Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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.

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