Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mitsouko

I sold this full, unopened bottle of vintage (sales sticker dated 1967) Mitsouko extrait on ebay two years ago for just over half what I paid for it the year before. Should have kept it. Since I don't suffer regret easily, and because the buyer actually had the cajones to open the bottle and use the gorgeous perfume, I'm not beating myself up about it. It certainly took a beautiful picture, though, didn't it? Smiled at just the right time.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Little About Education

Much has been written lately about natural and botanical perfumery education. It seems you can't throw a stick these days without hitting an expert in the blending and creation of natural and botanical perfumes. Five years ago your education options were limited -- extremely limited -- to about two or three of those 'experts'. Today -- well, throw that stick.

For a beginning student of natural and botanical perfume, the options can seem mind-boggling, and they can range from one-week crash courses at French schools to one-day workshops at the local adult education facility, or in someone's backyard. The prices of some of these courses can be just as diverse -- from a few thousand dollars to less than a hundred.

So how does a beginning student of n&bp sort it all out? Being patient helps. Knowing that as a student you're not going to know all there is to know about n&bp just because you took a class or read a few books, or that you'll be proficient as a perfumer once you've plunked down those few thousand dollars to learn it. In fact, your entire life can be spent learning this art form, and still you will not have learned nor mastered it all.

Becoming spectacular at anything requires more than the sum of an education. It requires that magical element, that thing which make one of two people with the exact same educational background a star.

Begin at the beginning, so they say, and for a student the beginning is reading. Read everything that pertains to perfumery that you can get your hands on. If you live in a large city with a good public library system, this educational route will cost you in time and gas, a packet of pens and a notebook. If you prefer to own your books, there are plenty of really great books to start with ~ William Kaufman's 'Perfume' published in 1974 as a coffee table book offers gorgeous photography with a lot of great perfumery information; 'The Book of Perfumes' by Eugene Rimmel published in 1865 and reprinted by Adamant Media Corp. is another great book to have in your library, so are 'Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps' by Poucher, if you can find the full 3-volume set, 'The Science and Art of Perfumery' by Edward Sagarin, 'Perfume Album' by Jill Jessee, 'Cosmetics, Flavors and Fragrances: Their Formulation and Preparation' by Louis Appell, again, if you can find one, and then there is the natural and botanical perfumer's costly bible, 'Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin' by Steffen Arctander, which I personally wouldn't recommend until you've been in the n&bp trenches for at least two years.

There are also great, free, online resources that will gently guide you through the actual hands-on process of perfume creation. Perfumer's Apprentice in Santa Cruz, CA has an extensive educational database online that anybody with a computer and internet service can tap into.

Some of my favorite hands-on reference pages at the PA are here, here and, here.

So begin.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kiss of the Vampire

Come out, come out wherever you are!

Magickal Realism's Diana Rajchel has created a scent which pays homage to the vampire. The really good-looking rock star kind, of course. No bald-headed, drooling, moogly-eyed Nosferatu in this bottle.

It has a wicked strange opening, sharp little teeth biting down on soft, warm skin -- wine-like notes rise and meld with myrrh and woods. It goes all gothic and funereal and dark, sad Victorian with hard candy on top.

EdC Revisited


I felt I'd done quite well with my first real attempt at an EdC. That is, I felt that way until this morning.

Trying to put a new twist on an old formula isn't as easy as you might think. Other folks are chiming in with what they've done to tweak the formula, and all I can think is, 'hey, why didn't I think of that?'

I made two based on the same old formula. The first one, which was actually closer to the original formula, turned out awful. I subbed a tincture for a hydrosol and it really fudged up the composition. It was indolic and dull, not the typical bright, light, airy feel of a classic EdC. The second turned out much better, less weighed down. I also added a few little darlings to give it my own signature -- whether I've signed with a $4000 David Oscarson fountain pen or a wax pencil is yet to be determined.

Well, it's done. Finished. I'm not going back. I'm going to the post office.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mountain Misery

Chamaebatia foliolosa, supposedly a member of the rose family, is a scent once sniffed is never forgotten.

Mountain Misery, it's common name, or Kit Kit Dizze, it's less common- common name, is the scent of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Deeply green and resinous with earthy tones typified by the breath-catching vapor of fresh cilantro.

I have no idea why it was given the name 'Mountain Misery'. Some cite old-timer's references that during the high summer season, getting the resin on your skin and clothes made one miserable based on the pungent scent it left behind. Or perhaps it was because the plant blooms with little flowers that closely resemble strawberry blossoms, and subsequently produces small reddish berries which are inedible, though not poisonous. I can imagine a hungry mountain man thinking he'd found a wild strawberry patch (though he'd have to be completely delusional, mind you) and biting into one of the small, dry, bitter, earth-worm flavored berries. Misery?

Mountain Misery is also a natural insect repellent, and it repels some animals too. After the rains begin in the Sierras, the resins wash off the plant and deer begin munching on them. Mountain Misery comprise approximately 30% of a deer's winter diet.

But it is the scent of Mountain Misery which captivates me. I grew up in these mountains, and this particular scent brings back many happy memories.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hats Off to the Neti Pot

I woke yesterday morning with a telltale pulsing behind my left eye. Yup, the sinuses were acting up again.

I've suffered with sinus infections, hay fever and allergies my entire adult life, and it's not something a natural perfumer can deal with very well. I've run the gamut of over the counter drugs, and even did a short stint with Claritin D -- the 'D' stands for 'Destruction' in my book -- for the two weeks I was on it, I had alarming homicidal thoughts, couldn't sleep, and felt as if bugs were crawling all over me. In fact even today when I'm being particularly prickly, the kids will say, "Lay off the Claritin D, will ya?"

Since that experience, I've given up meds to control the sinus issue and instead have become a cult member of the Neti pot brigade.

The pot shown here is my current favorite. Retails for less than $20 and saves a fortune in all those -dryl and -fed OTC's, and it actually works.

Neti'd the nose twice yesterday with the enclosed specially patented formula (sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate -- it's right on the box, man, I'm not giving away any secrets here) and today I'm free from the pain and pressure and I can smell things.

This weird little sinus irrigation unit should be in everyone's medicine cabinet, and it should be a stock item in a perfumer's arsenal of tricks of the trade.

Get Neti'd here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Two Weeks Left . . .

. . . to sign up for the Le Parfumeur Rebelle monthly giveaway for May, 2008.

May's contributing sponsor is Little Flowers; the giftie is a jar of an intensely scented decollete balm.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Classic EDC


I've been playing around with Eau de Colognes of late ~ attempting to recreate formulas, and come up with a few of my own.

The whole water issue with EdC's kind of scare me. I remember when I was new to natural perfumery, I attempted an EdC based on a formula from my antique copy of 'A Woman Beautiful' -- it was a disaster as I had very little knowledge about character of EdC's, and . . . then . . . there was that water issue that literally clouds the composition, in more ways than one.

I guess I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of adding water ~ was it added for longevity of scent, though light, as some books would have me believe? Or was it added to stretch the raw ingredients to create a fresher, lighter perfume, as other books suggested?

Being a perfumer who has very little patience for 'light' and 'airy' essences (Give me a vat of patchouli, or give me death!) hasn't helped with my endeavors to build and EdC. I'm always trying to ground them without punching them out. (Tonka and vanilla tinctures work wonderfully here.)

But I think I get them now. I think I've figured them out, those 'classics'. I can imagine Napoleon dousing himself with eau de cologne and begging Josephine not to bathe. I can imagine Hungarian princesses splishy-splashing rosemary eau de cologne on their faces to retain their youthful glow.

I am being fanciful, no?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gathering the Green


I'm obsessed with green.

I want to run out and gather up leaves and grass to tincture. Chaparral -- manzanita in particular -- intrigues me. I'm inspired by Roxana Villa's 'Q' parfum built around an oak leaf tincture. She and I had brief email conversations last summer about tincturing chaparral and oak. If I'd known then how well her experiments would turn out, I'd have done what I had planned to do ~ tincture manzanita flowers.

Manzanita flowers are little pink-tinted Japanese lanterns blooming in clusters at the ends of the branches. Their scent is odd and alluring -- a strange blend of the manzanita's resinous bitter red bark and sweet honey/fruit.

A few years back, a green witch I knew made an extract of the flowers and leaves, inspired she said, by fairy dreams. Since then I've been interested in making a brew of my own, one for perfumery purposes rather than medicinal.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Treat Yourself

It's a little late to be recommending great places to get Mother's Day gifts, but it isn't too late to make recommendations for After Mother's Day Day gifts -- um -- yeah.

So if your wee little ones, with the help of the significant other, aka, The Clueless One, choose a gift for your day that is completely off the mark (Dremel drills, tool belts and a 'How to Roof the House for Dummies' book come to mind), you can be assured you'll give yourself exactly what you want and deserve.

For delicious natural fare, try the following:

Little Flowers ~ One of my all-time favorites, Goat Milk & Seaweed Brightening Mask, made with full fat goat milk powder, bentonite clay, tea tree oil and sea kelp ~ makes your skin say, "Ahhhhh!"

For your scented pleasure, try Little Flowers' Blue Lotus & Leather Creme Perfume made with natural beeswax and jojoba and scented with blue lotus and a leather effect made entirely of plant based essences. Beautiful.

Debra's Rhapsody ~ Exalted bliss for the senses! Any of Deb's beautifully blended body butters would be a perfect match for your tastes ~ if it's a French Kiss you want, she's got it, dripping with rose and vanilla and lavender. If it's a taste of the tropics, then Tiki Butter might fit, made with Monoi de Tahiti and two kinds of shea butter. A trip to the dark side is just a click away with Deb's Vetiver Vanilla Body Butter.

Deb's perfume offerings include Ananda with citruses, jasmine and sandalwood; Ivy, a bright earthy-green perfume with hints of spices and woods; Saumanasa, a floral blend made with rose otto, jasmine, vanilla & sandalwood, and Spiritual Journey, a blend with a purpose, made with rose, amber and frankincense.

In the mood for a little magic? Try Erzulie's Authentic Voudou. How about scrubbing up with a little Marie Laveau's Voodoo Love Soap to draw love and passion into your life. Or maybe your wish is money, Erzulie's delivers with Dr. John's Voodoo Money Soap.

Not comfortable with the voudou magic? Head on over to the land of the fey at Faerie Made
and get your glamour on with the Shea Sugar Scrub in four scents ~ Lavender, Rosemary Mint, Ginger Lime and Amber. The fairies at Faerie Made have conjured up some lovely natural perfume blends ~ Chandan Rose, Wild Bergamot and Sandalwood Amber.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Children of Aphrodite

"At various times of the year, as gift-giving holidays approach, the advertising columns of the newspapers take on a changed aspect. The flights of fancy of the copy writers have no limits. The lady is exhorted to use a drop of an odor that will bring back the precious moment of an exotic night . . . the enchantment of seductive shadows . . . the glamour and the heart throbs and the maddening joys of the pleasures of the senses. The only scent . . . for the only one. The perfume that will give the body the charm of an Egyptian princess . . . the allure of a faraway star on a dark but moonlit night. One breath . . . and then a black-out of all reason. One breath . . . and then the endless embrace . . . in a full-page ad in the Sunday papers."
The Science and Art of Perfumery, Edward Sagarin, 1955 (2nd Edition)

Edward Sagarin had a sense of humor, and he was dead-on right in this observation. Mother's Day is coming up quickly, so are those ads! I don't get the Sunday papers anymore, but I have seen the ads on tv, mostly for Tresor. So I took a trip to the 'fume boutique to sniff this gotta-have-it-and-give-it-to-Mum-on-her-day perfume. I only gave it a brief sniff as it smelled like 95% of all the other stuff out there. Nothing really sticks in my mind about it.

Traveled on to the next perfume counter and picked up my favorite cinched at the waist in golden ribbon perfume ~ Youth Dew. Still smells terrific. The perfume lady was trying to get me to purchase an $85 gift basket of Youth Dew products, encouraging me with the special bonus of a set of tea plates and a $10 gift coupon. Er, no.

Came home, got on ebay and bought a vintage bottle of Youth Dew instead.

When it arrives, I'm sure I'll feel 'maddening joy', but I promise not to think I'm an Egyptian princess. Or a star.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Perfumery Without Pretension


Le Parfumeur Rebelle is proud to feature co-editor Diana Rajchel's monthly column 'Perfumery Without Pretension' 'in which she outlines the trials, tribulations and legalities facing botanical perfumery today.

Her writing style is intelligent and highly informative and we feel that you, at any stage of your botanical perfumery journey, will find her column enlightening and educational.

Diana has been a part of botanical perfumery for many years and owns and operates Magickal Realism Natural Perfumery in Minneapolis, MN.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mr. Gracious

"Making perfume is an educative mission."
Mr. Andy Tauer, Luckyscent Scent Bar, Los Angeles, CA, March 29, 2008

Sunday, May 04, 2008

May 2008 LPR Giveaway Sponsor: Little Flowers

My dear friend and colleague, Nicole of Little Flowers, is the May 2008 LPR Giveaway sponsor.

Enter at Le Parfumeur Rebelle for your chance to win this gorgeously scented decollete balm.

I've used many of Nicole's beautiful handmade skincare items, including, most recently, an oil-based skin cleanser with chamomile. Lovely, lovely stuff. I really like this blend ~ my skin feels clean and soft and refreshed afterwards.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Yuzu

I remember my first experience with this essence as being sort of meh. No big deal, I thought. Now, years later, I find myself craving the scent of this odd little citrus.

It is not sweet and robust as orange essence, nor subtly tart as lemon, or sheer and crystalline as grapefruit. Yuzu has its own unique character. Yuzu has sharp little teeth and prickly flesh, grabbing hold of the nerves in your nose and swinging from one to the other. Yuzu sparkles. It shines.

Just too darned bad it lasts only a few moments before taking its ball and going home.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Leather

I've been experimenting with creating leather accords, pushing the leathers toward gourmand and simple rankness.

The gourmand leather accord is pretty interesting. Among many of its components is valerian root tincture. Valerian, as supremely rank as it is, serves a useful purpose in the leather blend by bringing in a funkiness, an unusual well-aged cheese aroma. Thankfully the funk only emerges briefly before settling down to a dry straw/warm hay-like scent. Well, I like it anyway. It's real in a way that sweet ethereal blends are not.

To make this leather 'gourmand' or edible, I added coffee tincture and butter CO2. Butter CO2 is a strange bird. Voracious, actually. The top notes of butter smell like milk-fed baby's breath -- healthy baby's breath, sweet and fresh.

So, in retrospect, I see that I've built an accord reminiscent of cheese, breath and coffee.

But not really. Also in the gourmand blend ~ tobacco, patchouli, choya loban, nagarmotha, two vetyvers, ambrette, saffron, linden and fig tincture.

One observation I'd like to point out -- valerian and aloeswood, an aged aloeswood, smell very similar during the opening ~ aloeswood is stinky like dirty socks or aged cheese with a resinous, musky undertone which dries down sweet and powdery and warm to finish off with a final musky scent, while valerian opens with stinky dirty socks and cheese, and dries down to warm, sun-bleached hay. Interesting.

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