Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To Bee

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

~ William Shakespeare

Back in August I created a solid perfume for myself lickety split. This occured just before going to see a Shakespeare play at the Theatricum Botanicum under a canopy of Oaks in Topanga. The fragrance has become a favorite of mine as well as several clients and girlfriends. The temporary working title was Birthday Balm, abbreviated as BB. For the time bee-ing I am calling it BeBee.

I am happy to announce that it is finally available for purchase at my boutique on Etsy. More items will be posted over there soon, including the other favorite Rosa.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume at Etsy

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Image at top "Enchantment" ©Greg Spalenka, photo of BeBee Solid Perfume with Pouch ©Roxana Villa.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Solid Gold

The living room has been converted into a temporary photography studio as we continue to photograph all our botanical perfumes. That will change on Thursday, of course, when invitees will come to celebrate the day of gratitude.

In the shot above is the Sierra Solid Gold perfume within the antique finished compact along with its entourage: hand made crochet pouch, lined purple box and accordion folded booklet.

The day is overcast and providing some nice diffused lighting for each of the different scenes. According to the weather forecast we are due to get some rain. Rain, wow, how splendid that would be. One more thing to be grateful for.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Friday, November 21, 2008

Prosperity Accord

Continuing on from yesterdays post on weaving magic into botanical perfume formulation I will share some of the methodology utilized in the magical accord within the Sierra solid perfume. To read the initial post on the Sierra solid perfume from November 8th click here.

I began by looking at the planetary associations and influences with prosperity. I choose:


Then I looked at numerical associations. In researching numbers I decided on 4 since it is associated with the Earth. I choose to infuse four materials in oil that I would leave in the SUN for four days and bury in the EARTH for four nights. Alternating between the SUN and EARTH to impregnate the energetic’s of both into the raw material with a blueprint of SUN and EARTH. I began the infusions on SUNday.

Next I looked at plant materials associated with the SUN and EARTH. I made a list of what I discovered:

  • Amber
  • Benzoin
  • Broom
  • Calendula
  • Everlasting
  • Frankincense
  • Labdanum
  • Saffron
  • The Red Tincture: Ceonathus Root, also called Red Root
  • Mushrooms
  • Patchouli
  • Sage
  • Spruce
  • Vetiver
Somewhere I had read that Tonka Bean is associated with prosperity, so I included Tonka Bean on my list. At another source I read that Vervain is used to make dreams come true, so I added it. I also included Myrrh because of the association with the gifts of Frankincense and Myrrh to the Christ. I added Champa for its warm SUN-like quality. Oakmoss was on the list, however, I did not have it diluted in oil, so I did not use it. Black Musk smells extremely EARTHY to me so I added it as well.

My four tinctures, begun on SUNday, over a period of four days in the SUN and four nights in the EARTH, I used the following materials:
  • Benzoin: SUN
  • Tonka Bean: Jupiter is the planet of fortune
  • Onycha: Elemental water for flow
  • Red Root: This was my substitution for the “Red Tincture” listed for the SUN. I liked that it was from a native plant and a root, roots are associated with EARTH.
During the formulation I found the synergy got a little overly EARTH smelling, which I choose to correct so that there would be an equinox of Earth and Sun.

I add a drop of this accord when creating the Sierra Solid Perfume. My suggestion is to anoint yourself with the perfume while envisioning what prosperity means for you. Consider beginning with gratitude, I have been told that one of the paths to prosperity is gratitude.

Special thank you to Harry of Alchemy Works for his input on the formula and very useful website.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
E-Shop where you can find Sierra Solid Gold in a few sizes.

Opening image: Expand Your Vision ©Greg Spalenka

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weaving Magic

I became conscious of working with magic in the nineties when my daughter Eve was about three. The adventure began at a drum making workshop in an artist loft space at the Brewery. My friend could not attend the event, so I went in her place.

The Brewery is an old beer brewery that has been transformed into artist live work spaces in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. I arrived to the large open space unaware that it was a portal and would literally "altar" the course of my life.

The class was taught by a Native American individual who brought all the materials we would need that day to make our very own whoop drum. I created a 21 inch drum which I have been using regularly at drumming circles ever since. The drum has a deep resonant sound.

Shortly after creating the drum I began participating in drumming circles hosted by the individual who facilitated the drum making class. I learned that this individual was a Shaman and was putting together a group of "initiates" to learn the path of presence. Since I had been asking for a teacher to step forward I saw this as an opportunity.

Auspiciously at around the same time I was introduced to essential oils and aromatherapy. Thus, in tandem, I began learning the properties of essential oils while peeling away some of the veils to conscious living.

For the next three years I studied individually with my teacher and within the group. This is where I began the journey into working with magic.

The first perfume I created utilizing many of the techniques learned was with the formulation of "Q", the oak perfume. Intention and mindfulness are utilized whenever a perfume, accord, tincture or infusion is crafted here in the studio. However, weaving magic has many layers to it and a few of the perfumes contain more magical fibers than others.

The new Sierra solid perfume was created this past October with numerous magical techniques implemented. I began with the idea of prosperity employing essential oils with both ancient and modern affiliations to the concept of abundance on all levels. More on that in the morrow.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Image at top: old engraving cleaned up and placed on parchment. Image below at left: Q elongated ©Greg Spalenka.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Figure 8

“It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages,
at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.”
~ Erica Jong

I did some product shots of all eight liquid perfumes this morning. I find the differences in the color of each perfume capitivating...much like the essences which go into their creation. The spectrum moves from the forest green of "Q" through shades of umber and amber to the sparking orange of Vespertina.

From left to right: "Q", Vera, Sierra, Chaparral, Aurora, Lyra, Rosa and Vespertina.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Monday, November 17, 2008

Being Human

“Live life fully while you're here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You're going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don't try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.” ~ Anthony Robbins

It feels like I've finally reached a little plateau with the creation of my perfume packaging. Whew, what a long, winding, dynamic path this has been. I know the plateau is only a little respite from this dynamic realm. In either case, it feels good to take a breather and look back on the process...without the pitfalls along the path.

When I made the decision to put my perfumes on the market I began first with a color and design palette. From there I had a logo designed. During that process it occurred to me that checking into trademark of my company name would be a good idea, that's when Illuminated Perfume became Roxana Illuminated Perfume. Next I found a graphic designer and web coder to create the website. The website creation took what seemed like a millennium...and is to my distaste an ongoing process.

During a plane flight I had an idea to assign a color from the palette to each fragrance. At first I wasn't sure how I would utilize that idea, but, I liked the concept. I had my handy dandy award winning in-house artist create the illuminations for each fragrance.

The next item was the bottle. Unfortunately my bottle supplier did not have small quantities of my ideal, so I settled for the more generic Chanel-like bottle, for now. My mother use to create these lovely little gemstone pouches for my daughter and her girlfriends. Thus, I asked my mother to create a similar type pouch for my bottles. This is where the color palette came in handy. The collaboration of the pouch design with my mom has been terrific. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to implement Greg's visual artwork and my mothers beautiful handwork into the creation of the brand.

With perfumes, logo, website, illustrations and pouches in tow I thought I was set. Until someone mentioned the box didn't fit the quality of the perfumes. Thus, for the last month we've been perfecting the box which includes a sticker on the top and a handmade silk pillow in the interior. Once again, I thought I was done. No, what about some enclosed information for the buyer of the perfume. Okay, so the latest, hot off the press, is a small, accordion folded paper with some information and imagery.

Thus, today I stand on this little plateau, looking over all the work that has gone into this first phase and I feel like I can take a breath. The local fires have subsided a bit, thus the deep inhale doesn't include too much of a smoke note.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Images: Photo top and bottom of the new boxes with stickers, pouches and accordion mini brochure.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


“I began wearing hats as a young lawyer
because it helped me to establish my professional identity.
Before that, whenever I was at a meeting,
someone would ask me to get coffee...”

~ Bella Abzug

Well, it looks like today I will be doning the wizard hat. My webmistress has fallen off the radar and I will be venturing into uncharted territory....augmenting the website. Between the ex-husband and the husband to be, it looks like I've got a nice sized life preserver just in case I fall over the edge.

Thus {sighing} perfumes, accords and other important preparations for the Sunday festivities will be put on hold while I boldly go where I haven't gone before.


I myself have 12 hats, and each one represents a different personality.
Why just be yourself?
~ Margaret Atwood

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Image: Old engraving cleaned up and placed on parchment, ©Roxana Villa.

Monday, November 10, 2008

God is in the details

“God is in the details.”
~ Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

There are so many minute particles to be contemplated and fine tuned when one has their own business. It is truly a staggering labor of love. The latest task on our desk is the enrichments of the little boxes which hold our solid and liquid perfumes. We have decided to enhance the little boxes with a lining and little pillows. The task involves many detailed steps to get to the end product.

“The true secret of happiness
lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”
~ William Morris

I am having considerable help by my uber talented mum, who makes the lovely crocheted bags for our perfumes. She has also been helping out with the inside details of the boxes.

“Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details,
worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour”
~ Henry David Thoreau

It's in all these fine details that I see how my history in the arts, specifically the book arts, begins to serve well. Having highly skilled, creative individuals adding their skill set is also an enormous asset.

Thus, I am off to yoga this morning in gratitude for all the little elves who are assisting in creating more beauty to the world.

“Every man's life ends the same way.
It is only the details of how he lived
and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sierra Solid Gold Perfume

"Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven."
~ Rabindranath Tagore

At the NYC Sniffapalooza Fall Ball I debuted the first fragrance in our new solid perfume line. It is the solid version of Sierra, our perfume devoted to the California Redwoods. The solid version of this fragrance is quite different from the liquid. The original formula was created several years back when I decided to create a perfume for prosperity. Thus, with "prosperity" in mind, I began with the idea of Frankincense and Myrrh, since these two essences are linked with tales of the spice trails and gifts to the newly born Christ child. It is said that both Frankincense and Myrrh were considered more valuable than gold. The scented ointments found in Tut'ankhamun's tomb when it was first opened in 1922 contained ample quantities of Frankincense, Myrrh and Cedarwood.

Thus, to the Frankincense and Myrrh I added Cedarwood. Since the essential oil of Frankincense contains pinene as one of its major components I added some of the coniferous essences which are also rich in pinene. To create some mystery and bring back the aroma to the spice trails I added a few spice notes complimented by citrus. The overall fragrance is rich and warm.

A few years back when a group of local friends were meeting regularly in Topanga to share and visualize each others intentions, we used this solid perfume as part of the ritual. Utilizing a perfume created with the vitality of plants and a strong intention in its formulation facilitates a stronger tie to the heavenly and earthly planes.

This fragrance also contains a few drops of a magical accord for prosperity created last month. Click here to read about the accord.

The Sierra solid perfume comes in an antique finish metal compact contained in a teal green hand crocheted pouch. The retail price is $72, samples are available for $8.

edited October 11, 2011

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Images at top: Sierra©Greg Spalenka and bottom right is a photo of our Sierra solid perfume compact and it's pouch.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Suck the Marrow

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life,
and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
~ Thoreau

We watched the film "The Dead Poets Society" last weekend. My daughter Eve is studying poetry in one of her classes right now and I thought it would be fun for the three of us to watch the film together. This film has all those key components that form great art, that "trinity" that Greg discusses.

The trinity:
* Mind; the idea and/or concept.
* Body; representing the materials.
* Spirit; the love, passion, integrity and/or soul nature.

All these components working together
at a high level of sophistication and awareness
create a synergy, creating art that becomes
more than the sum of its parts.

These components translate to all art forms, read more about how I use this concept in my perfumes, specifically Chaparral™, on the Perfume Critic website.

Image top: "Grow with Us", at right "Chaparral". ©Greg Spalenka The Chaparral image was originally for created for a book cover, I was the model for this piece.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another Voice

Last night I started jumping up and down, clapping and screaming when I heard Obama won. I rushed into the studio to tell Greg, and then both of us were jumping up and down screaming with glee. My teenage daughter walked in and proclaimed "You guys are spazes!"

"Perception is an act of creation."

After a few minutes our focus shifted to Proposition 8, or Prop Hate as we started calling it. This is the Proposition that wants to ban marriage between gay couples. Remember way back when a black and a white couldn't get married here in America (the land of the free), well, this is the new version of that. The surreal thing is that it passed, in California of all places. I find this very disturbing, even though we have scored a huge victory with Obama, there is still much work to be done.

During art school days at Otis, one of my buddies introduced me to the magazine The Progressive. I remember looking through the artwork in awe and proclaiming my illustrations would one day be in there. Well, that materialized just after graduating. The art director at the time, Patrick JB Flynn, hired me to create an illustration to go along with an article on Unions. After that illustration I began contributing to The Progressive on a regular basis as well as The NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post and the Boston Globe.

It was an inspiring time to be an artist. Now that the political tides have changed I feel some of that same sense of exhilaration.

There is a show of artwork done for The Progressive while Patrick JB Flynn was art director of the Magazine. There are some good essays and a schedule of where the exhibit is currently on view, here at the website.

Images all ©Roxana Villa
Top: Rainbow Man, personal piece, acrylic veils on board, middle: illustration on Unions for The Progressive and bottom illustration on Racism for The Progressive.
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Roxana Villa: Visual Art

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Carpe diem

It is never too late to give up your prejudices.
~Henry David Thoreau

Here we are at a story making moment in time.
Remember to vote NO on Hate.

By the end of the day we will be:
  1. Celebrating
  2. Packing our bags
  3. Rioting
  4. None of the above
Intending number one.

Image ©Greg Spalenka

Monday, November 3, 2008

NY Sniffa 2008: Two

The Sniffa Sunday event transpired in downtown Manhattan, much to my delight, being more of a downtown girl. The festivities began at BOND NO. 9, on Bond St. between Broadway & Lafayette Street. Wasn't Basquiats studio right around here? Hmmm, I'll ask Kelle.

Raphaella greeted me as I walked in the door. We wondered around sniffing and engaging in conversation while brunch was prepared for all the attendees. I had the opportunity to speak with a marvelous grouping of eclectic folks including Cathy Gins the creator of AromaWear, Dorothy McCall of Kingsbury Fragrances and her husband Michael.

Joe Graces asked me to define the difference between natural and synthetic perfume. I graciously obliged, ending with the fact that I use the term "botanical", since I do not use civet (tortured cat excretion) or isolates in my perfumes.

From there Leah and I walked together over to LAFCO, where one can swoon over the Santa Maria Novella potpourri. Along the journey we passed the first apartment I lived in when I moved to NYC in the 80's. Gee, Elizabeth Street has really changed since then!

While at LAFCO Sarah Squerie and I made a pact to be each others olfactory adventure "buddy" for the day. We walked out onto Lafayette to make our way to Le Labo, but got pleasantly distracted by all the merchants on Prince Street. Eventually we headed toward the Country Cafe for the second lunch sitting. The first lunch was running behind schedule so we strolled around a bit and mingled with other second sitting Sniffas. Sarah and I sat at a table up front with Leah and Carol. The four of us had a blast together. We marveled at Sarah's manifesting powers as she won the Sniffapalooza Jazz CD set which she wanted. Poet and perfumer Gerald Dubose blew us all away by his poetry reading and added a whole new level of artistry to Sniffapalooza.

From there we jumped in a cab and made our way to Aedes de Venustas on Christopher Street in the Village. The owners Karl and Robert served up Prosecco Bellini's as we sampled Aedes stellar and vast selection of fragrances.

After saying our goodbyes to beloved Sniffas, a small group of us walked around the corner to Gobo for a savory vegetarian dinner and more inspired conversation. Above is Greg with the heartwarming Ida at his side.

In closing the NYC Sniffapalooza Fall Ball was a dynamic event attended by an array of spirited individuals. Greg and I compare it to the San Diego Comic Con in it's tapestry of souls embodying the art spirit. It is a richly woven, textural fabric intricately threaded with those who create fragrance and the fans who adore it.

Images: The image at top on Bond#9 is by Michael Friedlander, LAFCO image was taken by Karen Adams of Sniffapalooza, photos of Sarah and I at Country Cafe as well as of Gerald Dubois are by Vida, image of Greg and Ida is my contribution.
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Carol was a recipient of one of the sample packs I contributed to the Sniffapalooza Magazine raffle at Sundays lunch at Country Cafe. She has written up her impressions of the presentation and the perfumes contained in the sampler.

Waft by Carol

It began raining here in the City of Angels last night!! I'm so grateful for the rain, as I am sure all the plants and local wildlife are as well. Happy New Year.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Image above is a photo of our sampler pack containing three liquid perfumes of your choice.