Saturday, January 30, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
If you don't have a fancy schmancy scent strip holder, try gluing those little crafter's clothespins (the crocodile ones with springs) onto popsicle sticks and stick them in the sand too. Then just clip on the scent strip.
Fact: lab filter paper is optimal for filtering finished perfume and eau compositions (you can get them on ebay and they're used for filtering wine), but don't expect the composition to flow through like it does when you use thinner coffee filter paper -- what takes moments through a coffee filter paper will take an hour or more through a lab filter paper.
The Natural Perfume Academy, aka Nature's Nexus Academy of Perfuming Arts, is now accepting applications for the next year-long course round which starts May 2010.
Your tuition includes a 55+ essence evaluation kit and a completely updated workbook, and an essence blending kit of the most popular raw materials used in perfume making, as well as mentoring and tutor guidance, and course units which cover the topics of history, safety, glossary of terminology, perfumer's studio equipment, perfumer's palette of raw materials, notes, accords and chords, fragrance family classifications, evaluation methods, master code sheets for included evaluation kit, creation and composition of perfumes, trial studies, dilution facts, advanced perfumer's tools, information on tinctures, evulsions, infusions, et al, perfume strength, and much more.
For more information, contact Ruth here.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Diluting, filtering and decanting perfumes today ~ oh, joy! ~ how I've missed that.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
That's the mantra I've been saying to myself since October 2008. It'll get better because worse is unthinkable, unimaginable, though often worse would come and the bar for what was unthinkable would be set higher -- 'how much more crap can you handle?', the Universe would ask.
What could be so bad, right? The condensed, cleaned-up PG version goes like this ~ it began with the death of a patriarch, then merged into a runaway child, two attempted suicides, a calm period of five months when everyone was on tenterhooks waiting for the next moment of mania, and it came in the form of more passings -- a brother whose death came as a huge shock, and two physically distant cousins, both plagued by years of depression and drug addiction who passed because of their lifestyle choices; another runaway, a trip to the looney bin (I apologize for my lack of tact in that description, but that's what it was), and a job loss. A karmic attack. But that's not apt, none of these things happened directly to me, as it were, I was just an unwilling witness, plus I haven't done anything to earn all this bad karma. And I know this is going to sound trite, but what's kept me hanging on by my fingernails was this, creating things, expressing sorrow and anger and love through perfume. Though I haven't sat down and really dug my hands into perfumery in a long time (since about October 2008), I've never, not even for a moment, stopped thinking about it, writing about it, longing for it. During those long dark months, I filled notebooks with experiments, evaluations, ideas, stories, inspiration to keep me going, words I could look back on after the storm passed and maybe bring some of the writing to fruition. That's where I am now. But, I don't for a second believe the crap storm is over. Because it's never over. Not for any of us.
I am an optimist. Really, I am. Even after all of the stuff that's happened to our family, we're all still here, some of us, nurturing one another, helping one another. I see this happening, too, with Haiti. The strength of spirit Haitians possess is inspiring. And it makes the fire of personal tragedy dim somewhat. There are always going to be people in situations far worse than our own. And my heart goes out to them.
One thing I am truly grateful for is my choice to extract myself from the politics of this business. This business being perfumery. My friend Ana likes to say that soap making is a dirty business, and I agree, but an even dirtier business is that of the Natural Botanical Perfume community. So I've shifted my attention from the negative aspects of NBP and placed them on the more positive aspects ~ like the perfumers who throw open the doors of their homes and allow in virtual strangers to stay with them a while, the perfume friends who share their pizza and persimmons and cheese and perfumed sweets and wine and great conversation, and, yes, a bit of snarking; the icons of aromatherapy and perfumery inviting me (me!) in to experience a first-hand accounting of NBP history. There is great beauty and love in all of this.
And that is what Natural Botanical Perfumery is truly about, and my hope for the future is that change is stable. That walking on perfume politics' eggshells changes to open communication and acceptance of responsibility. I told you I was an optimist.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Got a call from the place where I teach my perfumery workshops and they want to add a soap making class to the roster, sooooo . . . . yeah, guess I'll be updating the workbook for the soap making course as well.
Just as with writing or research, once you start formulating perfumes, your inspiration and spark just arrives, one observation after another, one rabbit hole after another until you find yourself popping out on another continent; there's no waiting around to be struck with divine understanding, you discover inspiration through the work. And through diligence. Maybe that is the divinity of inspiration after all.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This is the perfumery hutch as it appears today. If you look back a few posts, you'll see how it started out a couple of weeks ago. You see what a few days of digging through boxes and cabinets of perfumery wares gets you? Something else overflowing with precious items. My studio is beginning to resemble an antique store. And this other photo ~ the one with all the little 5ml dropper bottles? That's what a blending bench looks like after a 35lb garage door is ripped from its hinges and crashes down on it ~ I actually cleaned up the broken glass from an antique apothecary bottle (boo hoo) ~ but the rest, the dust, the scattered mess, the tweaked organ -- all that is original post garage door mishap. You don't even want to know what forces caused the door to do what it did. All. On. Its. Own. (Can you hear the music from The Twillight Zone playing?)
It's not the easiest thing to do, cleaning a space like this, when there's perfume to bottle, sites to update, pictures to take (yes!), and studying to do. Spagyrics are on the roster, and I have to admit, some of it is a bit over my head. But I'm the determined sort, so I imagine with a little more focused concentration and a more peaceful atmosphere (five people live in this house and are in and out all day long with their various and sundry daily dramas playing out), I'll work it all out. It's fascinating stuff. My point is, the studio is still in a transitional, yet usable, stage.
I've discovered, to my dismay, that the cats enjoy sipping water from the ultrasonic, even when they have a perfectly clean and full water bowl available; they love climbing over the oldest of books in my collection and batting at the book marks sticking out of them, and generally squeezing themselves into the tiniest of nooks between hutch and cabinet and boxes and scratching and clawing at stuff until the sound is unbearable. At any given time, you can hear me shouting, "Get out!" and see three not even remotely bothered cats sauntering out of the studio. I get them back, though. I take my time chopping up their chicken while they meow and hop and chirp and beg on the floor, and all the while I'm laughing in their fuzzy, pathetic little faces. Cats are an impatient lot.
As many wonderful things as I've rediscovered, some formulations that were done yet forgotten, a few antique bottles, some mini perfume bottles tucked away in a box, I've yet to find the apple blossom concrete I've hoarded all these months ~ I think I used it in a demo box for a perfume workshop a few months back, but I'm not certain. Regardless, I've searched in all the usual places and have yet to find it. It's one of my library pieces and I'm very upset that it's missing. Perhaps I'll find it yet as the studio still holds a few secrets.
Enter to win the Kaufman book a few posts down ~ it's one of the prettiest of coffee table books that actually has usable perfumery information in it. Just drop a comment in the comments section of that post and you're in the drawing. Drawing deadline: January 31, 2010 ~ good luck!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
You celebrate, right? Last night we went to see the band my son is in, Dislodic, as you can see from the previous post. They were amazing, as usual. And getting better every time I hear them. Not your average garage band. Not a garage band at all. A group of real musicians who are dedicated to their craft, and perfectionists, every one. I see good things on the horizon for them.
So, aside from that plug, things are going well verging on extremely crazy busy -- just the way I like it! There are some interesting new things to sniff out there ~ White Lotus Aromatics has vetyver co-distillations that sound fabulous -- vetyver and mitti, vetyver and rose, vetyver and ginger lily, vetyver with kewda, vetyver with jasmine, vetyver with tuberose ~ it's a smorgasbord of vetyver!
The perfume sales are going very well. Surprisingly well, in fact. I've noticed that a lot of Natural Botanical Perfumers are offering their wares in smaller packages with significantly smaller price tags attached, which, while they may not be too happy about that, you who have hesitated purchasing Natural Botanical Perfumes, because of that higher price tag, can now rejoice. Here's your opportunity to get your hands on some of the finest perfumes ever made. And I'm not just saying that because I also make Natural Botanical Perfumes. I really mean it. While I have been known to enjoy a shot of synthetically styled perfumed, I still find much more enjoyment from a well-crafted Natural Botanical Perfume. They know when to sit down and shut up without threatening them with a shower and a scrub.
Gearing up to make more soap ~ I'm getting more and more requests for them, and it amazes me that I almost gave it up. The most lauded soaps to date are the Poppymint (poppy seeds, peppermint and spearmint with lots of cocoa butter in the base), and the salt and clay soap. The salt and clay soap was a surprise. It lasts forever, and my best customers for this soap are people with terrible skin conditions -- acne, excessively oily skin, rosacea. Soap. Still one of my favorite things. Also still not going into mass production. Sucks all the enjoyment out of making a beautifully crafted, luxurious natural soap. My life is a series of limited editions . . .
Friday, January 15, 2010
This is how my son's Princess Chicken from the Chinese food restaurant up the street looked when it arrived. Without thinking, as is his usual MO, my husband pulls it from the bag and asked, "Who's eating the carton of prick?"
Don't forget to enter the drawing for the Kaufman Perfume book . . .
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Enter for the drawing the win the coffee table book "Perfume" by William I. Kaufman, with perfume making instruction by Jean Carles, loads of fantastic photos, and great information about perfume in general. This copy is a bit beaten up, has no cover, as shown in this picture, but is perfectly readable.
To enter, just add a comment here, then on, oh, say, January 31st, I'll randomly draw the winner's name and announce it here, send the winner an email to get your address and your Kaufman will be mailed to you. How hard is that?
I'm sorry, but the giveaway is limited to those living within the US only as shipping outside of the US and freakishly expensive.
It seems ages since I sat down and really put my back into formulating. Yes, I've made "stuff" in the past year or so, but I haven't truly formulated. I think Khamsa Eau Fraiche was the last real perfume project I worked on with any kind of heat in my soul -- well, maybe the scented masks, as those were truly inspired. Just as a writer gets writer's block, a perfumer can get perfumer's block. Getting blocked is not a good feeling, especially when perfumery is your bread and butter. Something has to fall away, like stress and insecurities, or some spark needs re-igniting. For me the spark has come in several forms ~ discovering all those lovely perfume formulations I'd put away when I didn't feel like working anymore, watching the hyacinth's gathering steam in their pots, readying themselves for a warm spring day in which to burst out of the soil. The hyacinth's are amazing -- the tips of their green leaves have breached the soil and haven't seemed to move in weeks, but slowly the purple flower head is growing in size, though the color of the buds is less purple and more gray/black. Another inspiration to getting back to the bench are some great raw materials ~ vetyver codistilled with champa, vetyver codistilled with jasmine sambac. Watching the studio coming together has helped inspire me. The shelving units are up, the books are in place, the miniature perfume bottle collection in place, the antiques are in position -- it looks fabulous, and it makes me want to hurry and get the rest done. At this pace, the studio will be ready for guests by May. Perhaps earlier if I get a bug in my bum. Lighting is an issue. The studio is very dark. Which is good for the work being done here, but not so good for getting work done here. Ah, well. It's getting there.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Friday, January 08, 2010
The newest edition to the family is Lucy Clementine, an adorable little ginger kitty with orange eyes and a fat, round head. My daughter kept her a secret in her bedroom for two days before she was discovered, thinking we'd want to get rid of her if we knew she was there (we already have three cats), but the minute we saw Lucy, we fell in love. She's a compact little dynamo who hasn't yet learned the house rules and is always getting run out of the studio for one thing or another ~ unplugging the computer, batting packaging popcorn across the floor (after digging it out of the dispenser bag), squeezing her fat butt cheeks between two boxes and thinking she's hiding, even though said fat butt cheeks are sticking out with attached twitching tail slithering back and forth, dragging packaging ribbon around chair legs, chewing tape, knocking books onto the floor. I think all the activity in the studio has her curious and I just keep uncovering more and more interesting things for her to play with. She's also taken to stealing my chair. As soon as I get up to do something, Lucy hops up in my computer chair and sprawls like she knows I'm coming back and she's making sure there isn't a square inch of seat for me to use. I'm sure once she figures out there really isn't much going on in here, she'll find something else to do, like irritate the other cats, which she's very good at. Yesterday I caught her sitting in the food dish hissing at Olive, one of the other kitties, when Olive approached for a nibble. Olive just looked at Lucy like, 'WTF?!' and ambled off.
Cats are funny people.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
"After Inventory Sale:
We have flat out toooooo much of some products. (What was I thinking?) To lower overstocks we are putting the following essential oils on sale: Cold pressed Organic Bergamot, Cold pressed Organic Clementine Rind, Elemi, Eucalyptus Smithii, Fir Balsam, Guiacwood, Himalayan Lavender, Distilled Lime, Green Mandarine, Ravensara Aromatica, and Tagetes. All are offered in 15 ml (retail) and 4 ounce bulk sizes, at the steepest discounts we have ever offered. Because they are so highly discounted, no other Nature's Gift discount may apply. How long will each remain on sale? I don't know. When the supply on hand reaches some yet to be determined amount. We haven't decided yet."
I'd recommend the organic clementine, green mandarin, tagetes, fir balsam, guiac ~ heck, buy one of each!
No matter. The job is progressing at a fairly decent clip and though I haven't discovered any rare gems I'd forgotten or lost, I am having fun reacquainting myself with space. I may have enough of that left over when this project's done that I can slip a little futon couch in here so I can curl up and nap during a particularly exhausting session at the bench.
I did find a brand new calligraphy book that I don't remember getting. Those kinds of things always scare me. What was I thinking when I picked that one up? And why don't I remember wanting to do calligraphy so badly I bought a book? I also found a bible written in farsi. How do I know it's a bible if it's written in farsi? Why, the pictures, of course!
I had another go at the shortbread. This time I substituted the petitgrain sur fleur neroli with a really lovely organically grown lavender oil. Again, I got the ooh, it tastes like soap responses, but I did notice that the batch went very quickly and there was a lot of dunking going on. They must like how soap tastes.
I created a formulation for Valentine's inspired by Czeche and Speake's Neroli eau de toilette (I had a bottle which I gave away as a gift to someone who can well tolerate smelling like that all day), with a few twists ~ I added an aged oudh tincture and a little bit of a gardenia infusion oil, and a few drops of honeyed osmanthus absolute. Been using the ultrasonic to speed maturation and thus far it is quite pretty.
So, been busy on many fronts. As it should be. Better this than staring bleary-eyed at MTV Cribs all day.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
For more information on their story and struggle, visit their website/blog, and if the urge hits you, donate.
The need is still there, and the gratitude is abundant.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Got a good portion of the studio "done up". Freed up a lot space and am in the process of filling it up again with running projects. I'm getting there. When I'm in too far, I just ring a bell so they can find me.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Friday, January 01, 2010
Happy New Year.