Saturday, December 31, 2011
Here's to a splendid new year, and a big hello to 2012.
I wanted to write one of those 'best of' lists, and maybe toss in a few 'worst of' holla's for some of the perfume-political rottenness that went on this year (same as it ever was), but I was late in gathering it all up, and honestly, my heart just wasn't in it. But I will say this -- the past 12 months have seen an advance in popularity within the niche, indie and natural botanical perfumery genre, pushing it further than it's gone since the early 2000's when NBP first began its upward march into popular culture. Bloggers who only blogged on commercial and designer perfumes really stepped up to the plate, reviewing indie and niche brands that included more than a few notable natural botanical perfumes in the mix, bringing the 'word' to the masses like never before. It's been exciting watching what I love so dearly grow into something more readily acceptable and even heartily embraced by groups of people who had never even heard of natural botanical perfumes, or knew that this small, dedicated group of folks were out there, blazing trails and creating a fervor; folks consumed by a passion for their art creating modern masterpieces in the confines of a small home studio or tiny shopfront in some obscure anywhere town.
But I think what I've noticed most this past year, and what seems to have really pushed NBP into the mainstream, has been the quality of work coming out of the perfumers. The bar has been raised again, and this time to a much higher level than in years past. And though it might seem a daunting notion to someone new in the field, and even to some who've been plugging away in NBP for years, it serves all of us in a positive way -- it forces us to be the best perfumers we can be, and that's what we want, all of us, to the best we can be. It's the rare perfumer, and the best, in my opinion, who sees their greatest competition in their last best creation.
I also wanted to mention all the projects that came together in 2011 -- A Midsummer Night's Dream with its whimsy and dreamy quality; the PLAP! project hosted by Monica Miller, which heralded in some of the year's very best perfumes based on patchouli, and also brought together a diverse group of people from perfumer to performer, and the Clarimonde Project hosted by Lucy Raubertas. These projects have proven once again that this NBP, niche, indie-thing isn't just a bunch of untrained know-nothings tossing together a few essential oils and calling it perfume. No, on the contrary, these projects have proven that the NBP, niche and indie perfumers are a force to be reckoned with. I'm also really excited about the 2012 line-up of projects, most notably the Primordial Scents 2012 project commencing in June 2012.
2012 may very well be the year we blow the lid off this thing.
So here's to us, the perfumers, for a year filled with blessings and new discoveries.
Friday, December 30, 2011
I have dodged a bullet ~ it appears the imminent homelessness of a family member wasn't so dire a prediction after all. A reprieve has been offered and accepted, so I get to keep the studio!
Now for deadlines. I have been very lax with readying the studio for students, but since we've just emerged from the holiday season, I give myself a reprieve as well. Yes, with the holidays, the move, the upheavals, the emotional blackmail -- wait! Did I just say that? Yes, I did. The emotional blackmail. Y' know, that stuff there can paralyze a person. It's toxic to the enjoyment and progression of happiness. I fight very hard to reject the doom and gloom of someone else's lack of emotional balance, and it's exhausting! So whenever I see it coming 'round the bend, I take a different path -- cross to the other side of the street, so to speak. Oh, yes, I was discussing deadlines . . . I need to set a few. This studio isn't going to get prepped for public consumption until I set a deadline for its debut, so I think a tentative 'open house' will be set for February 11, 2012, a Saturday (all day), well past the hustle and bustle of winter holidays and just in time to interest people in love potions for St. Valentine's Day.
In readying the studio, I've decided to make use of a few things I've found scattered about this old house, such as the original wood doors with crystal doorknobs . . . yes, those are to be repurposed and built into a new, fabulous modesty screen -- hinge three together and voila! A custom antique modesty screen, which will do a fair job of hiding the back end of the computer desk and all its vital wirings. Can't have dangling wires around here since there are babies crawling about.
Oh, and I'm taking French lessons. Finally.
So! Mark your calendars for February 11, 2012 for the . . . well, I haven't made up a title for the event yet, but I will soon. Perhaps you can help?
Thursday, December 29, 2011
First, I may already be losing my brand new perfume lab! Yes, my beautiful hardwood floored, antique paneled, built-in cabinetry'd perfume lab may soon be taken over by unexpected new roommates! Aaaarrrrggghh! But what can you do? Allow someone to become homeless because you want to mix a bit of perfume here and there in a gorgeously appointed studio? Oh, with some heartfelt hesitation I answer no. People are far more important than things, even things which make people (me, me, me!) so very happy and spiritually fulfilled. And, as I've said time and again, there is more than one way to skin a . . . critter!
I'm finally working on finalizing the formula for Primordial Scents. It's been a long and difficult road getting in the groove for this, one that officially began September 3rd, 2011 when the world went a little topsy-turvy. But in all actuality, it began unofficially years and years and years ago, like 18 or 19 years ago. That's a long time to try to make something work, don't you think? I think I gave it a fair shot. I realize this doesn't make much sense ~ I haven't been working on the formula for 18 or 19 years, but on something else -- my life! Or the life I was trying to create. You know, sometimes someone else's idea of what a life should be becomes a huge obstacle in the pursuit of creativity and true happiness. It's the old square peg, round hole fiasco . . .
But, yes, the Primordial Scent formulation -- mmmm, I'm hoping I haven't become so rusty these past few months of coveting yet not working on perfume that I am able to create something that isn't entirely amateurish. It's not quite like riding a bike . . .
So, yes! Time to wash up and ride off into the sunrise!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Pandora by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes
Transcendental Musc by Liz Zorn
Secret Garden by Mandy Aftel
Bohemian Spice by Tanya Bochnig, April Aromatics
Orcas by Ayala Moriel
Avalon by Ambrosia Jones of Perfume by Nature
Immortal Mine by Alexis Karl and Maria McElroy
Star F&@#*% by Kedra Hart of Opus Oils
Wild Child by Kedra Hart of Opus Oils (good goin' Kedra!)
Royal Water by Rodney Hughes of Therapeutate
Dreams and Visions by Jane Cate of Wing and A Prayer
Pentachord Verdant by Andy Tauer
Fleur #1 by Jessica September Buchanan of 1000 Flowers
Vanille Botanique by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (go girl!)
Nectars des Ils by Juan Perez, Vents Ardents by Shelley Waddington -- collaboration duo for EnVoyage Perfumes
Sharif by Abdes Salaam Attar of La Via del Profumo
Au Pear Tingle by Kedra Hart of Opus Oils (xo)
Paradise Lost by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes (xo)
Best Incense ~ Kyphi 2010 by Katlyn Breene of Mermade Magickal Arts
Best Perfumer ~ Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Jeanne Rose
I have to say that I agree with quite a few on this list (since I helped choose some of them!), for example, some of my favorites this year were Pandora by DSH, Wild Child by Kedra Hart and Royal Water by Rodney Hughes/Therapeutate.
And I also wholeheartedly agree with the final award, the Lifetime Achievement award to Jeanne Rose. I just don't think Ms. Rose gets enough credit for her lifelong, and continuing, contributions to perfumery. A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Rose in her home in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, and I'll admit it here to you, but please don't tell anyone -- I was petrified to meet her! First of all I got lost and was late for our appointment by almost an hour, then when I did show up I could see that Ms. Rose was sizing me up -- this odd lady from the inland come to talk with Grande Dame of San Francisco -- but it wasn't long before my nervousness settled down (just a bit, mind you, I was still pretty shaky by the time I left). It was quite the experience sitting alone with Ms. Rose in her home, going through boxes of very old oils and resins. I even got to hear with my own ears her famous, "Waft! Don't draft!" protestation while sniffing a very old bottle of benzoin resin. It was like being in the company of a mystic, the oils treated reverentially and with love as we wafted and slipped into conversation about how much had changed since she'd first begun in aromatherapy, how the oils now are different from the oils then, how much has been lost to poor distillation processes and scam artists and over harvesting. As I said, it was quite the experience and one I will treasure forever.
So congratulations to all the winners of this year's Perfume Pharmer Niche Perfumer Awards!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I found it! Nearly 25 grams! Woo-hoo! I've been looking for this stuff for a couple of years, almost since just after I received it. It's in a big silver tin and I can't imagine how I lost it in the first place except that in my memory the tin was much smaller and had much less inside. I just wasn't looking for the right thing.
Oh, what does apple blossom concrete smell like? Granny Smith apples and hay and warmth and sunshine. The bright green apple scent fades away quickly leaving just the earthy warmth and leafy smell.
I'm up very late tonight, way, way, way past my bedtime, but I couldn't sleep for some reason. Very unusual for me. And I started thinking about my goodies just sitting in here still wrapped up and waiting to be released, then I hopped on the computer to see was Ana was doing and voila! Inspiration to begin work. I'm cracking down on the unwrapping and finding early gifts!
I'm going to be absolutely good for nothing at work tomorrow. Eek!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
I feel as if I've been out of the game for a long, long time. Perhaps mentally and emotionally I had pulled back from my love of perfuming due to personal issues ~ in fact, yes, that's exactly what I did. As much joy as formulating and sharing perfume brought me, there was this niggling little voice in the back of my mind asking, "What's the point?" Sacrilegious, yes? I thought so too. It pains me to admit it. The point in the broader sense, I suppose, could be that perfume and its construction is art, and art doesn't need a practical reason to exist, unless one defines beauty and spirit and love and passion in practical terms. In the personal sense the point was quite ill-defined. It's very difficult for me, as a caretaker 'type', to set aside time for personal aspirations when someone close to me is spinning out of control, and worse when it is a whole herd of people dealing with various and sundry life hurdles. Taking the time to work perfumery, and the necessary concentration and focus one needs for that task, became nearly impossible, fraught with bouts of guilt and what seemed like terminal failure with every experiment I played out. So then I was dealing with two issues; my guilt and black cloud mentality due to taking the time to formulate, and the potential loss of my mojo! This stretched across the spectrum of body beautiful art I was creating, and revealed itself more prominently in my latest soaping endeavors. No more dark and gloomy soaps were ever made than what I had produced from about May of 2011 until the following September. Even the classes I was giving during the summer seemed soulless, the soap created uninspiring.
Since I have not created anything of note lately (though that may change in the next few months as inspiration gels and takes on a more solid, tangible form) I am offering as gifts a coffrett of some oldies but goodies from the treasure chest of aromatic wonders here at The Scented Djinn ~ 5 ml bottles of Serj eau de Parfum, Atay Extrait, and Amber Extrait for your olfactory pleasure.
Make a comment publicly here on Oh, True Apothecary!, or send me a private message via firstname.lastname@example.org to enter your name into the drawing. The name of the winner will be chosen Thursday, December 15 and mailed immediately in case you want to give the 'fumes away as gifts. Open to those living within the continental US (sorry to those of you not within those perimeters ~ future giveaways here at OTA will include all the planet's human inhabitants).
Friday, December 09, 2011
John Mayer suggested I stop being my normal sarcastic self and just say "hello", something about sincerity . . .
Anyway! The studio is still days away from completion. Just over half the boxes have been emptied and the spaces within the room are pretty close to capacity. And my chair "got" broke. Yep. My antique blending bench chair that was discovered on the side of the road was the sore victim of chair abuse. Y'know how you tell your kids not to lean back in kitchen and lawn chairs because, you say, they'll fall back and break their heads, but what you're really worried about is your poor chair getting a broken leg and back? Yes, that action. Well, I must not have told the kids' friends' friends not to do that in my chair because -- well, you connect the dots here. So I'm chairless and 'working the bench' from under the bench, on the floor.
I have been using some pretty spectacular perfumes lately, my friends. You must go over to Liz Zorn's studio Soivohle for samples or bottles of Jasmine Summer, Queen City Rain, and the must-have, Vanille OTR -- I'm not a big fan of vanilla perfumes, but this one is different. Not a sweet, syrupy concoction, but a sophisticated spicy green perfume with low vanilla backnotes and tenacity for days. Reminds me just a bit of Chanel No.19. It's not an all natural perfume but it is worth checking out if you're of the all natural bent.
Monday, December 05, 2011
Whilst everyone about is scrambling to participate in such crazy and nonsensical antics as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I've taken the very shortest road and have put all my gifts on layaway -- in September. Except for a perfume purchase online here and there, there isn't much left to do but set up the tree (ooh, the ceilings are very high and afford space for a lovely tall tree for all the newest grandbabies to marvel), hang the door wreath, spike the nog and wrap the toys. Then begin on the food. I've gotten several requests already for the now popular Neroli Petitgrain Shortbread Cookies, as well as the Jasmine Green Tea Champagne Cupcakes. I'm also going to roll a few nuts in some patchouli sugar (no, not my mom or my crazy across the street neighbor! ~ though both could do with a bit of sweetening).
I've been poking around with a bunch of new perfumes I received -- some stuff from Soivohle and a shop on Etsy called AoStudio9 that makes lovely body sprays. No, they're not all natural but contain a goodly amount of the stuff and they smell remarkable. I must say, my daughter was quite taken with Liz's gorgeous Ankara, and the floral beauty Jasmine Summer. I'm kind'a digging them all, actually, having been a bit 'fume starved the last few months.
Here's to a happy Yule season. May all your wishes and dreams come true.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Spikenard is a wondrous oil, not only having been used by ascended masters, it was also used by wealthy Roman women, and Egyptians adored the 'nard. (By the by, my prepubescent sons used to call their private parts 'nards', so writing the word 'nard seems very odd.) It is also shown to relieve migraines and help with insomnia. Since it is somewhat related to valerian, and subsequently contains a high level of valeranone, I would tend to agree with its effective use in battling sleepless nights -- these past few weeks have been awash in 'nard. Thank heavens it doesn't smell too much like valerian! Also, spikenard could be used as a sacrificial perfume material in a perfume which contains noticeable levels of oudh oil -- spikenard and oudh share a few olfactory similarities.
During the move, lots of things got dumped. Nothing I'm going to sit around crying about, but enough to make note of it. For example, frankincense resin. The smaller chunks and frank-dust filled the plastic bin about halfway -- it ended up on its head and there I was scooping resin dust and pebbles off the bottom of the chest of curiosities and fabulous finds. So, obviously, it got me thinking about frankincense stuff. Y'know, soap and body butters, facial oils (because right about now I'm in desperate need of some skin toning unguents to tighten up my recently fat vacated neck and face). I just wish I had a bottle of carrot seed oil, that'd surely do the trick -- oh, and a bit o' frankincense too, methinks. So as a treat to myself, soon, perhaps even before the end of winter, I will make a batch of frankincense soap with pumpkin and carrot oils and simply soak in in it.
Also in the dump was a beautiful vintage bottle (the bottle's vintage, not the contents) of Indo vetyver (very lovely stinky stuff that makes my toes curl) -- I lost about half of the full contents, which, as fortune would have it, soaked into the nearly bare wood of my moisture-starved perfume hutch. Walking past the hutch is quite the toe tingling experience.
Well, I got a good start on the studio Saturday. I figured out where the furniture would go at least, and the books are in the shelves. As for the "goodies", they're still tightly locked in their boxes awaiting their debut. Did I say I also have a butler's pantry right next to the studio? Yes, I do, and that's where the fridge and tinctures reside, as well as spill-over eo's and whatnot.
I want a love that's on the square. Can't seem to find somebody, someone to care, And I'm on the lonely road that leads to nowhere I need a Sunday kind of love I do my Sunday dreaming, oh, yeah! And all my Sunday scheming Every minute, Every hour, Every day. All I'm hoping to discover a Certain kind of lover, Who will show me the way. In my arms need someone, Someone to hold, To keep me warm when my Lips grow cold. Love for all my life to have And to hold. All I want a Sunday Kind of love, Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah! I don't want a Monday, Tuesday, Uh, Wednesday, or Thursday, Friday, Or Saturday. Oh, nothing but Sunday Oh, yeah, yeah. I want a Sunday, Sunday I Want a Sunday kind of love. Oh, yeah, yeah. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday kind of love.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Yes, I'm back. And what a mess I've found! Regardless, it was a great break, even though the events that lead up to the break were both traumatic and life altering. It's not worth getting into the details. Suffice it to say, I am a bit less encumbered by outside sources of stress and am free to make some decisions for which I am 100% responsible.
I am in the process of rebuilding my perfumery in a new location. Where I currently reside offers me the opportunity to teach small groups of interested parties in the art and splendor of Natural Botanical Perfumery -- and bellydance ~ ha! I will post photos of the new studio as soon as I am able. In the meantime, enjoy these hideous post apocalyptic perfume studio photos . . .
I currently live just a few minutes from my J O B -- here's to jobs that pay the rent (on time)! Since I am turning a new page in my life, I decided to go all the way -- my new mode of transportation to work is a Schwinn. Hurrah for decreased belly fat! Yippee for stamina! Boo for hypothermia in the mornings!
Right now, life is pretty okay. Well, more than okay. I am so anxious to get back to the business of perfumery. I've made a few discoveries and can't wait to implement them into the course curriculum at NNAPA. Here's to life!
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
When have you ever, as a rule, awoken with the intent to smell everything? On purpose, with objective, and to store that information in your olfactory memory bank? Well, why not? The students I teach begin their lessons with conscious smelling exercises, and across the board, each and every one has related sensational stories of what they have discovered about the scents they smelled, and about themselves as beginning perfumery students. It ignites a fire, a passion, for scent detection; for learning to better describe, categorize and verbalize to others what they are smelling.
For example, one of the exercises is to smell different types of paper ~ magazine print, newspapers, old books, clean sheets of computer paper, bills, old hand-written letters ~ and the aromas the students are able to ferret out of these papers is boundlessly interesting. For instance, one recent student smelled gasoline, marijuana, and "old woman" scents from a magazine, while another student found a fashion magazine to be overpoweringly feminine and perfumey on the initial sniff, but upon further examination discovered specific scents of citrus, floral, spice, rock, wood, moss, wet moss, and the "feeling" of being in a swamp! After those types of illustrations in scent, who would ever feel the same way about a magazine again? I mean, it's not just a magazine anymore, it's a cornucopia of scent and color; it's clarity.
Seeing something clearly, even if what you're "seeing" is scent, is so very important to the study and advancement of perfumery. I also find it interesting that many of my students see scent in color, as I've mentioned here before. When a student says he smells the color blue in the scent of black pepper, I cannot help but think that in that observation lies a deeper level of clarity.
So my challenge to you is this: Smell something ordinary today and pick apart its scent into distinct, nameable aromas. Smell your work desk (just make sure no one is watching or you might get a few odd looks thrown your way -- or you can just explain what you're doing); if it's wood, smell for the wax that may have once polished it, the hands that may have once transferred some scent, the smell of perfume or food or something else . . . ? If it is metal, do the same; smell the metal, experience the cool tang of steel, the icy impersonal feel of it. Again, smell for the hands that have brushed against it, the paper that may have been stacked upon it, the smell of conduits or electrical wiring or warmth from some machinery which sits upon it -- find some scent on it that is distinct and unexpected. Really dig in. Then tell me about it.
Oh, and Happy All Hallow Even!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Nice name for a perfume, eh? This is old news, though, the connection between the SARS virus and civet cats (not cats, not cats, not really cats). It appears, however, that the SARS virus lives in the Asian variety(ies) of civet and not the African, from which most "civet paste" for perfumery is acquired, and which really isn't in the same family as Asian civet (the African Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata) is genetically distinct and belongs in its own monotypic family, Nandiniidae - per wiki).
The Arctander sold to someone special, for which I am ever so grateful. If I'm forced to give up one of my prized possessions, I'd like to know it's going to someone who will love and cherish it as much as I have.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
I've come to realize something about myself. I'm naturally snarky. My brain is, anyway, my mouth I am able to temper. If I said half of what I think I want to say, people around me would be a mess of emotions and negativity, and heaven knows I don't need anymore negativity -- or messy emotional upheavals! The screen door on my mouth is firmly closed and latched shut, which gives my brain plenty to chew on. Nothing like regurgitating snark to make your day ~ ha!
The move has been on my mind in a big, big way. 'They', the mysterious they of many a conversation, say that visualization is the key to making things happen. If you see yourself somewhere in a certain attitude, one which you desire, the eventuality is that you will make it real. So if you see yourself, say, sitting in a room with mahogany wainscoting, 10 foot ceilings, built in sideboards and stained glass windows, then someday you will make that happen -- you will be sitting in that room, claiming it. It's easier if the place is in the real world and not just pulled from the imagination. Or so they say. From the moment I saw this house I'm to move into, I saw that room dressed up with my big antique blending desk and antique perfume bottles on the built in shelving around the room. I saw the glass pocket doors thrown open, beckoning visitors to enter. I saw me in there. That was nearly a year ago, and now it's to become a reality. Positive thinking, and no slipping into snark for me, thank you.
I packed up my bottles of vetyver mitti and vetyver rose Edward. They were oozy, boozy and woody sweet, mouth watering and languid. I do so love vetyver (I've mentioned that before, yes?). I can hardly wait to unpack and set up shop. Those vetyvers are top priority for either a formulation project or some sort of bath tub goody -- a melt perhaps, or a fizzy bath ball. Something to make you dream prophetic dreams.
Friday, October 28, 2011
While packing the 'fume room, I ran across a little packet of perfume samples that I purchased from one of the decant shops online, one filled with Tom Ford's delicious vetyver parfum, Grey Vetiver, which, 'lo and behold, actually smells like it has some veyver in it -- and the other vial filled with my favorite perfume in the world (at this point), L'Artisan's Tea for Two. Prior to losing them in the mess I call my work studio, I only sniffed these perfumes, but since finding them I've been wearing them on alternating days. Both work quite nicely with my skin chemistry, and I'm beginning to think I have a second runner up for the number one spot on my scale of favorite perfumes in that Tom Ford concoction.
I'm also feeling tremendous guilt over my recent (say the past 6 to 8 months) lack of attention to business. My business. The shops I run online and the subsequent orders I am required to pack and ship in order to be a good merchant. I've probably said this a thousand times already, but the joy for me comes only in the creation of these treasures, not in the bottling, labeling, wrapping, photographing, advertising, SELLING, packing and shipping. Yes, I do truly appreciate the orders, tremendously, in fact, for those sales have more than once pulled my bum from the fryer, but honestly, I don't get excited about the money part. I have decided that before I reopen the shops for business, I will commandeer a warm body to help with the fulfillment of orders in exchange for an education in NBP. But that won't happen until after the big move. So if you're energetic, have about five or six hours of free time a week, live in the Fresno, California area, and are interested in learning about Natural Botanical Perfumery and working (a little) for that information, then watch for updates here on this blog and I'll hook you up, as the youngsters say.
Today my darling only daughter turned 18. I gave her a big hug and said, "The front door is over there." Sounds pretty harsh, but it's kind of a running joke as all the kids got the same "advise" on the day of their 18th birthdays. Her concern was more focused on the bathroom door, however. And in all reality, she'll probably live with me until she's thirty.
Well, ta-ta for now. Today is my day off and I've got some packing to do! The 'fume room is nearly done, and I say that with all the cynicism I possess, as the further I go, the greater the numbers of stuff I find to pack, understandably. What I don't understand is how it all seems to expand upon exposure to light and air, like some weird science project. Or the Blob.
Oh, yeah, I still post these blog posts on Twitter :)
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I have said a time or two before that I'm an optimist, right?
Anyway, I have to get running to the J O B -- five hours of type, type, typing and some really interesting stories.
In case you're in the market for a lovingly abused Arctander, here's a listing for you: Lovingly Abused Arctander.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
He seemed quite pleased with himself.
Worked tirelessly yesterday, but, boy, am I tired today! Didn't really get much done in the way of making space -- well, maybe just a bit, but it is slow going. This project is much larger than I had originally thought, but then again, all my help seems to disappear when things become 'unfun' for them. There's so much to do and I want it all done before the beginning of November when I prep and and fret over the coming holidays. I'd actually like to invite friends over to a Homie Thanksgiving (something my son Daryl does for his friends the weekend before Thanksgiving). Sometimes it's difficult for friends to get together for some fun during holidays because they are so busy with family, and then there are those friends who are far from their families or have nothing to do and would appreciate being included in some holiday cheer. But that plan depends upon the progress of Operation Get The Crap Out.
The house phone became lost yesterday and was found in a locked bedroom, awaiting the occupant to return. So when calls came in I listened as callers left messages and wondered if they thought I was ignoring them. And, coincidentally, my cell phone ran away from home but returned late last evening when the car it hitch-hiked in came back to the house. It was as if the Universe was playing defense for me, blocking interruptions in the work. I only wish those "coincidences" would occur while formulating, then I'd be a much better and more prolific perfumer.
Since I began working with The Perfume Magazine, I have been inundated with perfume samples, most all-natural, but here and there a not-so-natural makes it through. It doesn't bother me at all. I rather like the new niche perfumes that are circulating. It seems that since the natural craze took off, more and more interesting and avante garde perfumes are being created by that miniscule 3% of the market. It's kind of a revelation (maybe not to YOU) that 97% of perfume 'out there' isn't really that great.
Well, I have loads and loads more to do and I'm just procrastinating here, rambling on random thoughts. Just know I'm thinking about you. I wish you well and prosperous in these difficult times.
In the time of your life, live -- so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite variety and mystery of it.
The Time of Your Life, William Saroyan
Friday, October 07, 2011
I only have a moment to write this as all my moments are recently occupied with non-perfume, non-soap and non-what-I-LOVE-to-do activities, like work, for example, and paying debts, and trying to hold together what is left of my old life while forging ahead in my new one. I wake nearly every morning to the bright and cheerful face of my granddaughter, her chubby pink cheeks and two-toothed grin, with its accompanying slobber, at eye level next to my bed. Her lovely brownie-green eyes sparkle in anticipation of my waking. It's marvelous, really. Then I'm off -- to my morning job transcribing long-winded statements made by people with atrocious grammar and limited vocabularies. I know if they could hear themselves, or better yet, read what they say, they'd be much more careful how they spoke in the future. It's not that they're uneducated or undereducated, it's just that they don't realize how silly regular conversation can sound, or how little information can be provided, even in a long 3000-word answer when it's peppered with 'ums', 'uhs', and mumbling 'you knows' between every relevant word, and the switch backs -- oy vey! Start a sentence that's moving along nicely, then suddenly remember something prior to the event being discussed, and stop mid-sentence to begin telling that tale, and then finally never getting back to the original thought, just rambling and tripping over what might have already been said, what was already said, and throwing in little darlings of information that go un-elaborated. I have very nearly fallen asleep transcribing some of these things.
In the afternoon I either run off to a housecleaning job or come home and clean my own house, and do laundry and peck around in the garden, and stare at the mess in the studio wishing for the elves to come in the night and clean the garage so I have some place to store the items in the studio I don't use regularly. I am torn between wanting to sell off a majority of the unused items in my studio and keeping them for my future 'grand perfume museum'.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn't have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
I just have to share this -- I've already done so a bit on Facebook, but I will elaborate just a bit more here. One of my students, Marian del Vecchio, who lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brasil, is going to be a very prolific and possibly famous NBP some day. Her interpretation of the course assignments, from base accords to finished compositions, is nothing short of spectacular. As I've commented before (on Facebook) her Jasmine Soliflor parfum is just IT. Y'know? It's jasmine, but not straight jasmine. It's layered and complex and reminds me of the delicacy and femininity of perfumes like Anais Anais and L'Air du Temps. It has that same feel to it. And like a dumb-ass, I poured nearly half the vial onto a scent strip to test it and was left with only about a half milliliter to enjoy. I wear it sparingly, on my wrists mostly, so while I'm working at the keyboard, I can occasionally raise my wrist for a sniff'a. What's best about Marian's compositions is that they're all very different from one another -- she's not afraid to take chances. I won't go too much more into it because I haven't yet sent her her formal evaluation notes, so . . . Just watch for her, that's what I'm saying. She's got a rare talent.
As for my own perfume aspirations, well, understandably they've been put on hold. I'm tinkering at this point, as tinkering is all that there is time for. But whilst I tinker, I think. The next project is in the works and I have a lot of time to work it out. Writing down the bones of the perfume.
Ok. Got to run!
Monday, September 26, 2011
Oh, how I love the fall. I love when the mornings are chilly and sharp with the scent of the crush from the winery up the road, and the sweet agrestic smell of wet yellowed straw left on the ground after harvest. I live on the edge of town, near the farms and the foothills, where if the wind is right, a rooster's crow can be heard as the sun begins to peek over the edge of the jagged peaks of the Sierras to the east. The eastern sky becomes pinky-orange and misty, edged in dark blue lace dotted with brilliant white stars. It's magical. Enchanting. And it makes me want to make yummy skin stuff -- pumpkin scrubs and masques, pumpkin and green apple soap (think Roman chamomile as the "apple"), vetyver baths to entice benevolent spirits.
And the very best part? No. More. Blasting. Heat.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
I really do love what I do. The scents, the formulating, the calculating, the wonder when it all turns out right, the absolute shock and disappointment when it does not. I love walking into my cluttered little studio and picking up a whiff of dark, aged Indonesia vetyver from the drop that slid down the side of the bottle and solidified there; brushing the dust from the "goodies" box and opening it to reveal a vial of champa concrete, the lip of which wafts the odd sweet floral minty~ness into the air; the air-dried green goo along the edges of a glass stopper plunged firmly into a near-full bottle of Peaseblossom, giving off snaking fingers of scent redolent of a classic fougere tinged violet. Bottle upon bottle of dark mossy green, pea green, gold, amber, yellow and crystalline colored tinctures glittering in the dim studio light.
I love that these elements speak to me; that I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about an old bottle of boozy dark patchouli that smells of a thousand first rains on a thousand dusty roads, or the last milliliter of a particularly beautiful season of rose otto aging to buttery rose perfection, tucked away in a dark box, or the crate of luban resin in which I hide muslin bags of cash in hopes that the luban will bless it with fortune.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Well, NNAPA is gearing up to add another course to the list -- a Portuguese language six-month intensive begins October 1, 2011 for our Portuguese-speaking perfumery friends. The course cost is the same ($725 USD) as the English language course, with full tutor and mentor support (many of our past students are fluent in both Portuguese and English). Both the text book and the work book for the course have been translated into Portuguese, so self-study is also an option, though at the moment only the text book is available through CreateSpace or through direct purchase here (see right sidebar). I hope to have the work book in Portuguese published within a few weeks to help those students who wish to utilize a structured course for essence evaluations, trial study evals, and perfume formulation worksheets.
A lot has happened in the past few weeks. My entire life has been turned upside down. I walked away from a long-term relationship, started a new job, was offered another part-time job, and -- well, does there need to be an 'and'? My head is still reeling. I feel like it may be a while before I feel 'normal' again, whatever that is. As for formulating, I have only one perfume in mind that I will share next year, and I'm still in the throes of a soap making frenzy, but thus far have managed to create really scary dark soaps that obviously reflect my recent emotional upheaval. I haven't made hydrosol since September 3 during the Psychic Fair -- made about a liter of fresh white sage hydrosol which I gifted to Shannon at Seasons, where the fair was being held. There's another fair being planned for November 5, 2011, so if you're in the Central Valley and have nothing important to do that day, stop by and give it a visit. You'll like it -- promise.
My current projects are: cleaning out the studio to turn part of it into a bedroom for myself and my mother; make money (duh) to care for my family; write, write, write; be happy. Not necessarily in that order. But so far have managed only to drag a mattress into the living room to sleep at night, and keep the front lawn watered. Not making much of a dent in my current projects list.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Pandora, the perfume from renowned perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, is sensual and sublime. It is viscerally appealing – one cannot help but sniff, sniff, and sniff again where it has been applied. It is feminine, floral, a bit green, woody and softly sweet.
Pandora is a slow embrace; a kiss with a promise; a warm hand at the small of your back. It is both vintage and contemporary, pulling those romantic scent elements from perfumery’s origins into the modern age and marrying them exquisitely. A classic.
Other blogs reviewing this stunning perfume are:
monica (w/ david lb): http://perfumepharmer.com/organic-perfume-skincare-remedies/
Friday, September 02, 2011
The Natural Perfume Academy online is set to begin its Fall session beginning September 22, 2011. Sessions will no longer run for 12 months, but will instead run for 6 months. We discovered that 12 months was simply too long a period of time to run the course and it was effortlessly converted to a 6 month time frame.
Other changes made to the course include the elimination of the 50+ Essence Evaluation Kits and Blending Kits included with tuition. The Essence Evaluation Kits will not be offered at all, however, the Blending Kits, or Perfume Formulation Kits at the Academy store online, are being offered at a separate cost and include:
* Oakmoss- 2ml
* Rose de Mai- 2ml
* Bergamot FCF - 5ml
* Coriander - 5ml
* Frankincense - 5ml
* Geranium, Bourbon - 5ml
* Ginger - 5ml
* Ho Wood - 5ml
* Jasmine Sambac - 2ml
* Cistus - 5ml
* Lavender - 5ml
* Lemongrass - 5ml
* Neroli Absolute - 2ml
* Patchouli Absolute - 5ml
* Petitgrain - 5ml
* Grapefruit, Pink - 5ml
* Vetiver Bourbon - 5ml
* Ylang Ylang Complete - 5ml
* Bulgarian Rose Concrete - 5ml
Because we eliminated the Essence Evaluation Kits and only offer the Blending Kits/Perfume Formulation Kits as an option, and the course time frame has been cut in half, the cost of the course has been drastically reduced from $1350 for a full session to only $725 for a full session.
NNAPA/Natural Perfume Academy is accepting new students for the Fall session. Reserve your position in the course with a $240 deposit. Payment plans are available. The course is completed March 21, 2011, at which time the students will receive their Certificate of Excellence in Natural Botanical Perfumery from the Natural Perfume Academy.
To register for the Fall session, please contact Justine Crane at email@example.com, or go to www.naturalperfumeacademy.com for more information.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
The newest soap, The End of Chaos, had to be chopped and incorporated into another batch of soap scented with just patchouli and a drizzle of antique cade oil because I used an extraordinary amount of grapeseed oil, which though moisturizing and conditioning to skin, doesn't make a terribly hard bar of soap. I had Sponge Soap Square Blobs that smelled like something dug from deep in the cold, dark earth. I even used one and it turned gelatinous and squigey in the shower. To remedy the problem, and to preserve the beautiful deep dark essence, I simply made another batch of plain Castile using organic extra virgin olive oil, and shoved slices of the original soap into it -- everywhere. The soap is cut into towers with the slivers of super scented soap poking out of the top, like a weird geometric landscape. The original soap, if you remember from previous posts here, was made with extra virgin olive oil, pressed grapeseed oil (lots and lots of this oil!), and organic unrefined coconut oil, then was scented with patchouli, luban, Turkish sage, ylang-ylang, antique cade (just a smidge as it's on IFRA's dirty list), helichrysm floral wax, champa concrete, a mashed-to-dust combination of frankincense and myrrh resins (warmed and slightly melted), antique saffron spice, and a homemade Egyptian incense blend made with more frankincense and myrrh powders, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel and anise. It will be wrapped and put up for sale at the Renaissance & Psychic Faire scheduled for this Saturday (September 3) at Seasons Gifts & Gardens at 1121 N. Nelson Street, Sanger, CA 93657, ph. 559-876-9000, and the "leftovers" will be posted on Etsy on Sunday.
Holistic & Psychic Faire at Seasons ~ this is the first time for me doing this show, but I have been a regular customer and instructor at Seasons since this past May when I began teaching soap classes there, so I feel comfortable and fairly confident this show will be quite nice. I will be exhibiting the distillation process for hydrosols and giving a brief hydrosol workshop, distilling more of Season's gorgeous white sage, this time taking a bit of the oil off the top for spiritual work and bottling up the hydrosol on site. I will also be selling only two types of soap this year as two were all I was able to get prepared, and I wasn't going to sell any but convinced myself it might be a good idea, and I will also be setting up a small display of Natural Botanical Perfumes.
Shannon, proprietress of Seasons, has just yesterday undergone a major heart procedure -- the timing couldn't have been worse, but her recent declining health necessitated the procedure. She will be in attendance for everyone to talk with and mingle, but she probably won't be doing her usual running here and there and everywhere. I commend Shannon for continuing with the Renaissance & Psychic Faire despite this setback and hope that it brings her more joy than stress, as preparing for these types of events can bring immense amounts of unnecessary stress.
Later this afternoon, it's off to scrub floors and dust door frames as Betty Yi products are in full testing mode. One product in particular, a light castile soap based all-purpose cleansing spray scented with peppermint and thyme, is phenomenal at cleaning darn near everything. This particular formulation was originally made with lavender oil and lavandin hydrosol, but for some reason the fragrance compound wasn't working -- it just wasn't pleasant enough. So we switched out the fragrance compound to something more cheerful and, in the case of the thyme, more bacteria battling. Thus far it is the favorite amongst the customers. It is our favorite as well. The lavender compound smelled heavy and sluggish, perhaps making the cleaning crew drowsy as they scrubbed!
Friday, August 26, 2011
Okay, not so ominous as all that -- it's what I've chosen to call the new soap I made -- The End of Chaos, in honor of the end of this latest Mercury retrograde period. Perhaps a better name for it would be The Temporary End of Chaos!
Again, I choose to be optimistic!
The End of Chaos is a hodgepodge of aromatics, a spiritual cleanse with a striking resin-rich, deep and exotic scent.
I incorporated the full amount of water for this size batch, something I rarely do, and the soap is very wet and dense so it will be a few weeks before it is ready for its debut. It smells fabulous.
The base oils I used were a simple (as per my usual operation) combination of extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil and coconut oil. The scenting materials began with a healthy dose of aged patchouli oil, a big splash of aged olibanum, just a little bit of some really beautiful and aromatic Turkish sage oil, some ylang-ylang, a dribble of antique cade oil, a couple tablespoons of helichrysm floral wax, champa concrete, frankincense and myrrh resins finely crushed, a palm full of antique saffron, and a bit of aged Egyptian incense (cinnamon powder, cardamom powder, fennel powder).
I went to visit my son who lives in the Tower District yesterday and we went to the little neighborhood market for some drinks and we found a single bottle of organic extra virgin olive oil that was discounted, so I bought it. Next soap will incorporate organic evoo and . . . something else really nice.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
And last year was particularly strange. I had always, since I began attending the show, thought of myself as somewhat of a permanent fixture there at the Harvest Arts and Peace Festival. Imagine how surprised I was to come to the show, sans canopy because my usual space at the show is in the shade, and found someone else setting up a booth there. I ended up in a fringe aisle in the sun. It was entirely my fault for not confirming my attendance, but like I mentioned, I felt like a permanent fixture there, and it wasn't unusual for me not to confirm. My bad for making that assumption. At any rate, most of my yearly customers had a hard time finding me and when they did they were surprised by where I was in relation to the rest of the show. And the second day I was there, I became very ill, either from being in the sun all day or from something I ate, I ended up lying in the back seat of my car for most of the second day while my mother, heaven bless her, worked our booth.
The decision not to attend a show that I've been sort of a fixture of for the past ten years or so really wasn't so difficult. Given the circumstances of the last show, and the fact that sales there for me have declined steadily for the past three or four years, the decision was really quite easy.
But there is a problem. I am now in full soap making mode! I've conditioned myself, I guess, to start hunting for soap making supplies and whatnot at this time of year. Today I'm making an olive oil and grapeseed oil soap, I have no idea how I will scent it, but I'm certain it will be something nice. Maybe frankincense and myrrh. Or patchouli and ylang. Or red cedar and sage. Or maybe over the next few days all of the above!
There is a show on the horizon. September 3, 2011 is the Renaissance Psychic Faire at Seasons Gifts & Gardens. I will be selling soap and maybe a few perfumes. And I will be conducting an exhibition making hydrosols using the white sage grown on site at the botanical gardens (at Seasons). And, if all goes as planned, signing people up for classes in soap making, distillation and Concepts in Natural Botanical Perfumery to be scheduled throughout the fall of 2011 and again in the Spring of 2012.
One door closes, another opens.
*Update: the soap, the newly made soap, The End of Chaos it's called, is made with olive, grapeseed and coconut oils, and scented with patchouli, olibanum, Turkish sage, ylang-ylang, antique cade (a drop), heli floral wax, champa concrete, frankincense and myrrh resins, antique safranum (spice), Egyptian incense (cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, rose petal, sandalwood, calamus).
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Only three more days until Mercury pops out of this current retrograde, and, from what my more astrologically knowledgeable friends have been saying, Pluto is in Capricorn, which has to do with destruction and rebuilding. I don't pretend to understand astrology at all, and sometimes I don't give it a second thought, but recently, especially NOW, I'm thinking there's more to it. I'd like to think that this current planetary alignment has more of a global impact, but judging by events occurring right here on the home front, I have to say it's more specific than that -- it is hitting home, and hard.
I choose to be optimistic.
I have always been a clean slate type of person. Having my life changed at the drop of a hat and rebuilding it into something else is something I've done time and again. Though it's been almost two decades since I've had to make a major shift like the one looming in the near future, it feels like yesterday. There's this deep sense of familiarity with this kind of change. Life upheavals. Lifestyle restructuring. And always a spark of optimism.
I tried to get the jump by tearing into the studio and ridding myself of all the unnecessary objects and possessions that were simply taking up space, feeding my ego, or my sense of worth through material things. But that got stalled. The studio is a wreck. I've actually lost my copy of Arctander. People keep piling up their unwanted objects-that-cannot-be-thrown-away in a corner of the studio and it's attracting pests -- I can't keep the cat out of it, spiders are setting up camp, and dust bunnies are running rampant. All I wanna do is make soap, start formulating the newest perfume, Lylli Bleu, so that it's off the paper and in the world, write a little more, and make some money! But no, I get hoarders and dust.
*Formulating Tip of the Day:
Dilute. Dilute, dilute, dilute! Save money by formulating perfume trials using 1, 10 and 20% dilutions. Mix and match the ratios. Be adventurous. Keep meticulous notes. Love what you do.
Monday, August 22, 2011
So, yeah, taught a soap class last Saturday and made, if I do say so myself, the most exquisitely scented soap ever. It's a knock out. Here's what we did:
We used extra virgin olive oil and organic unrefined coconut oil, whipped it up with the lye and when it hit trace, we poured in antique cubeb oil, aged patchouli oil, antique copaiba balsam, a rarified Turkish sage oil, ylang-ylang oil, petitgrain sur fleur neroli oil and a hefty dose of pink grapefruit oil. Then we split the batch, poured some into the mold, then added organic white sage leaves to the other, and more scent -- more cubeb, more copaiba, more ylang and grapefruit, more patchouli -- man, it was devastatingly intoxicating! Then that was poured over the top of the stuff in the mold. Then we sat it aside and sat talking for an hour or so about life. It was like that soap opened up something -- a door or window into a place where strangers were friends and we conversed about life topics as if we'd known each other for years.
I wanted to stay even longer, as the class was given in the evening and twilight was on the horizon. Sitting in the garden amongst the mugwort, sage, tea tree, peaches, sweetgrass, lavenders, buzzing bees and sleepy birds -- it was meditative, mellow, an escape from all that is happening in the world. A retreat.
I'm telling you, if you live in the Central Valley, you must give Seasons Gifts & Gardens a visit. The address is 1121 N. Nelson, just a few miles east outside of Fresno off of Belmont Avenue. Google map it. Coming from Fresno and heading east on Belmont, drive until you see the big arrow sticking out of the shoulder of the road on the left (yes, there is a big arrow sticking out of the ground!) and about 50 yards up the street on the left you will see Nelson and the Seasons sign. They have a wonderful herb and book and supplies shop onsite, but the gardens are exquisite. A nice place to hang out for the day.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Once again, I'd like to announce the new course at NNAPA beginning September 22, 2011.
This is an online course in Natural Botanical Perfumery taking six months to complete. The course includes a text book and a work book (for essence evaluations, accord trials, perfume formulating trials, and finished perfume evaluations), and full tutor and mentor support, 24/7.
We are happy to introduce our new lower course cost to help students fulfill their dreams of becoming a Natural Botanical Perfume Formulator. At NNAPA, it's easy to learn to create perfume without breaking the bank. Our course curriculum knocks off years of independent research and study and helps the student form cohesive thoughts and ideas regarding how they want their future in perfumery to progress.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the course administrator.
Reserve your space in the course today!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
If I possessed scent bumper stickers, my poor little car would be covered in "I ♥ Patchouli" and "I ♥ Linden Blossom" and "I ♥ Vetiver" stickers from hood ornament to trunk keyhole, much to the confusion of the other drivers on the road.
But I do. ♥'em, I mean. I have several ounces of copaiba balsam that I'm getting to know a little better. It's a Fritzsche Brothers vintage, circa 1930 to 1950. It makes me smile when I smell it, so mellow and woody and robust with a sweet, creamy backnote and peppery green top notes.
I ♥ Copaiba!