Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Bit Like 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back' 'n Stuff ~ Again

So the soapmaking of late has gone swimmingly. The scent choices are primo, the colors are bright and cheery, and the soap behaves well in the shower -- nothing like naughty soap, right? So it's feeling like I got my soap groove back, and the next step is to continue creating bold and beautiful soap and setting up a little Saturday shop on the front lawn over the summer. It's allowed. We're zoned commercial ~ ha! And speaking of the merits of being zoned commercial, the neighbors started their chicken run over the weekend and it's all against our fence line, which means we get to hear the girls clucking before bed, clucking at dawn, and clucking, clucking, clucking all throughout the day. I hope the sound of clucking is more like waterfall background sound to my psyche than the sound of nails on a blackboard or squealing tires. Can't handle that. And speaking of squealing tires, last night at around midnight as I lay in my cozy bed with the window open, listening to the soft sound of the pond cascade and the croaking frogs from the canal behind the house, I was startled to hear the sound of revving engines, squealing tires, popping sounds like someone running over planks of wood that break, and then finally the dulcet sound of, "Get on the ground! Get on the ground!" Oh, my brain said to my pounding heart, it's like an episode of Cops in my alleyway. Then I drifted off to sleep. Funny what you get used to.

This weekend, Saturday the 2nd of June, I will be teaching a soapmaking class at Season's in Sanger, California, at 6:00 pm. Be there or continue with your hobbies of transcendental basket weaving and backyard entomophagy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Botanical Soapmaking Book

Botanical Soapmaking by Justine Crane

Learn to make perfect handmade botanical soap using perfumery techniques for scenting.

I published this primer to supplement the soapmaking classes I teach each year. It's beautifully bound with a gorgeous cover and very reasonably priced.

Check it out.

Winner of May Queen Soap Giveaway

The winner of the May Queen Soap giveaway is "lacatella" ~ please contact me with your address, and congratulations!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Mumblings With Perfume Thrown In

I get it, I really do. Nobody has time anymore! Blogs are almost obsolete thanks to Facebook that lets you say your 2 cents for the day, several times a day, with almost immediate feedback. Perhaps in future I should just post a giveaway there? Why not? It seems to be more a market place these days than a social media site. I just hate being a sheep  . . . but these days, in this business especially, if you're not on FB talking about your latest and greatest concoction, you're nobody. Or eccentric. Hey, maybe that's the route I'll go -- strange eccentric 'oldish' lady living alone in a grand old house whipping up strange and unusual brews and then popping out on occasion to share the knowledge. Okay, so someone already has that gig. I'm just trying to say I understand -- you're busy, I'm busy, we're all busy, too busy to stop for a moment or two to read a blog or participate in a giveaway or care. Hey, I do it too. I can't even tell you the last time I read a blog that someone didn't first direct me to. Damn life always getting in the way!

So I finally feel that Lylli Bleu edp is done. I keep thinking that I need to tweak this or expand that or put down more fixative, but in the end, after yet another evaluation, I say no to the idea and stick with what I have. I really do like it. I didn't at first, too murky, too dark I thought, but as it's matured it really has begun to develop into what I had originally imagined. Still waters. Fragrant foliage around a blue-green pond. It lives very close to the skin and lasts for a few hours, if just a whisper by then.

And that big race that happened today? I missed it. I woke about 40 minutes after they had jiggle joggled past my house. The street is still pretty quiet though, which is nice. Normally it's like a speedway out there. That's okay, though, I have other plans. Just got a text from a friend letting me know there's a Renaissance Faire going on just up the road, so I'm hopping on the bike and heading out that way, right after I put the oils together for the soap I didn't do last night. Maybe this can be an eclipse soap.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Soap Giveaway ~ May Queen

Enter for your chance to win a bar of May Queen Soap from The Scented Djinn by posting a comment here. May Queen is a lush, juicy soap made with notes of red mandarin, clary sage essential oil, tangerine, clary absolute, hinoki, jade cypress, Queen Anne's lace and mimosa in a simple base of extra virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, organic sunflower oil and organic rose hip seed oil. 1 bar = 4 + oz by weight.

REALLY? NOBODY WANTS A FREE BAR OF HANDMADE ARTISAN SOAP? NO COMMENTS AFTER 12 HOURS, how disappointing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 73 ~ One Year, One Nose

Jasmine grandi


I know, I've already done one like it, but this is an old one from '08, and it's sourced from GRASSE! -- let's just see how it plays out, shall we?

Grasse jasmine, 1% dilution of the concrete, 6 intensity, pale yellow, should be white.

Floral, green, herbal and spicy.

Floral, heady and indolic, sweet, fresh, intoxicating, narcotic but not cloying. Spicy warm with a green/herbal tonality. Reminds me of pots of jasmine blooming on the porch.

Eval ~ 15 minutes-strong floral, sweet, indolic, buttery; 1 hour-smells like the flower itself, fresher, still indolic and heady; 6 hours-scent is greatly reduced however there is a discernible floral/indolic shadow about the scent strip.

Day 72 ~ One Year, One Nose

Cassie Absolute ~ acacia farnesiana

Straight eval.

'08 vintage-5% dilution-scent intensity 6-7 (1-10 scale)-color amber-imagined bright yellow; scent is floral, green, spicy and slightly fruity; floral reminiscent of violets/violet leaf, tuberose (the good stuff, no wienie water), has a powdery, cinnaminic slightly green-herbal tonality with a lush sweet marshmallow dry down. At 15 minutes it smells almost rubbery, the violet aspect is strengthening and it's beginning to smell a little bit like violet pastilles (sugary, violety, sweet, heady); at 6 hours there's a very light, sweet, somewhat rubbery 'leftover' scent that you really have to sniff for to find -- maybe I imagined that last bit.

Day 71 ~ One Year, One Nose

 Tuberose ~ Polianthes tuberosa, '08 vintage


This was my first evaluation of tuberose, the evaluation in which I had thought my idea of tuberose was set in stone. Funny how things change. This was an inferior absolute, which is why I have not named the supplier because it is possible it was a one-time thing and their current stock of tuberose is an entirely different creature. One would hope so after four years.

Tuberose, 4% dilution in organic grape alcohol, scent intensity at 6 (1-10 scale), color golden amber; imagined color-red! Floral and spicy. Floral, indolic, heady, strong, green tonality, white/red floral dichotomy, bold, dramatic. Secondary - salty, spicy, buttery. Smells of grandma, summer, and the water in the pot after boiling beef wieners to death. After an hour on the scent strip, the salty/meaty aspect pretty much overrides the floral altogether -- it reminds me of someone who's eaten too much garlic for lunch and has decided to stand over your cubicle and talk until your cubicle smells like a sausage deli. My final entry for this eval, at 12 hours was, "Watery floral, tolerable as I really do not like the scent of tuberose."

My thoughts on tuberose have changed entirely since then. I managed to get my hands on an exemplary sample which displayed all the characteristics I had been told tuberose possessed. But I'll save that for another time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Post-Note on Saffron and Sex, and Particularly Cumin

Believe it or not, the post from years back entitled 'Saffron and Sex' is at the number three spot as the most read post on this blog. It appears sex does indeed sell. What boggles my mind, though, is that the search criteria used to find this post is exactly the words 'saffron and sex'! What are you people doing out there? At any rate, that isn't what I wanted to talk about. Cumin. That's what I wanted to talk about. How we manage to make these odd comparisons to cumin and man crotch sweat. I mean, who started that? Not that it's entirely inaccurate (though cumin does have a tinge of the enchilada sauce note and comparing a dude's crotch sweat to enchilada sauce -- well, that's just weird), but really, who sniffed cumin oil and had a light bulb moment that stated, "Hey! I know that smell! That smells just like Joe's crotch!" . . .? Who? Anyone? Someone? Because it begs a few questions, don't you think? Like -- well, I'm not going to go there -- or maybe I have since clearly, if I agree that cumin smells like man crotch, I must have been in the vicinity of Joe's crotch. Okay, too much information. I don't know how long you've been in the NBP world, but perhaps you were here long ago when that guy studying perfumery decided to collect man sweat and pheremones through the careful placement of sterile gauze pads and an afternoon of sweatin' to the oldies? This became a tincture and then I lost track, or interest, in what the outcome was. Perhaps, dear fearless perfume experimentor, you will pipe in with the results? No? Okay. Guess I'll stick with the cumin oil.

Day 70 ~ One Year, One Nose

Okay, this one is going to be a bit tricky. We shall call it "Unknown Vintage Perfume Chemical", which isn't fair because you have no way of evaluating along with me here and comparing notes. But I thought it would be interesting for perfume history's sake to include some of these old articles into the OY,ON project to illustrate how perfumery and our perfume tastes have changed in the past 120 years. Clearly this is synthetic, as my sinus headache indicator has begun to ring ~ headache commenced within 30 seconds of first sniffing this unknown perfume ingredient. The scent is a musky floral with light leathery notes, a twangy citrusy pitch, and an edgy floral tonality, green, like lily of the valley; soft, sweet, aldehydic (boozy). It does not smell like a finished product, but a component. In conclusion, I would classify this ingredient as a musky/floral. And nauseating.

Day 69 ~ One Year, One Nose

Vanilla Bourbon Oleoresin 20-Fold, Madagascar

I remember when I initially received this oil that I didn't immediately fall in love with it. At the time I was knee deep in vanilla products and projects, having my own infusions and tinctures going, sourcing raw vanilla beans from several places and comparing them for scent qualities. When this came 'round and I began experimenting with it, I remember being a little freaked out that it wasn't soluble in alcohol or oil, so I used the bulk of it in soap projects. The scent was/is a different matter entirely; dense, heady, heavy, thick sweet vanilla with floral tones and light citrusy back notes. Of all the vanillas I've used, I'd say it is the most useful, scentwise, in perfume as it is less gourmand and more fruity, warm and floral. Getting enough of the scent to break down into an alcohol dilution is a trick, unless you don't mind a few stray vanilla globules floating about your edp.

Day 68 ~ One Year, One Nose

Antique Oil of Rectified Cassia, c. 1900, Fritzsche Bros.


Very piercing quality to this oil, and oddly, for its advanced age, fresh smelling. It almost has a perfumey quality to it all on its own. Warm and heavenly with a rounded sweetness, like cinnamon toast or hot chocolate with cinnamon sprinkled on top. There are none of those 'red hots' quality of peakiness in this old cassia, it's all smooth, sweet warmth, like breath on your neck sending shivers down your spine.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Monday, May 07, 2012

Mother's Day 2012 ~ Soap

May Queen ~ Mother's Day 2012

A smooth creamy extra virgin olive oil soap with hints of moisturizing sunflower oil and enriching rose hip seed oil, and just enough coconut oil to keep the bubbles coming. Scented to heaven with juicy red mandarin, clary sage essential oil, tangerine essence, mimosa, clary absolute, jade cypress, hinoki and Queen Anne's lace.

Right now the cut and curing bars are filling the studio with scent ~ it raises your spirits to smell it, flush with tangy fruit notes that swirl around sweet, heady notes and touches of soft woodiness.  It's very nice, if I do say so myself.

The scent combination is attributed to Lisa C.'s suggestion, to which I added jade cypress and Queen Anne's lace.



The soap will be listed at The Scented Djinn Etsy shop later this evening. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

Day 67 ~ One Year, One Nose

Holy Basil



I adore this scent. It's magical. It doesn't smell of regular basil, the type you make bruschetta with or add to a watermelon/basil mojito, this basil is . . . different. It's dark. Heady. Heavy. Dense. Nuances of licorice float about, a pinch of anise, a piercing greenness edged with honey. It begs to be dumped into a soap scent formulation, something that will wake you up and soothe you at once while you shower in preparation for the day. There is a creaminess to holy basil, as if on the tongue it would simply spread across and bring a syrupy sweetness to the palate. Creamy greenness that touches the barest fingertip to mint, an entire hand to basil, and an arm to a combination of licorice, anise, and sweet vanilla.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Hay Fever and the Old Snoz

Late Tuesday afternoon I began sneezing. By Wednesday morning, I was in full blown hay fever mode. I don't use Claritin anymore because after several years on the stuff, it just quit working. Prior to that I was on steroids and Claritin D, and in case you're wondering, though the official definition of the 'D' is decongestant, for me it was 'homicidal tendencies', so I was off that stuff after only a week when I felt I could literally hear and feel bugs in my head, and if someone spoke to me, I turned into Euryale, screaming my head off and going for the jugular. So. I take otc meds now, Benadryl at night, other junk during the day, honey and bee pollen on a regular basis. I am miserably allergic to olive tree pollen. As a matter of fact, I get the worst reactions when exposed to it. So guess what's growing in a pot on my front porch? Yup. An olive tree in full blowsy. Pollen everywhere. After two nights of constant dripping nostrils and allergic rushes that brought on squingey, blood red eyes and sneezing fits, I'm on the other end. I hope. Can't smell a thing. Still a little congested, but not so rushy. Eyes are still puffy, but they don't appear to be popping out of my head anymore. My nose is really raw from all the blowing, though. Yuck. This is the perfect time to make some soap. That way I won't second guess myself on my scent choices and do something foolish to screw it up. I have a tendency to over think these things. I was going through some old notebooks and came across a few scent formulations that I wanted to revisit in regards to making soaps -- more notably, an old voodoo soap using tons of Haitian vetyver, patchouli and a drizzle of Himayalan cedar. A very musky, dark, deep, mind-boggling scent. Soap is like life, the simpler it is, the better it is. Over complicated formulas tend to muddy the waters, so to speak. Now that all the bedroom stuff is out of the studio, it feels ready to go to work. I still need to pull the old butler's pantry door up from the basement and settle it on some wrought iron legs to create a work bench in the middle of the studio -- again, it sounds as if I'm setting obstacles in my way to prevent the work from happening, but that's not so -- this time. I'm looking forward to it, all of it, the frustration, the joy, the magic of creating these wonderful apothecary items. And I am going to begin the kyphi I wrote about in an earlier post. Frankincense calls to me in this way. It is telling me all of the work needs to be done by hand, the grinding of the resins, the crushing of the herbs, the time to steep and ferment must be given and I will be rewarded for my patience and care. At least that's how I am imagining it. The Universe may have different ideas, and that's okay too. Now is time to prepare for the J O B that pays the rent; wash off the sleep and smear lotion on the poor glowing nose. 'Til next time . . .

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Movin' and Shakin'

After some careful consideration, I decided to move my 'bedroom' back into the solarium and out of the studio. I found it much too distracting to formulate with a bed in the room. I can't explain why. Making the studio too multi-purpose kind of knocked me out of my groove. Plus the new tenant upstairs directly over the studio is single and quite the stud from what I'm hearing through his floorboards. I found myself sleeping on the couch in the living room these past two weeks, which attributed to the decision to move. I'm also moving the computer out of the studio as well. Another distraction. Plus I'm really thinking about putting together a few perfume workshops - scent appreciation or something - and a bed and computer and printer/scanner in the room detract from the atmosphere of the studio.

So last night was the first night in the solarium and though I slept well, better than when on the couch, I was still a bit restless -- it's two solid walls of frame to frame windows! I have curtains on the windows facing the front side of the house, but no curtains facing the backyard as there is no need (I hope) to block the view of my new room from the pervy eyes of the koi in the pond out back. Anyway, when I did sleep, my dreams were filled with visions of some desperate person attempting to pry open the windows to get inside, then after waking up repeatedly in the night, I was startled to hear five very distinct gun shots ring out at exactly 1:40 AM. The sound seemed to come from the next block over from the back of the house. Though this neighborhood is filled with beautiful old turn-of-the-century homes and early 20th century pieces of ornate architecture, there are several pockets surrounding the area that are home to halfway houses, drug rehab centers, a methadone clinic, and several liquor stores catering to those who seem to have given up on life, or at the very least, want to forget the pain of their lives. There is also an enormous police sub-station just two blocks away, so police response is literally minutes -- I know this because I've had to call them a few times; once to stop a fight between two guys swinging fence boards at one another; once to report a car had driven into a parked car, and once to find out if one of the local halfway house boarders was dead on the sidewalk. He wasn't, he was just really, really drunk, and a frequent flyer, according to the police. Never a dull moment.

Also during the night I kept getting shaken awake by what I later found out was someone's cell phone going off. Y'know how they buzz? I could feel that through the wood floors. Weird, man. So hopefully tonight I will rest more easily because I'm pooped!

I've got kyphi on my mind, more precisely, luban kyphi. I'm dreaming (between dream break-ins) about frankincense resin and oils and tears on the tree. Luban dakur kyphi. Mmmmm.


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