Thursday, April 24, 2008

Natives & Flower Perfumes

The box with little sampler bottles arrived yesterday as I was formulating a new perfume. It was a super busy day. I poured Vespertina samples in the morning, pondered packaging with Martha while eating delicious croquettas, crossed hills and valleys for a few more native plants and finished up the second edition of both Aurora and Lyra.

Vespertina, Lyra and Aurora currently make up the triad of our floral perfumes. Many new ones are in the works and will be released as as Spirit guides me. Some of you have had little sampler previews enclosed with your packages.

Although Lyra was released first, Aurora is the initial floral perfume I created. Back in the nineties I had sat down to recreate the aroma of carnations shortly following a Natural Perfumery class I had organized at the Bodhi Tree. Originally titled Experiment #2, Aurora has a spicy floral quality reminiscent of carnations. I consider both these botanical perfumes much simpler than the ones which followed. In fact “Q”, Chaparral, Vera, Vespertina and Sierra have quite a number of chords which are specific to them. I suppose it would be easier to develop one wood chord that would be used in all of of my perfumes. Alas, that is not how my inner artist functions. By the way, I prefer to use the word chord, instead of the French accord. My first perfume teacher used that name and it stuck. In most perfume circles you will notice they use the French accord. To be honest, I never quite understood the concept of using a word in a different language than the one we speak in. Perhaps this is because my first language is not English.

This morning I will be putting the native Salvias I purchased at the Theodore Payne Foundation into the dirt. The dirt chord I have been working on smells too much of patchouli, so that one will need some tinkering. The Three Graces are beckoning me and the new perfume needs her final accessories.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Greg Spalenka
Image at top and bottom ©Greg Spalenka, Carnation engraving placed on parchment by Roxana.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pictures, Perfumes & Acoustics, Oh My!

“O great creator of being grant us one more hour
to perform our art and perfect our lives.”
~ Jim Morrison

Sunday there is an opening for Greg's art works at our local organic cafe. Along with the display of fantastical visions I will be there with botanical perfumes and “The Season of Us” will be adding their melodies to the sensorium. Master Chef Giuseppe will be delighting our taste buds with his organic delectable culinary offerings. The event begins at 2pm, Greg has promised the first ten attendees a free “Musing the Goddess” card set. The creatrix of Heartworks by Lori will also be there showcasing the necklaces and pendants featuring our artwork.

Cafe Carolina is located at 17934 Ventura Boulevard in Encino -- between White Oak and Lindley. For more information click here or call them at 818.881.8600.

Three inspired hours of artistry, friends and merriment. We look forward to seeing you!

Image at top "Bliss" ©Greg Spalenka, one of the many giclee prints at the exhibit.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Sky is Open

We celebrated the earth this weekend in the Santa Monica mountains among divine beings. On Sunday we met some friends up in Topanga, hopped on bikes and scooters and made our way to the Topanga Earth Day Celebration. Through the chaparral scented breeze, winding amongst oaks,we headed toward our destination. I was very keen on meeting Cecilia Garcia, a Chumash Indian Medicine woman who was speaking on the medicinal qualities of California native plants. We parked our bikes at the base of the secret entrance and wound our way up the mountain. I shot off to the tipi where Cecilia and her comrade James Adams were standing before an array of sages, artemisias and other herbs. We were instructed to sit, take a stalk of white sage and break it where it wanted to be broken. After doing so we took the hollow piece and put it to our mouths like cigars. We breathed in through our mouths and out through our noses, taking in the energetics of the sage. As we did this we were also instructed to clean the leaves of our stalk, thus insuring even more communion with the plant. After soaking a plethora of information from Cecilia and James we ventured off to take in the very “hippesque” sights. To my enormous delight, one of my all time favorite songwriter/musicians was scheduled to perform within minutes. I couldn’t believe the good fortune. Donna De Lory is a musician I was introduced through one of my yoga instructors. Donna is local to Topanga, she melds ancient sanskrit chants with modern sounds seamlessly. So much so, that for me she is the voice of the Divine feminine. On stage she is even more magnetic, in person she is enchanting.

At the end of the day yesterday I was in bliss with profound gratitude for the earth, the native plants and our beautiful friends. The aroma of sage will now forever be affiliated with BLISS!

Cecilia Garcia does not have a website, however, she will be teaching at the Theodore Payne Foundation this May. We have been in contact with her and James about doing a class here in Woodland Hills. Stay tuned.
Chumash Healing with Native Plants at Theodore Payne Foundation

On May 3rd Donna De Lory will be appearing at Exhale in Venice and then traveling to the Omega Institute in NY. Here are various sites to visit and listen to her exquisite music.
Donna's website
and her blog.
The title of this journal entry is named after Donna's new album "The Sky is Open."

The photos were taken at Topanga Earth Day: a display of California native plants and Donna on the main stage with her band.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Chatter

"A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses."
~ Jean Cocteau

As mentioned in the previous post, the Sniffapalooza Spring Fling took place this past weekend in New York City. Now that the event has passed the press, including bloggers, are expressing their points of view about the event and the fragrances. I found the New York Times article especially interesting. Thank You "T" for sending it my way. Here's the link. What's Sniffapalooza? Well, it exists for the serious fragrance lover, read more here. If that's not you, it may require a paradigm shift to really understand. It's sorta like trying to explain Comic Con to someone, well actually, that's probably even harder. Don't ask. However, if you do know about Comic Con and you are a professional in the Industry, now is the time to get your free Pro-badge online.

Image: Old engraving placed onto parchment via photoshop. ©Roxana Villa

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Genius of Nature

“Nature is full of genius, full of divinity;
so that not a snow flake escapes it’s fashioned hand.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Two major events, dear to my heart, occurred this weekend on opposite coasts. The Sniffapalooza Spring Fling in NYC and the Native Plant Garden Tour here in Los Angeles. Alas, I was not able to attend this years Fragrance Event in NYC instead, I was immersed in the aromatics and beauty of California natives such as: Ceanothus, Artemisia, Salvias and the California Rose (pictured above). As a native plant advocate and a member of the Theodore Payne Foundation I decided to volunteer as a docent for this years garden tour. On Saturday we toured approximately five gardens with my mom while Sunday Greg and I were docents for a location in Encino consisting primarily of wildflowers (pictured at left) in a Walnut Tree woodland.
The native gardens on the tour are so inspirational, it really makes you wonder why more folk haven't caught on by now, especially with our water challenges. Perhaps this years
garden will spur on more consciousness in this realm.

Here are just a few of the benefits of California Native Gardens:
  • Only 7% of insects can eat non native plants. Without insects to convert plant material to protein, most higher land animal forms will go extinct. Insects are an important protein source to our lovely songbirds. Native plants maintain bio-diversity.
  • Native plants require very little water, once established. In fact some of the gardens on the tour are only watered six times throughout the entire year! Compare that to those thirsty lawns that have become emblematic with Los Angeles suburbs.
  • Native plants require no soil amendments, no fertilizers or pesticides. What a paradigm shift huh! Just put them into the existing earth.
The trick is to select the right plant for your area and not to over water!

The California iris is called Iris douglasiana. Pictured above are a spattering of the different Iris hybrids offering a variety of color and shape.

The most interesting fact I learned this weekend was that the town of Encino, in Los Angeles, was named after a non-native oak tree! The Holm oak, Quercus ilex, is native to Spain, and resembles our native coastal live oak in that it is not deciduous like most European oaks. In Los Angeles and the surrounding areas we have many towns, cities and communities named after Oaks: Encino, Sherman Oaks, Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks and Los Robles to name a few.

Within our line of botanical perfumes we have four fragrances based on the California landscape, some of which utilize tinctures of native plants. The California line consists of "Q", Chaparral, Vera and Sierra. We intend to release a new perfume, which has been in the works for about five years, within the next month. Can you guess what it will be? To read more about our Californica botanical perfume series click here.

Pictured at right is the California Poppy.

Theodore Payne Foundation
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

The photos were taken at this weekends native tour ©Roxana Villa.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Right Side

In my first year of art school I decided to read “Drawing From the Right Side of the Brain” to help me master representational drawing. Not only did I read the book, do all the exercises but I became somewhat obsessed with the brain. Concurrently my brother began having challenges with his perception of reality and his brain.

Just now, in my inbox, a friend sent over an really inspirational talk on TED. I highly recommend it, click here.

Image above is a pencil drawing which I then took into Photoshop to add other imagery. PhenoHead © Roxana Villa.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Three Graces: The base meets wood

I have finished the initial base chord, it took me awhile to decide exactly which Patchouli and which Vetiver to integrate with the other members of this temporal ensemble. In the end I choose an Indonesian Patchouli with a lovely floral aspect to it. This floral note will later work nicely with the blossoming heart accord. The Vetiver was tougher, perhaps because I have so many of them to choose from, and love each one. In the end it was one of my Bourbons that won out, a nicely aged, viscous Vetiver. While the base marinates I am moving onto the simple wood accord:

“The bough, where the Goddesses manifest,
is created with wood notes including Cedar and Cabrueva.”

Cabrueva, a hardwood from Paraguay, contains a flowery sweet wood note which will harmonize nicely with both the wood of the Himalayan and Atlas Cedar. Both these essences contain that ubiquitous wood note. The Himalayan, also known as Tibetan, contains a spice note to its warm woody fragrance and is slightly softer with, like the Patchouli and Cabreuva, a subtle floral note.

So you see, I choose my elements so that in the end there will be a harmonizing and relationship from the base, to the middle and extending into the top notes.

Roxana Villa: Perfume Inside the Poem
Image of bundled Vetiver courtesy of Christopher McMahon and Manoj Avasthi.

The Art Spirit

“When the artist is alive in a person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it, shows there are still more pages possible.”
~ Robert Henri

There are individuals in the world who call themselves artists, yet work on closing doors, setting boundaries and systematically destroy all the inherent properties of truly living in the art spirit. Really, you are not living in the art spirit if you are policing others and helping to set systems in place that hinder creativity and artistic endeavor. The quote above is by an American artist and teacher who inspired a wealth of students to live in the art spirit. Greg, my beloved, has been sharing quotes from this book with his students since his introduction to the book at Art Center. It’s one of those books that will always have prominent place in ones heart and bookshelf.

The photograph above was taken while Greg and I were in Prague. ©Roxana Villa

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Roxana Illuminated Perfume: REVIEW #2

Want eco-living tips delivered to your in-box everyday? The tips tend to be short, witty and sassy. All tinged in green with super great ideas and insights into living harmoniously with the earth. If you are a reader of this blog and love all things green, then there may be a match in heaven waiting for you.

The green team over at the Ideal Bite have written a nice little eco-tip featuring our eco-luxe perfumes. There favorite perfume is Lyra. I'd say Lyra and Vespertina are neck and neck now in the race for the favorite position, with Q coming up close.

Thank you to the green team over there for their lovely review and the great service they provide for our green enlightenment.

"The Ideal Bite offers bite-sized ideas for green living."

The Ideal Bite: Roxana Illuminated Perfume
The Ideal Bite

The image above was created for our business card and features our mascot, the orchid bee. ©Roxana Villa

Monday, April 7, 2008

Roxana Illuminated Perfume: REVIEW

Ms Bella, Kimbery Ayers, has posted a review of our perfumes and other ephemera on the Bath and Body portion of The Craft Gossip Blog Network.

I especially appreciated reading about Lyra and the odyssey the little sampler was taken on. So appropriate for that perfume! Kim's favorite perfume is Vespertina. I’ve been finding that this fragrance is quickly becoming the iconic favorite. Read more about Vespertina on our journal here.

Bath and Body is a terrific resource for those who do not know of it. Kim reviews quite a number of hand crafted products as well as providing recipes and tips.

Thank you Bella!

Bath and Body news @ CraftGossip: Roxana Illuminated Perfume

Perfume bottle image with logo at left ©Roxana Villa

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Andy Tauer in LaLaLand

For over a year now I’ve been hearing the name Andy Tauer. It began with a fellow blending partner, Ylva Rubensson. She had been intrigued by Andy's particular methodology for making perfume. Then, my friend and mentor, Gail Adrian highly recommended I experience his perfumes. Well, this past Saturday, I finally had the opportunity to meet Andy and see what Andymania is all about.

I arrived at the Lucky Scent Bar to witness two men taking photos, one on each side of the counter...was it of each other? The blonde, wavy haired young man in the blue suit I recognized immediately. Andy is much more magnetic and charismatic than the photo on his website suggests. I found him super funny and charming with that underlying sensitivity found in artistic souls. The owners of Lucky Scent, Adam Eastwood and Franco Wright are a delight with a terrific aesthetic. In a past life they both worked as graphic designers.
(Pictured below are Adam, Andy and Franco)

Andy began his presentation with samples of two types of frankincense. One was a Boswellia carteri from Somalia and a distilled Frankincense Resin from India. I must say the distilled Frankincense was absolutely stunning! He also shared a Boswellia serrata CO2 found in both Incense Extrême and Incense Rosé at almost the same concentration.We experienced a fresh and spicy Coriander and the citrusy Petitgrain, both of which are contained in Incense Extrême. Andy works with both of natural and synthetic materials. He teased about this saying he was neither Catholic nor Protestant. He also passed around some of the expensive, synthetic notes he incorporates including Irone alpha, based on Orris and Ambroxide, a molecule found in Ambergris. For Lonestar Memories he used a rectified version of the woody Texas Cedarwood, Juniperus mexicana, combined with the Ambroxide. All the materials just mentioned are the major scents found in Incense Extrême . Incense Rosé contains 40 different ingredients, both natural and synthetic: the sweet, flowery synthetic phenyl ethyl, damascenone (in minute quantities with phenyl ethyl), geraniol, Bulgarian rose absolute, myrrh and labdanum.

Andy also brought along two of the scents currently in process a Rose Chypre and a Vetiver based fragrance. Rose chypre trial version 3.5: He followed Luca Turin’s definition of chypre, which combines bergamot, oakmoss, and labdanum. The Rose chypre 3.5 utilizes both the Bulgarian rose absolute and the steam-distilled rose oil. Vetiver trial version 8 is an earthy vetiver based fragrance that unfortunately I did not get to smell. Maria B, one of Andy's biggest fans and a trusted “nose” for Tauer Perfumes tells me it is lovely.

When sharing how he works, I was stunned to hear that his process begins by typing a formula on his computer. This is so different from me and got me thinking that each perfumer probably has a very unique path to achieving there final perfume orchestration. Some of this of course is revealed in the Perfume Inside a Poem project created by Heather Ettlinger.

One of the wonders of these types of events is that you get to hang with other scent obsessed folk. The event made me think of the last LA Sniffapalooza. In fact, I recognized many faces. It was a pleasure to finally meet Justine Crane of The Scented Djinn and Le Parfumeur Rebelle. The lovely and gracious Maria B, was in attendance with her husband Kurt. The tiny Scent Bar space was packed. I noticed some filming taking place and look forward to seeing the footage.

Andy was a fellow participant in the Memory and Desire, Perfume Inside a Poem project. We had the delight to sample his contribution. The freshly dipped scent strip smelled of fresh, crystalline flowers to me.

There is quite a lot of written reviews out on Andy's perfumes, below are a few links where you can read about his fragrances and seek them out.

Cheers to the Art Spirit yet again. I look forward to one day spending some time with Andy and comparing scent notes. (Yes, pun intended!)

Thank You to Maria B for the use of her fantastic notes and her husband Kurt for his warmth and smile. Many thanks also to Franco for sending along their photos from the special event.

To purchase Andy's perfumes check out the The Scent Bar on Beverly or their online store. Sign up for the Lucky Scent newsletter to hear about other upcoming events, like this one with Andy.

Lucky Scent
Andy Tauer
Perfume Inside the Poem Project
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Three Graces: The base

"I choose notes with a cool quality for the "wet, dark" earth aspect from which the fragrance will be built upon, such as: Mitti Attar, Patchouli, and Vetiver. I see the base as a dark leather chord in juxtaposition to the bright floral heart. I add a touch of Kewda Attar for its cool, watery element and a hint of Black Musk Attar."

This is the base for “The Three Graces” perfume, including three traditional Indian Attars. These precious gems are hydodistilled in India, utilizing a five thousand year old process. The materials; flowers, herbs, woods, seeds or a combination, are hydrodistilled into a base of sandalwood. The process is very labor intensive and thus can be some of the costliness materials for the botanical/natural perfumer.

Mitti Attar: Indian distilled baked earth, after the first Monsoon Rain.
Black Musk Attar: A compound of spices, woods and herbs.
Kewda Attar: The “screw pine” flower, Pandanus odoritissimus.
Vetiver: Roots of a tall growing grass.
Patchouli: Distilled from the dry leaves of the herbaceous herb.

Since this is a base “leather” accord, for a final perfume consisting of twenty ingredients, I will cease to add other elements. This is the first time I have intended an exact number of ingredients for a perfume. At the moment it is feeling rather restrictive, however, I feel compelled to remain true to the poem from which this was birthed. The total number of essences in this perfume matches the twenty words in the Ezra Pound poem.

Roxana Villa: Perfume in a Poem
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Images courtesy of Christopher McMahon and Manoj Avasthi. Above left are the Mitti Patties drying in the Indian Sun. Above, on left are Kewda flowers in a basket and just to the left is bundled Vetiver.