Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh, Farmacista Vero!

I realize that I am in constant flux. I have a love/hate relationship with change. I am fickle and stalwart. I suffer a dichotomous mind. If I go into something half-assed, it stays that way. If I go into something with passion and enthusiasm, my efforts are infused with passion and enthusiasm and are usually somewhat successful. Why do you care? I don't know that you do, but in some small way perhaps it explains why I'm all over the place. For example, in 2006, I "quit" making soap and skin care in mass quantities to focus more on perfumery, opening a Natural Botanical Perfumer's website, le Parfumeur Rebelle, and a my own business website, The Scented Djinn. I then closed down my business website and started up selling on Etsy (I was having hosting issues with my web plan and couldn't customize layouts, something which would have been achieved had I handed over the project to a professional, but alas, I am ever the micro managing control freak) wherein I vacillated between focusing on perfume or on skin care, never giving my full undivided attention to either. Then there came the Academy where I wrote and edited and edited and edited and yes, edited, both a text book and a workbook, and then the subsequent course(s) with several students each, several personalities, language barriers, miscommunications, and on my end, exhaustion. Again, the focus on perfume became more fuzzy. Once again, I faced change. My Etsy customers are separate entities from my perfume customers, I've learned over the past year. My Etsy regulars prefer scented skin care and effective skin care over super frilly slightly expensive eaux de parfum. And, hey! Can I get a review? I know I may be perceived as coming from the wrong side of the tracks, but give me some credit, yeah? I've worked as hard as anyone to hone my craft, and I try not to invent stories about my years of experience, though I am prone to blitherty blather at times, just ask my soap and perfume students at Intermountain Nursery, or simply trust your judgment after reading this weird post ~ ha! Anyway . . . once I realized my Etsy people were different from the perfume people, I decided to start up an Artfire shop for my perfumes. Can I just say something here about Artfire? They're fabulous. They don't get their knickers in knots if you refer your customers to that other place, or anywhere else on the web. And they don't nickle and dime every single listing or sale. Flat rate out the gate, that's it, even if you sell one thing or sell five hundred, you pay just what you agreed to when you set up shop, finito, end of story. It's refreshing not to get slammed at the end of the month with a huge bill, which, by the way, can be double what you paid for your own private website. And let me get back to website (see? I'm all over the place here -- so be it), I do have one currently on the books, I just haven't built it yet, for the same flippin' reason I rid myself of the last one! Again, the micro managing control freak raises her shaggy head. So, back to the skin care stuff. I split, or am in the process of splitting, the Etsy skin care from the Artfire perfumes, and once again began the tedious task of researching current trends in natural skin care. Did I say tedious? I'm not on soap forums or lists, nor anything like them, so I don't know what all the chatter is these days, I'm just winging it, as they say. One thing I have been focused on is olive leaf. I live in a place where olive trees are as numerous as the people who tend them, myself being one. Years ago I prepared an olive leaf extract for a co-worker who was suffering for years with a horrible yeast infection, an infection so pervasive that even doctor prescribed medications couldn't keep it under control. But my little home brew did. A few drops under her tongue before bed every night and no more yeast infection! Since that time, lots of research has been done on the powerful healing effects of olive leaf, and since I can attest to the truth of it, I have decided, with earnestness, to create a line of olive leaf skin care products. I'm thinking a soap and a balm, with base ingredients created in my little copper still, combinations of olive leaves, rosemary and rose geranium to be used as water tonics for skin, the oil portions used in balms or butters, and more of the water used in soaps, as well as more, more, more herbage.

It's either that or take up knitting.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I apologize for not keeping up on the blogging of late. It is a busy time of year and I've only got moments to blather on about mundane perfumery subjects.

The first of the year is poised for new things, of which I may or may not keep you apprised. Probably will anyway.

So if I don't make it back on before January 1, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Happy, Delightful New Year.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Promotional Giveaway

Natures Nexus is promoting the year-long Natural Botanical Perfumery course by offering an opportunity to win a small perfumer's kit.

Included in the kit are 12 whole raw materials, a funnel, two blending bottles, a package of 100 scent strips, pipettes, and floral waxes.

This is a great way to start your journey toward becoming a Natural Botanical Perfumer.

Lost Treasures and a Meandering Mind on the Value of Simplicity

Not mine (again), someone else's lost treasures ~ Earthly Realities' author posted a day or so ago that she'd dug up some oldies but goodies she purchased from The Scented Djinn a year ago November, a lovely body butter called Spiced Chocolate Jasmine, and she posted that using it now was like using it when she first purchased it! Nice, eh? Body butters are notorious for short life spans and don't usually fare well over a year of seasons. Some body butters don't even make it through a year in the refrigerator. I think the secret is keeping things simple. Using the best organic base ingredients possible, and not fussing things up with too many oil and butter blends. Keeping the scents subtle and complex, even in a single note formulation.

Last May I taught a soap making class to a very lively group of folks at Intermountain Nursery, and I asked them to split up into three groups, each group developing and formulating a note for the perfume base of the soap. One group was in charge of the head notes, another group the heart notes, and another the base notes. When we first used this blend, it seemed only slightly out of balance, not bad at all, and quite strong given the amount of scent per pound of soap. Now, nearly a year later, those little bars they made have more than fully cured and they smell luscious! The scent is complex and rich, like a heavy floral spring garden with everything abloom, the scent of freshly turned, sun-warmed black soil creeping up the stalks of sweet peas and snap dragons and baby strawberry blossoms. Yes, I'm using some of my student's soap. The ingredients in the soap base were simple -- organic virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil, and organic cocoa butter, whipped up at very low temps and cured for months. And now, seven months later, after a long hot summer, there's no sign of the soap going "off", that nasty rancid effect hand made soap can acquire over time if improperly formulated or overheated. So, yes, simple saves the day, or in this case, the year.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Been struggling with a bit of a head cold the past few days. Fighting it off with nothing, until now. My immune system isn't as strong as I'd like to believe it is, so I wait until things become dire before attempting a little herbal therapy to clear things up. Today I've been diffusing peppermint oil with frankincense oil and myrrh oil. The air smells rich, and my sinuses are clearing up some. My headache has vanished!

Peppermint is a great sinus tonic, helping to temporarily drain the mucus so healing can begin. The myrrh helps to ease coughing, due to the mucus drainage, perhaps, and frankincense does pretty much the same thing as myrrh with added anti-bacterial effects in play. Well, all three of these oils have some anti-bacterial effect, though how effective they are in a steam is debatable. I do feel much better now, and though I can smell the peppermint, myrrh and frankincense, I can't smell much else.

So the scent of the day is a sinus steam tonic of peppermint, myrrh and frankincense. At least I'm sticking with a holiday theme.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Alice's Attic Treasures

This is for me mum. She's been a great inspiration to me these past few years. Saucy, sassy, and at the age of 68, still 19 at heart. She dances, she sings, she travels, she babysits with gusto (I've caught her playing in the dirt with her great-grandson, my grandson Oden, when he comes for a visit). Over the years she's collected little doo dahs and whatchamacallits and to help her cull her ever growing herd of junque, I started an Etsy store for her called Alice's Attic Treasures. In it you will find old, weird books, vintage and antique cups and saucers, and more importantly for you perfumers, perfumistas and perfume memorabilia collectors, antique and vintage apothecary bottles and perfume sets. So go check it out. It's a very small collection now, but we will be adding more as time progresses. Just poke around a bit.

Review of 5Seed at LPR

5Seed Organic Natural Beauty (and perfume!) has a review up on Le Parfumeur Rebelle.

Yancy, the proprietess of 5Seed has posted a counter-interview with LPR's very own Tonie Silver, who just recently opened her own natural skin care line at Etsy called Positive Earth.

Go read the review of 5Seed, then click the link to Yancy's blog interview with Positive Earth.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

When the Train Runs Out of Steam

I've slowed down on the creation end. I'm working slowly, meticulously, through a perfume project now, and contemplating next year's early spring flower garden (the bulbs! the bulbs! they're everywhere! the stores are pushing, pushing, pushing the bulbs! jonquil, hyacinth, daffodils, paper whites, oh, despair, the bulbs!) and all the additional planter boxes that need to be built, filled and planted before February. When the hyacinth come up in the spring, I plan to use a little butane extraction on them using a Honey Bee Extractor made for the medical marijuana industry to extract near-lethal doses of THC from non-bud portions of the yearly grow. Yeah, you do a google search on "butane extractor" and see how many honey butter/hash oil videos and links you come up with! You'll get educated in a hurry. But thank heaven for the ingenious stoner, yeah? Without him/her, I might never have found this nifty different way of actually somewhat safely solvent extracting my own rare botanicals. Sort'a, kind'a, maybe.

I am thinking about throwing together a little cologne butter even though the creative vibe has dimmed somewhat. Something along the lines of a 4711 in a creamy, spreadable base. Maybe something bright and floral with neroli at its heart. It's interesting, this seasonal categorization of scent ~ some people turn toward warm and comforting scents, musky, dark, deeply scented ambers and spices during the dark time of the year, while others crave the sunny half, going for bright citrusy green scents. Or more simply, they crave the scent of the season -- oranges and cloves and nog and evergreen and warm cider.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


The studio is in a state of disarray. This always happens during the holidays. Everything normally lives within bins and carry alls, safely tucked away under tables and on designated shelving, but with the daily packaging and shipping, it's kind of stupid to put it all away only to drag it back out an hour or so later, right? Just agree with me.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Dear Santa (edited)

Dear Santa Darling,

Yes, I'm kissing up this year. I'm all for trades -- kiss a little Santa booty, get a fat sack of goodies under the tree. Works for me, sir.

The original letter is edited, so here it is: I still want that peace and the L'Artisan Tea for Two. I tried a little .Drole de Rose and I really, really liked it, reminded me of old Mrs. Bali, and she's really something special to be reminded of, but it lasted like half an hour and was gone! Tea for Two is right up my alley, smells gorgeous, lasts for hours, and my friends can't get enough of it either. Remember, it's the big bottle, sir, so I can share.

I'd still like to get that tin of
China Jasmin Organic from Upton Teas. And the clarity. Clarity and tea, sounds nice, doesn't it, Santa? We could all use a little of both from time to time. Upton is still out of the tea, but I think you can get it, Santa. I believe in you.

I will be needing an extra portion of patience to go with the
Two Ounce (165 ml) Tabletop Tamisium n-Butane Extractor. I ask that these two come as a duo too because, well, Santa, last year when I attempted to teach myself how to standardize tinctures, I really screwed the pooch. None of the instructions I received helped, and I was left scratching my head. I blame it on equipment failure. I even tried meeting up with the owner of Quady Wineries in Madera to see if he knew what I was trying to accomplish, but our schedules conflicted every time I tried making it out there, so that was not helpful either. Maybe I'll get hold of him this year and work something out. He seems like a very nice man. Anyway, I just think that patience will come in handy when I try to teach myself to use the butane extractor.

What was next? Oh! A
refill on my box of patience (I realize I asked for it to go with the butane extractor, but no one can have enough patience), and a bag of Omani luban. Patience and luban. Gee, they kind of go together too, don't they?

Happiness and a Soxhlet. I promise to share both. In fact, I prefer it. I could share happiness exhibiting the Soxhlet's extractive abilities. As a substitute, this distillation unit would be wonderful to help share the happiness. Tonie told me she likes the potato Latke patchouli hydrosol, so perhaps I overreacted on that one. Still, I'd like to make the hydrosols
better. Maybe you can help me out with this.

I thought of a bunch of other stuff I wanted too ~ so here goes!

I received a letter from a Mrs. A. Cox stating that all the gifts I requested in my first letter were being sent to her house. Santa, let her have them. We share similar tastes, and she seems like a very nice lady, and why shouldn't she get something extraordinary for Christmas too? Two people in different parts of the world sharing our gifts of peace and clarity and a double dose of patience, and finally happiness, well, the possibilities are endless! So, yes, let her have them.

It would be a wonder of all wonders if you could help out little N. She's really struggling and fighting for every day and she's too brilliant a being to slip away ~ so, please, please, please! Give her health in abundance! I also want you to give Ana something really special. I don't know what. You'll think of something. Gifts of the aromatic variety are what she likes, and she's really good at sharing them. And for Tonie -- give Tonie some good luck to go with her new business endeavor. Not that she needs it, just saying, a little extra can't hurt. And the Berkeley Babes ~ give them whatever their hearts desire, and send my love as well. They know what's up. Also, Santa, could you help Bella sell her house so she can finally get her butt out here to California?!

To all my loves, my friends and family all over the world, those living in Brazil, Australia, Ireland, the UK, Canada, South Korea, Croatia, France, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and those closer to home, my Pennsylvania girl, the witchy lady in Utah, M in Washington State, Ms. in Tennessee, the rose of Brooklyn ~ love, Santa, send them sleighs full of love. And for my children, my sweet babies, please give them blessings for a wonderful, prosperous, love-filled new year.

I think that's it for this year, Santa. I'll be thinking of what I want next year and try to write a better, more cohesive letter without having to edit so much.

Sincerely (and with love & gratitude)


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Winner of Pink Grapefruit Soap

The winner of two bars of The Scented Djinn's Pink Grapefruit Organic Oil Soap is ~ Lisa in LA!


Lisa, please send me an email at with your address and I will get that soap out to you ASAP.

Thanks for entering the draw.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Old Friends

There was a time not so long ago when using up the last of something precious and irreplaceable would cause a twinge of regret in my heart. Not so much anymore. I learned something some time ago, something important, a lesson taught to me by a few good friends, and a few years experience, and that is that you just have to let go of special things, use 'em up, lavish yourself or a friend with them. What am I talking about? Antique sandalwood oil. I used up the last 10 mls of my antique Magnus, Mabee & Reynard sandalwood oil in a delectable new skin care elixir I made for The Scented Djinn Etsy Shop. I can't wait to smear it on my face after a shower as it acts like a perfume, a simple, single note (not really, there's a pinch of aged patchouli in the mix as well) perfume, not to mention how great it feels on my skin. I usually use about a half teaspoon of plain organic extra virgin olive oil to moisturize my face and it's worked wonders, but this new elixir is like skin nirvana, and did I mention it has a lot of that antique sandalwood in it? It does. And organic hemp seed oil and organic sunflower oil. I have some up on sale at the Etsy shop, but I've reserved a few for personal use, and I'm going to be one sad lady when I run out. I can make the elixir's base again, for sure, but I can't replace the antique sandalwood in there. Maybe next time I'll use neroli or a new sandalwood or frankincense and myrrh. Stuff that's good for the skin. So I'm not really upset or bummed out that I used up the last of that antique sandalwood - it's going to a good cause, my old wrinkled face! I'm not upset because there's always something new just around the corner, some other vintage aromatic to lavish praise and pay homage to, something else to covet for a bit, then release into the universe so someone else can maybe relish and covet it a while as well. I mean, really, what else was I going to do with it? Eat it? Oh, yeah, I do do that! I did use about 5 drops of the same antique sandalwood to "flavor" a batch of butter toffee praline candy I made for Thanksgiving. It was like eating a piece of heaven.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dear Santa

It's been years --decades!-- since I wrote a Dear Santa letter, and I felt it was high time to do one again. It's only been a few years since my youngest children penned a DS letter, something which we encouraged all our children to do. Of course they knew there wasn't a Santa Claus, but the exercise reminded them that it was time to sort out their priorities and make sure that they expressed as clearly as possible what they wanted for Christmas. They were given exactly one week to "edit" their letters before we ceremoniously dumped them into the counter at the post office. I remember laughing hysterically after reading some of these letters~ "Dear Santa, please bring me a pair of snake fur boots . . .", and "Dear Santa, I would like a sword, not a real sword, but a fake sword, made with real metal that can cut and everything. The plastic one you gave me last year broke when I whacked my brother on the back with it. I promise not to hurt anyone with it because I know it is dangerous and not really a toy, and my mom and Papa would ground me until I was dead if I mess with it. I just want to hang it on my wall to scare my brothers."

Here is my letter to Santa:

"Dear Santa,

Please bring me peace, and a bottle of L'Artisan's Tea for Two, the big bottle as I have a few friends I wish to share it with and it will "go" very fast. So, big bottle. Also, if you can manage, please bring me clarity, and a tin of China Jasmin Organic from Upton Tea (as you can see, they are sold out at the moment, but I'm sure you can use your elf magic to make this work, thanks). I would also like a Two Ounce (165 ml) Tabletop Tamisium n-Butane Extractor, so I can finally chuck the PVC pipe and Pyrex dish in the garbage. I know it's pricey, but I'd be more than happy to send you a bit of whatever I extract as payback. I think Mrs. Claus might like that. Think about the wife, man. Happy wife, happy life, yeah? See? We both win on this deal. Please, if it's not too much trouble, bring me a big box of patience as my old box is nigh empty, and toss in a burlap sack of some Omani luban. The last little bit of luban tears I have are in a tin, the same one I hide my "mad money" ~ everywhere I go, when I spend my mad money, the clerks tell me, "Your money smells so nice!" Yes, and it's a blessing, too, so throw it on the ground and roll all over it. The tin is nearly empty -- of tears and money. I digress, Santa, I apologize. Luban. From Oman. Just the resin, I'll take over after that, no need for distillation on your end. And also, I would like some happiness to share with my friends and family. Yes, that would be nice. A vat of happiness, and one of these. Marcia told me about this and I'm so excited. I want to make some really fabulous smelly things. If you can't find one, this will suffice, at least for making some nice hydrosols so Tonie will stop reminding me of my potato water patchouli hydrosol (ugh!). Again, Mrs. Claus is welcome to whatever comes from the receiver. I think that's it for now, Santa. Remember, I have a week to edit, so don't rush yet.



photos: L'Artisan's Tea for Two; Norman Rockwell's Santa

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

For the first time in over ten years, we will be spending Thanksgiving elsewhere. I cannot stress how good it feels to be responsible only for a side dish or treat for the day's meal instead of the whole enchilada. For the first time in years, I'm actually watching the Thanksgiving Day parade, or parts of it anyway. For the first time in years, I'm speculating what candy to bring, will it be the patchouli'd pralines or the sandalwood white chocolate brickle? Or both? Perhaps. But I have time to think on it. To mull the possibilities. To be creative in an unhurried manner. I was so stressed yesterday doing the pre-Thanksgiving dinner (which ALL the children attended and loved as a 22 lb turkey is gone and no one took home a plate or bags of food), that I burned an entire sheet of homemade rolls. It was the second in the oven, so we had at least the first yummy sheet, but I never burn the rolls. Well, until now.

So, I'm giving thanks that I'm off the hook for the real event; giving thanks that I am at liberty to whip up something lush and decadent with perfumery to feed the uninitiated; I am giving a big, big thanks that today is a day free from stress, and giving thanks that my children and their families and a few friends were able to attend a dinner with us, all together. Wonderful.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


We're celebrating Thanksgiving a day early here. Conflicting schedules and numerous invitations to dine with extended family have prompted this unofficial date change. The turkey has been brining for over 12 hours now, the ham is in the oven, the pies were done early this morning (early, like 1am), and all the rest will be finished up over the course of the next few hours. For once, I get to sit with my feet up and watch brain numbing football games on Thanksgiving Day instead of standing over a stove, watching a timer and coordinating what goes in and out of the oven at what time, etc. And I feel neglectful of my perfuming duties. I dreamed of nutmegs last night. Sprinkling it atop nog, throwing a dash into a homemade potato soup, rubbing the spice on my wrists. Years ago I visited a "witch shop" wherein the owners of the shop, a couple, were arguing about the abortive qualities of nutmeg, was it 2 tsp or 2 TBLS that caused a miscarriage, or was it a whole, unground seed? Sadly, the discussion was of a personal nature as the woman was clearly very pregnant, and the man was clearly not happy about it. As fortune would have it, the resultant child is in her late 20's, married and planning her own family now -- with someone who isn't suggesting she choke down a barrel full of nutmeg powder. So, back to the finer qualities of nutmeg, for example, how sensual it smells, how magical, when blended with equally sensual and magical scents, like sandalwood, or tea rose, or osmanthus. I'm afraid I may overdose on nutmeg today as it is primary in my mind -- add it to the jus from the ham and baste? Mix it with the herbs and poke them up the turkey's bottom? I promise, I won't go too heavy on the nutmeg. My mother-in-law is coming over and we wouldn't want to have her dancing the Charleston to Like a G6 whilst waving a turkey leg over her head.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Positive Earth

Positive Earth is a new shop on Etsy which provides lush and beautiful natural skincare ~ the descriptions of the products are sublime,

"Alas Poor Yorick! I knew him...
Bless your skin with this indulgent mixture of Organic Wheat Bran, Organic Raw Honey, Organic Coconut Butter, and Myrrh Essential Oil. Polishes and moisturizes deeply, smells rich and ancient. This doughy paste is so yummy that I decided on the pure simplicity of Myrrh, and it is a perfect admixture.

Go get you some!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cats & Long Sleeves & Bleeding Labels

There used to be a section in the course workbook indicating that long, loose sleeves should not be worn while creating perfume. Why? Because perfume creation, though usually conducted in one place, and as a relatively low-impact type endeavor, requires some reaching. Reaching with long, loose sleeved clothing is dangerous. Not nuclear power plant meltdown dangerous, but loss of $200 USD worth of rose damascena dangerous. Or, You'll-Never-Get-The-Smell-Of-Cocoa-Absolute-Off-Your-Robe-No-Matter-How-Many-Times-You-Wash-It-In-Vinegar dangerous. I've removed that section from the course workbook, but I'm rethinking my decision in light of recent events. Like the drenching of my fuzzy robe sleeve in cocoa and cilantro and basil and rose . . . the accidental dipping of the other sleeve into beeswax and sunflower oil and aromatics creating this perfume, this delicious multi-faceted perfume that exists nowhere on earth but on my sleeves, a perfume that I catch whiffs of while typing or reading or sipping tea.

Cats. With the recent change in weather from dry cold to drippy, wet cold, the cats' habits have changed as well. No more do they wander the backyard looking for places to hide from one another for a sneak attack, no more do they lie on the wooden bench to lavish themselves in the warm rays of the sun. No. They've taken these rituals indoors, conducting sneak attacks from across the workbench, knocking bottles and vials and dilutions to the floor, scattering ribbons and wrapping paper, tipping over stacks of books, and generally causing chaos in the studio. What is it about this space that cats so love? Why aren't they beating each other up under the sofa or swatting at the lacy frills of the afghan hanging over the back of the recliners in the family room? Why aren't they snoozing quietly in the warm spot I just left in the bed? Why have they taken to climbing up walls and over high hanging shelves?! One of the cats, the normally shy and calm Panda, tried pulling a framed poster off the studio wall! She gave it her best effort until I caught her, the noise of books sliding off the desk and bottles banging into one another alerting me to her frantic hopping, her claws grasping to the ledge of the poster frame. The cats are banished (again) from the studio, quickly darting through the room so as not to get caught before retiring to rip apart the garage, one dangling lamp wire at a time.

With all this tipping and toppling, falling and crashing, there is bound to be a little leakage. Enter the dreaded bleeding labels. Duh duh Dummmmm! I think most of us at this point in our perfuming careers have mastered the art of taping down labels, both to prevent them from slipping off the bottle, and to protect them from any potential solventy like spills that can smear and smudge the writing on the labels, creating a bleeding label effect, which leads to illegibility, which lead to the inevitable 'wtf is this?!' moment. Sometimes it is unavoidable, even with smear-proof paper and tape, labels can still fade and bleed away. All that information lost -- the aromatic's name, dilution ratio, code # or reference, poof! Fortunately, that hasn't happened. My labels are, for the most part, legible, though slightly smeary and smudged. The solution is to make a new label, and yell at the flippin' cats . . . again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Enter For Your Chance to Win Soap!

I'm still running the soap giveaway here -- two bars of Pink Grapefruit soap. Follow this link to enter.

Much luck!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Art Show Tomorrow November 20, 10 am to 4 pm

Tomorrow I showcase The Scented Djinn, and Natural Botanical Perfumery, at the 4th annual Madera County Arts Council's Holiday Art Affair featuring over 30 artists and fine crafters selling original works. There is also going to be a book signing by children's author Monica Montelongo, and illustrator Rosemary Montelongo, as well as music, food, and youth art education. This event will be held tomorrow, November 20th from 10 am to 4 pm at the Circle Gallery (mall) at 1653 N. Schnoor Avenue, Madera, CA (for more information call 559-661-7005). It's supposed to rain. But! The Scented Djinn's wares will be under the porch on the north strip of offices, right on the end.

Even with the rain in the forecast, I'm still very much looking forward to this event. I'm hoping to talk to some young people about perfumery and perhaps garner some interest there. If you are able to make it out to Madera for this event, please stop by and say hello.

Painting by Bristow, Madera County Arts Council, Circle Gallery

Thursday, November 18, 2010


It must be the moon or the season or the creative juices just began to flow and decided to become a deluge with no end ~ I've begun a campaign of creation, a simple series of solid parfums in glass pots using reformulated formulations from the Delicia days and beyond. The first two of the simple series are a lovely sweet floral and a Yule-worthy woods. The floral was known in the old days as Marguerite, and she was built using only six essences ~ patchouli, vanilla, mimosa, rose otto and bergamot. She is rich and floral and sweet and earthy all at once. The other, the Yule woods fragrance is built using only seven essences ~ blue hemlock, fir balsam, silver fir, juniper berry, galbanum, vintage nutmeg and an organic santal. It smells of the cold winter breeze through the high branches of evergreens and the sweet creamy spice of nog. The next to be formulated for the simple series is a frankincense, myrrh, opoponax and spikenard solid. Four different frankincenses, two different myrrhs, one opoponax and one 'nard. And then maybe the fragrance formerly known as Hot Buttered Hippy made with patchouli, butter CO2 and vanilla. See? Simple.

Creation in and of itself is inspiration. It seems that once the cycle begins, it continues of its own volition. That's what is happening to me now. After being in a creative funk for months, it is refreshing to be working with intent again. When the spark was lit is anybody's best guess -- maybe it happened when I received one after another of custom perfume orders over the summer. Or maybe it happened because, in my mind anyway, October is the beginning of the year, a time for fresh starts and new beginnings.

Toying with creating a kyphi eau de parfum using the aged and gooey calimyrna fig tincture hidden away in the cabinet of aromatics in place of raisins . . . and there is one more custom yet to be made, a parfum for a bellydancer, something sensual and bold.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Parma Natural Botanical Parfum Extrait

Well, she is done. I must confess, she's been sitting on the back burner for a couple of years, built up from her "mock violet" days into something a bit more substantial. And so going against my usual Perisan/Middle Eastern method of naming perfumes, I've gone with the simple moniker "Parma" ~ because that is what she is! There is even a lovely delicate Parma violet tincture in this extrait (yes, extrait!) But you won't find Parma on Etsy ~ no, I've reserved the more pricey and rare parfums and extraits for listing on ArtFire. Fresh start for the new logo, new perfume launch all at once. The Etsy site will still be viable and will include all the perfumes and such listed there now, plus the usual balms and butters and soaps and scrubs and whathaveyou. Until I change my fickle mind.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Parma Violet Honey Butter

I am always working on blending perfume into food somehow, though I don't always write about my experiments as they don't all work out how I envision they would. This latest experiment, however, has worked out -- beautifully. So I'll share.

Parma Violet Honey Butter came about because I've been working on a violet themed parfum for the past few weeks, a reworking of Ianthe the Violet Nymph, which is a reworking of a "mock violet" built in 2008, into something more robust and sensual; an attempt at putting a little va-va-va-voom into violet. Since I am almost always thinking of cooking with perfumery ingredients, it seemed only natural that I'd test a few drops of the new violet parfum extrait in . . . something! There was a fresh carton of heavy cream in the refrigerator and a few tablespoons of local orange blossom honey left in the canning jar, and I remembered having so much fun with my kids when they were little teaching them how to make butter, so that was the direction in which the scenting project went.

Recipe for Parma Violet Honey Butter

6 - 8 oz heavy whipping cream
2 - 3 tablespoons honey
4 - 6 drops Parma Parfum Extrait (or any Natural Botanical Perfume that is safe for this type of consumption)

Pour heavy whipping cream, honey and Natural Botanical Perfume into a glass jar with a lid, leaving about 1/3 of the jar empty for shaking purposes. Shake for 15-20 minutes until the butter separates from the fluid (you will recognize this when after the mixture feels sluggish and fluid it suddenly seems to spring free and knocks back and forth in the jar -- the knocking is the butter having separated from the cream). Pour off the fluid into another jar and save it to flavor Earl Grey tea; keep the butter portion in the shaking jar or place on a pretty serving plate and cover with waxed paper. Spread the butter over fresh toast, on bagels, on scones hot from the oven, over pancakes -- on anything you might normally spread butter.

If you plan to do this, use perfumery in food, remember to use only those which are known to be safe and preferably natural. You wouldn't want to do this with Chanel No5.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting Busy

Life as a working perfumer is a juggling act no matter what time of year, but during the holiday season, it's as if the balls in the air have caught fire and someone off to the side has surreptitiously thrown in a few extra, just in case juggling systematically wasn't enough of a challenge.

The art show on the 20th isn't giving me fits as it had been. I'm building up stock and tracking down which notebook holds what perfume that made it through trials but never quite made it into production with a mind toward perhaps finally putting that particular perfume into production. My notebook entries are funny sometimes -- there will be an entry with 15 or 20 different elements, each taking a place on the scale; head, heart, bottom, and an end entry dated a week or so later with statements like, "Sucks! Tossed it . . . NEXT!", "Floral, nice, fresh, stinky . . . okay, not great, but okay. Give it some alone time.", "GARBAGE!", "Smells sour", "Smells f**king awesome!", and "Yessssss!" ~ those with positive remarks make it to real evaluations, the rest get tossed or reworked. Not entirely scientific, is it?

And with juggling that bit of life, there's also family life and the curve balls that come with that; school meetings due to dress code violations (wearing a plain black beanie in cold weather is frowned upon, apparently), doctor's appointments, the constant list of "Mom, I need (fill in the blank) or life will end as we know it", out-of-the-blue bills, nosy neighbors, Jehovah's Witnesses at the door every Tuesday, that funny noise coming from the engine compartment of the Kia . . . it just goes on forever. Perfume and all its related activities keeps me sane. Sort of sane. More sane than usual?

I've been experimenting with solvent extraction. It's a bit crude and somewhat dangerous, and I'm still working out the kinks, but hopefully it will be perfected in time to write about it in the new course book/workbook. I have a bucket of frankincense resin that I'd like to distill this winter and perhaps include a little step-by-step pictorial of the process for the book as well. I have a bad habit of forgetting to take pictures of the distillation process because I'm usually so focused on making sure that everything is clean and perfect and ready to go that picture-taking isn't even a thought. Not until I'm finished and I smack myself in the forehead for forgetting again.

Solid perfumes seem to be the "thing" I'm focused on most right now as far as parfum goes. Someone special wrote me a private note the other day asking if I'm going back to my Blair Witch roots with the dark blog and the dark cameo photography and all the cremes and solids and unguents. I guess I am. It is the dark time of year, and I have been referred to as the dark moon witch on occasion, so, yes, perhaps I am going retro. I know that I have been thinking quite a lot about the old store and Sierra Soapourri, the way the butters and balms and solid perfumes came from the ether, manifested and left into the world. In a way, I guess that's kind of magical. Rootwork is in the air . . .

The art show is coming up, then the holiday rush, then a protracted post-holiday buzz as people pick up the things they wanted but didn't get, then all goes quiet around March. Or maybe it's just me who goes quiet -- I'm at my most productive this time of year because it seems right to be, not just because the holidays are upon us, though that might have some small minuscule bearing on the situation. All I know is that I feel antsy, like I need to get busy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hydrosol Giveaway at LPR

Le Parfumeur Rebelle's November 2010 giveaway is sponsored by Dabney Rose, distiller of fine hydrosols. The prize to the winner is a bottle of her luscious Cacao Hydrosol. Click here to enter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Soap Giveaway

Don't forget OTA is hosting a soap giveaway -- two bars of deliciously fragrant Pink Grapefruit soap made with organic oils ~ to enter, click here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sahar Made Scent Hive's Holiday Gift Guide List!

Yep. Sahar. A perfume created by The Scented Djinn (my alter-ego), made it onto Scent Hive's Holiday Gift Guide list this year.

I'm stoked!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Parfum Oils and the Bottles They Live Within

I've gone back to my roots with the production of more parfum oils, solids, butters, soaps, powders, masques, incense -- the things that were staple products at Sierra Soapourri and then later at Delicia. So, of course, wanting to kind of streamline the new look to reflect the new logo and "feel" at The Scented Djinn, I went in search of unique bottles to house the parfum oils. I had this idea to use simple clear glass bottles with metal screw on caps and decorate the bottle with a complicated knot system on top and sealing the ends of the knot on the bottle itself with sealing wax. I recently began putting this idea into motion and was sorely, very sorely, disappointed to find that the bottles I'd ordered for the task leaked -- terribly. No matter how tightly the bottles were closed, they leaked. Almost as if the caps were not exactly meant for that bottle. I've scrapped that idea and may be going back to something I used at the beginning of Delicia, little blue teardrop bottles (but I think I'll go with the green this time 'round). I know they're simple, and they don't come from some fancy French bottle making company, and they don't cost a fortune (only half a fortune) but they work! I still have some alcohol-based perfume housed in those particular bottles that haven't leaked or evaporated, despite the fact that they've 'been' for about six years now, and have suffered more than a couple shuffling, thumping relocations. Perhaps the clear glass bottles can be used for loose incense or densely perfumed powders.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Invocations and Pomeriggio

Ah. Ana's at it again. She's created these two superb (as if she'd do anything but) soaps ~ Bon Pomeriggio Sapone and Divina Invocazione Sapone ~ that are absolutely the most stunning creations to come from a soap pot ever. First, let me start with the Pomeriggio ~ scrumptious, delectable, delicious, drool-worthy, kiss-yer-mama-on-the-lips-and-dance-naked-in-an-orange-orchard crazy. I opened the box the soaps came in and unwrapped and unwrapped for what seemed an eternity, from folds of brown paper, impatiently unrolling and digging because I could smell them before I saw them and the paper went on forever-- and then there they were, just heaving with scent, almost alive they were! Orangey bronze slices with oozy dark chocolate embedded in the top. Food. Skin food. I sliced off a piece for my son who attempted to hide an entire bar, and he immediately ran for the shower. Thirty minutes later he came back, smiling a big Cheshire cat grin, and I asked him, "Well? How was it?" and he replied, still smiling like mad, "Oh, I can't even tell you. You have to go do it yourself." Though he told me nothing, that statement spoke volumes. Second, Divina Invocazione Sapone is frankincense and myrrh, deep and resinous, golden and rich, bits of crackling melted resin embedded everywhere. The scent, oh, the scent, is miraculous. Well, yes, it's frankincense and myrrh, but it's lots and lots of frankincense and myrrh! This is a bath tub soap, definitely. No quick shower will do it justice. You must stew in this magical potion, read a book by beeswax candlelight and dream big, big dreams.


I've lately been intrigued by the fresh, lively scent of green herbs like cilantro, basil, mint and, though not technically an herb, rose geranium. Cilantro in particular imparts a fresh, crisp foodie layer over darker, deeper scents like patchouli and sandalwood. Cilantro with tobacco is mouth-watering, as I discovered by accident whilst digging in the back of the aromatic treasures cabinet. I was working with cilantro, building a solid version of Khamsa (eau fraiche, though that moniker hardly applies now that it's a solid -- Khamsa Drool-Down-The-Front-of-Your-Shirt Extrait is more like it), when I brushed against an old bottle of tobacco absolute, getting a little leaked absolute on the tip of my finger. The scent wafting around me was intoxicating. Then, just to see if this light/dark, opposites attract phenomenon reached toward other dark essences, I did a back and forth waft between cilantro and oakmoss. Again, that mouth-watering effect. So now I know that cilantro is a perfect host to patchouli, the darker and older the better, sandalwood, oakmoss and tobacco. Basil loves cocoa, and light vetyvers; mint, in small doses, loves just about everyone, much like rose g. I'm sure I'll tire of the greens in a few weeks or months, but in the meantime, I will take advantage of the inspiration.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Scent - Sound Connection

I found this quite interesting, and revealing, if true. It would explain some of the obesity problems we're faced with. On the other hand, we're not rats. Well, most of us aren't.

In Pursuit of Silence

Pink Grapefruit

So. The pink grapefruit "flavored" soap over at TSD's Etsy Apothecary isn't moving. Not a centimeter. Too bland? Too simple? Would it help any if I said it was made with all certified organic base oils? Organic olive oil, organic coconut oil, organic mango, organic cocoa butter. There's also a generous splash of coconut milk, which any mad scientist type soaper knows adds loads of lush creamy lather to the soap. Plus, it isn't just grapefruit. It's wild orange, lemon, petitgrain bigarade -- and pink grapefruit. Show the pink grapefruit some love -- I'm giving away two bars of the stuff right here. To enter this giveaway, just comment in the comments section, and tell me who wrote this,

"How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death."

Friday, November 05, 2010

Interview with Dabney Rose & Giveaway at LPR

Dabney Rose has been interviewed for Le Parfumeur Rebelle, and has also generously offered to sponsor the November 2010 LPR giveaway!

Violet Nymph Gone Goddess

Rather than leave well enough alone, I, in my infinite wisdom *cough*, have "beefed up" the existing Ianthe the Violet Nymph formulation to become a fully fledged musky violet goddess with a big "G". Additions such as genet, wild verbena, carrot seed, yuzu, linden and a couple of different roses have turned this shrinking violet into a battering ram -- of sorts. It may still need a bit more adjusting as the sonication continues to reveal empty spots in the composition, but I'm determined it remain a violet fragrance regardless of how it unfolds, even if I have to use all my vintage orris resin tincture. There are quite a number of vintage oils and homemade distillations used in this composition -- I even entertained the idea of using the Star Rio Red grapefruit distillate I made a month or so ago, and I may still yet.

I'd forgotten how absolutely delicious ambrette is. I got a little smudge of it on my fingers yesterday and must have looked like a crackhead while driving to pick up my son from school, the fingertips of my right hand practically jammed up my nose while I drove. I tried to be discreet, but who can be discreet around something that makes your toes curl with pleasure? So, it sounds a little pornographic, so what. You do it too.

Big G ~ orris absolute, violet leaf, champaca, benzoin, oakmoss, orris tincture, orris resin tincture, tuberose, ambrette, rose de mai, antique santal, cassie, santal CO2, tonka tincture, almond, boronia, genet, ambrette CO2, verbena, carrot seed, orris butter, yuzu, rosa damascena, rose otto, linden blossom absolute


Sometimes, even if you make a complete ass of yourself, making someone else laugh can make your day. Perhaps even your week. Just think how the world would be if you made someone laugh every single day, and they made someone laugh, and so on and so forth. Eventually, it would come back to you and someone will go out of their way, and possibly make an ass of themselves, to make you laugh. Laughter is a drug that doesn't need propositions to make it legal, it can't get you busted and thrown in jail for having a baggie of it hidden under your car seat, and you don't need a medical laughter card to get away with legal laughing.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Art Show

This art show coming up on the 20th has me in knots. My production level has increased to about three (more like four) times what it normally is. Nothing like something significant and potentially affirming to kick my usual procrastinating butt into high gear! I don't do it all 'fo' the money, ho, the money, ho, the money . . . ' no, I do it because it's what I do. I'm usually painfully shy and introvertive when it comes to crowds, meeting new people, et al, but ask me about perfume, and I'll talk your ear off with only a few moments of 'oops, I'm talking too much' reaching my cognitive brain. Hopefully I won't be a clam during the show. I feel like such a whore selling myself that way.

There's a violet, um, thingy brewing in the sonicator. I used a lot of my vintage orris resin/orris tincture, both in this formulation and in the chocolate candies I made the other day, which, by the way, were exquisite. I couldn't help thinking, though, every time I'd eat one, that I completely understand the allure of using ambergris in confections, not that I did or would, but I get it. Ooh, just had a thought -- hyracium chocolates! Ew. Okay, I think I may be taking this a bit too far . . .

So the violet thingy in the sonicator -- a bit like Ianthe the Violet Nymph, but fuller, less a nymph and more a full grown goddess. My hope is that the vibration will bounce those molecules to swift maturation. So I can take it to the show. And have it ready for the holy days coming up.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Violet Truffles

Spent the morning perfecting the recipe for violet truffles made with orris root tincture, dark chocolate and cream. So far, so good.

Maybe this would translate well into a perfume . . .

Monday, November 01, 2010

It's Official

The kick off has commenced . . . or something like that. That holy-day is coming up quickly and everyone is in a frenzy -- no money, little money, flush in the green; make it, buy it, trade for it. Oh, what are you going to do?

Here's what I'm going to do -- I'm looking to my friends who have businesses similar but maybe not 'xactly like mine. Friends who create special things for tucking into stockings or wrapping in handmade paper (also obtained through friends). Etsy's cool, I mean, I sell there. But we often forget, while in the super sonic vibration of advertising, that we have the option to find some really cool objets d'art created by people we know or are acquainted with who aren't on Etsy. People who will oftentimes make some custom doo-dah for us just in time for Yule or Christmas Day. People you should be giving your business to.

These are the top of the list places I'm heading for this year:

Alchemy Works for some inks (my sons will love these), some vegetal musk incense for me mum, and some other stuff -- for me!

Chant Aromatics for soap (but you already make soap! you say, yes, but I don't make these soaps), and Swamp Hag for my dil.

MoonaLisa's for whatever she may have ready at the moment.

There are others, but I'm strapped for time here. I'll make more suggestions as the days progress, hopefully before it's too late to do anything about it.

Another thought or idea for gifting -- astrology or card reading.

Le Parfumeur Rebelle October Giveaway Winner

Vicki T. of Watsonville, CA!

Congratulations Vicki, your soaps are on the way!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mousse de Chene

I am currently in the beginning stages of building a little mousse de chene inspired solid parfum -- something woodsy, mossy, earthy and vital. This solid will be touching on elements of a fougere, without the sweet tonka/vanilla/coumarin notes being present. I'm thinking cedars of the world, oakmoss, roses, a little nutmeg. Limited top notes.

In the works for winter wear.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Last chance to enter your name in the LPR monthly giveaway to win two 4.5 oz bars of The Scented Djinn's Pumpkin Spice Organic Oil Soap. These soaps are super yummy and spicy, made with all organic base oils of olive, coconut and mango, colored with organic carrot juice (homemade), and scented with cinnamon spice, and cassia and clove oils. I always add a little coconut milk to make the bars extra creamy and luxurious. And you're going to receive two if your name is chosen -- one for you and one for . . . you?

Anxiously awaiting a shipment of vintage style lockets for the new winter solids. There are two new perfume solids, an amber based on the amber perfume I'm currently creating, and a sultry meditation solid starring saffron, frankincense, jasmine auriculatum and night queen absolutes. I'm considering a remake of the infamous blue lotus based perfume solid, but I haven't decided for certain yet. Butters are on the menu as well -- something gourmandy with a bit of a twist. Won't say anything more about it yet as it isn't made and is still in its preliminary formulation stages. I will say that it's really nice and unexpected.

I've been reading the blogs of the bloggers who went to Sniffapalooza's Fall Ball this past weekend -- envy is thy name. Carol at WAFT posted a picture on her blog of my dear friend, Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery. Laurie was a speaker at this year's Sniffa event and presented her newest perfume, Bed of Roses, which was based on Raphaella's Roses, a list of rose fragrances revered by Sniffa Magazine's editor, Raphaella Barkley. If I know Laurie, this newest perfume of hers must be spectacular, and I can't wait to smell it for myself.

Don't forget to enter the monthly giveaway at LPR, and while you're there, check out the haiku contest to win a sample of vintage/antique cassia oil.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


The candles are done. They're rustic, with little lumps and bumps. And they smell delicious. Like warm honey. Making them was quite meditative. I didn't fret over them, just letting them do their thing, even when they picked up a bit of solid wax that created appendages on their otherwise smooth surfaces. These are Macbeth's witch's candles -- they're bent and knobby, they have warts, and I'm pretty sure they're blind.

"Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd."

"Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd."

"Harpier cries:—'tis time! 'tis time!"

"Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!"

Chanting, "Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble."

"Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

Chanting, "Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble."

Part of Act IV, Scene I, Macbeth

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All Hallows

For some reason, I'm just not getting into it. I'm not feelin' the excitement, the rush, of figuring out what to dress up as, where to go, being scared, all the things I used to love about Halloween. I'm ready for the pumpkin spice cake and the mulled cider and the golden red leaves to drop. I'm ready for the crunch of frosted grass under my slippers, the finger warming loveliness of a hot cup of Earl Grey tea, melty dark chocolates flavored with cinnamon, and cuddling with the grandson under a fat, fuzzy blanket. I'm looking forward to body butters! Creating them again. And I haven't yet fallen out of full experimental mode, so a few pokers are in the fire in that regard. Something grand will come of it, I am sure.

Right now there is a pot of beeswax on the stove and over a dozen beeswax candles "becoming" on the rack. Very rustic, these candles, bent and knobby and smelling incredible. I toyed with the idea of scenting the wax, but naked is good. Beeswax in the nude.

The pumpkins and butternut in the picture here all came from my little urban garden. This is my Halloween. Gourds and reverence and gnarled beeswax candles, a little root magic and hope.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Am I Rude?

Is it wrong of me to hang up on someone calling out of the blue to offer me "the deal of the year" on pens, magnets and stickers featuring my logo? Does my business need pens, magnets and stickers? Is niche perfumery about that kind of stuff? Does L'Artisan offer pens and magnets and stickers featuring their logo? I don't know.

I despise rudeness in people, but I despise unsolicited phone calls even more. Especially early in the morning when I'm in the midst of formulating or writing. One out of every ten phone calls I receive are actually about something -- my son's school calling, or a friend, my mom. The rest are confidence people and folks trying to sell me something my business can't survive without -- like a refrigerator magnet featuring my lovely new logo.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oriental . . . again, apparently

Blog'opping and read Persolaise's recent post on ambery orientals, and the question, do we really need another one, "the answer's probably No" P writes. That's a bit deflating since this is totally where the new perfume is going. Then I must refer back to the adage, "There is nothing new under the sun," which always helps when faced with these situations. I'm no Tesla, that's for sure, but I think I can spin a new twist on an old idea any day of the week. So the ambery oriental . . . more tweaking has commenced. And in the midst of said tweaking, I began to wonder if I put off formulating because I'm a procrastinator at heart, or if I put it off because I know I won't be happy with the end result no matter how much I fiddle with it? I think it is the latter "excuse".

After several more sonication sessions, it was apparent the new perfume, the ambery oriental, needs more top notes. There was very little opening to it, blasting from the scent strip and off the skin as a dense amber essence with spices and mellow florals mingling. And the amber was sharper, probably from the wrestling match with ginger, and lost a lot of its soft, sweet edge. New additions included santal, sambac, bergamot and gardenia, with a boost of other elements in the perfume ~ more cardamom, more vanilla more other stuff.

My daughter, whom I write of often here, is a perfumista, but not a perfumer. She doesn't have the least bit of interest in being a perfumer, but greedily snaps up any offers of finished perfumes. I wore the latest version of the ambery oriental formulation and when we got into the car, she asked, "What's that smell? I really like it. You smell good, Mom." Maybe not the most professional acclamation, but I'll take it as presented since I know her and her tastes in scent.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amber Perfume

The new amber perfume is coming along beautifully. I've done a little tweaking with it, creating something more floral, less ginger spicy, and very deeply ambery. I'm beginning to like it much better than the original formulation, though my daughter might want to hit me over the head. When I made the original, she carried around a bottle and sprayed herself whenever the notion occurred to her. Smelling like ginger candy and honey amber appealed to her very much. If I remember correctly, that bottle was watered down quite a bit and the scent was still tenacious. At this point in the formulation process, the perfume is dark, like a well-aged bourbon. I've been zapping it in the sonicator for three days, testing, tweaking, and then zapping again. I hope to have it done for an art show I'm attending in November.

Now I need a name for it. 'Amber' seems pretty well used. I'm not into the 'noir's and the 'l'hiver's, not that l'hiver suits. Ginger Amber doesn't suit anymore either, though the ginger does express itself as the perfume dries down on the skin. On a scent strip it's all amber. Dark, warm, furry, soft, sweet amber.

*Update: Needs lift, diffusivity, lies too closely to the skin (reminds me of the beginning stages of Bella Cimitero with it's dark resinous soul oozing across the skin instead of jumping off). The ginger really isn't coming forth the way it had before, but I remember now that the formulation needed about two weeks before the ginger expanded. Further trials revealed the formulation required one more note, so we (I have help with this one) decided a minute amount of green cardamom evulsion was in order. It brought the composition up off the skin to float above it and is present from the top to the heart and begins to diminish during the base note progression. Changes the character of the amber to something more glistening and sheer. Lovely. Now we'll have to wait to see what it does during aging.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Conversation on Stanks

Since posting that piece on LPR about the horse chestnuts, I've been fielding questions about animal smells. Seems some people are a little nauseated at the prospect of using poo diddy and snoop doody in their concoctions. So let's do a little rundown of the more common, and in some cases illegal and unethical animal aromas, shall we?

First up, horse chestnuts. Not illegal. Not unethical. Not from the buttocks area of the animal. No. It's a toenail. A waxy, greasy-smelling, ultra-strong horsey aroma derived from the elbow area of a horse. Sans the leather tack smell. Tenacious scent that must be diluted -- a lot. Base note. Definitely a base note.

Hyraceum. Not illegal. Not unethical. Straight from the bowels of the hyrax, this stuff is the shit, literally. With a little piss thrown in for good measure. Also quite the tenacious scent. High dilution is required. Smells like the elephant pen at the zoo. Another base note. Or fixative.

Goat-- stuff. Not illegal. Not unethical. Derived from the hair of a smelly goat, or sometimes from tinctures of a strong goat cheese. Smells goaty. High dilution recommended. Base note or fixative.

Ambergris. Illegal in some countries. Beach combed ethical; killed whale unethical. It's puke. Smells like seaweed and halitosis and mustiness. High dilution recommended. Primarily a fixative.

Civet. Illegal. Unethical. The anal exudate of a weasel-like creature of the Viverridae family. Not poop, but close enough. Fecal smelling. Strongly fecal smelling. Base note and fixative.

Musk. Illegal. Unethical. The stricken "pods" of a male musk deer. Some say the pods can be removed or scraped or something without harming the deer -- let's allow someone to scrape your pod and see how painless it is, 'k? Musky (duh), deep, fecal smell. Also warm. High dilution required. Fixative and base note.

Castoreum. Not illegal. Unethical? Beaver butt sac sauce. Smells like it sounds. Fixative. Base note.

We've covered the basics with regard to animal aromas. It should be noted that some of these animal contributions are also used as flavoring agents, some as medicinals. So when someone tells you to go eat shit, you'll know exactly in which direction to head toward.

WINNER! Of a bottle of Bella Cimitero~

Congratulations to Anna in Edinburgh!

Thank you to all who entered the giveaway. Please check back again as I will be adding more giveaway items (have a new perfume coming out soon, so a bottle will be up for grabs).

Anna, please contact me at with your address.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


This is my first shot at making limoncello, the favored Italian after-dinner summer drink. It turned out perfectly, though there were moments when I thought I'd screwed the pooch -- like when it went all cloudy and syrupy after sitting in the freezer for week. But it turns out that's exactly what it's supposed to do. I've been experimenting with perfumery in food for a while, and while this isn't strictly "perfumey", it is flavored with a common perfume ingredient, and I made it in organic grape alcohol, the same alcohol I use in my perfume. So it's relative.

I copied about a dozen variations of limoncello recipes before starting the project. I also toyed with the idea of throwing in something extra, like maybe a few clove buds to give the drink a winter appeal, or a vanilla bean or two, or rose hips, rose petals, or creating the simple syrup using a floral hydrosol, jasmine or osmanthus, or even a tea infusion. But in the end, I stuck with the basic limoncello.

Since I was using an organic alcohol, I decided to also use organic lemons and organic sugar for the syrup portion of the project. Some recipes call for an 80 day "stewing" period before drinking. I think this has been going on for about 60 days now. By the holidays, when the limoncello will debut, it will be the appropriate 80 days plus a few days, give or take a month.

Recipe for limoncello:

3 cups organic grape or grain alcohol (95% alcohol)
rind of 30 small to medium sized lemons (the yellow peel, none of the pith)

Let this duo marry for 15 or 20 days in a large (gallon) clean glass jar with a tightly fitting lid, and keep in a cool, dark place, then add:

3 cups organic sugar
3 cups water (or if you're adventurous, as I was not this time around, use a floral or citrus or herb hydrosol or a floral green tea infusion)

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and set it to boil; boil for at least 10 minutes, stirring constantly, to create a simple syrup compound; when cooled, add the simple syrup to the jug of alcohol/lemon peel, stir well and store again for 15 to 20 days

Strain the concoction through a coffee filter or clean cheesecloth to remove all the peel and store the clean limoncello in the freezer in flip-top bottles

After soaking for a few more weeks, test the batch by pouring a small bit into a shot glass. You're checking for bitterness. If there is no bitterness, then you did it right.

I'm planning to add shots of limoncello to sparkling water to cut the alcohol. I'm not much of a drinker, so I'm a little bit frightened at the prospect of actually drinking the limoncello. I'm definitely giving away little bottles of the stuff to family as gifts. The brave ones. I've heard it can be poured over ice cream. I don't know. Contemplating a buzz from a bowl of ice cream . . .

Next time I make it, I'll be experimenting with more flavors, maybe using some grapefruit hydrosol in the syrup, or tossing in rose petals or a few drops of rose eo during the first step stewing. Rose and lemon go well together.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gotta get off the box

I spend a great deal of time "researching" and "touching bases" here on this box. Daily. I fall down a lot of rabbit holes and spend hours down there, my self-allotted amount of time on the box being eaten up by squirreling away obscure perfume formulation junk. Files. On the box in files, printed pages stacked high, slipping across the workbench, covering other important discoveries.

Puts a dent in formulation time. Loads of ideas in the head, more than I can ever actually create, and made more impossible by the amount of time I spend on the box.

Gotta get off the box. Have a new art show coming up in November and have to have something to show, have some evaluations to catch up on, have-- just stuff to do!

Animal Essence ~ Horse Chestnuts at LPR

A new article by Lisa Abdul-Quddus at LPR -- Horse Chestnuts. Good read.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


The newest perfume on the building block is a gingered amber. It is complete, having been formulated two or three years ago. For whatever reason I have put off rebatching. Perhaps the reason may have something to do with the amber base used in the formulation. It's mine. I created it. A full 4 oz bottle of "amber accord" was created after months of trial and error, then stashed away to mature. Stashed so well, in fact, I only just found it again last night. It's that procrastination thing raising its head again . . .

Ambers are tricky little things. Nearly all the ambers sold on the market claiming to be 100% natural aren't. So we, the NBP's, are left formulating our own, twisting and folding the notes to suit our tastes or a particular formula. The basics of amber are simple ~ there must be labdanum, a bit of benzoin, and some vanilla. The rest is up to the individual perfumer to create something stunning. Rose is also quite common in ambers, as is clary sage absolute. Tonka, sandalwood, balsams and resins -- all contribute to amber's specific scent profile. Some daring NBP's add ambergris for a truer amber profile.

The amber I created 3 years ago is very simple, containing only six raw materials. When using this accord, I flesh it out a bit more, adding more materials to create a new amber accord, depending upon how the perfume the amber goes into is to be perceived.

It's easy and it's not. What would you put into your amber base?



Clary Sage Absolute?
Rose Otto?

Well, this list could go on for miles.

Jinko and Me

I received these samples of jinko and sandalwood from varying suppliers, some directly from Japan, from a friend and student perfumer. I opened the sandalwood samples first (though these technically aren't "samples" as they are the size and shape of what one would use to burn, though the larger sandalwood piece would need to be broken down a bit) and was utterly dumbstruck by the richness and full creamy texture that only a true sample of sandalwood can issue. The larger piece from "Ross" smells similar to the heart wood oil of a vintage Mysore sandalwood I possess. I don't get woody notes from sandalwood at all, but a creamy sweet softness, a buttery-ness that digs deeply into your olfactory stash and pulls up memories of sensual encounters you imagined you had.

The two smaller thin blocks of sandalwood from Shoyeido are a bit different. They are spicy. Edible. This is a sandalwood one might grind and sprinkle over confections and eat slowly, savoring every sweet, creamy, spiced bite.
The jinko. Studying the Shoyeido sample of jinko evoked a slight visceral response -- a tingling in the stomach, like a trickle of adrenalin. A downward tumble, a drop on a roller coaster.

Opening and studying the Yamadamatsu sample, however, evoked an even stronger response, awakening something primal. Elation. A full body tingle, like touching the skin of an angel or god.

These go into the scent library, to be opened for future study and comparison to more contemporary and common pieces.

I can hardly find words to describe these woods.


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