Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sometimes It's As Easy As . . .


. . . step one, step two, step three times the diameter of your big toe, plus the number of square inches that comprise Alaska, divided by the square root of a hair root, minus a cockatoo.

Figuring out how to build a website on your own is like that. Exactly. And I'm allergic to feathers.

A nice man at the web hosting company I'm using called literally a minute-and-a-half after I signed on asking if I needed assistance. At the time I didn't because all I did was sign up, I wasn't even in the building mode. Besides, I haven't read the 1462-page easy set-up manual yet.

I hate liars.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Neroli Portugal/Lemon Blossom/Leaves Hydrosol Experiment







Champaka

People often ask me where does my inspiration come from, and I don't know what to say. It comes from everywhere, it comes from different places, it comes from stuff. For example, a nice young lady recently asked me if I could replicate her favorite incense, an Indian blend that she can't find anywhere anymore. All she has as an example, and not a really close example, are some incense sticks, so she sent me a few. I can't describe my elation at knowing exactly what was in those sticks, even though they are surely at least 80% synthetically blended. As soon as I opened the package of incense, I "got" champaca, then magnolia, the greenish smelling stuff, alba or something, then I got cananga and vanilla and sandalwood and inspired! The young lady wants a green twist, something a little darker, with a little dirt in the mix. This is an extrait.

Inspiration, in this case, came from an incense stick.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Perfumer's Work is Never Done


Since I'm just as likely to win the lottery as I am to be crushed by a vending machine, per the odds reported by the illustrious and ever vigilant champions of "real news", Yahoo! News, I suspect sticking with what I'm doing is the best course of action at this time. Until I win the lottery. Or until I get crushed under a potato chip machine at the rest stop just south of Modesto, at which point, none of this will matter.

Just discovered to my absolute and utter horror that a full liter bottle of Khamsa eau Fraiche evaporated into the ether. Either that or the cats drank it. I don't know what happened to it. It has been sitting in its dark cupboard for months, maturing, its cap tightly screwed down, and then a few days ago, I took it out and saw swill at the bottom of the bottle! Swill! Nice smelling swill, I admit, but SWILL! So now I'm off to gather the bits and pieces of aromatic loveliness that make up Khamsa and start over again.

I'm not one of those independently wealthy Natural Botanical Perfumers who laughs off spilling an ounce of rose otto on their laps like they spilled a little seltzer water. I once scrimped and saved and bought a fine amount of vanilla absolute only to have the aluminum container it arrived in explode and spew vanilla all over my blending desk. Okay, it didn't really explode. There was a tiny pin hole in the bottom of the container and the contents leaked out over months -- no spewing either. It just sounds more dramatic when your raw materials have a life of their own and do things to you on purpose.

My point is that losing this stuff HURTS, dammit!! First my pocket book, and second, my heart. I mean, I get really attached to this stuff, they're like my little friends, my buddies. I remember crying once when I decanted a liter of patchouli and spilled an ounce or so all over my arm -- why? Because I had to wash it off! In my wildest dreams I'd love to bathe in patchouli oil, hell, show me a slip'n'slide covered in patchouli oil and I'm there! No, I cried because I had to wash it off. Because I had to use a kitchen towel to wipe up what dribbled onto the table and couldn't really make use of a kitchen towel as a fashion accessory. If I had used my shoes, for example, or my purse to wipe up the patchouli, I'd have been one happy perfumer! I have to admit, after washing the kitchen towel with the other kitchen towels, my kitchen towels, and my kitchen for that matter, smelled heavenly. Just as it did when the al embic vomited frankincense sludge all over the cabinets . . .

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Introducing . . .

Workbook

For sale at The Scented Djinn Etsy Apothecary ~ here.

If I Had a Dime . . .

. . . for every time I've been notified that I won the Irish Lottery, I'd be a dimillionaire! Yeah, that's right, me and all my jiggling change, stinkin' up the place. You know how much patchouli oil I could buy with that?!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Neroli Portugal

Not the same as neroli neroli. Comes from sweet orange blossoms, smells a bit different from the bitter orange neroli, y'know, the neroli we're all so very familiar with? Neroli Portugal is considered an adulterant in bitter orange neroli.

I'll have to evaluate it more thoroughly once it's dispelled the still notes as there is beginning to be quite the oil slick forming on the hydrosol.

I've mixed Neroli Portugal with lemon blossoms and leaves from both the sweet orange and lemon trees. I'm not disappointed, but this is proving to be quite different from what I've worked with before. It smells good enough to eat, and I'm thinking a soft fluffy cake with this hydrosol and vanilla tincture, and a cream frosting made with a little lemon juice and rind? Oh, yeah, now that's a spring dessert!

Vintage, Antiques and Limitations


Sometimes I think I've perfumed myself into a corner. I've hundreds of perfume materials to work with, though I covet and adore the rarest -- the 65-year-old Mysore sandalwood, the hyacinth evulsion, the orris root evulsion *slash*antique orris resin co-blend, and even, dare I say it, the 2 ounces or so of four-year-old 25% ambergris tincture. I find myself too willing to work with them, but I don't want to use them up! I simply cannot help myself. I'm looking at the downside (the half empty, not the half full) bottles of aromatics I will never possess again once they're gone. I'm known for creating limited editions, whether it be parfum, body butter or soap. And I do this because I tend to get bored making the same thing day in and day out. Even if I were to make, say, a lavender soap, and a customer reordered the same lavender soap, they're very likely, positively likely, to get something a little different than what they got the first time around. I like to kick things up a notch, add a little sizzle and flav'a' to the mix. And I also do this because I relish working with rare raw materials of limited accessibility. I dream of a day when I can formulate a parfum or eau exactly the same way as its original, but because I use things I cannot easily replace, I perfume myself into a corner. I envy you perfumers who can make vats of scent which seem to last forever. I really do.

And Thus, It Begins . . .



The blossom and leaf distillation ~ branches from a sweet orange and a lemon tree full with buds and waxy bloomed white flowers. Most of the blossoms fell off the branches during transport from the farm to home, so I'll be scooping them out of the bottom of the bag by handfuls and loading them into the retort first. Then the chopped leaves and smaller twigs.



All this blooming bodes well for the copper al'embic.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ms. Laurie! A Review of Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Parfums


I just can't help myself! I love Laurie so much and seeing her great review over at Perfume Smellin' Things really made my day (and my week, perhaps even my month).

You go, hedgewitch!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Has Sprung, So Please Make It Stop Raining

Just when everything around here was blooming and smelling up the place, the monsoons came again and washed the garden away . . . and it's expected to rain more today. It's really put the brakes on the picking and plucking and distillation planned for the month, but I can live with that. We desperately need the water. I think this is the first time in at least five years that the Central Valley's gotten 100% of its normal rainfall.

Yesterday I distilled some French lavender. I got quite a lot of oil, a few mls, actually, and about four cups of lovely hydrosol. I won't be siphoning off the essential oil because there really isn't enough to do anything with, and because it smells so much better in the hydrosol. Again, as people circulated in and out of the house, I was fielding questions about the distillation unit -- someone called it a "machine". No moving parts on "the machine", just heat and burping, sputtering effluvia of aromatic gorgeousness.

Still waiting for the lemon blossoms to bloom. I run out to the farm every other day checking them, still, they're tightly closed, their heavy petals brushed with shades of violet, holding tight to the scent I want to steal. The old, antique lilac bushes on the farm bloomed for the first time in almost 20 years! Four solid arrows of lush purple blossoms bursting with heavenly scent. I was tempted to pick them, but decided against it as the garden needed the scent boost more than I did, neglected as it's been these past few decades. I'll post pictures of the back garden on the farm someday. There's also an orange tree in the back garden that hadn't had oranges in almost 10 years and mom pulled a dozen off it this past January, and now the tree is covered in white flowers and smells like bliss.

Mum's a green witch, for sure. Give her a stick, and she'll make it grow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Natural Botanical Perfume Course


The 2010 Natural Botanical Perfume Course at NNAPA (Natural Perfume Academy) is just about to close the door on new applicants, so if you're interested, now is the time to act!

Parfum


A few things occurred to me over the past weekend: 1) I am about 97.37321% obsessed with perfume making, and 2) I hide that fact in my everyday, here life. Why? I guess for the same reasons I'm not chasing down Sniffa reps and prostrating myself before them for a review, or sending umpteen gazillion samples to a single blogger so I can be rated an accomplished and acclaimed NBP. Homey don't play that . . . very . . . well.

But I do admit that I have to step up my game. And so I have. A few samples of my unaccomplished and unacclaimed fabulous perfumes are now, as I write, jetting off to be sniffed by honest, hard-working perfumistas. If this is how it's got to be done, then by golly, I guess I'll do it! Watch out perfume sniffin' world, another pesky bell ringing NBP is on her way! And I need to talk about it more here at home -- not my house home -- my city home. There are a few places I can do free seminars and drum up some interest locally. Another out-of-my-comfort-zone project on the not too distant horizon.

'Nuff of that. After hours, literally hours and hours, of editing and reformatting, adding and removing photographs, and a whole bunch of other stuff, mostly to do with FONT sizes 'n' such, the workbook is finally --- finally! done. Well, not really done done, that'll never happen -- the last time I went in for a major edit, I expanded the original puny primer by 88 pages to a full-on workbook. Why? Because questions demand answers, that's why. Once the NNAPA course got going, I was fielding questions for which the primer had no answers, so I decided to put those subjects (q&a) into the workbook. This next course will demand the same, so next year's workbook will be expanded yet again. Until it no longer qualifies as a beginner's tool and becomes a comprehensive beginning to advanced (accomplished/acclaimed/award winning/boy, aren't you just the sh*t?!) workbook.

Remember a few months back I promised to do a little labdanum lab and share the results here? I'm to do the project with a sniff'a, not a mak'a of perfume, one of my partners in perfumed crime, Ms. T -- well, maybe that'll happen sometime after the beginning of the new course as ahm booked! Got a soap primer to write, and a soap class to teach, and then there's that online thing . . . and maybe planning a little perfumed tea party for the locals scheduled for some time in the fall . . . so that labdanum lab will probably be squeezed in between early summer and early fall. But I'm going to get the jump on it and share a little something about that creticus -- it isn't as gorgeous as I'd hoped it would be, BUT, not to put it down or anything, it works into perfume beautifully. When you sniff it compounded with other aromatics, you can't distinguish it as labdanum, it just melds into the compound and creates a subtle, sweet, slightly resinous ambery push. I'm wearing some on my wrist and it's almost like a perfume alone, multi-faceted. Okay, I take it back, it is pretty gorgeous!

The other afternoon I was testing perfumes on my wrists, stuff I'm working on, and I had the resident schnozzes take a sniff, and my son, the 21-going-on-22 dude said, "It smells like you, mom." I asked him to define what he'd just said, because clearly I wasn't getting it, and he said, "You smell like a stew pot of everything you make all the time, even when you don't put on perfume, you still smell like you're wearing it. Just your skin, though, your clothes smell like nothing." I don't know if I should be upset or happy about that. I remember my older not-living-at-home boys saying that to me, that my scent reminds them of home, and my scent is distinguishable from the air around me. And I rarely put on perfume. Usually only to test it. And it's always something different, so how is it I smell like what they're talking about all the time?

I guess it's better than smelling like cow pies.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Just For Fun

What do you think about polls?
They're stupid and I NEVER answer them
The questions are too difficult and I hurt myself trying to answer them
Polls are a government conspiracy
I always lie when I answer polls to throw off the results
I always answer the questions truthfully so as not to throw off the results
I don't understand the question
What the hell does this have to do with perfume?!
pollcode.com free polls

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Note to Self . . .

Self, remember this the next time you eat two baskets of strawberries for breakfast -- STRAWBERRIES ARE A DIURETIC!

Sneak Peek


What's happening in the perfumer's magazine/journal/digest . . .

Procrastinator!

My procrastination is catching up with me, and here I thought procrastination was a slow beast. I realized I was procrastinating in a dream last night. I haven't finished editing that damned workbook (I'm about halfway through) because I keep finding other things I've put off doing more interesting. In this dream I was explaining face-to-face to my current students why they haven't gotten their mentor's copies yet, making one excuse after another, when really, I just hadn't finished editing!

I suspect my day is planned with the red pen in hand. Plus my horoscope said to not do anything to "out there" today, whatever that is supposed to mean. So since editing isn't out there, just annoying and sometimes depressing (did I mention I edited and rewrote an entire 250 word page?), it's the chosen, critical, must-do daily deed.

"Smell is the weakest sense," said by a character upon walking into a charnel house (well, it was really a charnel trailer . . .) on a tv show I watched last night. Then he said something like, breathe normally through your nose and after a while you won't even notice the smell -- I believe that and I don't. I remember as a child going into a certain friend's house down the block and being hit by a wave of stale urine stench whenever the front door was opened. However, after being in the house a while, I couldn't smell the smell anymore, but my mother always knew where I'd been by the scent left on my clothes. On the other hand, being the only litter box cleaner-upper in the house, I can attest that no matter how many scoops are removed from the box, that smell lingers in the box's proximity. No getting used to that. I guess if I shoved my head into the opening of the litter box cave I'd get used to the smell after a while, but my cats would get really mad at me for hogging the john.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Perfume

Perfume making and selling is NOT an "if you build it, they will come" type endeavor. You have to peddle your wares, sell yourself, and sometimes be an annoying pest. I have a huge problem with this. I think it's a life theory I absorbed through osmosis living with my step-father from age five to 18. He's a brilliant man who won a full ride scholarship to a Texas university in the field of science, who instead decided to strike out and find his fortune in the wild, unruly West of a mid-1960's California. And that was perhaps the one and only bold move he ever made. Well, that and marrying my nutty mum. Since his arrival in CA, he'd held one mediocre maintenance type job after another, never asking for a raise. He felt that his good work would be rewarded by a grateful employer. Right. His good work was usually rewarded with higher work loads and trust in performing jobs for which he had no formal training -- carpentry, electrical, flooring, complex plumbing -- quite a lot for a simple fix-it man. But he did it, and he did it well, and he took any job that came his way, never setting his sights terribly high so as not to disappoint his boss, or perhaps himself. He even held a position as a grave digger until something better came along. Sadly, bitterness ruled the day, day in and day out, day after day, month after month, year after year, it was lamenting anger and empty threats to quit. All this was done at home. For us. His employers never knew how much he hated what they were doing to him. And still he never asked for a raise, never complained to his bosses, never stood up and said, "Hey, I'm doing the work of four employees, why not pay me what that's worth? Why not pay me a portion of what you'd have paid a plumber or an electrician or a carpet layer or a cabinet builder?" He simply held on to the notion that he would be rewarded for his passivity and ability to do a professional job. Asking was equal to begging. So, that's my little problem now. I know it isn't right, and I know I'm much, much better than I've been given credit for. But so few people have tried what I've created and that's partly my fault. And here are some excuses I use: In a world where one can throw a stick and strike at least one person calling themselves a perfumer, how can one compete? Where not only are there literally hundreds of modern synthetic perfumes on the market, there are also literally hundreds of Natural Botanical Perfumes on the market. Where the squeaky wheel gets greased, or forces someone into hiding, how is my less squeaky wheel to be heard? And how can I gently persuade someone to review my perfumes without making the abysmal mistake of stepping over the line and becoming an annoyance? Believe me, I make good perfume. Great perfume, in fact, but you wouldn't know that judging by a Google search. This is where all that talk of courage is tied into the theme of perfumery. I need it. Loads of it.

Sources: My Life

Zinc Gluconate

Yeah, I'm late on the bus on this one.

According to one study performed at the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, by scientists JH Lim, GE Davis, Z Wang, V Li, Y Wu, TC Rue and DR Storm, and released for publication October 30, 2009:

"Intranasal medications are used to treat various nasal disorders. However, their effects on olfaction remain unknown. Zicam (zinc gluconate; Matrixx Initiatives, Inc), a homeopathic substance marketed to alleviate cold symptoms, has been implicated in olfactory dysfunction. Here, we investigated Zicam and several common intranasal agents for their effects on olfactory function. Zicam was the only substance that showed significant cytotoxicity in both mouse and human nasal tissue. Specifically, Zicam-treated mice had disrupted sensitivity of olfactory sensory neurons to odorant stimulation and were unable to detect novel odorants in behavioral testing. These findings were long-term as no recovery of function was observed after two months. Finally, human nasal explants treated with Zicam displayed significantly elevated extracellular lactate dehydrogenase levels compared to saline-treated controls, suggesting severe necrosis that was confirmed on histology. Our results demonstrate that Zicam use could irreversibly damage mouse and human nasal tissue and may lead to significant smell dysfunction."

Read that carefully ~ NECROSIS and SIGNIFICANT SMELL DYSFUNCTION, people!

Earlier research conducted at the Departmtent of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, Colorado, published research conducted by scientists BD Jafek, MR Linschoten and BW Murrow (back in 2004) showed the following conclusion regarding the use of zing gluconate intranasally:

"RESULTS: Although interindividual variation in drug response and drug effect is apparent, the severe hyposmia or anosmia appears to be long lasting or permanent in some cases. The mechanism of olfactory loss is thought to be the direct action of the divalent zinc ion on the olfactory receptor cell. CONCLUSIONS: Zinc ions are toxic to olfactory epithelium. Reports of severe hyposmia with parosmia or anosmia have occurred after intranasal use of zinc gluconate."

Hyposmia is an impairment of the sense of smell, while parosmia is the ability to perceive odors which are not there.

The most common causes of anosmia (loss of the sense of smell) are aging, head trauma, sinusitis and a cold. Sometimes the anosmia persists and becomes permanent, more notably in cases of head trauma or sinusitus.

Zicam, the company that sold nasal swabs and gels containing the dreaded zinc gluconate, voluntarily pulled these items off the shelves, however, they still sell a cold sore gel containing zinc gluconate which is not intended for intranasal use. Zinc gluconate is still being sold in powder form, in pills and tablets as a cold remedy that is ingested orally. Wouldn't be a good idea to try and stick one of those up your nose to speed the demise of a cold.

If you have any of these topical, up-yer-nose gels or swabs, get rid of them. They've been off the market for quite a while, but I recently found an open box of the swabs in my bathroom, way back in a cabinet, that someone here almost used.

Losing your sense of smell is a devastating experience, even if it is temporary. If you can't smell food, you can't taste it either. You'll taste whether it's salty or bitter, sweet or sour, but you won't catch any of the nuance that makes food palatable. The rich, tart creaminess of a fresh, warm scone smothered in homemade lemon curd will taste like hot cardboard with a whisper of sweetness. The sense of smell is so intricately interwoven into our daily lives, we often barely notice it on a conscious level, even though our olfactory organ is sending signals to our brain in rapid fire succession which we perceive on a subconscious level. How many times have you become ravenously hungry after catching the barest whiff of some delectable food?

Intranasally ~ is that even a word? Yes, yes it is ~ it means "occurring within or administered through the nose".

Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/; http://www.zicam.com/products/faqs/fda; http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/parosmia; http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hyposmia

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Courage

You just have to suck it up.

EDITING, Editing, editing . . .



It's maddening. Nothing really glaringly incorrect about what I've written, just me being particular and changing words around, or restructuring a sentence so it flows better. It's amazing how different the workbook looks in tangible paper and binding. On the computer screen, it's -- I don't know, it's not real? I mean, it's locked up in a hard drive and I can't actually touch it. Published, it is real, and it seems less perfect than on the computer, it feels needful. And the formatting was wonky. I don't know if it's because the publisher effed up or if I had too many rockin' fonts going on and it threw off the formatting -- I've gone through and changed all the fonts, restructured the graphs (which I believe were also throwing things off), and made numerous editing changes (even before I got the hard copy). And now I'm down for another editing session, and then another, just to make sure, then I'm sending off for another draft . . . Oh, what the hell am I talking about? My perfume workbook, what else?

Cucumber Essential Oil?

There are still people out there selling this kind of stuff. Just saw it this morning -- a perfectly respectable small skincare company on Ets-- um, somewhere, selling natural soaps and skin elixirs and body butters also selling cucumber essential oil. Does somebody know something I don't know? Well, I'm sure you do, that was a rhetorical question -- when the eff did "they" start making cucumber essential oil? (also a rhetorical question).

Have a lovely naturally cucumber scented day! And while you're at it, top it off with some daisy and sunflower essential oil to ward off the rain . . . yeah . . . do that.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Woo hoo! First Copy of Workbook is Here (For Editing)

It's here! It's here! Wow, the photos are marvelous -- makes me wish I'd put in more! Three pages in and I already see a printing error -- shucks. Well, that's why I order a copy to edit, right? It's a hefty thing, too. My youngest son is all agog -- "You wrote this, mom? This is your book? Cool!" Okay, so as long as I'm cool with the kids . . .

Gone editing.

Back in the Day . . .

Back in the day, somewhere between 1996 and 1998, I made a lot of soap. Hundreds of pounds of soap. Truckloads. Some good, some bad, and some really effing awful. One thing I remember best about those days was the single-minded passion -- I couldn't wait to get home to create what I'd dreamed up during the day at work. While I answered phone calls from insurance investigators requesting medical and legal records on a client, half my brain was formulating the next big soap idea. I always felt like I was just toeing my way in the door of this wonderful art form, not all the way quite in it, just standing outside, looking through the cracks in the doorway because my time was split between work and family and my passion for soap making . . . I also remember listening to lots of Dave Matthews (to this day, certain songs take me right back to my poorly lit garage and the three, yes, three! picnic tables covered with drying soap), and the dizzy, loopy, even high feeling of being in a room with no ventilation surrounded by the cloying scent of a hundred different essential oils. My niece Leah and I would work tirelessly in the garage, mixing, pouring, cutting, stacking, all the while laughing like cackling hens because one, we were exhausted, and two, we were punch drunk on fumes!

Those were the days.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Smell Of . . .

Tequila ~ the smell of a good time gone bad . . . really, really bad

Marijuana ~ the smell of paranoia

Laundry soap ~ the smell of work

Dust ~ the smell of tea through a dirty screen

Wet dog ~ the smell of a big frickin' hassle

Cat pee ~ the smell of yowling fornication

Conducting Evaluations


Utilizing a fan set on the lowest setting to circulate the air, and leaving open a window in the room in which you are conducting the studies is sufficient for ventilation. Never work in a closed up room. You may find after a few evaluations that you are unable to distinguish between the scents you are evaluating, and you may even become dizzy or nauseated, as often happens. Take breaks.

Temporary loss of smell is a common condition when performing evaluations or other perfumery work.

As a Natural Botanical Perfumer, your nose is one of your most valuable tools, so keeping it healthy is important. If you are prone to sinus problems or live in a very dry environment, a Neti pot is a wonderful home health aid to help keep your sinuses clear and properly moisturized. Neti pots can be purchased inexpensively at drug stores (in the cold/sinus medication section) or online. Mountain Rose Herbs in the US sells a very nice ceramic Neti Pot for $12 USD. Do not use any nasal products which contain zinc gluconate as some consumer reports have shown a close association between zinc gluconate nasal gels and swaps as a contributing factor to permanent anosmia.

Don’t wear clothes which are heavily scented with laundry products while conducting evaluations, and, obviously, don‘t wear perfume. Or, you could do your evaluations naked. Maybe wear a necklace for propriety's sake. No scented beads, please. And call me. I'll come over to your house. With a camera. I need evaluation photos for the next edition of my workbook.

There are many ways to evaluate an essence, but the most effective way, if you’re using alcohol dilutions, is to drop a few drops onto your skin and allow the alcohol to burn off a bit, about 3 to 5 seconds, before sniffing the essence. If you’re using oil dilutions, allow the essence to warm and diffuse into the air around your skin then begin sniffing the essence. You will also use scent strips to evaluate essence, but it must be noted that you will not get a completely accurate profile of how a scent will diffuse and evaporate off the skin unless you conduct your evaluations on the skin at some point. You should also keep in mind that each person’s skin chemistry is different, and what you perceive from an evaluation on your skin may be entirely different on someone else's skin, so for a complete profile of the essence, it’s best if you use a combination of skin and strip tests to evaluate. Use only diluted materials for these evaluations, especially on skin evals as you can cause a chemical sensitization using whole raw materials. There was an uproar in the class when I presented this -- sensitization! sensitization! I had to remind them they were making perfume, y'know, the stuff you put on your skin? So, yeah, use your brain here -- dilute, and don't put anything on your skin you already know you're allergic to.

To use scent strips or squares for evaluation, drop a few drops of the diluted essence onto the strip, allow the alcohol to evaporate, about 5 seconds or so, and then sniff the strip by placing it as close to your nostrils as you can without touching your nose, and gently sniff it while slightly waving it under your nose. Immediately begin writing down your impressions. Compare them to the skin evals.

Because you will be using your skin as an evaluation medium, and many natural essences do not easily wash off, even with soapy water, you will have to restrict your evaluations to about five or six per day, so as not to mix the essences on your skin and contaminate the evaluation results. The top of your knuckle, just below your fingernail is a good place to drop the essence as you have five potential places on each hand from which to evaluate. Just don't overload. It's really easy to get the essences mixed up.


Remember to sniff gently. Don’t suck up the air like a vacuum, instead slowly and gently wave your scented hand or scent strip or bottle under your nose. I got a dressing down by a famous aromatherapist/perfumer when I huffed her bottle of aged benzoin ~ "waft, don't draft!" she said. Good advice, that.


The evaluation exercises will help you to remember an essence when you smell it again. It is a good idea to evaluate each essence at different dilutions ~ 1%, 10% and 20% ~ to get a better understanding of how dilution ratios can affect a finished perfume. Thanks, Lisa, for recommending that a few years back. Invaluable. Really.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Perfume ~ It's What This is All About, Right?

I know, right? So what do you care about my son's rock band or movie quotes that apply to my life or what the cover of my Natural Botanical Perfume workbook looks like? Though, at least that's about perfume . . .

Because it's just me. I'm not single mindedly pursuing perfume like it's the only thing in my life. It is a huge part of my life, for sure. But it's not everything. Blasphemy. I know. But that's just me too.

So what perfumey things have I been up to lately? Well, there is the workbook, and that project has taken up quite a lot of my time, since last October, in fact, and now that it's done, I'm at a loss -- what's next? Yes, there is the course in May, but what to do between now and then? Create perfume, definitely. Still working the kinks out of an amber eau de parfum I've been formulating and reformulating for at least two years now. Plus there's Dimi's brief. Oh, and what am I thinking? The perfumer's journal to be published within the next few months. I ordered a trio of minis from Victoria's Secret of their discontinued fragrance, Rapture. My daughter and son's girlfriend love the stuff. That's perfumey. Reformulated an eau de toilette to extrait strength for a special client -- what an adventure that was. Berated my 14-year-old-son for the eleventy-hundredth time about wearing "Bod". Ew. Evaluated my current student's brief submissions, which turned out spectacularly. Their perfume submissions, not my evals. The perfumes were all based on the same brief and their interpretations were vastly different yet each still holding onto the main theme of the brief. A few in particular were stunning. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little bit jealous of their talent.

So, it's still about perfume, but it's about life crap too. What do you want me to do? Pretend to be somebody else?

Dislodic Playing the Famous Cargo Hold of the Queen Mary

I apologize for the poor quality of the video, but Dislodic fans do their best to document as much as possible even if they're jumping up and down having a good time. This was Dislodic's first round in the Skinnie Magazine's Top 100 Unsigned Bands competition in Long Beach. Round two occurred in a hotel lounge in Long Beach, the next one is scheduled for April 24th in Santa Ana.

The band:

Daryl (mah babeeee boy!) on guitar (the long-haired dude in a green shirt)

Dr. Morty ~ the elusive, in the shadows drummer

Lisa ~ the ravishing Ms. Lisa on bass

Chris ~ concentrating on that guitar

Jimmy James ~ singing his little heart out

Thursday, April 08, 2010

What Have They Got That I Ain't Got?

Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion): Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?

All
: Courage!


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Natural Botanical Perfumery Course

If you've been sitting on the fence about taking a Natural Botanical Perfume course, now's the time to act. NNAPA (Natural Perfume Academy) is accepting applications for a year-long NBP course starting in May ~ deadline to turn in registration forms and pay course tuition is April 20, 2010.

For more information, go here.

Putting the Finishing Touches on Work Book

Finalizing the work book. At long last. There is a lot that I left out as I have to keep reminding myself that this is a beginner's work book. Just finished up the website portion of the sources/bibliography and there are over 45 web links in it! Now on to the written publications and then it's done -- off to the printers for a first-run copy with further editing, then - then - then it's done done. Until I start editing it again . . . It always happens. I'm never satisfied with how it turns out no matter how many months of work I put into it. I worry that some of it is too complicated, that other parts are too simplistic. As I said, I have to keep reminding myself that it's a beginner's work book.

Now to work on the soap primer . . .

Friday, April 02, 2010

Sh*t My Dad Says Success

One of my favorite blogs on the OTA blog roll is Sh*t My Dad Says (you can check it out by clicking the same name in the links section of the blog roll here) ~ and recently, Justin Halpern, the young man whose dad says all this sh*t, wrote and published a book on the subject (to be released May 4, 2010), and there is a television show in the works starring William Shatner as "dad" and someone who Justin says is something like a million plus times better looking playing his character.

I just think it's cool that someone could blog and twitter about real life, off the wall, funny, disgusting and irreverent as it is, and find success from it. Reminds me of Erma Bombeck. Regular folks seeing the ridiculous in every day life and making something out of it. Truly cool.

I bought the book as a gift for my mom for Mother's Day (yeah, that's coming up soon). She's kind of like Justin's dad and will find his observations and philosophies on life as hysterical and real as I do.

Good luck to the Halperns.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

STOP it already with the April Fool's jokes!

Okay, kids, you can quit now. I get it. I know it's April Fool's Day and you're ready and raring to go with the foolishness (as if that's different from any other date on the calendar for ya). Stop telling me you're pregnant, lost your job, going to jail, was expelled from school, broke your arm, had your car impounded, got a speeding ticket, and for crap's sake, stop asking me what day it is!!!!!

New Blog

On the OTA blog roll:

Perfume by Nature

Go read it ~ it's good.

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