Monday, June 30, 2008

All Things Lavender

It is Lavender season, many festivals in honor of this universally healing herb take place at this time of year. The word lavender comes from the Latin "Lavare" meaning to wash. The herb has a very rich presence in literature and is used widely in medicinal preparations, culinary delights and cosmetic preparations. The essential oil of lavender is derived from the distillation of the flowering tops of Lavandula officinalis, also referred to as Lavandula angustifolia/vera.

"I judge that the flowers of lavender quilted in a cappe and dayly worn are good for all diseases of the head that come of a cold cause and that they comfort the braine very well." Lavender and Turner (Herbal, 1545)

Here are some uses for lavender essential oil:
  • Lavender essential oil has analgesic properties. Apply a cool compress the forehead to bring some relief from a headache. Place 5 drops of lavender essential oil into two cups of cool water. Place a wash cloth on the top of the water to soak up essential oil and water. Wring out and apply to forehead, avoiding the eyes. Re-apply as needed.
  • Lavender essential oil has calmative and hypotensive properties. Place a drop of lavender essential oil on your pillow case to help you sleep at night or on a cotton ball during stress filled situations. Add 8 drops to warm bath water at night for a relaxation before bedtime.
  • Lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Apply to wounds either neat or with a cool compress.
The aroma of lavender essential oil is considered herbaceous, fruity and sweet depending on the variety and type of extraction. In many circles it is deemed "floral", which may or may not be present...again depends on the variety. More appropriate terminology could be an herbaceous floral character. For use in aromatherapy synergies it is considered the universal oil and used extensively in almost all types of dis-ease. Its chemistry is rich in the ester: linalyl acetate the alcohol: linalol and sesquiterpenes

The magickal properties of Lavender are derived from its association with the planet Mercury and elemental air. Use it when intending clarity of the mind. References also site lavender in connection with attracting prosperity, love and the elemental Faes due to its attractive scent.
Lavender is often utilized as an offering in Mid-Summer celebrations.

The main reoccurring theme we find associated with lavender in mind, body and spirit is PEACE. Peace of mind, peace from physical distress...peace, peace, peace.

.
There's a few things I've learned in life:
always throw salt over your left shoulder,

keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck,
and fall in love whenever you can.


Lavender and Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic )

In perfume lavender essential oil tends to be classified as a top to middle note. Where as the absolute is considered a base note. In perfume we find the lavender note used in Lavender Eau de Colognes and the category of fragrance deemed Fougere, meaning fern in French. Fougere perfumes feature the combination of oakmoss with lavender.


As a botanical and natural perfumer I use Lavender as a bridge note. It is not an essence I use regularly, unless it is for a specific perfume like Vera or a custom perfume. In aromatherapy synergies and blends I use it in almost every single
preparation.

The Lavender Festival in Sequim, Washington - July 18, 19 & 20th, 2008

Lavender Recipes from California Lavender website

Recipe for Lavender Gelato

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vera Perfume Review

Vera, our perfume celebrating Lavender and Ojai, has been reviewed on the Perfume Critic. Here is a link. The author of the perfume review is Sands Murray-Wassink a contemporary fine artist and perfume collector living and working in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

This perfume was released a little over one year ago at the Ojai Lavender Festival. The fifth and final annual festival takes place this coming Saturday in Libbey Park under a canopy of Coastal Live Oaks. Vera is about 97% botanical with a few ingredients such as essence of distilled sea shells and beeswax absolute. Thus, technically it is a natural perfume, not a 100% botanical perfume.

Ojai Lavender Festival
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
The Origins of Vera

Vera illustration and perfume bottle ©Roxana Villa and Greg Spalenka.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Summer Solstice Perfume

The great earth wheel has cycled around once again as the Sun reaches its zenith and marks Midsummer, the longest day of the year. To create a perfume, anointing oil or balm for Summer Solstice consider building it based on orange, calendula and rose.

For the botanical perfumer essences of orange from the peel and the juice are readily available. Orange flower absolute is the most prized from the spectrum of orange and lends a beautiful floral note to the heart. Tinctures, infusions and extracts can also be made from both the fresh rind and flower to deepen the theme. Calendula is available as a C02 and an infused oil. The infused oil would work well added to another base oil if you are creating a solid perfume or oil based perfume.

The rose is considered the flower of the Summer Solstice. An essential oil or absolute of rose is another theme that could be built on or added to the essences mentioned above. Both Orange and Rose are available as waxes which work well added into beeswax for solid perfumes.

Another form of scent fitting for the holiday is an Eau de Cologne. View our journal entries on Eau de Cologne here.

As you celebrate the sun, the light and our manifestation here on earth be sure to hold a special an intention for the day. This intention can be strengthened with each application of your special perfume.

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass
on a summer day listening to the murmur of water,
or watching the clouds float across the sky,
is hardly a waste of time."
~ John Lubbock

Read more about the iconography of Summer Solstice and creating a botanical perfume for the day here at last years post on the subject.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Friday, June 20, 2008

Another doorway

The job of the artist
is always to deepen the mystery.
~ Francis Bacon

I've created a new blog for my other artistic passion, visual art. It is a work in progress, however, it has begun and feels like a good time to announce it. Click this link to jump over to it.
The image at left is of the two door handles at the Fuchs Villa in Vienna. Greg and I traveled to a tiny village in the Austrian Alps called Reichenau during the summer of 2003 for a Visionary Art workshop. We will never forget it. The door handles, as well as most of the items contained in the Villa, were designed by Maestro Ernst Fuchs, the father of Fantastic Realism. Our professor, Philip Rubinov Jacobson, has once a year workshops in Austria and other foreign lands like Italy.

Old Masters, New Visions

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Our blog had it's first birthday yesterday and the website turned one this morning. What an adventure this has been. Exactly one year ago today I was the keynote speaker at the Fourth Annual Ojai Lavender Festival. This years festival is scheduled for June 28th.

The website and blog are dynamic, works in progress at all times. A myriad of updates and projects will be unveiled soon, in perfect timing. I find that I start working on one thing and then spirit sends in a curve ball that requires immediate attention, thus the item that was of primary focus gets moved to the side. This type of dynamic activity, like our weather patterns, has become the standard mode of operation. I have noticed that over the past year I have been drawing and painting less. With this realization and Comic Con on the horizon I have begun drawing everyday. A blog devoted to my visual works is also underway.

The latest addition to the Illuminated Perfume website is that our shopping cart is now functional! My favorite feature is that shoppers can now choose their three samples from pull down menus for their sampler pack.

In the studio we are finalizing custom perfume samples and perfumes, working on the second edition of Chaparral and developing new accords for upcoming botanical perfumes.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Ojai Lavender Festival

The image above is of my daughter Eve (second from Left) with her buddies at her eighth birthday party.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Red and Green

The standard color wheel depicts from six to twelve, sometimes more, colors arranged in a circle. The three primary colors being red, yellow and blue. The secondary orange, green and violet. If you look at a color wheel you will notice that red and green are usually opposite one another.

In the year 2006 Emporio Armani released a fragrance as part of the campaign denoted by the color red. The “redness” of the perfume is attributed to the fact that a percentage of profits go to African women and children with aids. The marketing campaign indicates that they are using the artwork of a Ghabaian artist and environmentally friendly packaging.

Fast forward to the year 2008, where all of a sudden green is the color everyone, including corporations, strive to be associated with. Green indicating good for the environment.

So, let me get this right...red denotes a level of consciousness in corporate business and green indicates an amount of environmental awareness. Looks to me like Green is the new Red. Has someone already trademarked the word Green? If you mix two colors opposite each other on the color wheel you get brown. However, sometimes you can layer a green wash over a red one and get a lovely affect.

Images: Color squares are from a variety of my paintings ©Roxana Villa, color star from Wikipedia.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Roxana Villa Artwork

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lunar Month of Oak

The Celtic Tree Month of Duir begins today. Duir meaning “door” is the Celtic name for Oak. The magick associated with the lunar month coincides with the upcoming celebration of Summer Solstice on June 20th. The Oak is the tree of the sun and is attributed to protection, strength, stability, fertility and success. Since it can withstand a lightning strike while remaining firmly rooted to earth, the Oak is also attributed with spiritual illumination. It is a tree revered by many cultures but in particular the Druids who held the Oak most sacred and worshiped under their large green protective canopies. The leaves, acorns, wood and bark of the tree has been used in magick as well as some herbal folk remedies.

There are over fifteen Oak species in California, the main types here in the Southern California Floristic Province are: the Scrub Oak, the Coastal Live Oak and the deciduous Lobata. Our botanical perfume pays tribute to the Coastal Live Oak. We have several on our property as well as surrounding us. In fact, we are in a Grove of Oaks that almost form a perfect ring. Las Pilitas, a nursery here in Southern California has a stragedy for reviving the beloved Oak Woodland that has been devastated by nonnative plants and development. Read about it here.

Celebrate this Celtic Lunar Month by becoming more conscious of the Oaks and acknowledging them in some way. Their great canopies are perfect for a shaded picnic, a Lavender Festival in Ojai or Shakespearean Theater in Topanga Canyon. Put an acorn in your pocket for goodluck!

Las Pilitas
The California Oak Foundation
Ojai Lavender Festival
Theatricum Botanicum

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™


Images: Above is the illustration for our Oak perfume, ©Greg Spalenka and Roxana Villa. below is

Sensing Organisms


In the nineties, when I created illustrations 24/7, I contributed an image for an article in National Geographic on how plants communicate with each other. Recently I've come to learn about the inherent wisdom in California native plants, including the way they share water with each other and network for the greater good of the community.

In the Science section of todays New York Times there is an article titled "Loyal to Its Roots" regarding the inherent wisdom within plants. The article mentions the California dodder, a plant we've recently noticed on our walks in the Santa Monica Mountains. Being fans of fantastical art forms we invented a story about it being a plant from outer space. Surely when you see its bright, neon orange color, among the other subdued coloring of native plants, one would assume it's a transplant from another planet. Who would have guessed it's a California native! I haven't checked to see if it has an odor.

There is a terrific book that came out in the seventies, briefly mentioned in the NY Times article, called The Secret Life of Plants. A must read for all those devotees of the plant kingdom.

New York Times Article: Loyal to Its Roots
California dodder
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

The illustration above is not the one used in Nationa Geographic, that one I can't seem to find a scan of. The image above was a cover of a Business magazine ©Roxana Villa.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The beet goes on

I am a lover of all things synchronisitc and when it occurs I pay attention. Last week I taught my bi-annual introduction to Aromatherapy class. One of the students begged to whiff distilled essence of carrot seed. I joyfully obliged, for it is a good one for massage therapists to become familiar with and I adore the scent. The following day, while scanning images from old books, I came across some really lovely engravings of root vegetables, including carrots. The beets were particularly attractive and caught my eye. I bookmarked the page to scan when timing was more expansive. In the meantime I inhaled deeply my C02 extraction of carrot seed. I pondered all its aromatic wonders through the spectrum of perfume and aromatherapy. That evening as I opened my copy of Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins I read...

"The carrot symbolizes financial success; a promised, often illusory reward. A carrot is a wish, a lie, a dream. In that sense, it has something in common with perfume. A beet, however...a beet is a proletarian, immediate, and in a thoroughly unglamorous way, morbid. What is the message a beet bears to a perfumer? That his chic, elitist ways are doomed? That he might profit from a more natural, earthy straightforward approach? This beet, this ember, this miner's bloodshot eye, this apple that an owl has pierced, is it a warning or friendly advice?"

I'm really enjoying the book, to say the least, and highly recommend it to all. It has, of course, a specific appeal to those with an obsession for fragrance. However, it is so well written and funny that everyone will enjoy. As when I discovered "Perfume, The Story of a Murderer" I am perplexed I did not pick this book up before. Oh well, all in perfect timing.

We currently have no essential oil, absolute or C02 extraction of beet, as far at I know. We do an abundance of seed and root essences, but nothing from "the miner's bloodshot eye." Imagine the color of beet essential oil, it would most likely be a beautiful deep maron. There does exist beet root powder and that could easily be tinctured. Hmmm, yet one more item to add to the ever expanding list of ideas and things to tincture!

Greg has been on a fresh, raw juice kick. So every Saturday at the farmers market we load up on beets, carrots, cucumbers, apples, parsley, etc. I'm partial to the oval shaped beets from McGrath Family Farms, they are particularly delicious steamed and served with fresh goat cheese and olive oil.

McGrath Family Farms
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Old engraving images above have been scanned, cleaned up and placed onto old sheets of parchment via Photoshop, ©RoxanaVilla.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Walk in the Woods


The perfumes I create are made with actual plant material, sometimes tinctured or infused, and essences obtained from nature in the guise of essential oils. The natural or botanical perfumer has a vast palette to work with in creating their artwork, lets call it earthwork. We are advocates of both the art of perfumery and the plant kingdom. By creating and using pure fumes utilizing the gifts of nature it brings one to the center of self and a profound connection to Mother Earth.

"There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story." ~ Linda Hogan

I came to working with precious aromatic gems by a calling from the plant world, a subtle hum, like that of the Ents in Lord of the Rings. It's a gift to work with these vital essences and live here at the base of the great Santa Monica Mountain range. My home and studio are a haven in the thick of the chaparral biome with its varied flora and fauna. I've come to see a parallel between native plants and botanical perfume, both are subtle, both are authentic, both speak in a language that is different from what we are accustomed. It is similar to the subtle healing energies of homeopathic medicine.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Image above ©Greg Spalenka

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Escapade

We are stepping into a phase of magical escapade, beginning with an extended journey in Baja California followed by Comic Con. I’m looking forward to the beautiful beaches in Baja, not to mention the olfactory discoveries that await down south.

The San Diego Comic Con is right around the corner and we will be there once more with a booth. Comic Con is a convention celebrating the myriad of facets of comic and popular art culture. As with every Comic Con we look forward to gathering with our art buddies from around the globe for the big show and tell...in my case show, sniff and tell. In April of 2007 I created a commissioned botanical natural perfume based on a specific theme. I’ve decided to release this perfume to celebrate Comic Con and that special relationship between the hero and the nemesis.

Be aware that Comic Con gets sold out, so if you intend to go get your passes NOW. Special guests include the father of American science fiction Ray Bradbury and renowned fantasy artist John Howe. The trade show exhibitor floor will feature the regular cast of characters including artists, film studios, book publishers (including my favorite, small press), Manga galore and a host of the weird, the ugly, and the fantastic.

Also, be warned, the event is not for the faint at heart. It is attended by hundreds of thousands of people, mostly fans devoted to fantasy and science fiction in all its forms. One truly feels like they have been plopped into an alternative reality where humans dressed as super heroes and storm troopers is the norm. In 2007 Comic Con attracted 125,000 people.

Besides the huge exhibit hall there is the upstairs “Events” area. This is where you can hear from your favorite creators: the writers, artists, directors and actors. I am keen on hearing Frank Miller discuss his latest project The Spirit, any and all things devoted to LOST, and the master of fantasy writer Neil Gamin.

Sandwiched on each side of Comic Con is Baja, where our summer escapade will begin.

Hasta luego amigo y amigas!

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Greg Spalenka
San Diego Comic Convention

The image above was created by Greg Spalenka for a music album titled "Sons of Igor". The image below is also by Greg, both are ©Greg Spalenka.