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Bicycle Natural Perfumery Theory

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Think of the raw material you're planning on using in your perfume as a deck of cards, new, pristine, still in its original plastic wrapper and box. Pretty boring, right? Six sides, crinkly plastic, maybe the most interesting thing about it is that little red tag that will unravel the whole thing. Now, think of that little red tag as the process of dilution, the beginning of 'thinning' the material (the deck). It's only when the deck is opened that it becomes interesting. Spreading the cards across the table, you can begin to see it all unfold in front of you, the trumps and pips, the order, the artwork, and it is the same for diluting raw materials. You can only truly digest the character of the raw material once it has been diluted, once all the cards are laid out for you to see.

Sunday Funday

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Sunday is no day of rest for me. It is a day of work, work that I enjoy immensely. I finally have a day off from kid watching, so I'm going to make good use of it, beginning with writing graduation letters to three students, and emails with said letters attached along with a certificate from the NPA sent off to those students. Then a 12 o'clock Zoom meeting with a Brazilian class of blossoming natural perfumers, then later it's packaging orders and wrapping up a custom order using camphor oil in varying dilution ratios and in varying menstruum. While kid watching, these chores would be spread out over three or four days, but while the cats are away, this mouse is going hard.  I purchased a centrifuge late last year and busted it out for some playtime fun. It's an amazing gadget and I can't wait until I have some serious work to use it with. Three new tinctures are in the works; yuzu peel, Madagascar vanilla bean, and home processed cocoa nib tinctures.  The studio i

Old Formulas & the Natural Perfume Academy

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  Poucher, Oregano, and Calendula January 2021 On Perfume: Natural perfumery has been around, well, forever. Quite a lot of people have a very dim view of it, too. When you say 'natural perfume', folks tend to imagine something unrefined, lacking in sophistication, basic. Natural perfumery is anything but that. Every piece of written history prior to the late 1800s on the subject of perfume is about natural perfume. All of the poetry, the biblical references, ancient temple writings on scent, that was all written about natural perfume. So for thousands of years using natural perfume was perfectly fine until chemists discovered ways to extract or create scent molecules and all of those thousands of years of experience and passion for nature just dissolved into the ether. But not entirely. Even today, modern synthetic perfumery relies on nature to coax customers into buying -- citrus, lotus, freesia, common and exotic, these words are used to bludgeon your senses with naturalness

Natural Soap Color

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I've been making soap since '96 and got really good at it around 1999-2000. Why did it take so long to get good? Because I'm stubborn. I read the soap making books, and then did whatever I wanted to, spending most of my time experimenting and playing with natural and unnatural colorants, essential oils and fragrance oils, weird infusions, and figuring out cpop on my own. It was an accident, that first cpop. I was trying to make a completely natural, non-chemical (ha!) melt and pour without cooking the soap in a crockpot. I made plain unscented soap, poured it into a wooden mold, then put it in a hot oven. I had the cleanest oven on the block because of all of the blown-out batches that poured molten soap all over the inside of the oven. It took about a week before I figured out that turning on the oven to get it hot and then turning it off as I put the soap in would stop those soap explosions. I was able to get one soap batch that would melt somewhat like a melt and pour, a

Early Garden

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It's been unseasonably warm here of late, somewhere in the vicinity of the low 70's and high 60's, with the Tule fog burning off early to allow the sun to shine and help with the typical wonderless winter depression. It's time to set the garden, fill the boxes with the last few year's mulches, and begin seedlings. We are expecting it to cool down to more usual winter temperatures in the coming days, with much-needed rain on the horizon, so gardening will begin indoors for now. The hyacinth bulbs and garlic were planted in boxes in late November and are beginning to show signs of life, which is exciting. Even the wisteria is budding up. I'm considering purchasing another box of yuzu from the folks at Pearson Ranch so I can start more trees with the seeds. Two years ago, I received a box of yuzu and seeded them all, and immediately put the seeds to germinate. There were quite a few that survived, with most being given away to friends. I have one left alive in my g

Soaps of Yesteryear

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Soap has been a lot on my mind lately. Since August, I've made more soap to date than was made during the two or three years prior. Right now, I'm sitting here contemplating a honey/beeswax soap with early spring garden flowers as scent -- something like sweet pea, for which there is no essential oil equivalent, though there may be an enfleurage extract available at the cost of an arm and two legs, or as I've done time and time again, by creating a faux with near perfection. I cut my perfume making teeth on faux formulations, from sweet pea to forest violet, and even false oudhs. The Good Scents Company, Poucher, and a lot of practice have gone a long way in making some of these faux quite convincing. So, that's the direction this new soap is going. Honey and sweet pea. Let's see if I can do it.  Another soap on the list is a traditional Windsor Soap known as *'a stock item of almost every soaper in the nineteenth century'. Apparently, at the Great Exhibitio

Revving Up

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It's been a rough time; difficult, even with all of the positive self-talk, to stay on an even keel, and this has been true for a lot of us. Getting back to creating (August 2020) after a long hiatus helped immensely in loosening the bonds of confusion that had me strapped down tight, but before that, before that self-prodding into action, I was in a serious, near career-ending downward spiral.  Over the past couple of years, some tough years, I spent a lot of time encouraging others to reach for their dreams as a means of shaking them out of the paralysis that these difficult times induced. I just wasn't doing it enough for myself, not for a very long time. So while I parsed out advice that generally translated into words that required action, I was actually doing nothing. I sat. I wallowed. I filled my head with nonsense as a means of diversion. I would pass through the studio on my way to the box freezer, feeling a mixture of guilt and anger as I watched a thin layer of dust