amber I chose for this perfume has spicy notes ~ some clove and cinnamon, with all the typical vanilla, benzoin, labdanum notes one associates with the product. I've grown quite tired of this particular amber. A third Jane Nose claimed the perfume had my 'touch'. I take this to mean I put the same old boring hoo-ha in nearly everything I make. Which isn't far off the mark. I used to do this with patchouli ~ ehvahreethang had patchouli in it!

So recently I've begun blending accords, or tones, of a perfume ~ for instance, the green I've been working on could be a perfume on its own, I suppose, if you're multi dimensionally green, shades of green on green ~ a turtle, maybe? A toad? Froggie? It has some floral aspects to it, but it's normal course is bright galbanum green to sweet, musky vetiver green with some pinks, reds, whites and browns flashing every so often along the journey. I'm left wondering how all this will look on an ingredients' label.

I also blended up an accord based upon a character in a book. He smells dark. And dry, like rustling leaves, and warm, like autumn sunlight through a big window. It's a very sensual and comforting accord, but sexy and raw at the same time. Dark. Warm. Very, very big. Oudh played a huge role in this accord; cumin, too. And it's flush with roses. But none of these stand out, none of them scream. Harmonious union. Now what to blend it with?

Ok. I'm done procrastinating.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Losing Sight

So. When did it happen? When did the art and beauty of natural and botanical perfumery become just an industry?

Well, let's see. I've seen this happen before -- in soap making. Give a girl (or guy) a book, and suddenly they're a flippin' expert!

It's paint-by-numbers natural and botanical perfumery these days, with the payoff some pie-in-the-sky idea that these perfumes will grace the counters of Neiman Marcus, as the bestest, most wonderfulest, most fabtacular natural and botanical perfume the world has ever seen! *gag*

Even the movers and shakers, those self-appointed top of the heap folks, are having a difficult time getting and keeping their wares in the high dollah windows. Get an account, inflate the head, burn the bridge.

Where's the humility? Where's the love of the craft? Where's the freakin' talent?

Open your eyes. The best is yet to come, and you'll probably find it at a swap meet.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Got Sarcasm?

Do indie *slash* niche *slash* artisan *slash* independents who now make perfume count their experience in dog years, or what?

I've been playing this game for a bit now. I recognize names; those others who are playing and the companies they play in, from 'way back' ~ ten years, maybe?

So how is it that these new age perfumers suddenly have 15 or 20 or even 30 years experience 'blending perfumes', as they put it, when they weren't making that claim, or selling their perfumes, five years ago? Or even two years ago?

I've been blending essential oils for ten years and not once thought to call, or claim, what I was making perfume. I'm not schooled in aromatherapy and I wasn't reaching for that effect, either. I was just trying to make something that smelled good and wouldn't burn the flesh off a body.

When did these nouveau parfumeurs begin their perfume making careers? Some claim they officially became a perfumer when they plucked a dandelion from their front lawn when they were 9 months old, and 'have been immersed in the world of aromatics' ever since. I've even said things like that, but I've never labeled myself 'perfumer' because I stepped in dog shit and found the indoles interesting, or because I spilled a gallon jug of Tabu on my shoes at Sears when I was three-years-old (and was immersed in the world of aromatics ever since). Appreciating scent in general from an early age doesn't necessarily make you a 'nose'. Makes you a pretentious faux experienced asshole pushing as many marketing buttons as you can get your chubby, be-ringed pointing finger on, but it doesn't make you an expert. (Y'know, they're laughing at you over there at GIP).

Yeah, yeah, I know, I was one of those kids who got off smelling the dirt under the geranium bushes too, but the idea that my life's goal was to create perfumes didn't come to me as I huddled in the weeds while a slug inched its way up my arm unnoticed. I liked the way things smelled. I liked the way different things smelled mushed up together. I didn't feel like a perfumer then ~ I don't feel like one now.

My perfume career begins . . . tomorrow. I am officially minus one day a perfumer -- now smell my finger.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Smell My Finger . . .

That's something I say a lot 'round here. And, believe it or not, people actually smell them ~ ha!

Today I was packing tinctures and dilutions for a friend to sample and I made a mess. I spilled a drop of 30% boronia, so I wiped it up with my finger. Then I splashed a coffee tincture, a goat cheese tincture, a tincture of hyraceum and an amber perfume all over my hands. I need to quit the coffee.

But right now, at this very moment, I'm really digging smellin' my fingers. This is an awesome perfume!

So remember this ~ boronia, coffee, goat cheese, amber and poo = mmmmm!


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