Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Heed the Call

When did 'news' become advertising? I just followed a link for what appeared to be a juicy mystery, only to discover it was garbled sound bite style article writing surrounded by a dozen adverts for cars, drugs, and investment 'opportunities', followed by AT&T logos everywhere. The logo was even in the background of a photo used to illustrate the story. The story itself was a dud. Completely, but, man, the side bars were loaded with distracting stuff I neither need nor can afford. It makes me sad for our society that so much sh*t is being forced down our necks as 'necessary' to our survival when it is not necessary to anybody's survival except for the very financially wealthy, y'know, in order to keep them that way. I apologize if I sound a bit anti-capitalist -- I'm not -- not even close, I like money just as much as the next girl, but I've never found the idea of 14k gold water faucets as a plausible end goal. That kind of 'rich' is gaudy and desperate. Snap the handle off your bathtub and feed some hungry people, why don't you? Invest in education. Start some companies where people actually have jobs that create a living for them. Not everyone wants to be bloody rich; some just want to shop for their kids' school clothes at Target instead of Goodwill.

I'm done. For now. Ha!

The weekend was great. The soap workshop was a lot of fun, even if turnout wasn't the best it's been in the past. Fresno's a hard sale. As I've said before, that area isn't made for this type of work; people there are underpaid, overworked, and hanging onto their pennies -- because they have to. Soap workshops, perfume workshops, and Kyphi workshops just aren't in the budget for most. At any rate, it was a great class; my grandson showed up and was the alchemist's helper, stirring the pot, asking very important soap-related questions, sniffing, and moving things along at a near-manic pace. The gardens at Seasons were in bloom with rose geranium, different types of roses, lavender -- even the white sage, which now stand over six feet tall, are budding and blooming. The bees around the white sage were intense! Bumbles and honeys were everywhere, just giving those plants tons of bug love. Seasons now permanently hosts bee boxes, and white sage honey will be part of the honey crop this year.

I think I'm going to go off the grid a bit for the next few weeks. I've got tons of custom work that's backed up, plus I'm anxious to begin work on re-formulations and re-batches of perfumes that I'm getting requests for. I need to immerse myself in study again, re-acquaint myself with the creative, in what ever ways appear to me. Work/Creativity is beckoning and I must heed the call. That means I probably won't be posting much here for a while. For weeks. Maybe months. Love ya.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Soap Workshop April 23, 2016

The soap making workshop is this Saturday, the 23rd, from 1 to 4, or whenever we finish the work, at Seasons of Spirit in Sanger, CA (15 minutes east of Clovis, CA) ~

 I am offering a two-fer of sorts -- for every pair, couple, friends in twos, cousins in twos, mums and daughters, sons and fathers, etc., you get a discounted fee rate of $80 the pair instead of the $65 per person for those coming one-by-one. In other words, if you bring a friend, you get to ride the Soap Class Choo-Choo for less than if you came by yourself.

I'm working on the scent combination for the workshop sample soap today and finishing with the actual creation of the soap this evening. The soap will also be given away to participants of the workshop, along with my soap making booklet.  It'll be a lot of fun, so if you can, come on out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Camphor Wood of Indonesia

After a couple of years of searching for camphor WOOD -- not crystals, not essential oil, not tincture of crystals -- I finally found someone by pure happenstance who sells the shavings. If you've been creating Kyphi with camphor crystals or camphor oil, you're missing out on something enriching and historical. The camphor wood (Cinnamomum camphora) is so much more multi-faceted and layered than straight camphor crystals or oil; the wood is deeper, richer, woody (think of the dry sun soaked nature of cedar wood chips) and subtle at the same time. Unlike camphor crystals and white camphor oil, the wood contains high amounts of safrole, a toxic substance known to cause cancer. I initially thought I might make a nice camphor wood body incense, which I announced on my business FB page, but after a few minutes of research, I realized that won't be happening. I can, however, make a beautiful powder incense and Kyphi using small amounts of this luscious camphor wood. Camphor wood is the historical ingredient used in Kyphi, not the oil or crystals. I'm anxious to get a batch of Kyphi started and replacing my crystal/oil combination with the wood -- 7 grams, a minuscule amount compared to the weight of the whole  -- and watch as the scent unfolds over the next few months. It's exciting that the closer I get to using authentic ingredients in Egyptian Kyphi, the more I feel as if I'm stepping back in time and calling upon the same forces they might have called upon in ritual. One can (day) dream.

Camphor Wood Shavings
More and more ideas are rolling in, and I'm especially surprised by how those stupid 'memories' things that pop up on my feed at FB have turned on a few lights as well. For example, Vintage Rose 10 ml perfume oil that I made in 2014 popped up, and I'm sitting here wondering why I'm not making more of that and selling it for cookie money. It sold like mad and was very popular. I guess it's a problem with how I perceive certain types of work that I do. With Kyphi, production is complicated, semi-ritualistic, semi-experimental, and the time involved to raise the energy (mature) the incense can make even the most patient of people tear out their hair; with perfume, it's more the work of the alchemist, things are a bit more scientific, I have a better hold on how things will turn out, but again, it's a time thing, so more hair tearing. Those little oil works, the soliflores and the simples, those take almost no time at all because they're straight-forward, and the elements used in them are limited to what will enhance the core without overriding. I say that as if they are easy to create. They are, and they aren't. I mean, it only took me a dozen or so years of studying this art form to have that knowledge when something will work -- or not. So easy after years of hard work then. The rate at which I create things depends upon how long it will take to make it, and how deep into the closet I'm willing to dig. Mostly that. The digging thing. Yeah. I think that's why I buy so many new scenting elements -- because it's easier to have the package delivered to the door than it is to pull out box after box and dig through each one to find a bottle of whatzit that I need. So now I've got stockpiles of whatzits everywhere. Lame.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mote of the Strange

As the days have progressed, I have been working on F12016CH, and though it is turning out beautifully, if I do say so myself, it's missing something. I haven't as yet put my finger on what it's missing, but I hope that with ageing, the missing piece will present itself. It's something worth sleeping on. The last time I had this problem with a perfume not quite coming together, I was advised by another, very well-known, perfumer to add more jasmine. That may be the fix, but I'm looking for a prestige note to do the work for me. And I'm thinking green is the way to go. However, every single day I evaluate this new scent, I am surprised to find it is changed. It is possible that ageing is all it really needs, and some serious dilution. I'm finding that the more tinctures and alcoholic extracts I add, the more expansive and multi-faceted the scent becomes. Time may very well be the final component here. It never ceases to amaze me how something dreamed up in my tired old mind can become what I imagined it would only after time has been applied. Modhlim, for example, is now quite beautiful, much more so than when I first created it. All the sharp notes of basil and the dusty, rusty iron-like piercing quality of green tea mellow behind a veil of soft spices and lush florals. Perfuming with natural raw materials is never boring, as their chameleon qualities serve to enhance almost any pot they're thrown into, given time.

There are some advantages to living in a perfumer's (or creative's) bubble, and one is not allowing oneself to become influenced by trends. I've been a victim of trend following in the past, when I was seeking the all mighty dollar above all else, and it always ended disastrously. I would be left holding the bag, both figuratively and literally. The only times I've been rewarded for my creative work was when I went against the grain, when I did something different, or explored something with a mote of the strange -- or at least strange for my clientele.  The creative juices are flowing, my friends, and I'm back! It took reading off the grid works and a change of familial circumstance for the block to dislodge, and, boy, what a backlog of ideas and future projects came pouring out. I have yellow sticky notes posted everywhere with new ideas, names for future work, materials to explore. They're on my desk, on my computer's screen frame, on the walls around my work station, tagging up on pages in books stacked high on the blending desk, the kitchen table, the computer station, the chest freezer that serves as a printer stand. They're fluttering to the floor when papers are being shifted about, and have to be retrieved and arranged in an order my mind can make sense of. I feel lighter. Back in tune. Ready to create.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


My, how things change on a dime around here. I may not have to seek space outside of the home because the dynamics are changing -- again -- and I may have space here to use. I would still, at some point, like to have an actual shop, but for now, studio space may be available right here. As soon as July. It's kind of sad, the dynamics bit, but exciting too. Like most major changes along the path, this will be life altering. In a good way. One hopes.

What a gorgeous day today is turning out to be. And why am I sitting here on this box tip-tap-typing away? Because no reason. As soon as I'm done here, I'm going to run a brush through my 'do, throw on some jeans, and go for a walk.

Formula#1-2016 Chypre, which I'm now abbreviating to F1-2016CH for the sake of my aching fingers, is GORGEOUS! And she's not even done yet. The dry down is so pretty, soft, musky, warm, slightly fruity with a big floral flush. I think from here on out it's going to be tweaking things here and there and then moving on to dilution and more tweaking.

Here she is for her close-up. Those paper strips are what I transported the oak moss absolute into the formula.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Grow Already!

Watching and waiting for seedlings to take hold and grow is excruciating business. Someone -- yeah, that guy -- with size 11.5 shoes stomped all over my seedlings that were clearly visible while that same someone -- that jerk -- was cleaning out the rain gutters, so a few of my seedlings kicked the bucket. Thank the universe that I never use up all my seeds when I plant -- yes, for exactly this reason, because despite years -- YEARS -- of starting plants this way, years of all those someones enjoying eating what I grow, one or all inevitably fcks them up causing a late restart. It happens. Every. Time. Someone even weed whacked a Mother's Day azalea to death a few years back because 'it was in the way'. Let me tell you, that year, someone got his/her ear filled with what an irresponsible twaddler he/she was, and subsequently, he/she never picked up a weed whacker again.

At any rate, things are growing, but again, it's excruciating watching them.

Cherokee Purple tomato, organic, heirloom, doing well

Pumpkin, organic, heirloom, not doing so well -- day 2 in the dirt and a snail has already made a meal of it's first leaves, hence the pellets scattered about

Dill for pickling
Tomato, not sure what type, organic, heirloom, survived the foot

Tested Formula#1-2016 Chypre and it presents as very floral-fruity, mostly berries and violets (a theme I seem to keep coming back to) with almost no extending notes whatsoever. I'm happy with its progression as the scent is beginning to become cohesive -- though still very berryish and violety, it seems to have mellowed and is more of a harmonious scent rather than a raw, screechy scent as it was in the very beginning. I know, it's only day 2 (technically) but already things are changing and moving around. It might need more oakmoss if things don't mature the way they should. We shall see how she goes.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Little Tea & Company

Wow. The internet can be a really depressing place. Especially FB. It brings to the fore all of the super depressing crap on the 'net into one space. It's all there, the dumbing down of Americans, the greed, hypocrisy, sexism, hate. It's like a bazaar or swap meet of 'hey, don't get your hopes up'. It's not all bad, I suppose. There are the silly memes and links to studies that say drinking champagne can make you smarter, but for the most part, the ugh outweighs the yay. I'm sure I'm feeling this way because I've been spending a lot of time on FB and other social media the past week, being sick and all, there's not much to do but fall into a pit of Netflix and Candycrush and FB 'n' Twitter because reading isn't even an option. Mindlessness ruled this past week and thinking too hard actually hurt. Or at least made me dizzy. So I'm currently detoxing from FB -- fewer minutes there and more minutes with paper books in my hand will cure me. I'm accumulating quite a few of those paper books lately, some on perfumery, others on spirituality and history. The mindless reading, the romance and time travel and long lost love books are Nook'd for $1.99. This guarantees at least a couple of hours of half-brained engagement. Escape stuff, because everybody needs a few fluffy stuffed bunnies thrown into the reading bin every now and again. Reading encourages writing, and writing encourages inspiration, or at least I hope it does.

I dropped off two of the tea soaps at the shop yesterday, and what I thought were half hearted attempts turned out to be something fabulously beautiful to the tea shop folks. They loved them. I'm planning to batch up some of the Kyoto Cherry Rose formulation later today and I'm taking some of it to create a perfume for the Apothecary. I also remembered what the other tea shop soap was -- Lavender Cream Earl Grey! How could I forget? So the three left to complete are the Russian Caravan, Cinnamon Fig, and Lavender Cream Earl Grey. Oh, and I might have a new studio site to contemplate now. I'll have to think about it, though. It's not optimal in terms of access to water and whatnot, but it's worth ruminating.

I just noticed yesterday that while I was laid up in bed, the honeysuckle in back bloomed. Later this week, the wee one and I will be making an enfleurage of honeysuckle. She has the touch, that wee one. And she loves doing this kind of thing. For her it's like doing her art (painting and drawing) and cooking -- this is what she told me -- at the same time. Speaking of art, I have to go to the craft store later today to pick up more paints and brushes for her. I'll take her along to pick out the colors she wants. Maybe I'll grab her better paper too since she's been doing art on copy paper lately.

I recently ordered (yep, me with the ordering stuff I have no space for) sawdust from a woodworker -- I have coming ash, balsamo, camphor, cedar, kauri, oak, rosewood, and yew sawdusts. The camphor wood is a boon as it is one of the ingredients listed in the original Kyphi formulation. I've used mostly camphor leaf and camphor crystals to replace the wood. And before you ask, balsamo is tolu. That lovely, sweet, warm, vanilla and cinnamon scented balsam of tolu. Have you ever seen anyone so excited for sawdust? It reminds me of when I began making sawdust (pine) based incense about 20 or so years ago and how women on the Yahoo group forums used to laugh at me behind their hands about it. Why? I'm not sure. Because sawdust is considered inferior and nobody but hippies make sawdust based incense? Well, except for everyone who uses woods in their incense, which is just about everybody who makes incense. Woods are the building blocks of incense. And my old sawdust-based hippy incense was good, if I do say so myself. I'm being too defensive, aren't I? Once I receive the sawdusts, I'll report back here and let you know more about them. I find the subject fascinating.

I'm am now inspired to dig up my antique balsam of tolu resin and make soap of it. Wouldn't that be marvelous? Balsamo soap.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Slow Moving Through the Baubles and Bits

I'm still feeling the effects of that gastroenteritis or norovirus (same thing?) or whatever it was that kept me in bed last week, so the closet progress is slow. I have managed to get a lot of work done, but just not much sorting as yet. The sorting is going to take more time. And as usual, there are more things coming in the post almost daily that need storing as well. This shortage of storage space is really taking its toll. And I haven't actually sat down to create anything to sell to keep this thing going in a month or more. Not since the bergamot enfleurage pommade. I'm sure once I dig further into the closet I'll find things -- incense mostly, well aged and ready for sale -- and loads of stuff to make more stuff. The off-site studio space is still sorta, kinda on the table, just not imminent.

I found this box inside an even larger box that was full of packaged bundles of incense from White Lotus Aromatics ~

Lots of floral waxes and rare bits of other stuff

And I found this, the paper stamp, hidden under, well, some paper ~

And then while uploading photos from my camera to the computer, I found this ~

The wee one is really into art and painting and drawing and thinks the best canvas is her own face. This is something semi-abstract she was putting together. When asked what this image expressed, she stated, "It's hiding. You have to look for it."

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Going In

Today's the day. After much rumination, procrastination, and excuse-making, I'm opening the closet door and setting the contents to rights.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Gastroenteritis and 36,000 Milligrams of Vitamin C

So, that's what I've been doing the past two days, lying in bed with a horrendous headache, fever, stomach cramps, and other nasty things. But I have successfully managed to shove down 36,000 milligrams of vitamin C in three days' time in an effort to shut this crap down. And I think it might be working. I still feel a little woozy, but the headache is mostly gone, the feverishness has stopped, the stomach isn't so touchy, and the other nasty stuff has ceased. I'm sure FOOD will help once I get some in as I haven't eaten anything but a cup of soup (literally, 8 ounces) since Friday. On an up note, I'm only three or four more bouts of gastroenteritis away from my optimal weight.

One of my good online friends, Joseph DeLapp, has been named a finalist in the Art and Olfaction Awards. We all get to find out if he's won in May. I think the A&O Awards are perhaps the most legitimate for indie and artisan perfumers than any other awards, namely the FIFI's. Someday I hope to create something I feel confident enough to enter. There is hope. It just isn't going to happen today.

I finally cut the two loaves of tea shop soap -- and discovered that the little red pods (which I thought were weird potpourri things) in the butterscotch tea blend are actually pink peppercorns. Now, why would someone put pink peppercorns in butterscotch tea? I've tasted this tea and it has more of a chai feel to it, so that's got to be the answer. It's another type of chai. Overall, I'm pleased with how these two have turned out. Next week I hope to be working on the other two (or is it three?) tea shop soaps, which will prove a bit easier to manipulate than these two were. Russian Caravan is smoky and dark, and Cinnamon Fig is cinnamony (though very slightly) and dark fruit.

I have this soapmaking class coming up on April 23 and people are already concerned about the price. It's $65 for instruction, and includes a $16 booklet and a bar of finished soap (because the soap we make in class won't be ready for four weeks . . .) I run into this all the time. And I understand it, too, I mean, it has to be worth it in the long run, right? If you're learning because you want to make soap for yourself, you're probably better off reading a bunch of books and watching online tutorials, but if you're interested in starting a business or making lots of soap to give away as gifts to friends, family, and maybe even charities, then an in-person class is the better option. You can ask your teacher questions; a book won't answer, and neither will a YouTube video. And a teacher will show you how to cut through all the mistakes first-timers make. The bottom line is this; if you learn from books and tutorials, you're more likely to spend wads more money slogging through problems than you would had you just spent the $65. I know this from experience. No one was teaching soapmaking when I learned through books, and more books, and dozens and dozens of failed batches of soap. I probably spent $1500 the first year I made soap and didn't have but maybe five or six batches of viable soap to show for it. Yeah, I'm a slow learner, but I am also an avid experimenter, and that may have gotten me into more trouble than was necessary. That first year, I vividly remember spending hours in the garage/studio poring over five or six batches of soap at a time, formulating new scents, mixing different base oils, adding strange herbs, and listening to Dave Matthews, my constant soapmaking companion. I remember thinking I had a nice batch and then trying to sell it to a shop in downtown Clovis, CA, and the lady literally crinkled her nose and held up her hands as if she were being robbed. Yes, friends, they were that bad. Ashy, smelling a little bit sulphuric from all the natural non-eo stuff that was in there (this goes away, you learn, as the soap ages), and they were poorly molded and badly wrapped. Basically, they were crap.

I make great soap now, and on occasion, due to distraction mostly, a poor batch. It is an art and should be treated as such.


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