Friday, November 30, 2007
- Ben Thompson
Image at left ©Greg Spalenka www.spalenka.com
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The new book Aromatherapy for Bodyworkers arrived in the post the day before. Thus, I was able to share the intensive volume with the class. It is by far the best book currently on the market for the bodyworker interested in aromatherapy. I am impressed with the vast amount of material covered from the basics of aromatherapy, blending, how the oils work in the body, integration for bodywork and essential oil data sheets. I absolutely LOVE the flash cards in the back of the book. The book is available at Amazon. If you are in England order it through Pearson Education.
The photograph above is in my studio. A the moment I have 10 and 15ml bottles of essence organized in boxes on a shelf just above my table. This is an "in the meantime" while my perfumers organ gets built.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Essential Oils are derived from Berries, Fruit (Zest), Flowers, Leaves & Needles, Resins, Woods, Seeds and Roots. Each of these has a specific function in the plant, that purpose can be viewed or translated to the human being.
In the nineties, while I was studying Aromatherapy, I went on a hike with David Crow, renowned author and herbalist. He took a group of about twenty through Corral Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. We began the tour under the canopy of a large oak, Quercus agrifoilia, where David explained how the Chumash people nourished themselves primarily on acorns. We learned how acorns were processed and how the native Chumash lived in harmony with the land. From there we walked along the path where David identified plants and explained their many uses. He taught us to observe a plant, it’s shape, color and where it grew to help determine it’s medicinal qualities. This is part of the technique that the ancients used to determine a plants therapeutic value. Does it grow in the sun or shade? Is the plant near a source of water? What color is it and what shape is the plant and it’s leaves.
Keen observation of a plant can glean insights into the mysteries of their healing code.
Seeds = Beginning of Life = Growth, Creation
Roots = Grounding = Strength, Stability
Wood, Trunk of Tree = Conduit, Structure = Core, Support
Resins = Heal, Protect
Leaves/Needles = Respiration = Breathe, Expansion
Flowers = Attraction = Love
Fruits = Reproduction = Uplift
1 Jade Shutes, The Blending Manual, The Institute of Dynamic Aromatherapy, Canada, Chp.2, p.4
Image above: Born ©Roxana Villa. High quality posters of this image are available, contact email@example.com
Monday, November 26, 2007
This paragraph was taken from my daughter's seventh grade main lesson book on "Physiology and Nutrition" with her teacher Ms. Schmidt. I was looking for a picture of Leonardo's Vitruvian Man for an illustration job. Within a few days of this one of my dear artist friends contacted me asking for suggestions on "specific floral/plant essences for the aide to specific parts of the body." My answer was a resounding YES, Morphology!
When I began to formerly study aromatherapy I was struck by how inspiring the material was and the amount of visual imagery that flooded my mind during the course work. (Typical for an visual artist.) The area of study where this was most prevalent Morphology. We learned about Morphology as one of the methods of classification for essential oils. Essential oils are organic, volatile substances that occur in plants. Morphology is a form of classifying essential oils "by shared anatomical features, ie. leaves, flowers, fruits, etc."1 In Aromatherapy we might utilize Morphology for creating therapeutic blends. Current scientific studies continue to reinforce the idea that "everything pulsates with energy and that energy contains information. Our physical bodies are surrounded with by an energy field which interact with the energy field of essential oils"2 Thus, an essential oil from a specific part of a plant can be viewed as containing a message relating to a particular part of the body, similar to Leonardo's manuscript from The Book of Waters. The human body is a microcosm of the earth.
More on Morphology tomorrow, stay tuned.
1 Jade Shutes, The Blending Manual, The Institute of Dymanic Aromatherapy, Canada, Chapter One, p.10
2 Jade Shutes, The Blending Manual, The Institute of Dymanic Aromatherapy, Canada, Chapter Two, p.4
The East West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies
The image above was created using a pencil drawing on paper (see at right) overlaid onto a piece of parchment digitally. Both images are ©Roxana Villa.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
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Image: Illuminated Perfume Logo / Purple ©Greg Spalenka & Roxana Villa
The Permaculture website has a great article on Beekeeping.
Permaculture and Bees
Image: "Botanicus" ©Roxana Villa
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I intend that on this blessed day of Thanks giving we all tune into deep gratitude for all the bountiful beauty and love in our lives. The tradition of Thanksgiving began with the early settlers and the first native people in America. In the US we call them Indians or Native People, in Canada they are referred to as First Nations People, which makes more sense. After all, the word Indian isn't really appropriate since Columbus thought he was in India when he used that term. The word Native doesn't apply either, there are a lot of natives to the US that are not from the lineage of those that dwelled here when the Europeans arrived on their ships. Thus, what is the appropriate/politically correct word? Until I discover it I will use the term Native Indians. I have a tremendous respect for the Native Indians and would like to send out a blessing to them and that we may hear the wisdom that they have been sharing with us since the Europeans first arrived on this continent.
I am grateful for so much in my life and feel truly blessed.
Image above: "Blessings" ©Greg Spalenka, oil paint and mixed media on board. www.spalenka.com
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The recipes posted over the past week were as a gesture of gratitude and in the spirit of sparking your creative juices. The intention is that these recipes will facilitate you to create wonder filled, handmade gifts from the botanical realm for the upcoming holidays. Consider that by giving gifts of nature you are supporting our beautiful blue planet. If you prefer to purchase handmade, botanical products please visit our website on December 3rd when our online store opens.
The history of solid perfumes begins in Egypt 1400 years before the birth of Christ. During that period the Egyptian people wore cones on their heads made of fat and plant matter. As the day began to heat, the fat would slowly melt, diffusing the aroma. These cones were called Scented Cones and/or Ungents. Much later, beginning in the middle ages small boxes were used to store aromatics and whiff when unsavory scents of the plague or other illnesses pervaded.
In the eighteenth century the large perfume house began creating "Solid Perfume Keepsakes" Estee Lauder continues the tradition, launching a new solid perfume each year outside of America.
5 mls carrier oil
1/2 tspn grated beeswax
20 drops total essence
Generally Jojoba is the preferred carrier oil used for natural perfumes, however feel free to experiment with others such as Marula or your own infused oils. Just make sure to use an oil that can withstand a little heat and has good longevity.
Measure out your carrier oil by pouring it into a small beaker or glass bottle or container. Add twenty drops total essence to the oil. Set aside. Take your grated beeswax and add to a small heatproof pan. Ideally made of porceline. Small French sauce pans, with the little pouring lip, work well. Over very low heat, gently melt the beeswax , remove from the heat and stir in your essence+oil mix. Pour this combination into the final container for your solid perfume. Make sure to leave uncovered and undisturbed so that the perfume may settle properly. Ten minutes should do the trick.
For more in depth information on how to create solid perfumes, including alternatives to beeswax and how to formulate essences stay tuned. In 2008 I will be doing regular workshops and classes.
Jojoba Oil Company
Barks, Resins & Seeds:
Scents of the Earth
Images: Old Engravings on Parchment ©Roxana Villa
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Here are three more scented bead recipes in this third post on the subject. The instructions at bottom apply to all three.
2 level tblsp ground dried orange peel
1 tblsp ground dried geranium leaves
1 teasp ground dried lemon peel
1 tblsp orrist root powder
1 tblsp ground calamus root
2 1/2 tblsp mucilage of gum tragacanth
2 tblsp lavender flowers
1 tblsp rosemary needles
1 tblsp orris root powder
1 tblsp ground calamus root
1 tblsp sandalwood powder
2 tblsp mucilage of gum tragacanth
1/2 tspn lavender oil
2 tblsp Cassia bark
1 tblsp ground cloves
1 tblsp powdered gum benzoin
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground allspice
1 tspn ground cardamom seeds
2 tblsp mucilage of gum tragacanth
3 drops of a spicey essential oil
Mix all dry ingredients
Add essential oils and enough water to form a stiff paste
Form into beads
Pierce with a needle and thread
Barks, Resins & Seeds:
Scents of the Earth
Image above, old engraving on parchment ©Roxana Villa
Monday, November 19, 2007
ROSE BEADS #1 simple
(adapted from Sally Pointer)
- Grind your barks, herbs, gums and resins to a powder
- Bind with tragacanth dissolved in rosewater
- Mix to a playdough like consistency and model into beads.
ROSE BEADS #2
Fresh rose petals and water
Pure essential oil of Rose or Rose Geranium
Cast iron pot
Thread and Needle
Place the fresh rose petals in the cast iron pot, add water to cover and cook over low heat for one hour. Allow to cool. Repeat the process, once a day for three consecutive days. Dip your fingers into rose essential oil, or a rosy aroma like rose geranium essential oil, and grab some of the cooked rose petal mixture to form beads. Pierce the bead with a threaded needle, continue until the entire rose petal mixture has been utilized. Allow to dry, rotating beads to prevent sticking.
ROSE SCENTED TABLET (adapted)
Take a pound of roses without the flower heads, and seven ounces of ground benzoin. Put the roses to soak in musk water for a night. Remove these roses afterwards and thoroughly squeeze out the water, and grind them with the benzoin. And when grinding, put with it a quarter of amber and veggie musk [see below]. After [they are] ground, make your tablets and put each one between two rose leaves, and dry them away from the sun."
Rose Scented Tablet text from http://cervantesvirtual.com/; translation by Dana Huffman.
VEGGIE MUSK (adapted from Mock Musk by Sally Pointer)
3 parts Ambrette Musk Seed
1 part Oakmoss
Labdanum resin or essential oil
Grind the Musk Seed and Oakmoss to a powder.
Mix in enough Labdanum resin or essential oil to make a crumbly mixture.
"A single rose can be my garden...a single friend, my world" - Leo Buscaglia.Suppliers:
Scents of the Earth
Early Perfume Yahoo Group
Books on to make Prayer Beads
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The tradition of scented beads, also termed prayer beads or rosary, goes back into ancient times to the Hindu Sages. In fact there are sandstone sculptures dated 185BC, from the Sunga and Kushan periods depicting sages holding prayer beads.
1 tbsp. gum tragacanth powdered
1 tbsp. gum benzoin powdered
1 tbsp. orris root powdered
1 tbsp. lavender flowers powdered
4 tbsp. of water
1/2 teaspoon essential oils
Mix all dry ingredients
add essential oils and enough water to form a stiff paste
form into beads and pierce with a needle and thread.
Image above: "Rosa", Old engraving on parchment ©Roxana Villa
Saturday, November 17, 2007
An infusion, is similar to a tincture, however we utilize oil instead of alcohol. The definition for infusion is defined as: Prima materia (plant or other material) placed into an alcohol base to extract its aroma or medicinal properties. Ideally a high proof alcohol without additives. Bay Rum and Bacardi is the alcohol base in the Bay Rum Aftershave. In Botanical Natural Perfumery we use infusions in our solid perfume and oil based perfumes.
INFUSED HERBAL BASE OIL adapted from Eva-Marie Lind, Aromatiques
An excellent, 'extra' virgin, cold pressed olive oil
Fresh Botanicals (Dry out well, 6 hours is a general rule. Layering petals and leaves between unbleached paper towels works well.)
or Dried Botanicals (Only use the 'petals' of flowers. Not the inner regions such as calyx of the bloom.)
Other optional ingredients:
A 'preservative' for your product. Tincture of benzoin or Vitamin E Oil
Glass jar with airtight lid or canning jar
One of the easiest and most fun methods for making an infused oil is the Solar Method. If using fresh herbal plant material always double your quantity used when incorporating dried herbs. When using fresh herbs it is best to allow the herbs to wilt for 5-8 hrs to reduce their water content.
This can be done either by tying a bundle of herbs and hanging upside down from a rafter or by laying them out on a screen which allows airflow above and under your product. Allow to wilt in a dry-air, open area.
15 gm dried herbs or 30 gm fresh herb
1 cup oil ~ preferably virgin cold pressed olive
The quantity of your herbs can be adjusted for strength. Place herbs in a canning jar and pour oil over them, taking care that all of your plant material is covered. Cap with a tightly fitting lid. To help breakdown your plant material add 1 Tbspn of white wine. Leave your jar to sit in the sun all day and at night remove and place in a hot water cupboard. Maintain this process for 2 weeks. Remove the lidded area of your canning jar and replace with 3-4 layers of muslin, attaching this tightly with the screw on rim portion of your lid. Strain your oil. To have a stronger aromatic oil, repeat this process until you have obtained product pleasant to your nose.
In Aromatherapy we use infusions in bath salts, face and body oils, soaps, balms and salt scrubs. Julie of Infiore uses a very highly concentrated Calendula infused grape seed oil in her facial products. Instead of creating your own infusions you can also purchase them from reputable sources for your handcrafted beauty products. Jeanne Rose has several books published with recipes. Jade Shutes of the East West School of Herbal Studies has courses as well as a workbook titled "The Blending Manual" with some great information. Jade also recommends the book The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook.
The Herbals Medicine Makers Handbook
The East West School of Herbal and Aromatic Studies
Images above ©Roxana Villa
Friday, November 16, 2007
"Pilgrims are poets who create by taking journeys." —Richard R. Niebuhr
Here is yet another fun item to create with spices.
LAYERED SPICE OIL by Aztechan Pettus
1) Layer dried seeds and berries in a mason jar
2) Pour cold pressed virgin olive oil to cover
3) Bask in Sun and Moonlight for one month
or Simmer on stove top or crockpot
4) Strain through filter, such as muslin clothe
5) Add essential oils, if necessary
6) Add this mixture to sea salt or other product or Use as an accord in a solid perfume.
This process is called infusion.
Top image: Photograph of bay leaf tincture. Middle: Bowl of dried bay leaves from Santa Cruz. Bottom: Assortment of Roxana's infusions and tinctures.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
1. Instead of consuming, create. Make something. Make a perfume, balm, body butter, soap. Knit a scarf, design your holiday card, write a poem, make a holiday collage.
2. Instead of consuming, experience. Take a long walk. Volunteer at a local shelter. Learn a new dance step. Teach a child how to braid a horse's mane, or her own hair. Play flag football with your siblings/cousins/co-workers. Rake your elderly neighbor's yard. Play hide and seek with your cats. Sing to a baby. Hold someone's hand.
3. Instead of consuming on a grand scale, consider consuming a little more consciously and mindfully. Wherever possible, support small businesses, shop locally, buy hand made, Fair Trade, locally grown and locally produced. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.
Do you have more?
In honor of this terrific idea I will be posting a series of recipes to encourage you all to make a botanical item that day.
The first will be for a Bay Rum After shave, or as my friend Shelley says "Bay Yum". I first made this with one of my Aromatherapy teachers when she journeyed out to LA to do a Gift Making Workshop. Since then, this Ray Rum After shave has become a staple in the Gift Making workshops I now teach.
BAY RUM AFTER SHAVE from Jade Shutes of the IDA
Nice glass bottle 6oz
Rum (preferably Bay Rum or Bacardi)
7-10 drops essential oil of Bay laurel
1) Fill 1/2 inch of the bottle with cloves and allspice herb - add Bay leaves - leave enough room so that herbs look nice and the rum can cover.
2) Fill 1/2 of the bottle with Rum, other 1/2 with purified water.
3) Add essential oil.
5) Leave for one week, shaking periodically, to infuse.
Botanical Yahoo Group
East West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies (formerly The IDA)
Images above ©Roxana Villa
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
While in NYC we feasted with many of our dear artist friends. Comic con buddy, Donato Giancola arranged a fabulous dinner at the L'Ecole with other Illustration friends including art director Irene Gallo and fellow illustrator John Jude Palencar. To our sublime surprise Shaun Tan, illustrator and author of “The Arrival” joined us as well. We began our meal with small appetizer and continued onto to our five course meal. I must say, that by the third course we were stuffed and wondered how we would manage two more courses. The key was the digestive salad that included a delicious sorbet. It was an evening of divine gastronomics, laughter and creative conversation.
Seated from Right to Left: John Jude Palncar, Irene Gallo, Donato Giancola, Shawn Tan, Greg Spalenka and myself.
Our final evening in NY was spent with Matt and Lisa at a french restaurant called Blue Ribbon. The highlight was seeing Matts short film H20 Uh-Oh, which opened the Live Earth concert in New York and later featured at the Tribeca Film Festival. Stunning and provocative.
From NYC we drove south to Philly. The following morning we walked over to the University of the Arts where Greg had been invited to speak and showcase his award winning, visionary art. The exhibition includes; original paintings, posters and prints spanning 25 years of his career.
Gregs multi-media presentation featured stories from his journalistic work with Mike Tyson and Klaus Kinski along with other adventures along his path as illustrator extra-ordinaire, including his recent work in the films The Ant Bully and The Golden Compass.
The exhibit is up until November 16, 2007
located at the Richard C. Von Hess Illustration Gallery, Anderson Hall at the
University of the Arts located 333 South Broad Street, 7th Floor
Richard C. Von Hess Gallery hours:
Mon - Fri, 10am - 4:30pm
The French Culinary Institute
John Jude Palencar
University of the Arts
Top image "Inner Cathedral" ©Greg Spalenka, "The Arrival" bookcover ©Shaun Tan, bottom right image "Heart" ©Greg Spalenka.
Monday, November 12, 2007
In the botanical perfume world Iris pallida is the Latin name for Orris Root, one of my favorite pure essences. A woody-floral note which is rich and velvety with hints of powder. Last year I created a custom perfume for a client melding a floral chord with Orris and notes of the Sea at the base. It is such a lovely fragrance that I've decided to rework the formula as one of our signature scents.
The staff at Henri Bendel was very generous, especially when I told them I had missed the Sniffapalooza Fall Ball. I left anointed with Fleur d"Oranger, loaded with scent strips and lots of samples.
The following day, our last in NYC, was spent traversing Soho. "So" stands for South and "ho" for Houston...thus "SOuth of HOuston." How transformed I found this area. My very first living space in NYC was a studio walk-up on Elizabeth Street. To my great surprise, Elizabeth Street is now filled with fashionable shops, including Le Labo. Le Labo is a small, laboratory looking niche perfume shop with a store in Grasse as well is on Elizabeth Street. Certainly an interesting concept in perfume stores that looks both old+modern, with it's laboratory style. Around the corner on Lafayette Street is Santa Maria Novella, also known as Lafco. During the LA Sniffa last February I had the opportunity to visit the LA location. The NYC store is much larger and more impressive. Santa Maria Novella dates back to 1612 when the Dominican Republic friars began selling their medicinal and ephemeral products to the public. There is an informative streaming video on their website.
Other scented faire in NY still to be explored is Aedes de Venustas, Bond No. 9, Cb "I Hate Perfume" in Brooklyn and Barneys NY which now carries many niche perfumers.
Santa Maria Novella/Lafco
Aedes de Venustas
Cb "I Hate Perfume"
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Having spent a full day at the Frazetta Museum and visiting the property up on Mystic Mountain the following day we drove into New York City. We entered downtown Manhatten via the Holland Tunnel. Immediately I felt the energy of the place and my mind was flooded with memories of living in the metropolis. After parking the car and checking into the hotel we walked over to 6th Street in search of Indian food. Both Greg and I fell into the grove of the city instantly, as if we were wired for the city genetically. Living in NY is a bit like learning to ride a bike. Once you’ve done it, it’s in your blood, the body automatically adapts to the frenetic pace. On day one we first visited fellow visionary artist Alex Grey. Alex, like De Es Schwertberger, Robert Venosa and our professor Philip Rubinov Jacobson are products of the influence of the fantastical artist Ernst Fuchs. Alex has a space in Chelsea on 27th Street which is home to COSM, The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, as well as his publishing headquarters, studio and event space. COSM is a fantastical gallery divided in two rooms. On the right is a display of several large scale vertical paintings depicting the evolution of the human being, from dense physical form to the ethereal spiritual realm. To the left is more like a gallery space showcasing the work of Alex through out the years including his best known images, like the one above, delving into the multi dimensions of reality.
In the summer of 2003 Greg and I attended the "Old Master, New Visions Painting Seminar" taught by Philip Rubinov Jacobson. We had come across a book of Robert Venosa at the Comic Con, and through a series of web searches encountered Philip and his course. Both Greg and I have been huge fans of Ernst Fuchs and the other artists that made up the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. Traveling to Austria to learn the secrets of the mische (mixed) technique and the history of Visionary Art was profound. It connected me to my "Tribe" and also showed me the connection between visual and aromatic art making.
Image at top "Theologue" by Alex Grey
Drawing above "Triumph of Christ" by Ernst Fuchs
Image at bottom right"Effort" by De Es Schwertberger
Alex Grey & COSM
De Es Schwertberger
Philip Rubinov Jacobson
Old Master, New Visions Painting Seminar
Pictorial overview of Seminar
Friday, November 9, 2007
Image above: "Egyptian Queen" by Frank Frazetta
Frank Frazetta website