Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Arctander's 'Perfume & Flavor Materials of Natural Origin' ~ The Natural Perfumer's Bible?

Yeah, got it from Amazon for $85 new.

Glitch? Who cares? Me and a handful of ecstatic natural perfumers got in on this deal.

Regular price? $349.

Now I can join the ranks of the snoots who proclaim, "Well, Arctander says . . ."

What do you think of those black nails?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Who'd You Do?

This is every natural perfumer's dream - which celebrity will come knocking at their door requesting a custom perfume.

Well, here's your chance to choose your celebrity.

The question is: Who'd you do? And, why would you do 'em?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Squaw Valley Soap Works

'Tis the season for bumping into (and bumping heads with) fellow soap makers. It cannot be helped, not with all the craft shows bumper to bumper from now until the weekend before Christmas. Sooooooo . . .

. . . I'm bloggin' them.

Maybe I should do a whole series of soap maker blogs entitled, 'The Good, the Bad, and the Rude As Hell!'

Fortunately, Ms. Connie Nerison of Squaw Valley Soap Works in Squaw Valley, CA, wasn't rude at all at the craft show we both attended in, where else? Squaw Valley, California.

I'm very cautious about approaching another soap maker at a show. You know, it's like Forrest's mother used to say, you never know what you're gonna get. I always approach with an open mind and closed mouth. First, I check out their goods. If I'm impressed, and often I am, I'll ask questions ~ what oils do you use? Do you use fragrance oils or natural oils (though I can pretty much figure it out based on the scent wafting from their displays), are you local? How long have you been soaping? Then, if they seem like confident, open, friendly people, I'll tell them that I also make soap and where my booth is located. This garners many different responses. Total shut-down is one, but the hardest to comprehend, from my viewpoint, is the banshee response. I love talking to other soap makers and don't feel an iota of self-consciousness about my creations, so I don't understand the raised hackles, showing of spiky teeth and glaring eyes reaction at all. But it happens. A lot.

So, back to Squaw Valley Soap Works. On my first round with this booth, I didn't say anything. I looked at the soaps, determined how they were made (hot process, cold process, rebatch, etc.), saw some things I liked and decided to come back later in the day when I had more time to shop. When I finally made it back, I came with barter/trade/giveaway materials in hand ~ well, hidden in my hand because even when you get a good vibe off someone, they can still turn on you like a cat with its butt on fire. I picked out a few soaps I liked -- Clary Sage Oatmeal and Orange Clove. The bars were not uniform, a little unevenly cut and wrapped in adorable crinkly wrapping paper. The soaps each weigh about 4 oz, though some are a little larger, some slightly smaller, all hand trimmed and gussied up for presentation. Very cute. After purchasing the two bars I liked, I handed her my soap and said, "I'm a soap maker too," pause, watch the eyes, looks good, ok, go! "And I have a booth on the other side of the show." She smiled and took the soaps I offered and she and her daughter oohed and aahed over them a bit, then she looked up with a smile and said, "Thank you!"

Ok. Not bad. I go trudging off to my booth with my newly procured soaps and a brochure in hand feeling pretty good about the whole experience. If you think I'm making too much of this, you have NO idea what it's like to meet one of the nasties. Horrendous. Evil. And there's more of them than there are of the nice ones.

A little bit later in the day, here comes Connie, with a gift in hand, to check out my booth. We talked a little about soap making techniques; mine are made in small batches, hers are made in larger batches, but she implied she'd make even bigger batches (which in soap talk ='s 'I'm selling this &^%$ so fast I can't keep enough around!') if she could lift a bigger pot. That was the only thing that put me off. I don't care if you make 3 lb batches or 200 lb batches, the issue is whether or not your soap is any good! Again, fortunately, Connie's is good. I'm also not altogether thrilled with the use of fragrance oils, but that can be overlooked so long as I don't dry up, break out or have an asthma attack after using the soap.

I've tried three of the four soaps I received. I haven't used the Peony yet because ~ well, I just haven't gotten that far yet. I was gifted with or purchased a bar of Frankincense & Myrrh, Orange Clove, Clary Sage Oatmeal and Peony. Good soap.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Squaw Valley Soap Works a 8.5.

There is no website for this company, but I encourage you to call her up and order the soap. Here's why: The 4-5 oz bars are only $2.50 each! Can't beat that with a hickory stick!

The offerings include (this is straight off the brochure):

Bear Mountain Mint ~ sweet spearmint combines with lavender and grapefruit essential oils. Cocoa butter adds moisturizing benefit. Enjoy a blast of cool green energy!

Clary Sage Oatmeal ~ clary sage, lemongrass & rosemary essential oils are blended with oatmeal to make a clean scented and gentle exfoliating soap.

Ginger Peach ~ summer scented peach and spicy giner revealed in this sudsy cleansing bar. A cream colored soap swirled with paprika and parsley. Sweet!

Green Tea ~ somewhere between forest and floral. My personal favorite with a mossy-green clay swirl.

Honey Almond ~ intense bitter almond and honey so sweet ~ an appealing blend with cocoa swirls. Love it!

Honeysuckle ~ this soap carries the heady aroma of a favorite spring flowering vine. A creamy white soap with rich lather that is absolutely irresistible.

Lavender Comfrey ~ the most sought after fragrance of all time. Blended with lavender essential oil. Comfrey root adds a creamy texture.

Lily of the Valley ~ graceful, floral fagrance symbolizing ever returning happiness. This creamy white soap with rich lather is perfect.

Orange Clove ~ everyone loves this soap. A perfect blend ~ not too sweet with a hint of spice and bold red clay swirls.

Peony ~ a flower that rivals the rose in beauty. These floral notes will delight the senses. The soft pink bar is lovely as well.

Sweet Grass Goats' Milk ~ this soap is favored for its mild, creamy lather. Rich in emollients and proteins enhanced with the clean scent of sweetgrass and herbs.

Violets, Silk & Cream ~ silk protein, goat's milk and a delicate violet scent swirled with marshmallow root make a sumptuous soap.

Wild Rose ~ a most perfect scent. Subtle, soft and reminiscent of the wild roses down by the creek. Pretty rose clay swirls add a feminine touch.

Lemon Verbena ~ an aromatic blend of lemon verbena and lemongrass essential oils create a strong lemony herbal scent. Sprinkled with calendula petals and swirls of parsley powder. A captivating favorite

And there is the seasonal Frankincense & Myrrh, which isn't in the brochure.

More from the brochure:

Lavender Heart Warming Pillows ~ $6.00, a soft chenille heart shaped pillow filled with scented lavender and buckwheat hulls. Warm in the microwave 20 sec. per side. (Do NOT overheat)

Soothing Lavender Eye Pillows ~ $6.00, an exquisite satin brocade pillow contains cooling flax seed and lavender to relax away tension.

Lavender Moon Warming Pillow ~ $9.00, a large crescent shaped chenille fabric pillow filled with scented lavender and buckwheat hulls. Gentle heat relaxes neck and shoulder areas. Warm in microwave 30 sec. each side. (Do NOT overheat)

Lavender Hand Cream ~ 4 oz jar, $4.50, extra rich blend of my lotion with aloe vera gel, beeswax jojoba oil and lavender essential oil.

Lavender Lotion Melts ~ $4.50, pretty sunflower bars provie ultimate care for damaged skin. Packed in take-along tins.

Perfume Oils in Roller Bottles ~ .3 oz, $2.00, favorite scents to carry with you. Choose Lavender, Wild Rose, Lily of the Valley, Green Tea or Honeysuckle

Herbal Body Mists ~ 4 oz, $5.00, a glass cobalt bottle with mister filled with a delicately scented herbal water. Choose from lemon verbena, lavender or wild rose.

Lavender Herbal Lotion ~ 8 oz, $6.00, a nourishing 100% vegetable based lotion rich in plant emollients. Choose lavender or wild rose

Squaw Valley Soap Works, Squaw Valley, CA, (559) 338-2631.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Looking ahead. Way ahead. Started a new project which has blown new life into the onward and upward motion of my perfumery education. Can't talk about it now. Maybe later.

Petitgrain. I just love petitgrain. Especially this time of year when everyone is loading up on cinnamon and cloves, nutmeg and vanilla. Here I am, cuddled up with Italian lemon petitgrain, sniffing happily away.

I have a sweet little Myer lemon tree in my front yard that I planted over the summer. Every day I marvel at how quickly it grows ~ delicate lime leaves unfurling against darker, mossy leaves. Every so often I'll pluck a leaf, break it up in my hands and inhale deeply ~ ahhhh! This lemon petitgrain smells similar to the Myer's fresh baby leaves, but sweeter, juicier. Lemonadey.

I also picked up a petitgrain bigarade, also Italian. Tart! Sharp little green teeth that nibble at the edges of your senses.

These are lovely clean notes, fresh and sparkling, and two of my very favorite things.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Harvest Arts

This photo is from the show I did the weekend before last, and not from the Harvest Arts Festival ~ but the soaps displayed are the same, and so was the display layout. Jumbled country style?

This year's Harvest Arts was a blast! This is the first year I've done the show where the time flew by so quickly, I was surprised when they rang the end bell! I sold TONS of soap, got two hook-ups for teaching both soap and perfume-making classes, and was invited to contribute to a 6-week long indoor holiday craft show. It's up in Shaver Lake, my old childhood stomping grounds. So it was a fun, successful weekend.

On a down note ~ you could feel this coming, couldn't you? ~ I agreed to barter some soap with the now infamous 'goat soap lady' of Harvest Arts, and when I took three of my premium olive/shea/org. cocoa butter artisan style soaps to her booth to complete the trade, she tells me, "Y'know, I love to barter, but I don't want to use your soap. I've used only my soap for the past ten years and I just don't want to use your soap." Pause. "But you can take one of mine as a sign of good will." I could have slapped her. I did take one as a sign of MY good will, then I got bitchy as I walked away and threw her stinky feta rank soap into the trash can. I was so mortified while she was going on about not wanting to use my soap, I couldn't even speak. I just stood there thinking that now I know the reason why her soaps haven't evolved from what they were 7 years ago, when I first started doing this show.

She had come to my booth earlier in the day and we spoke a bit about soapmaking and the problems (hers, not mine) associated with soapmaking, and that's when the barter agreement came into play, and I was actually giving her advice. She bragged about her ten years of soapmaking experience, yet didn't know what a stick blender was, and was under the impression that NO metals could be used in the soapmaking process (she was speaking on the metal blade of the stick blender). I had to wonder as she was standing there if she used a steel pot to blend her soaps, or was she so paranoid about the metal issue that she was blending in plastic -- or wood? And she still stirred her soap with a wooden spoon, taking an hour to do what a stick blender does in four minutes. As I stated earlier, now I understand why her soaps haven't evolved from the curdled feta stage.

This was the second time I tried to befriend this woman, the first time we did complete a trade, but she was very unpleasant and touched the soaps I gave her like they were contaminated with ebola. I ended up throwing out the soaps she gave me because they smelled like milk-fed baby vomit scented with lavender.

On an up note (ha!) when I asked how she did this year she said, "Well, I still have to pay my booth fee," $110, "but, uh, I guess I did ok. I think I did." I did do well, though she didn't ask. Made my booth fee and nearly four times more than that.

So maybe all of this means I'm no better than she is as a person. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have blurted out to her face how I really feel about goat milk soap, and that she's the primary reason why I feel the way I do about them. No. I just kept my mouth shut. Until now :)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I have a love/hate* relationship with perfumery. On the one hand, I can't imagine quitting -- ever. On the other hand, I hate all the bullsh*t that comes with the study of natural/botanical perfumery, the self-doubt, the motivation, the obsession, the condescending personalities. If it is just 'one big happy family', as some like to call it, it's the most screwed up dysfunctional family I've ever encountered.

That's all I wanted to say.

Monday, October 08, 2007


That's the frank/myrrh/gold soap. I called it 'Three Kings' for this show. Aren't they lovely?

Anyway. This was a spur-of-the-moment show, not one I normally do this time of year (or ever). It was something of a disappointment. I sold almost nothing. I won't make any excuses. The people at this show just didn't like my stuff. It happens.

This next weekend is my 'big' show, the one I do every year, and have done for the past six or seven years. I always sell out at this show. Lots of repeat business. Lots of faithful customers. Lots of fun.

If you're in the area, check it out here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Devil Wears What?

For Immediate Release: Contact: OPUS OILS
Ph: 323.851.0714


Opus Oils Announces Release Of Satan's
Angel "Queen Of The Fire Tassels" Perfume

Hollywood, CA - Sept. 19th, 2007 - Opus Oils, a Perfume Atelier located in the heart of glamorous Hollywood, CA announced today the Official Launch & Release of their new Satan's Angel "Queen of the Fire Tassels" 1oz Eau de Parfum. Strong and wild like the Lady who inspired it, this sultry, narcotic floral bomb explodes with key notes of Gardenia, Narcissus, Tuberose, Stargazer Lily, Jasmine, Bergamot & Pink Grapefruit, and finishes with a velvet Chypre dry-down reminiscent of glamorous days gone by... Just a Spritz is all it takes to awaken your inner Burlesque Queen! It comes in a 1oz/30 ml Eau de Parfum Spray that retails for $40. It will be released at the 2007 Tease-O-Rama Burlesque Convention, located at Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco, CA on Oct. 5th-7th, 2007. After that, it will be available exclusively online at SATANSANGEL.COM

About Opus Oils

Opus Oils is a Perfume Atelier located in the heart of glamorous Hollywood, CA with a European Division/Workshop in Paris, France. "Our goal is to create high quality, couture perfumes, made in the traditional methods of the artisan perfumers of centuries past. Our specialty lines of Boutique Fragrances are hand blended, 'aged,' and poured in small batches by our Master Blender, Kedra Hart, one of the developers of The Apothecary at Barneys New York in Beverly Hills. "We are one of the few, niche perfumers involved in the quickly growing field known as 'Natural Perfumery.'" Opus Oils have 160+ products available.

About Satan's Angel "Queen of the Fire Tassels"

Satan's Angel is a living Burlesque Legend & is the Original "Queen of the Fire Tassels". She has worked all over the world with some of the biggest names in the business of Burlesque; Gypsy Rose Lee, Ann Corio, Barry Ashton, Jess Mack, and Harold Minsky just to name a few. She also toured with Bob Hope in Vietnam, dated Clint Eastwood & ran with the Rat Pack. Satan's Angel has appeared in several movies, among them, "Bullit", "Skiddo" and her staring role in "Shortcut To Terror". She currently speaks at University & Social Clubs, does Radio and TV-Talk Shows (She just did a show for Maury Povich on obsessive fans which airs Sept. 19th 2007) & makes personal appearances at different pageants, Tease-O-Rama & Exotic World are a couple of her favorites.

For Additional Opus Oils Info & Samples Contact: Lili Thomas, Director of Public Relations, Opus Oils Ph: (323) 851-0714 Email: opusoils@msn.com
www.myspace.com/opusoils www.kedrahart.com
8035 Hollywood Blvd., #10 Hollywood, CA 90046-2576

Clean Fun

Ain't they purty?

Just a little sampling of the small artisan-style soap batches I've been whipping up lately to sell at various craft shows.

The front line is Old Fashioned Lavender. Right behind those are the fabulous Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold bars that, all modesty aside, I think turned turned out perfectly. I don't often get impressed by my own work, but I must say, this particular batch is as close to my best work as I've gotten ~ so far. The little orange muffin shaped soaps are Pumpkin Pie ~ with real organic pumpkin! The beige stack next to the Pumpkin muffins are the scentilicious Vetyver Pour Homme soaps. The stack with the mossy green streaks are the Patchouli soaps; behind them are the ever popular Poppymint soaps. What you can't see so well are the full-bar Pumpkin Pie soaps, the Geranium Pour Femme soaps, the Amaretto soaps, the lovely cool green Oceana soaps, the Vanilla Almond soaps, the Citrus Grove soaps, and last, but not least, the Oat Groats soap.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


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