Monday, June 29, 2009

Teacher Perfumers ~ Places to Go (On the Web)

Shelley Waddington ~ Carmel-based bridge perfumer, Shelley, utilizes aromatics from both the natural botanical palette and the synthetic palette. Shelley's nearly newly launched blog, Carmel Perfumer, relates blending techniques and interesting perfumery facts.

Lyn Ayre ~ Canadian natural botanical perfumer, Lyn Ayre, is an instructor extraordinaire. Lyn's approach to NBP, in both her teaching and creating, are spiritual and pragmatic. Read through her website, then check out the correspondence course information.

Ayala Moriel ~ Canadian-based natural botanical perfumer, Ayala Moriel, teaches through her words -- her blog, to be exact. Through her website, Ayala offers consultations for custom perfumes, links to news articles and sites offering information pertaining to perfumery, history of perfumes and other related topics. Ayala also offers a well-received natural botanical perfumery course featuring top drawer information within the realm of nbp.

Liz Zorn ~ American perfumer, Liz Zorn, is another bridge perfumer who works within both the natural botanical and synthetic perfumery palettes. Her blog offers excellent tips and tricks for formulating perfume, an insider's view into the world of the perfume making process. Excellent information.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Holding Back

I often wonder if I'd be a better perfumer if I weren't such a paranoid one.

Must work on that. Must try.

Catch phrases and quotes can't touch this.

I think I'll get to work now. Still grinding out the soap.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Does a Limited Vocabulary Improve Scent Description?

A few months ago, when my 6-year-old grandson was a daily fixture in my house, we used to play the ‘sniffing game’ together, better known as the 20-a-day exercise. I was, and still am, greatly impressed with his descriptions as opposed to the overly-wordy and non-descriptive scent descriptions I was writing down in my notebook. He described what he smelled in his own way. Oud Vietnam and oud Cambodian were 'gicky mud' or it could have been 'bug'?; khus attar and vetyver mitti co-distillates got 'dirt' and the most interesting of them all was the ruh khus; his eyes lit up and he said 'mmm, tea!' Who can’t understand these types of descriptions? Simple. Accurate. Maybe in need of a little elaboration, but the point is made, nonetheless.

I’ve read descriptions which boggle the mind, and most of them were my own. What does “floral” smell like exactly? Or “fresh”? “Sparkling”? We can somewhat understand “green”, but which green? The green of river moss, or the green of violet leaf? The green of galbanum, with its touches of cigarette butt and scratchy throat, or the breath-stealing, chilled green of cilantro? See? Even these descriptions aren’t entirely accurate.

How does one describe jasmine sambac to someone who has never smelled jasmine sambac, or its smell-alike counterparts? It’s much like describing color to someone born blind. Do you really think telling someone a perfume smells richly indolic will inspire them to rush out and purchase said perfume if they read the scent description for the word indole? From comes this luscious gem:

Indole ~ –noun Chemistry; a colorless to yellow solid, C8H7N, having a low melting point and a fecal odor, found in the oil of jasmine and clove and as a putrefaction product from animals’ intestines: used in perfumery and as a reagent.

Mmmmm, yummy!

Here are a few of my favorite scent descriptions that I’ve “collected” over the years:

Cumin ~ sweaty dude pits and crotch
Oudh ~ butt crack putty
Tuberose ~ boiled weenie water
Jasmine grandiflorum ~ old whore
Cognac ~ rotten egg
Valerian ~ sweaty feet

Some of these are dead-on accurate, others a little off the mark. All I know is that when I’m really stumped by a scent, one that truly eludes me, I grab the kid and shove the scent strip under his nose and let him rip into it.

“What’s it smell like, Odie?”
“Smells like toenails, Grandma.”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coming Soon ~ Khamsa eau Fraiche

Finally -- finally! -- got this formulation worked out, and discovered, quite surprisingly, that Khamsa extrait dilutes to fresh water state without any significant loss of character, and with only tiny adjustments to the composition -- teeny, tiny.

So within the next few weeks the very first eau fraiche presented by The Scented Djinn will go on sale. The best part, aside from how clean, fresh and lovely it smells, is that it is presented in a 100 ml spray bottle. One hundred mls! And the price will surprise you too, but I'll leave that for the big reveal.

Khamsa ~ a distinctly fresh, lively scent featuring a blend of sparkling citrus, cool cilantro and shining silver patchouli.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kit Kit Dizzee

On etsy I am selling small bags (3 grams) of the kit kit dizzee aka mountain misery aka chamaebatia foliolosa I've been going on about. If you're interested, check it out here.

Chant by Eleneetha ~ A Review Link

LPR is giving away three bars of soap from soap mistress Anastasia Crabtree, who now sells through Etsy under the name of Chant by Eleneetha. So we did a little review of Ana's stuff ~ here it is. If you're so inclined, enter the giveaway and try for these exquisite soaps for yourself. You have nothing to lose but the dirt.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cafe Press Pulls the Rug From Under Millions

LPR used to have a Cafe Press "site" for t-shirts, mugs and a couple of other items. Though it never really generated any significant amounts of money for our organization, it was a useful medium for getting our non-perfumed goods out there. Now, according to this blog post by Sheryl Karas, owner of Mama Love Perfumes, Cafe Press has literally stolen the livelihoods of millions of artists.

Carrots and Condiments

Summer's here and the house is packed to the rafters with --with--with-- kids! It's been a flurry of sleep-overs, kick-backs and hang-outs since school let out last Friday. And it's been a pain in the you-know-what, too! These kids are like packs of wild, hungry dogs. I go to bed with a full refrigerator and wake up with a living room covered in empty bags of chips, at least a million empty soda cans, and then there's something sticky on the kitchen floor, and the only thing left in the fridge are carrots and condiments.

Ah, summer. Truly the season of bah humbug.

Finally made it up the hill the other day, dragging along a handful of kids whose prime objectives were to eat, swim, and generally drive me crazy(ier). It took a significant amount of hunting to finally find that big patch of kit-kit dizzee -- I just followed my nose. I also found a mother lode of oakmoss, but saved the gathering for another time. I've still got some left from last year's harvest. The trick with oakmoss is that you have to let it age before tincturing it. Once harvested from the forest floor, it needs about 5 to 6 months of "resting" time before the distinguishing mossy scent presents itself. I store them in a paper bag with the gathering date written on the side, and then toss the bag into the darkest corner of my supplies' cabinet until I need to make up another tincture.

There is soap to be made today. I'm praying the kids will stay out of my hair so I can get it done. The scenting materials were blended over a week ago and two of the four smell like perfumes, to the point that one is the subject of restructuring for a fall perfume. Let's just say I found a use for that mountain misery. The scent of mountain misery is one that is distinctive and invasive, it is like nothing found in natural botanical perfumery today. It feels very foreign to me used in this way. Yet the scent is so familiar and comforting, full with memories.

I read part of Pouche's Perfume's Cosmetics and Soaps, volume 2, the section pertaining to fixation, in bed last night. I lead an extraordinarily exciting life, don't I? So, yeah, the fixation -- pre-fixation, blending, final fixation -- it's work, man. For example, he writes, "Final fixation is probably the most delicate operation in preparing a good and distinctive perfume, as it is this part of the process which gives distinction and "life" to the finished product." This term "life" really caught my attention as quite a few of my earlier experiments had none, and I hadn't the experience to figure out why. He goes on, "This step consists of three operations: -- (a) The addition of some animal perfume, such as small quantities of musk, civet, ambergris, or castor, which will impart "warmth and life" and at the same time improve the aroma by softening down the harshness caused by the presence of synthetics." This is a huge problem for me. I just don't feel comfortable using animal perfumes in my creations. And I've figured out ways to give my creations warmth and life without harming an animal by additions of its juices or excretions. And I don't use synthetics, so it may be a moot point anyway. "(b) The addition of a small quantity of a substance, such as verbena, bergamot, or bois de rose, which will produce a sweet and pleasant effect." and "(c) The addition of a suitable quantity of natural absolute, having fresh and glowing characteristics, such as jasmin, rose, mimosa, or tuberose, which will give the predominating flowery note to a perfectly harmonious mixture. The finished perfume should be neither too animal nor too chemical if these points have had careful consideration." Sounds simple enough, yeah? Animal smells, sweet smells and flowery smells make a nice perfume. Simple? No. Not at all.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Too Much Yin, Not Enough Yang

According to Mr. Avocado, my shen is deficient. The laws of attraction don't work on sick shen. It's my understanding that my shen only comes into existence when I'm dead, but hey, who am I to challenge someone attempting to make a point?

So I'm taking my sick shen, me, two of my offspring and two of their friends up the hill for a little shen-dig (ha!); build up the yang, man. Going to pick some mountain misery (now that sounds like it'd make my shen very sick) for some folks who I promised to send samples. It's a bit cool, so I won't be attempting swimming across the lake, besides, my shen's being a drag, it'd probably drown me or force me to eat lake weed. I'd rather hang out with the manzanita fairies on the dry beach, thank you very much.

Time to pack it up. I wonder if we'll all fit in the car? My shen may end up riding in the trunk.

On an off note (a little perfumer's humor there), I found the most exquisite book ~ Cassell's New French Dictionary, French-English AND English-French published in 1905. I was going to use the pages as background for labels, but changed my mind when I began reading the darned thing! Enchanting, or should I say it in French? So, anyway, Shelley, 'abattoir'? Definition: (simply) slaughter-house. The French, or at least those involved in this dictionary, are very frank, no pun intended . . . okay, maybe a little.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fragrant Botanical Waters

When I first began distilling botanicals, I'd assumed my greatest pleasure would be derived from a) Creating my own oils, b) The oils themselves, and c) Creating product with the oils I made. Little did I know that the by-product, the waters, aka hydrosols, would capture my imagination as they have. I no longer look at a botanical and think, "How much oil can I get from that?", but, "How nice would THAT hydrosol be?"

Over the years I've been gifted with large apothecary and liquor glassware ~ one and two liter glass stoppered decanters, big corked jugs, decorative hand thrown earthenware decanters, and a few monstrosities -- old gallon Gallo jugs with screw lids. I remember thinking 'what the hell am I going to do with this?' a time or two. Some were too pretty to mess up storing finished perfume or compositions; others too big. Now nearly all are filled with hydrosols. They took some cleaning, those jugs and bottles -- hot soapy water baths, boiled in big industrial pots, swirled with alcohol. The one major setback to creating hydrosols is the issue of sterility -- if the containers aren't properly cleaned the hydrosol goes wonky. Basically, little microscopic creatures begin to grow in them and render them useless. And they need to be refrigerated. Nothing feels quite so nice as a little shot of refrigerator-cold botanical water on a hot summer's day.

Today the still is taking a break. There are lemons to distill, but the timing is off. It'll wait until tomorrow. And I'm in the process of inquiring about violet flowers to distill. There isn't a snowball's chance in hell I'll get even a drop of oil, but that's not what I'm after. The hydrosol may turn out smelling like rotted garbage, but I won't know until I get it done.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Peppermint Hydrosol

There's a little peppermint bush in my yard, one that I've seriously neglected over the years, that, after a bug crawled up my bum, became the subject of my next --uh-- current distillation venture. Picked and cleaned about two pounds of the stuff, washed off the little white spider who was literally hopping mad that I brought him indoors, and ungraciously flipped me the bird when I helped him outside courtesy of a four-of-hearts playing card pretending to be a magic flying carpet. Spiders are grumpy tenants.

Having learned my lesson in previous distillations with regard to heat levels under delicate fresh botanicals, after two hours of low heat, the graduated cylinder began to slowly fill. With oil.

Imagine my surprise. I was after hydrosol; oil is a bonus, and so much from such a small amount of raw material, too. Well, it's just a milliliter, and before you laugh, consider the other distillation experiments I've conducted these past few years -- like the ambrette seed project. There were gallons (ok, may A gallon) of hydrosol, and nary a ml of oil in sight. Think there were little glossy droplets of ambrette slipping and sliding through the hydrosol, but nothing that could be gathered. And the recent cucumber hydrosol distillation produced no oil, and I would have had a stroke if it had! Cukes got no oil, man.

I'm thinking of making a blended hydrosol with the cucumber and peppermint ~ something really cooling and fresh for summer.

And, no, I haven't made it out to the farm to get the lemons yet. I had a bag in my hand and decided to put them back because I didn't ask to take them. And I need to get to the olive distillation, but those can wait. The lemons can't. They're dropping and are begging to be reborn as oil and hydrosol. I can hear them screaming in their high-pitched, squeaky puckered-lip voices, "Save me!"

Ok. I didn't have much coffee this morning . . .

Monday, June 08, 2009

LPR Summer Giveaway

Enter the LPR's newest giveaway here.

This time it's three bars of soap from Anastasia, whose Etsy store, Chant, is up and running.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Distilling Again

This time it's something completely different. Hit up the roadside stand where my long-time friends, the Vangs, have been growing strawberries, boysenberries, sweet pea flowers and yummy veggies for over 14 years. A twenty-dollar bill will get you three baskets of boysenberries, six bags of cucumbers with 3 large or 5 medium cukes per bag, a bag of yellow crook neck squash, a bag of zucchini, a bag of some other kind of squash, a bag of fresh green beans, a bundle of onions, a bundles of beets, a big, fat smile and a dollar change. I've put some of those cukes in the al-embic. Can't wait for the cucumber water.

**Update: Not so sure about this one. The water has a slight pickly smell to it. Maybe it's just fresh still notes and will venture off sometime. I certainly hope so. In the meantime, I've turned the heat down to about half what it was earlier in an attempt to temper that -- that smell.

I persevere.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Lemon & Frankincense Hydrosol Blend

A refreshing and cool combination of two of The Scented Djinn's in-house hydrosols - lemon and frankincense - in a big, clunky 100 ml spray bottle.

100 mls

A Day In the Life of a Glamorous Perfumer

Standing in front of the kitchen sink -- again. It's a 24-7 job keeping up with dishes and perfumery tools. Cups, spoons, forks, watch out for the sharp knife, ooh, that's a broken glass dropper(!), what's this crap(?), epoxy? "Who put glue in my dilution bottle?" Oh, not epoxy, labdanum resin and something with chunks, and, oh, it smells nice, what else is in there(?), so what to wash first? Dishes or perfume stuff?

Dishes win.

Somebody, y'know that guy? Yeah, Somebody used my ultrasonic to clean a corn cob pipe. I kid you not. Wonder what they're planning to use that pipe for? Well, nothing now, because if Somebody wants it back, they're going to have to ask what happened to their pipe and then I'll have them. That flippin' Somebody . . . Scrubbed out the ultrasonic and put the lid back on it -- with tape. How dare they use this complicated, expensive piece of perfumery equipment for their nefarious activities.

My underwear have been disappearing. I know it has nothing to do with perfumery (thank heavens!), but I felt compelled to share. They've been disappearing out of the wash and I'd been wracking my brain trying to figure out what was going on when it was discovered that the kids have been putting the clean laundry baskets in the perfume room, which was the den, and that has a sliding glass door that rarely gets closed, and the dogs, that's plural, dogs, have been sneaking in and taking my drawers out of the baskets into the backyard and tearing them up under the bushes.

So not only do I have to worry about hateful people trying to ruin my reputation, there are dogs eating my underpants. Is this a curse? Because if it is, how lame.

Going to the garden to get lemon leaves for distillation. Maybe some olive leaves, too. Can olive leaves be distilled?

Guess I'll find out.

And I'll let you know.

Monday, June 01, 2009

All In a Day's Work

Happily experimenting. Very happily. Dusted off the al-embic, retrieved the hermetically sealed rye flour, and gathered big juicy lemons from the garden. After several trial runs in the still, I discovered that the best way to prep the lemons for distillation is to cut them into small pieces then puree the entire mess, peels, pulp and juice, in the blender and pour that into the still's body. After two hours or so, the fun begins -- brightly scented lemon hydrosol and oil drizzle and drip from the tubing into the receiver. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly given the obvious oil content of lemons, it takes a very small number of lemons to "make" a significant amount of oil -- 25 lbs of lemons yielded close to 20mls of oil, perhaps a bit more. Unfortunately, I didn't take exact measurements as I was using the oil almost as quickly as it was being produced. Plus I sent off samples across the globe. Yeah, it's just lemon oil -- fresh, lively, lemonade-ish lemon oil -- but I made it.

The cilantro-based eau de toilette (or cologne) seems to have matured into something truly lovely. It receives dilution quite nicely -- doesn't fade and disappear in seconds and smells so clean. Upon first sniff, one may be steered toward a heavily cilantroed pico de gallo; thankfully, the heart of the eau, rose, jasmine, clove and neroli, take over a bit and lead the scent somewhere else -- somewhere almost sweet, definitely floral, not cloying. It's green and fresh and feminine; florals entwine, peek in and out, and finish with deep notes of languid, loamy patchouli and creamy sandalwood. I have plans to offer it and two others, a rich ginger-amber and a bright citrus, in big, clunky spray bottles.

The course is going swimmingly.

It's exciting to watch the students making discoveries -- discoveries such as dilutions creating expansive, blossoming results. Their eagerness to dilute everything in their palettes in order to really smell and evaluate an essence is inspiring. They're a great group of inquisitive, intelligent and adventurous folks from all corners of the globe.

Can a globe actually have corners?

Studying and reading perfume and non-perfume related topics. Read a little Anne Carson. A trashy romance novel. Koontz. Books on vodou, Buddhism, home repair. Particularly on toilets. One does not realize the importance of a properly functioning toilet until one's toilet no longer functions properly. Unfortunately, last night I had to rush out to the hardware store to buy a wax ring and replacement bolts to fix the completely clogged toilet. Also unfortunately, the husband was on his way out the door for the night shift, so I was left to make the repair alone. Which, really, is the case 99% of the time anyway. It's comical to watch a grown man get foolishly bent out of shape over a clogged toilet he knows full well he will not be fixing. Two-hundred-fifty plus pounds of shirtless hairyness stomping about trying to intimidate someone else into doing the dirty work is -- well -- immature. Especially, as I pointed out earlier, he knows full well he's not going to be anywhere near a messy wax ring or poo bits or giardia water.

Imagine my utter dismay at discovering, after pulling the toilet up off the floor, that the clog was caused by a jar of Anastasia's lovely Grainy Daiz face scrub. And being the kind of person who sees signs in everything, I thought, "Oh, no! This means something terrible is going to happen between me and Ana!" I dismissed the thought almost immediately when I realized that someone flushed my scrub down the toilet! My scrub. Ana's scrub. WTF?! Who does that? Yeah, yeah, accidents happen, but I have a house full of toilet checkers who enjoy harassing each other with, "You didn't flush the toilet, dork. That's gross. What kind of cow doesn't flush the toilet after doing THAT?" So it surprises me that this was an accident.

Unless it was the husband. He's notorious for not looking at anything below boob level -- mine, not his. And it's totally within his character to go, "Oops! Flushed that down! Gotta pretend someone else did it 'fore I git in trouble", and then come ripping out of the bathroom like a bull chasing Little Red Riding Hood, making accusations against that infamous invisible family member, Somebody.

I exaggerate. It's fun making fun of him, he's so darned silly. And I'm only exaggerating a little bit.


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