Friday, August 26, 2011

The End of Chaos

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

End of an Era

After some deliberation I've decided not to attend this year's Intermountain Nursery Harvest Arts and Peace Festival. The past few years' sales have been dismal, with our booth making enough to pay booth fees, gas to get to the venue, and food, and not much else. The revenues certainly didn't cover the time and money spent preparing batches of soap and other natural body care products, even though I have been able to recoup some of the costs of preparing for the show through post show sales online.

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

Mercury Retrograde and Pluto in Capricorn

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

Fantabulously Scented Artisan Soap

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

New Natural Botanical Perfume Course Begins 9/22

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, or contact the course administrator.

Reserve your space in the course today!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I ♥ Copaiba!

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!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wanna Buy a Kaufman?

I found three copies of William Kaufman's Perfume coffee table book in the studio and I'm selling off two on Ebay (short sale, 3 days only). If you've ever wanted a copy, here's your chance to get a nice one (or two).

Kaufman Book #1
Kaufman Book #2

Natural Soap Making Class in August ~ Reminder!

This is a reminder if you live in California, particularly the Central Valley, I will be teaching a soap making class at Seasons Gifts & Gardens in Sanger, CA on August 20 at 5pm.

Seasons Gifts and Gardens
1121 N. Nelson Street
Sanger, CA 93657

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mixing Thoughts

As most of my readers know, I distill a lot of different botanicals to create artisan style hydrosols -- some things that aren't readily available in the larger marketplace. I create quite a few co-distillations as well, the most recent being kombu seaweed and lime, and another of rose geranium (from my garden) and luban. But I think it's important to point out that much like perfume ingredients, these hydrosols can be blended together to make something phenomenal for your own needs. For example, blending the white sage hydrosol with the sweet grass hydrosols makes a very effective and powerful spiritual cleansing tool. White sage with English lavender is also quite nice, and works beautifully as an aura cleansing tool in pranic healing practices. Blending the two lavandins, the green and the fine, make a more well-rounded and full scent profile, as well as creating a luscious skin cleanser and toner. Mixing a little of the lavandin fine with the rose geranium and luban co-distillation is drop-dead gorgeous! A splash of patchouli and a dash of vetyver hydrosol, and it's almost a perfume.

Limitless possibilities.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Hydrosol

I've just finished up the latest addition to the hydrosol arsenal here in the apothecary ~ sweet grass! I'm selling only a few bottles from this distillation with hopes that another distillation in the future will net much more than this first experimental batch. I'm quite pleased with the scent profile as it is spot on sweet grass! This would be great for ritual cleansing of spiritual tools, or to cleanse and clear your living and work space of any negative energy left behind by those nasty sloughers of negativity.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New NBP Course Beginning September 22, 2011

NNAPA is launching a new course in Natural Botanical Perfumery beginning September 22, 2011.

NNAPA currently offers a single fully paid scholarship to a randomly chosen student each course session; if interested in scholarship information, please contact the administrator at NNAPA.

About the NNAPA course:
  • Antiquarian Perfumery/Natural Botanical Perfumery is a non-accredited course, and no prerequisites are required except a passion and desire to learn Natural Botanical Perfumery from the ground up. This course is recommended for those who desire to begin a career in NBP, or those who wish to broaden their educational horizons.

  • Course tutor: Justine Crane. Justine Crane has been actively studying and formulating specifically for perfume since 2003, and actively making and selling scented natural handmade soaps, balms, butters, etc, since 1996. Justine took nine months to study, evaluating essences daily, formulating for soaps, butters, balms, bombs, melts, and oil-based perfumes. In October 2007, Justine started a study group called Black Nails, just herself, and two delightful women who were as interested in honing their perfumery skills as she was herself, and they spent a year studying Jean Carles, Edward Sagarin, Poucher, Verrill, Arctander, and obscure catalogs such as the Buyer's Guide & Cyclopedia for Soaps, Perfumery and Cosmetics, circa 1938. They conducted trials, shared formulas, evaluated essences and shared insights -- it was a marvelous education they created together. When it was done, Justine opened her shop and began peddling her wares.

  • The NNAPA aka Natural Perfume Academy is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Instruction will be given via forums, formal and informal chat sessions, and by units. Students will be given specific time frames in which to read, research and participate in each unit before the next unit is open for study and discussion.

  • An evaluation work book and course textbook are provided to each participating student and its cost is included with the tuition. A recommended reading list is provided in the work book. No other books or texts are necessary to complete the course.

  • Topics covered in the course include, but are not limited to, a brief perfume history, popular historic perfumery ingredients, the evolution of the perfume culture, safety issues, endangered species and cruelty in perfumery, storage and shelf-life of raw materials, chemical constituents of perfume ingredients, glossary of terminology, the perfumers studio, the perfumers palette, notes, accords and chords, evaluation of raw materials, supplemental scent vocabulary, continued olfactory training activities, advanced perfumes tools and techniques, tinctures, evulsions, dilutions, scales, required lab ware, oil and solid perfume making instruction, basic instruction in the production of soaps, butters, balms, massage and bath oils, creation of perfume, vertical and horizontal perfume trials, intuitive perfumery formulation, base compound formulation, advanced composition techniques, discussion of sacrificial perfume materials, finishing, “fining”, clarifying perfume compositions, creating custom perfumes, creating a reverse brief, reading and interpreting a brief, suggested raw materials to compliment the perfumers palette, and more.

For more information, contact the course administrator.

New this session: Shorter course time & payment plans for nearly all students.

Winner of Hydrosols!

Is Gretchen with ADK Aromatherapy ~ please contact me with your mailing information Gretchen.


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