Saturday, November 29, 2014

Trials of a Thurifer

So this happened ~

Yeah, the stuff didn't quite make it onto the bamboo splits the way I would have liked for them to. My base wasn't tacky enough and literally slid off the stick. I have some ideas to help with that but all are very time intensive. But hey! I'm willing to see what it will take and then take it there.

So I've got some nicely scented cones, which don't exactly embody the scent I wanted -- not precisely -- too much makko smell and not enough of the gorgeous white sage and frankincense. The makko scent really expanded when I added the liquid portion to the dry ingredients, even though I used white sage hydrosol (mine) to wet it. It's a bit too spicy for what I was going for. However, I did take a pinch of the pre-wetted powder and put that on a burner, and wow! The scent is absolutely where I want this incense to go.

Making cones was kind of fun. At first I was feeling a bit defeated, like I'd wasted all this contemplative energy to work out the incense only to have it fail. Well, as a stick it failed, as a cone it's pretty darned nice. Still a bit too spicy for me, but I haven't yet burned one of the finished cones, so who knows?

I'm thinking of all things incense now, and cones were on the list of things to make in the future. The future came a wee bit early, though, and the process has piqued my interest. I made cones in the past (20 years ago or so) and they never really turned out how I wanted them to -- hard to burn, smelled 'off', but that could be because I was a dimwit when it came to distinguishing between 'fragrance oils' and 'essential oils'. Plus, if you're using really nice herbs and resins in powder form (for this type of incense), why bungle it up with essential oils anyway? With a few years of learning the character of the raw materials under my belt, I think I can make a go of cones now.

Pastilles, like little scent buttons, are on the agenda as well. Like cones but not conical (duh). Same process for creating the incense, but without the self-igniting element (makko) so they are to be used on a burner (not charcoal).

Speaking of 'not charcoal', I'm really starting to hate the stuff. What a pain in the arse they are! Hard to light, burn up quickly, and totally destroy the integrity of a finely crafted incense like nothing else does. If you're into the whole smoke thing, that's fine, use charcoal to your heart's content, but if you're into simply listening to the incense, hearing its heart fill the room, use an oil burner or an electric heater. No smoke, gorgeous scent -- every time. And your incense will last ages longer.

Using indirect heat makes listening to incense so much more enjoyable. The scent creeps up on you, subtle tendrils of delicate scent entangle you, the movement of the incense is so slow, so determined, that you may not even notice right away that there is scent in the room -- until you leave and come back into that room. Then BAM! Right in the schnogils! Some of you old-timers out there are probably chuckling at me right now, saying to yourselves, yeah, I knew that. I'm an experiential learner of the highest degree, and I receive quite a lot of joy from working my tail off to make something work first-hand. When I'm learning to do this type of art, I will take the instruction and use it -- the first time. After that, it's all about twisting and turning and adding this or taking away that. I was never good at paint-by-numbers.


  1. Anonymous10:41 AM

    Hi Justine,

    I couldn't get on with charcoal fo incense either - it proved to be such a no-no with smoke alarms everywhere! - but we lived and learned from that experience.

    All the best, Anna in Edinburgh

    1. I agree. I also think charcoal changes the character of the incense too much to really enjoy the experience. And all those buzzers going off can really kill the mood too :)



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