Thursday, May 21, 2015

Liquid Soap

In the throes of liquid soap making. Watched many online tutorial videos, visited many soap making websites, gathered the tools and the raw materials and I'm probably at the halfway mark as far as getting to liquid soap. I'm at the taffy stage. Which apparently lasts longer than all the other stages because the taffy is becoming taffier and my stirring arm is weak and shaking like a hungry kitten. This is different, but kind of the same as far as progression of the soap -- at some point it goes through a gel phase and that's basically when it's done doing whatever it's going to do. Haven't gotten there yet. Crossing fingers and toes this isn't another failed experiment. I'd love to have patchouli dish soap at the sink.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I finally figured out that when people tell me that I'm an 'enigma', what they're really saying is that I'm weird.
I'm a bit of an outcast. By nature. By choice too, if I'm being honest. I've always felt a little bit 'out there', and until recently, out there entailed a lot of loneliness. Not so much anymore. I've learned there are a lot of us out there, and we're all getting along quite nicely together.

I'm embarking upon a new adventure -- liquid soap creation. I recently purchased a small and very expensive bottle of natural dish soap which was embellished with a titch of real orange blossom absolute. It seemed as though I was perfuming the pots and pans every time I washed them, and the hot water helped disperse the scent throughout the kitchen -- it was sublime. So I thought, why not make my own? Why not finally after nearly 20 years making soap try my hand at liquid soap? Potassium hydroxide, heat on the stove, borax, and hours of stirring? Why not? Some time later today an order of potassium hydroxide flakes will be arriving in the post, I've got the recipe out and ready to go. The space is sparkling clean and I have no further obligations outside of the house to take me away from my experiment.

I'm also pretty darned excited to play again.

I've also been slowly gathering the goods for a new batch of Egyptian style Kyphi -- with a twist, of course, because I wouldn't be me if I didn't try to do something a little wickedly different, yes?

I'm also in the throes of not writer's block but writer's hesitation. I've got about half of the new perfumery book written and I'm considering adding a bit more of me to the text -- y'know, less of an instructional tone, like the first book, and more of a conversational tone, well, like me. That would mean editing and rewriting what I've already done, thus the hesitation.

So I've been reading a lot more. Lots of different books on different subjects. Things that make a person have wild and wooly dreams. Books that make me realize that 99.99% of everything going on in the world is based on fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the future, fear of the past, fear of losing oneself, fear of not finding oneself, fear of hunger, fear of death, fear of poverty, fear of not finding the next fix, fear of abandonment, fear of looking foolish, fear of coming in last, fear of someone else getting ahead. Just plain old useless fear. I'm a hapless victim of useless fear. But fear is like a heavy jacket worn in the blazing sun -- just take it off. Bask in the unknown, the unanticipated. That's when things start to get interesting. Think of the things you could say, the things you could do if you didn't fear what might happen.

In the months preceding my father's death from terminal cancer, I asked him if he was afraid of death and he said, with his signature whiskey-rough laugh, "No! I'm only afraid of how much I will miss you until you find me again."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Incense Days

The wee one and I started another batch of incense, and this time we're using the itty bitty gingerbread man cookie cutter to shape the incense. I haven't the foggiest notion how many little incense people we will get from this batch, but it's a great project to initiate the wee one into ceremonial-type incense creation. She was very excited and kept grabbing the cookie cutter during the grinding and singing part. I really had to reel her in a time or two. Once, while she was using the electric grinder to powder gum leaf, she pulled the cap off too soon, while the rotors were still moving, and slung gum leaf dust all over the counter. She's gone off with mum to have lunch so I have a moment or two alone to add the finishing touches to the incense powder -- vetyver essential oil and loads of oakmoss absolute -- before adding the water and creating the incense paste. Since the wee one is so in tune with nature and growing things, I think the bent on this incense batch will be toward honoring the earth spirits, particularly the Green Man.

On the gardening front, over the winter I read up on growing the best tomatoes possible and found a site, which I have since lost the link, stating that tomatoes can be grown very effectively in containers, for which I was thrilled to learn. Last year my container tomatoes were pathetically small and produced minimal fruit. As per the instructions on this website, I went to the local pot shop where they sell goods to grow ganja and picked up a 20-gallon bag container, a box of fish bone meal, and worm castings. Then I hit up my daughter's employer, a sushi chef, for a container of fish parts, heads, skin, bones and whatnot, and then I bought a bottle of children's aspirin and located the bucket of egg shells I save for the garden and went to work. The final ingredient was the tomato plant, which to my surprise voluntarily sprouted from heirloom seeds I planted last season, so I have no clue what type of tomato I'm going to get once the plant throws fruit. I also got a big bag of gardening soil. Here's what I did: First, I filled the 20-gallon bag container about a quarter full with garden soil, then I began dumping all the 'goodies' in -- the fish parts went in first (I actually let these set outside for three days to get rotty and gross before using them), then five baby aspirin on top of that, then worm castings, then a fair sprinkling of fish bone meal, and lastly the crumbled egg shell. I then poured in more garden soil to about halfway and planted the tomato plant at that level, then filled the bag to the top, which covered the plant by about half of its height -- that meant half the foliage was now  underground. It's been about a month now and that plant is looking so healthy and gorgeous. It's grown about six times its original size, and already has tomatoes on the lower branches. I'm so impressed with this technique for growing tomatoes, and I can't wait for the harvest.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Smelly Smells that Smell

I was digging through my treasure boxes, the boxes with the little bits and snips of aromatic rarities, and I ran across a wee bottle of massoia bark CO2. First off, massoia oil is prohibited for use in fragrance by the IFRA because of its dermal toxicity, having stated that, many natural perfumers still use massoia oil in their perfumes. Oddly enough, you can eat this stuff up to 10.0000 ppm in a 'finished product' -- massoia cookies anyone?

Massoia CO2 is a glorious smelling oil -- smells of butter and coconuts and creamy vanilla and I completely understand why a natural perfumer would want to use it in a natural perfume, despite the warnings. Years ago I tinctured dried unsweetened coconut to try and capture that lovely buttery coconutty scent with some success. The scent was fleeting and left me wanting more. Again, I see why a natural perfumer would turn to massoia as an alternative. There are coconut options out there -- a coconut absolute that's hard to find, and a coconut pulp CO2 that's more like a nut oil than an essential oil. Both have short scent life spans, though.

Massoia could be used in incense I think, to give a tropical lift to a floral based incense. It's definitely a material worth figuring out.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Oh, Bots

Every so often I notice the number of views for this blog increases dramatically. This happens about three or four times a year and it's always about bots. They're not real people but programs that jack up the number of views on a site for a variety of nefarious reasons. I used to name them when I first noticed they were hopping onto this blog, and then inevitably there would be another surge of views from the bots I'd name, so I stopped naming them. Now they're just generic bots, bothersome and sometimes malicious if one decides to follow the link to the source, meant to excite the blogger into thinking they've somehow opened a magical miracle doorway in an international forum and have hundreds of new readers. It ain't so.

I've been attempting to evaluate student submissions this week, as well as evaluating a few things perfumery peers have sent, but it's been slow going with the advent of spring, the wind, and the dreaded blooming olive trees. My eyes are itchy and swollen, my nose has had nearly all the outer layers of skin wiped off with rough tissues, and my sinuses are swollen and sensitive. I've been drinking local honey by the tubs, pushing fluids like hot green tea, irrigating as best as I can, but I think I'm just going to have to ride this one out. At least I haven't faced the miserable sinus headache . . . yet. Taking it one day at a time.

I've been reading a lot -- again. Guerilla Marketing, which is somewhat dated, is the latest read through. Also working on Stirring the Senses by Beth Schreibman Gehring. Uplifting and joyful, that book, and completely corresponds to my way of thinking 'small is best', 'simple is elegant', and grateful for even the most mundane of blessings (if blessings can be mundane). I'm also plodding along through the book 'Plant Resins' by Langenheim. Boy, what a book! It's so big you could probably see it from space. I kid. I'm just getting into it and don't have much to say other than I'll be working on that one a while. I just finished up 'The Secret of Scent' by Luca Turin -- for the third time. I learn something new every time I read it, a light goes on in my slow sluggish brain and I 'get' what he's talking about. Scent chemistry eludes me but I feel it is important to have some basic understanding of how it works to become a better perfumer. I'm a visual learning, however, all those hexagons (or whatever they are) with tails and straggly wild hairs sticking off of them are too abstract for me to understand, so I think of these scent chemicals in color blocks. It just makes it simpler for me to grasp. And impossible to explain ~ ha!

I've been trying to come up with ways to teach more classes online and I'm stumped. I am throwing the idea around of doing a series of videos (I know, you've heard that one before) to add to the Natural Perfume Academy's courses, and perhaps even a private course with video for people who are interested in a more one-on-one experience. I've thought about teaching a perfume oil class at the tea shop, but I just can't seem to get my arse in gear to do it. I've been busy with writing the new book and teaching the new course and putting products together and taking care of people and plants, and the weird thing is that for all of this stuff that I do, I still feel idle! Like I'm sitting here devoid of ideas and inspiration, poking about in the 'studio' and fiddling with the book writing and passing the time on Facebook becoming neurotic. That's what it feels like, that's not what I'm actually doing. I've got over 20,000 words on the new book (the old book is 45,000 words including indexes and contents information, bibliography and sources) and I'm no where near done. I feel I am writing a perfumer's opus here. I may need to get some professional help, or at the very least, a perfumer *slash* editor type to help me sort the whole thing out before it goes to publication.

I'm also revisiting the idea of writing some fiction again. Way before perfumery came into my life, my dream was to become a writer. I am a writer but my commercial success lies firmly upon the shoulders of non-fiction writing, instructional writing, which I love, but doesn't fulfill me emotionally the way spinning a yarn does. My hope is to one day use all this perfumery knowledge to write a series of fiction stories. I'm partial to mystery and horror. We'll see where it goes.

My little granddaughter and I spent last Thursday night, the Eve of May, forming wee cones of incense as my paste wasn't cooperating enough to roll onto sticks. She began calling the cones 'witch's hats' and it's stuck. We made about 100 witch's hats, seven or so were rolled by her sweet little hands as she attempted at one point to make voodoo doll-style incense people and became distracted with the task at hand. That was a bit of a light bulb moment as well -- voodoo doll-style wee incense people is a good idea.We can search out bitty gingerbread man cookie cutters and make some fun out of incense.


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