Monday, July 30, 2012

Studio Revamping & Weekend Gets

First I want to apologize for not posting the super wonderful post about the Fragrance Salon in San Francisco that I promised to post -- when I was ready to post, we had a few technical difficulties around here which prevented the post from occurring, then I just got frustrated and trash canned the whole idea. But I will say just a couple of things about it that may be of interest to you. One, it was fabulous and should occur annually in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, and two, one of the event planners (a gentleman whose name escapes me now) and I were standing near the entrance to the event taking photographs together when he turned and said to me, "I never imagined it would be like this." I asked, "What do you mean?" "That it would be this big, this exciting," he answered. I gave him a knowing look and said, "I did," which got me a look that implied he thought I was crazy, then I went on to explain that he clearly didn't understand the fragrance community, and that some would crawl through broken Brosse bottles to participate and/or attend a gathering like this. And three, it was fabulous. Oh, already said that.

This past weekend was a doozy! I didn't get any formulating done, but I did manage to acquire a few things to vamp up the studio, and I had my cards read, and I think I might have made a deal for a car, and I got some serious inquiries about future in-person perfume classes. First, the furniture for the studio: I bartered my time for a gorgeous vintage 6-drawer chest of drawers, painted purple (which suits, I'm a purpleholic big time), and a 3-piece antique wire lawn furniture set, which will never see the light of bright sunlight as the ghouls in the 'hood will immediately see the resale potential and swipe the furniture off my porch or out of my yard, either front or back, without batting a dreadlocked eyelash. So I'm cleaning the lawn set up a bit and making cushions for the seats as sitting on wire is not the most comfortable thing to do in the world, and I can only imagine the bizarre patterns that are being pressed into my bum when I do so. The furniture will be used in the studio as well.

A car. I think I a car was thrown into this deal, but I won't be certain until I'm driving it down the street. We shall see. But what a boon! Oh, and I had my cards read and pretty much everything I was told was either something that already happened, or something that I was working out for future, and the car was mentioned in the cards as well and I was told that the acquisition would be unexpected and unconventional, etcetera, but that I had to accept as it was the universe 'giving' me what I've been asking for, and no joke, less than 20 minutes later, a car was mentioned by someone else and the next thing I knew, it was mine!

I feel tremendously blessed.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Natural Perfume Academy Announces September Course in Natural Perfumery

Who should take the Natural Perfume Academy Course?

  • Independent Natural Botanical Perfumers
  • In-house Company Perfumers
  • Essential Oil producers, Bulk sellers, distillers, distributors and agents
  • Those in the beauty therapy and salon industry.
  • Retail oulets in the beauty and perfume industry.
  • Those who are serious about the subject and want to step up to the professional level.

What will the Natural Perfume Academy Course do for an existing perfumery business or company?

 The Natural Perfume Academy distance-learning course provides a cost-effective, flexible element in the training of professionals in the perfumery industry. It provides a world view of the Natural Perfume industry so that individuals can improve their capabilities.

For essential oil producers and distributors, the course not only presents distinct consideration of this level of the industry, but also provides better insight into how and why materials are used by natural perfumers. Better understanding of customers improves sales performance.

For natural perfumers themselves, crucial issues such as management of the brief are considered, thereby improving personal performance. The inclusion of the make-up and production of natural materials provides the essential grounding that is needed by all creative natural botanical perfumers.

What will the Natural Perfume Academy Course do for me?

The Natural Perfume Academy course is a combination of art, science, practical applications and management. For students without a scientific background, the necessary grounding is provided.

For the student, the course provides the answer to the question "What is special about the Natural Perfume industry". The inclusion from production to end consumer product provides the much needed conspectus of the natural perfume industry that the growing natural perfumer needs. Management of new product development is also included.

The Natural Perfume Academy Studies course provides the necessary requirements to succeed in this globally recognised niche industry.

For existing professionals in the Natural Perfume industry who want to make the next step-up, the Natural Perfume Academy Course provides that essential wider perspective and complex skill base. Each level of the natural perfumery industry is considered and both practical and management issues are covered.

How will the class be meeting online during the course of a given week? The course is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and students are free to enter and read the current open unit(s), and post on the forums at any time. The instructor and mentors will be in and out of the academy during the week as well, but there will be a set day during the week in which the instructor will be in the academy and available for instruction and questions.

What is the meaning of the words “spirit and filth” in regard to perfume history?

Spirit refers to perfumes spiritual aspects, its connection with honoring gods. Filth is in reference to short periods of time during history when perfume, bathing and bathing rituals were avoided or were unavailable.

What physical items do I receive for my tuition?

Also included in tuition is a comprehensive work book/primer which closely follows the course curriculum, with slight variations. The work book includes history, safety, IFRA regulations, glossary, scent vocabulary, formulation methods, links to suppliers, recommended reading lists and much, much more. The work book serves a dual purpose as an instructional, similar to a text book, with work sheets to conduct study trials, essence evaluations and creation of perfume for independent home study.

How are the classes given? 

The classes are given on the Moodle academy format with 24 hour access. Each unit will be opened as we complete the previous unit. There will be assignments which can be completed on the Moodle format (copy and pasted from your computer). Forums for each unit are available for student/teacher, student/student and student/mentor interaction. Previous students have signed on as mentors to help motivate and inspire new students.
The learning platform we use provides the facilities to upload assignments, advanced uploading of files, off line activities and assignments, live chat sessions, pod casts, online video, quizzes and questions in a variety of formats, a glossary, a student journal, forums, online lessons in a secure environment, surveys and workshops.
We also provide training in how to use the site well in advance of the class beginning in order to build confidence and have site administrators and professional technical assistance on hand at all time should the need arise.

What is the benefit of taking this online course as opposed to researching and studying on my own?

This online course, and any other online course, serves to shorten the length of time, and ultimately the money spent, on learning this art form on your own. Instead of scouring the internet or jumping down rabbit holes in search of the holy grail of Natural Botanical Perfume information, you will be conducting evaluations and trial studies, the true “holy grail” of Natural Botanical Perfume information -- you will be doing the work that it takes to become a Natural Botanical Perfumer.

What are the entry qualifications

Non-graduates are permitted to apply for the course.  The academy seats are given on a first come first served basis. Preference is given to those in employment in the Natural Perfumery Industry (letter of employer’s support required).

What special tools or supplies not included in the tuition do I need to be able to complete the course.

We’ve structured the course to give each student time in which to gather the required tools and supplies necessary to finish the course. To complete evaluations of your own materials, and to formulate perfumes, you will need to have on hand

  • several dozen 5 to 10 ml dropper bottles
  • 10- ½ oz cobalt or amber bottles with caps
  • 5- 1 oz cobalt or amber bottles with caps
  • 5- 2 oz cobalt or amber bottles with caps
  • 2- 4 oz cobalt or amber bottles with caps
  • droppers
  • funnels
  • filter paper
  • paper towels
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • skewers
  • self-adhesive labels or strips of paper
  • transparent tape
  • scent strips or squares of acid-free water color paper
  • small metal or glass cups
  • pipe cleaners
  • small bottle brush
  • pens
  • notebooks and a file folder

All these items are readily available and can be purchased inexpensively.

During the advanced portion of the course, you will need to have on hand:

  • a digital scale capable of weighing at least as low as 1/100th of a gram (1/1000th of a gram is optimal),
  • graduated cylinders in 5ml, 10ml, 25ml and 50ml increments
  • an ultrasonic cleaner (optional)
  • a Neti pot is also recommended but not necessary

Course Workbooks are normally shipped within 21 working days of payment being cleared.

What is the average amount of time necessary to review assignments and materials and conduct lab work per month?

When we reach the sections of the course which require lab work, it is estimated that 10-20 hours per month of study and evaluation is sufficient to complete the assignments.

Could you give me information on the application process and when does the next course begin?

Course cost:
$725 USD. A non-refundable deposit of $242 USD is required to secure your place and we are taking bookings now. Course begin date September 8th. You will be allowed plenty of time to become familiar with the educational platform we use. You will receive tuition and training on the use of the site before the class date.
To get started with the application process please go to and click on the "Pay Now" button on the top left under the heading "Deposit".

Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 78 ~ One Year, One Nose: There's Saffron in There

Saffron. An elusive and difficult little bugger to work with when it comes to scent formulation. Aside from that, it's the color that can be off putting in perfume. Include a discernible amount of saffron in a formulation, and you'll get a solar flare rainbow ranging in intensity from pale yellow light to orangey New England in the fall, and somewhere in that lovely spectrum lies the dreaded urine-tinted cascade. Avoid that color if at all possible. The scent of saffron can seem just as difficult to work with. It can't make up its mind if it wants to be bucolic or industrial, the scent comprising elements of dry grasses, sheer tints of honey, and hot metal. But there is something beyond that which makes saffron special when used in perfumery. A magical element that has nothing at all to do with its rarity or cost (it takes around 65,000 crocus flowers to produce approximately one pound of saffron, and, according to Wiki, "forty hours of labour are needed to pick 150,000 flowers"; 10 milliliters of saffron absolute costs $100; 1 gram of dry saffron costs about $7.00 USD, and just to give you a comparative, 1 gram of high grade California pot costs about $10.00 USD). The reason I chose to discuss saffron today (she says, adjusting her spectacles) is because it was a primary material used in one of the Primordial Scent Project's Water-themed parfums by Ane Walsh (my dear friend), and I included the sparkling threads into the Golden Kyphi, which, it turns out, isn't so golden anymore, and somewhat resembles cow plunk, and I can't seem to get the idea of formulating perfume with saffron out of my head (and I'm wondering what kind of nastiness I can whip up with a saffron/cumin formulation -- amped up sexy-ugly).

Marlen, The Perfume Critic, in his acclaimed blog section 'Confessions of an Aromaholic' writes of Ane Walsh's water-themed entry drenched in saffron, "I immediately recognized the coconut but there was something else there that was familiar, something that indeed evoked a Berber-esque vibe, and that note would be the saffron. Although not taking center stage, the saffron is definitely omnipresent and I wonder if Ane didn’t in fact make a tincture of saffron to use as the base alcohol for Essaouira. Anyhow, the blast of citruses certainly aids the tropical feel (think Rio) while the oudh (and I should explain that this is NO way an oudh scent), cedar, chamomile and other earthier notes aids the Moorish seaside feel (think Casablanca). Although not quite as exotic, I think a coco-saffron cocktail might actually be the most appropriate metaphor for Essaouira…"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Update to 'Isolates & Musk' Post

Nix the musk. At least for now. The combination of raspberry and musk reminds me too much of a synth job I had a couple of years ago wherein the owners of a small candle company wanted me to formulate a super strong scent for use in votive candles whose primary purpose was to cover the scent of ganja -- they chose raspberry ketone natural isolate with ambrettolide, galaxolide and velvione. Understandably, that formulation created an unnaturally strong berry/musk combination that I was wholly unprepared for, which in short order induced (in me) bouts of nausea and an annoying low pounding headache. The candle company dissolved before I could present the formulation and I soon forgot the job ever existed. Until now. When I performed a trial outline of raspberry ketone, ambrette seed oil, tarragon oil, and gardenia evulsion. The ambrette was too much, even at a diligently administered 2% dilution. The raspberry hung on the scent strip the entire day and night, and is still there. No sign of the tarragon or gardenia. But while it lasted, aside from the over musking, the scent was surprisingly interesting and fresh. There was a bit of a green zing to the gardenia, which created a loop around the tarragon, creating a lovely green anise-like scent that complimented the raspberry beautifully. Of course, this is just a poke at the project as I haven't really thought much further beyond the raspberry ketone nat. iso, musk, and white flowers with green wings, but I will continue to work on it (and post the results here) until I come to the conclusion that it stinks in a bad way, or that it's worthy of expansion. I'm not entirely averse to adding in the musk once there are more elements in the composition, in fact, it feels like it needs that musk badly. I just need to get over the stinkin' ganja candle experience before I can truly appreciate this one.

Actually, Stinkin' Ganja might be a cool name for a pot-inspired candle company, or a grow supply business. If it's not already taken, you can have it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Isolates & Musk

Just something that's been slipping around in my head for a year or so now, and mostly because I pick up this scent duo on the air whenever I walk past a perfume counter in the mall, however overwhelming it is -- but I was thinking of maybe creating a musky berry accord with raspberry ketone natural isolate and ambrette seed oil (and other things, of course) and delicately applying it to a luscious white floral-based perfume featuring tuberose and gardenia and a hint of jasmine grandi. This is completely an out-of-the-box type of experiment in perfuming for me. I'm not a big florals' girl, but this idea is almost continuous in my head.

Must work the bench or this will never leave me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Perfumed Wine

As most of you who read my blog regularly know, I perform quite a lot of experiments with perfume in food, whether it be a simple off-the-cuff formulation of essences to enhance a batch of cookies or perk up a soup, to fully formulated perfumes to create complex flavor profiles in cream cheese, butter, frostings and ice creams. For a few years now I've been mentally formulating cocktail perfumes, ever since the summer of Camasi Tea, in which pitchers of jasmine green tea spiked with honey and mandarin blossom vodka put the 'woot!' in the birthday party celebrations. At work lately I've been adding a drop of Lylli Bleu Eau de Parfum to my water, sometimes (and this is so good it makes me weep) I'll put in a drop of Parma Extrait into my water and . . . I don't know, it just makes the workday seem less like work and more like being in the studio picking apart notes and putting them back together again in a more interesting and surprising way. (Parma ~ violet leaf absolute, the green leafy character that bolsters the fragrance with a sweet "verte" note, the very bones of the violet family of fragrances; twined and woven into these very basic elements of violet are notes of champaka, benzoin, oakmoss, tuberose, ambrette, rose de mai, antique santal, cassie, tonka, boronia, genet, wild verbena, carrot seed, yuzu, rosa damascena, linden blossom, honey, bergamot and a real tincture of Parma violets.)

Friday was a night of unwinding after a long, long, long week of work and summer visitors and, well, life, so for the first time in a long time, I thought to imbibe and bought a bottle of sparkling wine (I can't remember the name of the wine but it was an Italian sparkling wine that was nice and sweet with a touch dryness), then proceeded to add a drop of Atay Extrait to the glass -- wow.  According to what I wrote about Atay over a year ago, it "unfolds on the skin like blooming tea in hot, honeyed water, unfurling wisps of fragrance ~ ginger, vanilla, tuberose, sandalwood and piquant jade green tea. Atay is a sweet, floral parfum with delicate spice notes. The tuberose is delectable, nearly edible in its richness." Turns out that tuberose was edible. What it did to that sparkling wine was something else -- the tuberose expands in the wine, turning it ambrosial; sweet and heady/floral with touches and whispers of spice and creamy woods.

I've decided the course of the rest of the summer will be small experiments in food, wine and perfume flavorings, despite the protests from the folks who room with me. Get with the program or bake your own damned cookies!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Laying the Golden Kyphi to Rest

The Golden Kyphi project is nearing its end for me, but in a sense, it will never be over. All aspects of the incense have been added and charged, the grains loosely wrapped in unbleached parchment paper and tied with cotton string. September 8th is the date of it's debut as it will have spent nearly two months drying and curing and becoming. The project was a real eye-opener, and a treat, for me as a perfumer. It has literally been years since I was afforded the time and headspace to formulate to my heart's content. Aside from Lylli Bleu, all previous projects were created within limited time frames, hurried, rushed, and perhaps somewhat tainted by my feelings of being hurried and rushed, and most notably by the overriding feeling of negativity that once prevailed. In a sense, this is a confessional post, and the Golden Kyphi represents the the release of pent up everything that I've been subjected to over the past 20-odd years. Without being too detailed, thus coloring my perfumer-as-goddess reputation (I'm poking fun here in case you were wondering if I actually believe that), I will say that the past 10 months have been the most cathartic since I was in my 20s, freeing my mind and heart in ways I never thought possible. I am still a bit entangled, but the threat (and it does feel like a threat) isn't imminent, and I have developed tools with which to thwart any future 'attacks' by having been allowed to be me, finally, for nearly a year. I wouldn't be far off the mark if I were to say that I am empathic, absorbing feelings of elation and discontent as if I were a sea sponge and emotions were water. My spongey self was full and dripping with unhappiness for all this time (where was the flippin' elation?!) -- feelings that I didn't create! This is my toxic people story, and my journey of escape from them. As I mentioned earlier, without going into too much detail, I was in a very, very bad emotional place for a very, very long time. Now I am free, and so I feel that working the Golden Kyphi in the manner I did, basically allowing it to strip the residual hurt away, infused the incense with the ability to do so for others. Are you following my train of thought, or did I just go off the rails? The Golden Kyphi is a banishing incense, a forceful bit of magic that rids space (headspace, house space, inner space, outer space) of the darkness, like the sun shining through the parting clouds after a hateful thunderous storm. Besides all that, it smells wicked awesome.

Lylli Bleu Primordial Scents Water Inspired Parfum Reviewed

By Marlen at The Perfume Critic ~ Confessions of an Aromaholic. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kyphi Progression

Today the kyphi accepted oils of vintage santal, spikenard, Himalayan cedar, and galbanum. Also added a few grams of saffron powder. The scent is beyond intense. I am really enjoying where the kyphi is headed. Soon to ferment and dry and then it will be ready to burn.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Taste TVs First Fragrance Salon, SF

Teaser ~ I took loads of photos, but not all of them turned out well. Enough have that I thought I'd begin posting a few to give all of you who weren't able to make the event a taste of what you missed, and a burning desire to attend the next West Coast Fragrance Salon. Once I've rested up I will post more photos and a few stories.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Nobody Ever Asks Me How My Day Was Anymore

Would you like to know why nobody asks me how my day was anymore? Because I tell them, in detail, every weird observation and people apparently get swept away by it all, the information crowds inside their heads and they come back to me later fretting over what I've told them.

For example, had you asked me yesterday how my day was I would have told you this:

I left the house on foot (because my bike was stolen from work on Monday, July 1, just 10 minutes before I left to go home) at around 8:40 with the scent of kyphi on my hands because I couldn't resist digging into it for a sniff'a before leaving the house. As I neared the free clinic a few blocks from home I noticed a young woman exiting the clinic with an elderly man. She was crying hysterically and he was attempting to toddle across the street to their car before traffic ran them over. There was a brief moment when I was tempted to ask her if I could help but I had a feeling I could not, so I walked on saying a silent prayer for her. About five minutes later I began to hear what I thought was a dog barking -- a very big, very angry dog -- and I thought, "Oh, great! Now I have to run from a loose dog!" But as I came around the side of a house, I realized the barking was yelling and I found myself in the perimeter of a heated 'discussion' about who gets to say what when they feel like it, mother*ucker! My heart raced a bit as I expected the next sound to be that of a gunshot, but the voices died down and I walked on. As I came upon the street where my work is, I cut across the parking lot behind a business and noticed that a little cottage house on the corner behind the business was billowing smoke from the vents on the roof and from the window in the attic. I stopped and pulled out my phone to call 911 as people began to come out of the house -- little children and their mama, and a few other adults. One of the men climbed up the side of the house to look at the roof while another grabbed a water hose. I called the fire department. Within 7 minutes, the roof was blazing, the fire trucks had arrived, and this family stood on the opposite sidewalk and watched their home burn. I said another silent prayer and I walked on. As I rounded another corner, and with my workplace in sight, a white Suburban pulled into the driveway in front of me and the woman inside shouted, "I don't mean to scare you!" I stepped closer (I didn't have a choice, she was in the path of my destination) and out of the passenger window popped an ice cream sandwich. "I just came from the Salvation Army," the woman said. "They gave me this ice cream and I'll never make it home before it melts. Would you please take it?" So I did. She pulled out of the driveway and I walked on. When I arrived at work, I put the ice cream into the work freezer, sat down at my desk and got busy, feeling very much as if I'd just lived a whole day in less than 45 minutes.

So. There you have it. That's why no one asks me how my day was anymore.

On a much less weird note, I am getting prepared for the Fragrance Salon. First I was rideless, then it was a train I was to take, now it's a caravan of cars (just two, actually) of people coming to SF with me, but not to the Salon. They're heading off to 'hang out' in SF, while I will be left on my own in a fragrant paradise. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Resins On a Full Moon

Have you ever had one of those moments where something you smelled or saw or heard or tasted touched a part of you so deep inside it brought tears to your eyes and sent a surge of adrenalin through your body that it left you dumbstruck? I just had one of those moments while adding the resin oils to the golden kyphi. Earlier this morning I finished up adding the last of the dry powdered herbs, and this evening, while the fireworks raged and the moon shone with her fine spidery webs of silver light, I added the resin oils, then mixed them into the kyphi by hand. The entire house is saturated with the scent of the golden kyphi, and my hand smells as if it's touched the tears of the gods (a bit melodramatic, yes, but you haven't smelled my hand, have you?)

Under the filigree light of the full glowing moon, the golden kyphi accepted the oils of olibanum -- serratas and carterris and sacras, which included a vintage luban -- the oils of myrrh, a vintage styrax resin from Givaudan, and a gorgeous Spanish labdanum.

I also added a few drops of moon magic. 

I may never wash my hand again.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Revamped Soap Book

I am no computer program whiz by any stretch of the imagination, so when I ordered copies of my botanical soap book to consign to local stores, I wasn't surprised by how insufficient they appeared -- very big height and width-wise, but extremely thin and hard to work with, like a packet of 29 or so papers in an 9 x 12 brown manila envelope. So I decided to go into the program and dig 'round until I figured out how to create a proper document (book) and resized it to 9 x 6, and page numbered it. There is still no bibliography or sources as the information comes from what I've done in soap making for the past 15 years, so the original sources of knowledge are long forgotten. The original is still listed on Amazon but as an out of print book, while the newest version is listed but not yet available. Now it seems a more substantial bit of craftiness


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