Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Musk Accord

I've been working on a botanical musk accord as part of a project I'm collaborating on with my friend K. Musk is going to be a component in the final composition of the perfume, and instead of just adding a single musk-like material (ambrette, musk root, costus) I chose to build an accord. Yet. Another. Accord. While digging through my big Green Book (that's my original perfume notes' book) I found an entry for a lilac accord, which I had copied with variations from an old perfume book, probably Poucher or Sagarin, I can't remember. It's been a while since I've gone through those books. Anyway, I subsequently found the actual lilac accord I built all those years back and wowie-zowie! It smells EXACTLY like fresh blooming lilac. 'Xactly.
And judging by the amount of concentrate left in the bottle, I'd say I probably used a lot of it in trial compositions or custom perfumes. So what I think I'm going to do is begin building a better library of scents. Catalog this little bit of juiciness and place it in a smaller bottle and use it for coursework when I begin teaching in person next year. I think having the ability to recreate these rarities from unrelated materials is a goal all NBP's should aspire to, even if you think you may never use them in a composition, building a library of accords and finished compositions gives you a platform from which to sell your particular skill. Part of the problem I have is that I undersell my skills. Or I don't sell them at all. But when I find these gems in my stash and can be impressed by them, then why shouldn't I toot my horn? They're good. My skill set is good.

So back to that musk accord. The perfume we're collaborating on is going to be a bit on the dark side, but not nearly so dark as the Bella Cimitaro I built some years ago that smelled of fresh dug earth and dead roses (on purpose). This new composition is allowed to have fire and life and is dark in the sense that the power within is immense and quiet until it needs to be heard. I realize you probably don't understand what I'm talking about, but that's okay. Let the finished composition speak for itself, if it can. This musk accord is very loosely based on a shared formulation from Harry Roth, owner of Alchemy Works. It was by far the most accurate in terms of muskiness of a non-animal based composition that I had found, and after tweaking it, I was able to put my stamp of authenticity upon it. I added a few elements that weren't included in Harry's formula, and eliminated one or two that felt redundant to the current project. When going for tonality in an accord, adding too many elements that send it off in the wrong conceptual direction is easy, plus the rest of the composition must be taken into account, for example, if you use vanilla in an accord, you will have to judiciously dose vanilla elsewhere within the composition if vanilla is part of the grand scheme or you'll end up with an overdose.

The jury's still out on the final evaluation of this new musk accord. So far, so good. Tomorrow could be another story.

The soap is nearly ready to package up for sale. Balsam fir and earthiness prevail! It turned out exactly -- 'XACTLY -- the way I wanted it to. Watch for it on The Scented Djinn Etsy Apothecary, probably in a week or so.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Little Bags of Heads

Received little bags of little heads in the mail yesterday, bedazzlers for a future project, and just because I'm drawn to little heads. Ha!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Experimentation Reigns!

Today I've been doing what my mother would sarcastically call 'fiddle f*cking' around in the studio -- finding out if the burner on a cup warmer can be used as an electric incense diffuser, burning bits of pine resin on the end of toothpicks, figuring out the dispersal ratio of one drop of essential oil/absolute in a cup, a pint, and a quart of water -- all this is for a purpose, I promise.

Whilst fiddle f*cking I made a small experimental batch of bitter orange/orange blossom sugar cubes for teas and lemonade. Today, since it's blazing hot and the air is nearly still, I'm sipping freshly squeezed limeade over lime wedges, ice, and a bitter orange/orange blossom sugar cube. It is heavenly, but judging by the heat out here, it could easily go the other way -- hahahaha!


Friday, July 26, 2013

One Small Step

I made a big decision today which has little to do with perfumery except as a means of unclogging the block in the creative flow.

I find that between the ADD and the paranoia I've developed from living in a neighborhood which hosts such characters as The Shooting Man, a Vietnam vet who happily shoots you down with his fingers whilst calling you a motherf*cker, unless, of course, you give him money; a homeless woman who screams and shouts racial slurs at other women and often 'gets in your face' for no apparent reason, because she never asks for money or, well, anything; and the various and sundry zombies (those are the folks addicted to meth, heroin, and pills) who panhandle in the most odd places, such as where you're walking from your front door to your car in the driveway, that I have become creatively stunted (again) (I know, that was a long sentence and if you tried reading it aloud you'd be blue by the time you reached the last word).

Why do I allow these outside forces to control me this way? I don't know, but I've taken a small step to alleviate some of the stress of this situation by leaving the FB pages of various crimes-in-the-city and neighborhood watches. I guess this is a classical case of ignorance is bliss. I just can't have all this negativity rammed down my throat in a constant 24-hour feed. It's enough I see it with my own eyes and experience an occasional weird front porch moment, I don't need to commiserate with other people in my neighborhood fielding the same issues. I think I'm more suited to country living. Perhaps even deeper, mountains maybe. Heck, I'll throw it out there -- living in a cave for a while sounds refreshingly lovely, though I'm sure the little voice in my head would be shouting and breaking windows before too long.

I guess the long and short of it is I'd like to be in control of the amount of BS being spilled on me at any given time, I mean, who doesn't? Media out of control filled with non-news stories (dieting, perfect eyebrow plucking, deodorant dos and don'ts, 10 ways to know if your man/woman is cheating), then there's the real news which can be so brutal and painful that it leaves scars, then there's FB feed and endless blah-blahs from friends and acquaintances and ads interspersed here and there to entice you to like and buy, then there's familial, real-life news, drama of a different sort, that saps what little emotional and mental energy is left, so that by the end of the day it feels as if you've worked your tail off when all you've really done is troll the internet and listen to your family gossip and complain.

The only real thing is action. I have to get the new syllabus and course curriculum up for the Fall class, and I'm developing an advanced composition class -- it's hard to do these things while allowing (and yes, I am allowing it, or was anyway) outside forces to take me off track. It's exciting new stuff coming from the Academy these days. I have so many ideas and programs I wish to implement. We're growing!

AND I have this awesome new project -- foodie and fabulous, and if all turns out well, I will be presenting some of these olfactgustatory treats on the Etsy site in late fall for holiday purchasing. You're not going to believe what I and my cohort in olfactory crime have dreamed up.

I'm off to the J-O-B, where more responsibility means no raise here in Poorsville. Gosh, why leave on a negative note like that?



Okay, everyone, it's Friday! Go have a nice gin and neroli hydrosol cocktail, and drop a cardamom flavored sugar cube in there -- see how that 'does' you :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The latest batch of kyphi has barely dried and cured and I'm ready for the next one. It's become an obsession. This weekend, the first I've been home or not had houseguests in over a month, will be filled with perfumery projects. I'm working on a batch of soap, that lovely balsam fir based soap I spoke of earlier in the week, and a goodies' experiment, plus once again gathering the bones of another kyphi incense. And I'm writing something up for the latest course at the Natural Perfume Academy -- things are changing there as well -- and I'm collaborating on a perfume project with one of my co-conspirators from the old Blacknails Academy. I had been working on a vintage perfume reimagining but I'm at a crossroads. I've set the project down and can't seem to get back into it. I'm a horrible procrastinator, as you know, and for whatever reason, I am being held back from completing this project. I know the only solution is to simply soldier on. Once I've begun, the inferno will rise again and I'll be knee-deep in fumes and working diligently to bring the project to fruition. In the meantime, I dilly dally, dawdle, fiddle-f*rt, and putter about decanting this, tweaking that, writing down the bones of another, pushing paper from this edge to that edge.


Have I told you I have notebooks half finished full of ideas? Just ideas. Perfume ideas, event ideas, project ideas, collaboration ideas -- they're everywhere, these notebooks, there is even one crammed in my purse, the pages bent and folded and covered in black ink, notes to my future self about what can be. I feel sometimes that I need an assistant thinker. A sounding board made of flesh and blood and passion for perfume. Someone to tinker in the studio with. Someone to help bring all those ideas in the notebooks alive. Another head. I sometimes remind myself of a relative-by-marriage who will invite us to dinner and after three hours of banging pots and running in and out of the kitchen brings a pan of burnt fried potatoes to the table, but has during that three-hour interim managed to chop a cord of wood, tune up the car, water the vegetable garden, feed the chickens, tie up a rope swing, start a bonfire, and collect the mail, all with a certain degree of ineptitude. One has to believe that with all that energy, and a little Adderall, a masterpiece of gustatory precision could have been created. Yeah, sometimes I feel like that...

I'm procrastinating right now, can't you tell?


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Must Stop.

Thinking poorly of myself. Must stop saying negative things about myself, as if I'm agreeing with what I think you think, because odds are, you're not thinking that at all.

I'm a work in progress.

So I've been on this kyphi kick lately, if you hadn't noticed. One of my biggest hurdles with building kyphi(s) is finding a source of great quality pine resin. None of them smelled quite right, and one even smelled like poop. Straight up, bear in the woods poop. I'm beginning to wonder now if that is in fact what it was after all. So over the weekend I had the opportunity to go wild-harvesting, and did I. I found the mother lode of all pine resins near a high mountain lake where the trees are frequently bruised and bumped by careless boaters parking their empty boat trailers, thus leaving the tree wounded and oozing delicious and lovely *gulp* sap. For some reason, I don't like calling sap sap. My son was wild harvesting with me and kept saying, "Hey, there's a good bunch of sap on that tree," to which I'd reply, "Resin! It's resin, not sap." I just don't like that word 'sap'. Sounds too ordinary for what was were carefully coaxing off the coats of these trees. In the end we managed to walk away with nearly a pound of resin which smelled like no other resin I'd ever experienced coming from a pine tree-- I'd swear in a blind test this resin was benzoin, Sumatra, cinnamon and vanilla notes dominate -- it's weird but oh, so lovely.





Also harvested a handful of Douglas fir tips for drying and crushing into incense. Now I should look into restocking all the other resins necessary for kyphi and start a new batch. I have been commissioned, so to speak, to make a batch of balsam fir soap. A few weekends ago I went to Morro Bay, CA and found a lovely little soap and body care apothecary called Babylonian Soap Co. run by a sweet woman whose name escapes me, but who looks like a cross between Bette Page and Morticia Addams -- if you ever visit their store, you can't miss her -- she's bright as sunlight -- anyway, the soap shop had so many different types of soap 'flavors' it was really hard to choose one as a favorite (I ended up with three bars), but I distinctly remember having lustful thoughts about a particular fir bar. I had spent my limit and couldn't get that one, so I'm doing the next best thing -- making my own! I may even toss in a few of those Douglas fir tips for a bit of scrubbiness.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Red Kyphi Protection Empowerment Psychic Doorway Prophetic Dreams

Red Kyphi Protection Empowerment Psychic Doorway Prophetic Dreams 9 grams
Red Kyphi Protection Empowerment Psychic Doorway Prophetic Dreams 9 grams Red Kyphi Protection Empowerment Psychic Doorway Prophetic Dreams 9 grams
I've blogged about this kyphi since May 2013. First because it was coming along so beautifully, then because it began to work its magic.

Made using the traditional techniques of the Ancient Egyptians, first golden raisins were soaked in red wine and gin (not so traditional, that gin bit), then over the course of a few weeks herbs were combined and soaked in red wine, then honey and frankincense and pinon pine resin were boiled to create a lovely thick fragrant incense syrup which was then added to the herbs and other resins until this mish-mosh of various plant materials created a stunning and perfect kyphi incense. After a few weeks of drying and rolling and curing and babying, the kyphi was stable enough to cut into bits and then rolled in a fragrant dust composed of orris root, cinnamon, galangal, and star anise.

Ingredients: honey, golden raisins, red wine, gin, frankincense, pinon pine, opoponax, myrrh, santal, spearmint, gum arabic, dragon's blood, orris, cinnamon, acacia flower, Siam benzoin, camphor, galbanum, sweet grass, calamus, Sumatran benzoin, galangal, star anise.

The ingredients were chosen to help in works involving protection and empowerment, however a byproduct of those ingredients also included a bit of psychic doorway opening during meditation; if this kyphi is burned prior to bedtime, prophetic, and even disturbing, dreams may be on the horizon for the sleeper.

The listings are for one 18 gram amber glass jar, and one 9 gram plastic envelope of hand crafted Red Kyphi incense, $9 and $3.60 respectively. Burn responsibly. This is not a self combusting incense, please burn on chemical safe charcoal in a fire safe burner, or on an electric incense heater.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Day 94 ~ One Year, One Nose > Seaweed Absolute, Biolandes, 50%

Another yum-yum from the box of aromatic treasures, comes Seaweed Absolute from Biolandes, France (2/2013) diluted to 50% in alcohol.

First I'd like to say that I find it somewhat odd and synchronistic that this item was randomly chosen from the box, as in eyes closed, hand flopping about, fingers grasping, as I've been spending time near the sea quite a lot this summer, and I've been dealing with some hormonal issues which I've been treating in part with Skye Botanicals 'Serious Seaweed Potion' ~ La Sirena calls, I listen with every fiber of my body apparently.

So here we are with this seaweed absolute, the bottle unopened, my first foray and you as witness ~

The color is dark and murky, mossy brown-green, and even at 50% dilution, it's still quite 'sticky', coating the inside of the bottle with the darkest shade of green before it goes brown. From the bottle it smells of angelica root and alcohol, sweet and narcotic, like a wicked drug. I've applied a dab on the back of my hand and smeared it across, it leaves a resinous lacquer of  sea scent which dries to a shine. Now those sea notes begin to push out, the saltiest of seaweeds torn from their underwater forests and flung with the high tide across the beach to slowly rot in the sun. One can almost imagine the sand fleas and weed flies hovering in hives above the melting beached seaweed. This is pure seaweed, a bit musty, a bit of what we imagine salt to smell of, a bit of the animalic, furry and slightly fishy, warm -- like I imagine a whale's burp to smell.

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