Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tomorrow Is the Last Day


The last day to enter the Le Parfumeur Rebelle monthly giveaway, that is. And to post your fiscal year tax forms and payments, but we won't get into that.

Le Parfumeur Rebelle's July 2008 giveaway includes a full quarter ounce size bottle of the yet-to-be-released "Serj" eau de parfum (more like an extrait, really) from The Scented Djinn, two LPR t-shirts, a four-ounce bottle of Rose Geranium Toilette Powder from The Scented Djinn, and a few other little goodies.

One of the best things about entering the Le Parfumeur Rebelle monthly giveaway is that you can do it anonymously ~ we just won't publish your name as a winner. No one but the LPR editor needs to know you're a freebies tart.

Hurry!

Handmade

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don't Think This Won't Affect You!



Please go sign the petition to stop this draft from becoming law.

This will affect more than just the small indie skin care, perfume and soap companies ~ it will affect YOU, the consumer. And it will affect shipping companies, suppliers, growers and many more supportive businesses.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Casting a Critical Eye

Now that I've got the ball rolling ~ the scented ball, that is ~ it's time to start casting reviewers.

*Gulp*

I've been a reviewer of both natural perfumes and natural skincare. I've given mediocre reviews to skincare that I felt was, well, mediocre, and glowing reviews to those products which made me quite happy.

I've sniffed the perfumes of the most noted and acclaimed natural perfumers in the world ~ some left me wondering what all the fuss was about, while others inspired me to work harder at my craft.

Now that it's getting closer to my turn in line, I have to be honest and say that I am terrified.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bouquets

Most natural perfumers go through this phase ~ or revisit it often. The phase of recreating bouquets, perfume formulations that imitate rare or exotic essences such as violet, jonquil, narcissus, lilac, lily of the valley, ivy, among others.

Experimenting with formulations that imitate these essences has been something I've always loved doing. With all the new absolutes and essential oils on the market, it's a bit easier to work out the chemistry and come up with a compound that more closely resembles the 'real deal', or, at the very least, something really lush and gorgeous that we think smells like the real deal.

I've been working on two of these bouquets for ages. A jonquil and a violet. With a bit of research I've managed to find some missing links which round out these formulations.

Jonquil, or narcissus jonquilla, is a very rare essence. According to Arctander, the scent is a "heavy, honey-like, deep-sweet floral" that has "a strong green undertone and a somewhat bitter, very tenacious dry out". Arctander also compares its scent to that of tuberose and longoza, with a little resemblance to the scent of hyacinth. He states that because of its rarity it is often adulterated with ylang-ylang, Siam benzoin, helichrysum, vanilla, longoza and narcissus, as well as several synthetic molecules. So. It stands to reason that if one were to imitate this scent, they would use what is/was used to adulterate it. Right? And combine it with those elements which were used in the 'old days', before perfumers were chemists, to imitate it. Typically, from the old books, jonquil bouquets require sandalwood, jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose and vanilla.

Tuberose has always been a bug in my bonnet. I just don't think it smells pretty, or even floral, most of the time. Ok. All of the time. Let's just say I haven't met a tuberose I like.

Violet is a dream. I have a small bottle of violet tincture which has a faint sweet, fresh, floral scent. Very hard to describe. Soft, powdery, woody-floral? There is some element of the leaf in the scent of this tincture, but not much. A mock-up of violet might include violet leaf, bitter almond, cassie, orris, tuberose (ew), tonka. I fiddled with it a bit and added a drop of boronia and a few other essences which I though resembled the tincture. It's still a work in progress (I think I'm on the 120th mod for violet since this obsession began some five years ago).

Basically, building bouquets, though hard work, is also educational and a whole lot of fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And the Winners Are . . .

Lisa and Felicia!

Please email me at ohtrueapothecary@yahoo.com ~ I need your addresses to send your 1/2 oz spritz bottle of Boronia Eau de Cologne.

I'd like to thank everyone who entered.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Boronia Low Down

Since putting the Boronia EdC up on the Etsy site, I've been fielding questions about boronia ~ what does it smell like? Where does it come from? Does it really cost a fortune?

Boronia megastigma, the variety used to make boronia absolute, is a plant which grows wild in parts of Australia. It is part of the citrus family. The flower's two main aroma compounds are beta ionone and dodecyl acetate. Boronia is used as flavoring in fruit compounds. (Source: Boronia Megastigma, Wikipedia). According to Arctander, boronia is one of the only (if not the only) flowers which contain ionones; mostly beta ionones with just a little alpha ionone. Alpha ionones are characterized by a raspberry- and violet-like essence. Beta ionones are characterized by a dry, woody, violet-like essence. (Source: Arctander, IFF, Leffingwell). According the The Good Scents Company, dodecyl acetate smells like clean laundry.

So basically what you're going to smell with boronia are raspberries, violets, some dry woodiness, and the wash.

To me, boronia has a fresh, open, wild scent (I'm attributing this description to the 'clean wash' essence). It smells like this wonderful bottle of merlot that was gifted me one year for Christmas ~ it was chock full of berry richness and this lovely violet/orris undertone. Unfortunately, I don't remember the vintner of that merlot. I do remember that while I was diluting the boronia absolute, my mouth was watering and I was thinking about that bottle of merlot!

Boronia runs over $400 an ounce. When you can find it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Halfway Mark



You still have half the month of July to enter the Le Parfumeur Rebelle monthly giveaway.

This month's giveaway features a yet-to-be-released 1/4 oz bottle of Serj Eau de Parfum by The Scented Djinn, two LPR t-shirts, dusting powder and a few other little surprises.

Go enter!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot!

Taking a cue from my friend "N" of Littleflowers fame ~ a giveaway.

I'm giving away two half-ounce spritz bottles of *Boronia Eau de Cologne fait par moi (one each to two lucky participants). This scent features classic EdC notes of citrus and neroli with a boronia twist.

The little spritz bottle is perfect for a quick shot when things get hot.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment in the comments section and check back here after the deadline to see if you've won. We'll handle the particulars then.

Deadline: July 16th, Wednesday.

*organic grain alcohol, distilled water, orange flower tincture, bergamot,lemon essence, neroli, lavandin, rosemary, vanilla tincture, boronia, yuzu, oregano tincture, orris butter

Thursday, July 10, 2008


It is so flippin' hot. I won't tell you how hot because then you'll feel hot and we'll both be miserable.

The stink balls, aka dogs, are being kept in the house because of the heat. We have Lily the Labradoodle and Sunny the Bouncing Yellow Ball of Pomerania. They get washed and groomed regularly, but they manage to smell like pickled pig toots only a day or two after their baths. I keep telling the kids there's a stink rock in the backyard that they need to find and bury so the dogs will stop rubbing on it.

And I'm tired.

Stinky dogs, heat from Hades and exhaustion. Life. Ain't it grand?

Here I stand the goddess of desire,
Set men on fire,
I have this power.

Morning noon and night
It’s dwink and dancing,
Some quick womancing,
And then a shower!

Stage door johnnies always suwound me,
They always hound me
With one wequest.

Who could satisfy their lustful habit?
I’m not a wabbit!
I need some weeeessst ~

I’m tired . . .


Sung by Madeline Kahn from the movie Blazing Saddles.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tea for One


I'm a ardent lover of tea. I drink tea every morning ~ organic blends of Earl Grey (double bergamot, of course), flowering white tea with a single rosebud tied up inside, jasmine pearl tea, donkey's breath. My favorite tea at the tea house is Jasmine Honey (with half the usual amount of honey), closely followed by the creamy Lavender Earl Grey.

It is the fragrance of the many different teas that entice me. I adore the scent of dark, dank gunpowder green tea tincture. And the wispy canopy of white floral and simmering mossy, green earth of jasmine green tea tincture.

The bones of lapsang souchon eau de parfum ~ gunpowder green tea tincture, jasmine pearl tincture, and a hint of choya loban.

My favorite non-natural scent is L'Artisan's 'Tea for Two'. Just. Amazing.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The National

Scents and sensibility.

Detecting Smell

I have not read any of the newest tomes on scent detection, and there are several in circulation at the moment. I've read Luca Turin's 'Secret of Scent' and have to be honest and say that while I find the study of smell fascinating, this book left me wanting something a little . . . different. I guess I wanted a 'how-to' manual on scent detection. And less chemistry.

While I consider my nose to possess average sniffing abilities, I have learned to better listen to my nose. Yeah, listen. Okay, maybe that's the wrong word.

I've learned to consciously sniff the air ~ everywhere I go. I've always done this in close proximity to plants, even years ago when I wasn't knee-deep in aromatics and hoping to become a perfumer.

I distinctly remember an incident which occurred several years ago, when my big boys were still little boys, and we'd taken a day-trip to Monterey, California. While walking around the historic Cannery Row, I subconsciously brushed my hand through the the plants we passed, then cupped my hand over my nose to inhale the scent. There was rosemary, lavender, sage ~ herbs in abundance growing along the sidewalk in planter boxes ~ that scent, combined with the smell of the sea, provide an olfactory profile that is distinctly 'Monterey'. What I remember best about this particular trip was walking along, dipping my hand into the plants, sniffing and suddenly realizing I was walking alone. I turned around, and there was my family about three yards behind me, watching. Then one of the boys, I don't remember which one, shouted, "Why do you do that? You're embarrassing us! You look like a crazy lady when you do that!" Like that wasn't embarrassing.

Well, I didn't stop doing it. And maybe I am a crazy lady, so what? I considered the ritual a valuable olfactory lesson. Still do.

There are certain things one does not need to train the nose to detect ~ car-struck skunk, for example. Carrion. Poo. Halitosis. Sweaty feet. Stale perspiration. They have a way of making themselves known.

Years ago, when I was a girl, my mother babysat two little boys who lived a few houses down from ours. Every afternoon, after the little boys' mother returned from work, I would walk them down to their house and deliver them to her. Upon walking into the house, I would be struck by the overpowering odor of burnt maple syrup. I could never quite figure this out, how someone's house could smell like burnt syrup. Then one day I told my mother about the smell in their house and she shook her head and said, "It's not syrup. It's pee. Old, stale pee in their mattresses." This left a scent impression in my mind that even today I cannot shake. As much as I love the scent and flavor of real maple syrup, every time I smell it I am reminded of those little boys and their mapley smelling, pee-stained mattresses.

Consciously smelling things makes a huge difference in how I interpret the world. Sometimes it is strange what I pick up on the air that other people don't, or what my grandson, for instance, can detect that I cannot. He once sniffed a bottle of gifted ruh khus and proclaimed, "Tea!" Initially, I didn't get that particular note from the ruh khus, but after his little non-biased review, I definitely 'got it'. He also called Vietnamese oud, "Gicky mud." Got that, too.

For years I mistook the scent of mountain misery for the scent of manzanita. It wasn't until very recently, when I attempted to tincture manzanita leaf, that I realized it was the wrong smell, not the one I associate with what I refer to as 'my mountains' ~ the Sierra Nevada mountain range from Sacramento to Bakersfield. Nope. It was kit kit dizzee, aka mountain misery, which held the scent I so love, and, I as I recently learned, my husband abhors.

We get used to smells, I think, and after a while we tune them out. Not those overpowering smells, the skunks, carrion and the like, but the every day smells of our homes and the people we love. We should probably open up a little, take in all the smells and refine our sniffing abilities, so we don't miss anything.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Research

Probably one of the most difficult tasks a self-trained perfumer has before them ~ all that research.

It isn't enough to read the right books or the books that someone who seems more experienced recommends. Bibliographies in those books are often recommended as great sources for further research (thanks Sara!), and often they are the flesh of the education. Obscure and out-of-print articles, all these materials need gathering. Not everything discovered, however, is worth the price of admission. Even in the days of all natural, lies and deceitfulness were circulating. No one was giving up trade secrets then either, not without a little sweat equity and emphasis on the importance of secrecy. The bottom line is don't believe everything to read on the subject.

Here's something that's useful in furthering the perfumer's education, but maybe not so useful in making a better perfumer.

'The Ancient Art of Perfumery' by John H. Snively
A Reprint of an Illustrated Article Originally Appearing in Harper's Magazine, 1874

'3,000 Year Old Egyptian Ointment at Alnwick Castle. Ottos, Alcoholates, and Tinctures. Plantations of Bitter Orange Trees. Orris, Tonka and Vanilla. Ambergris, Civet and Musk. Mixtures to Mimic difficult Flowers, Etc.'

Preservation Reprint #8079
published by
Wordmax Books
Laurel Maryland USA

Cost of Admission: $7.50 plus $2.50 s&h to the US, $5.00 s&h Internationally

Agarwood

Missing trees for woods in perfume industry

Ian Jackson
Monday July 7, 2008

"Have you ever wondered how much money is involved in the odors of the developed world.

So, to make sure there are no big surprises here, I'm not talking about imported Chanel No 5, but the odor of Agarwood, the resinous heartwood at the center of the perfume industry."

Read the rest here.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

We went out for tea at the one and only tea house worth visiting, Teazers, in the Tower District. While there I thought it would be great fun to walk through the old neighborhood and check out the gorgeous architecture of the homes in the area. Most of the homes were built in the 20's and 30's, during the heyday of the old Fresno College (formerly Fresno State College, currently Fresno City College) ~ the wide streets are lined with California bungalows, Spanish and Mediterranean style mansions, Tudor mansions with low rounded roofs, multi-windowed one-story mansionettes surrounded by cool gardens ~ it's a beautiful area. It was very quiet walking through the neighborhood, not many cars were on the road, a few folks were sitting on their porches and lawns catching the cool breeze. It reminded me of years ago when I was a kid and this sort of thing was normal ~ walking down a quiet street just enjoying the day. No worries. Easy walking. What impressed me most about this walk were all the gorgeous flower gardens growing in front of the homes ~ bright pink bougainvillea climbing up porch columns and over balconies, crepe myrtle bursting with colorful shades of violet and magenta, wild little pansies in blue, red, orange, yellow & purple lay in dark, loamy soil, and dark, leafy ivy surrounding and ambushing pine tree trunks. The old trees in this neighborhood, mostly Japanese elm, rise high above the road creating an arch that darkens everything with an eerie misty green shade. The entire effect is really quite magical.

The annual perfume class I teach is coming up in August. I roughed out a primer for this class about two years ago, for myself more than for my students. The last class asked for more handouts, especially in regard to safety, so that's what I had planned to do ~ print up a few pages of safety information for them. But I got a little carried away with the primer, aka teacher's manual, and ultimately ended up with a student primer. I sent it to a couple of perfumers for peer review. That's kind of scary. I'm confident as a beginning student's primer that there won't be any huge problems with what I've put together. Nothing that can't be edited in time for this next class, anyway.

This year's students get a primer. I'm pretty excited about that.

Grand Nez

Check out this old article from the Times.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

When Life Moves Into a Higher Gear


You pedal faster.

I've been toying with the idea of compounding more eau de colognes. Non-traditional, I think, using fewer citruses and more ~ what? Herbs? Rare greens? Yes! Already put one up on Etsy -- 1 dram size bottles of a boronia 'flavored' EdC.

And I'm redecorating the studio ~ the proposed dark purple walls were vetoed and instead we're going for a pale violet on one wall, with pale green trim and parchment ceiling and remaining three walls. Possibly tile as well. I'm tired just thinking about doing this.

So much to do, so little time.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th

Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone stays safe, not too sane, and ~ well, just stay safe.

July is the official end of the year for us at Oh, True Apothecary! and The Scented Djinn (by 'us', I mean me and my aromatics), and believe it or not, this is when we (ahem) start thinking of what's going into the upcoming fall stock.

So, to the bench!

And Happy 4th, again.

Busted!

Just found out someone's been diddling with my rating over on the 'She-Commerce' pages of Bust.com -- diddling to lower the rating. Two weeks ago I had a vote stat of only 7 (that's 7 votes), today votes are up to 24 or 25, but my rating has remained static. What that means is that some flying monkeys have been going in and rating my link a 1 out of a potential 10.

Just so you know, Bobo, my site isn't open.

And my 'real' customers know my products enough not to be fooled by these kind of shenanigans.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate posts like this? I hate them.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

New Le Parfumeur Rebelle Giveaway

July's giveaway is a Goodie Bag. So far, the goodies included in the bag are two LPR t-shirts, one size extra large, one size small; a full size bottle of the yet-to-be-released eau de parfum 'Serj' by The Scented Djinn (that's me in case you weren't paying attention); a four ounce bottle/container of The Scented Djinn's apothecary item, Rose Geranium Perfume Powder, and then some little nips and tid bits of various aromatic items.

There was no giveaway in June and many of LPR's readers entered for June, so those names will be rolled over into July.

Enter here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Plight of Sandalwood

"Mysore, the sandalwood capital of the world, is an epithet that's fast losing meaning."

Read the rest here.

A Series of Ridiculous Events



The most ridiculous thing happened to me the other night. I was sitting at the bench blending a small dilution of labdanum amber, when someone elsewhere in the house slammed a door.

This started a domino effect of things flinging themselves to the floor, beginning with a huge 24 by 36 inch framed poster popping off the wall and diving at my head (it missed), two small miniature perfume bottles flying off the shelf over my blending desk, one of which struck the plate I was using to catch any spills, skittered across the plate, smacked into the little bottle of labdanum amber that was open, knocked it like a bowling pin across and off the plate into my chest, and as I stumbled and fumbled to try and catch the little bottle, it endoed and cartwheeled and succeeded in eluding me until it splatted on the carpet between my feet.

I managed to snatch if up before too much more of its contents spilled out, but I was left with 1/3 the raw material I began with, the entire front of my body was dotted with labdanum amber, especially my jeans, and I was furious.

I smelled like a living incense stick.

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