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.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Follow Your Bliss

I just thought a little mood music would help inspire you. This is a post about falling into that bliss groove, finally, for once and for all finding what it is that makes you happy and following that trail to the end -- your end or its end.

Without harassment or bribery, good things are strutting straight toward me, directly on my path. I've made amends to people I've wronged, and blocked those who've spent an undue and obsessive amount of time dragging me down, and the doors have opened wide. I'm determined not to relive my past life by chasing the elusive (and risk freezing to death in the open, alone and utterly crushed -- another story for another time). I'll trod along my path and allow the elusive to find me. What is it they say? You can't force these things.

“Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.” Joseph Campbell (found down a rabbit hole at the Mystic Medusa blog). And I believe it.

Don't be afraid. Take a risk. My path is lined with resins, herbs and oils, flasks and aromatic history -- what's yours lined with?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NEWS FLASH! Again with the stupid corked minis!

Okay. I get it. I've discontinued the gorgeous corked djinn minis because the corks break and leak (even when wax sealed) and are generally just pieces of crap. Cute crap. And I apologize again for the labeling debacle. One of the few times (because I'm a control freak of sorts) I allowed someone to help me in the studio and labels went missing and bottles shipped without being properly identified . . . oh, it was a mess. Fortunately a few of you with fabulous noses were able to figure it out and go on your merry way. Well, you all did, what am I saying?

I'm saying I screwed up! Yes, me. Unbelievable, isn't it?

And I'm sorry.


(call me)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 2, Sunday @ Intermountain

Was a bit warmer. Wore a hat this time, though the damage had already been done (see previous post about sunburn). Set up the table at a different slant so it could be seen better from around the corner. Sold more soap than Saturday. And, again, the place was crowded! I have never seen crowds like this at Intermountain before. It was almost like a city craft show held in the convention center. The music was wonderful. They even had belly dancers-- well, a belly dancer.

Sold out of Poppymint, but I already knew that was going to happen. Also sold out of Kashmir. Once I go through the box I'll be posting the "leftovers" on Etsy. These are all top drawer soaps made with all organic base oils. It's just how I roll.

Took my mom as my booth partner this year and what a lifesaver that was. My mom's an amazing lady. She'll be 69 this year on December 28th (or 29th, depending upon whether you believe her mother or her birth certificate) and she's still as spry and lively as a 20-year-old. She's survived cancer, a crap marriage of 35 years and raising three nutty kids -- I'd say those are quite the accomplishments. Now single and living her second life, it's as if she's started from the beginning again. She goes dancing, spends time with friends and family on the coast, raises a huge vegetable garden, grows the most amazing plants from sticks and twigs she finds on the ground (really, she's a green witch of sorts), and now more recently, a saleslady for The Scented Djinn. She had a blast Sunday talking with customers, shooting the bull with a few friends who showed up, dancing, eating pears fresh from the mountain trees, smoking her electric cigarette. Yes. Ye olde electric cigarette may well be saving her life. As a 20+ cigarette a day smoker for over 40 years, mom's on the fake ciggy wand and loves it. She's down to 7 real cigarettes a day. We're shooting for zero. She even made an effort to dress for this event, finding her most flowy hippie-like blouse, for which she received more than one compliment. Stalwart with a grand sense of humor, that's mom.

The day seemed to fly by. Sales were hopping. Mom was hopping. It was good. The best part about having a smaller display is that there is less junk to pack and drag back to the car at the end of the day.

I sold one bottle of perfume~ yay!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Harvest Arts & Peace Festival

Today is the day. So is tomorrow. The annual Intermountain Nursery Harvest Arts & Peace Festival begins at 10 am this morning and ends at 5 pm tomorrow evening. I'm packing lightly this year -- mostly soap and only a small handful of "anointing oils". And a sign-up sheet for workshops, lectures and classes. I will take lots of pictures and post them here after a rest-up. Scrambling around making sure everything is in order is exhausting. Especially when your subconscious knocks on your sleeping brain's door and walks through with a bang, a conscious entity now, reminding you as you jolt from sleep that you've forgotten to pack chairs!

I believe I psyche myself out much too much before these things so that I'm nervous and worried throughout the show, perhaps scaring off potential (and relaxed) customers. I'm tampering the nervousness this year and I'm going to just relax and enjoy the environment -- live music, happy artists and the great outdoors.

Come on up and see us :)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Fire & Ice ~ in the span of 24 hours

The weather here in Central Cali has been strange, to say the least. Just four -- maybe five days ago, we were in the throes of a full-on heat wave with temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, plus about 70-75% humidity -- unusual weather for this desert terrain. Today is rainy, overcast, cold. Cold. The glacial ice phase began a couple of nights ago with booming thunder and lightening that turned the clouds pink with every flash. It's time to set the flip-flops into the closet to collect dust. Time to drag out the sneakers and locate the infamous family Bag-o-Socks.

What this weather is good for is introspection. I've been more productive with home improvement projects and checking off topics from the list of Perfume-Things-To-Do. The yard, however, is a tangled mess. The front lawn is beginning to grow over and it needs mowing and edging desperately, though with the steady drizzling of rain, that won't happen any time soon. The jasmine and honeysuckle have taken over the front garden, choking out the roses and naked ladies, smothering the crape myrtle. So all the work-about stuff comes inside. Too wet, too damp, too cold to prune or cut back or -- and, well, I wouldn't really want to anyway. I love my wild witch's garden.

There are changes coming to my business as well. I am currently in the process of changing the logo, making it more user (me) friendly. As beautiful as The Scented Djinn's djinni lady is in all her vintage glory, she is a difficult bit of artwork to manipulate into labels and other packaging. I've found myself using alternative vintage art nouveau style labeling options that don't perfectly reflect what I feel TSD is about. Bottling is also an issue and I hope to have that resolved soon as well. And the new website is still a work in progress. A distressing and frustrating work in progress.

In this time of changing seasons, I find that I must change as well. I must open up more. Be inspired and inspire more. Not judge so harshly. And, most importantly, fulfill my work with passion.

There is one last perfume to complete before I can rest up for the brief respite between this very moment and the rush of the "busy season". Rest. Now, isn't that a concept worth exploring?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

New Perfumery Blog

Parfum Phyto ~ currently writing on the beauty and art of listening to kyara. Fascinating read.


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