Thursday, January 08, 2015

Buddha, Branding, and Makko

I spent most of last evening working in the kitchen/studio hopping between three projects and finally feeling like some headway was being made. I am enamored of incense these days -- all sorts of incense from all corners of the globe, and working on projects which will reflect the growing love. It's all about the raw materials in the right hands. From cooking to sewing to gardening to scenting, the quality of the basic ingredients (foodstuff, fabric, seeds and soil, herbs and spices and woods and flowers) in the hands of a skilled artisan are paramount to creating a top quality end product. But sometimes, the raw materials sing alone, their quality and beauty unmarred even in the hands of a bumbler.

The stillpot was bubbling last night with a lovely mash of Buddha's hand citron -- the hydrosol is delicate and sweet, slightly tangy and floral. It's very nice. I used Buddha's hand citron tincture earlier last year in a Florida Water formulation (Farat) and it added to the neroli and petit grain notes, creating a seamless transition from the tart of lemon to the sweet of neroli, so I really enjoy the scent of Buddha's hand citron. Buddha's hand is seasonal, showing up in the markets in late December and early January, so if you intend to work with the stuff, now is when you should jump on any that you find. They can be tinctured, distilled, and even made into a pomade. The dried skin can also be used in cooking and incense.

The days have been spent going through the incense raw materials, finding lost treasures and getting reacquainted with old friends. I'm really digging makko right now, as an ingredient for scent rather than as a binder. The scent is beautiful -- masculine, woody, spicy, like cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger, warm. It blends well with santal and frankincense, creating a 'handsome', bold and full scent. Some experiments with body incense have commenced -- the results to be announced some time this year.

Last night was also spent working on 'branding'. I realize it's a little late in the game, and my ideas for labels and logos and branding over the past 15 odd years resemble the actions of a squirrel crossing the street in heavy traffic, but it wasn't for naught. I have a clear vision of what I want, I simply am incapable of executing that vision, and I'm not in a position to hand over thousands of dollars to someone else with more skill than I to do the work for me. I am closer, though, and below is an example of what I'm working toward. I plan to stick with this label for the year before deciding whether to fine tune and embellish, or get rid of it entirely and start from scratch -- again. It isn't a matter of reinvention but a matter of definition.

Basic label
Label with product information included

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