Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Ending

As we hurl toward the end of 2008 and into the splendor of 2009 I marvel at the long list of beautiful individuals that have brightened our planet and *my* life.

Thus, with tremendous gratitude, here are a few of the gentle folk that have made 2008 just great:

My family, including, Maestro Gregorio, Martha Villa and Eve
All our generous and loving patrons
The perfume bloggers, specifically:
Heather Ettlinger at Memory & Desire
Raphaella of Sniffapalooza Magazine
Divina at Fragrance Bouquet
Tom Pease at Perfume Smellin' Things
Perfumer Andy Tauer
Helg at Perfume Shrine
Sands & Marlen at the Perfume Critic
Tonie Silver
Victoria Austin
Wendy Holden at Notes on Shoes Cake & Perfume
Simone at +Q Perfume
Robin at Now Smell This
Ideal Bite
Kimberly Ayers / Bath & Body News


Team Karen of Sniffapalooza
Michelyn Camen
Lisa Camasi
Valerie at Greenfeet

and all the Angels, the ones who appear as the Nemisis,
as well as those I may have forgotten to list and who will grace us
with their presence in the upcoming year!


Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Magic Wand

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold,
everything is softer and more beautiful.
~Norman Vincent Peale

Intending a Splendid Christmas for everyone!

from the team at
Roxana Illuminated Perfume

Image © Greg Spalenka

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Aurora at Fragrance Bouquet

"What beautiful, twinkling magic has been weaved in this amazing, heart-moving fragrance? Because it is surely magic, or at the very least the magic of art and love,
that make this fragrance evolve so stunningly on the skin, going through countless transformations that seduce the senses one after the other
while its creator humbly proclaims it "simpler" than the creations that followed!"

That is just a morsel of the inspired prose by Divina on our botanical perfume Aurora. Hop, skip and follow this link to Divina's Fragrance Bouquet Blog for a delightful, insightful and artful review.

Aurora perfume extrait is available at my etsy shop in a variety of quantities from .25 gram and 1 gram vials to the 7gram bottle. The solid perfume version arrives in January.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ever Green

The Winter Solstice, also called Yule or Yuletide, marks Midwinter and another turn in the great seasonal wheel. Read more on Yule in last years posting at this journal.

In ancient times those that honored the earth decorated their homes or temples with boughs of evergreen trees. The evergreens represented magical powers during a time when all other plant life died or hibernated.

In the Druidic tradition the holiday is seen as creation myth where one stays up through the night to midwife the return of the light. Acorns, symbols of the great Oak, are put on altars as a gift to the newborn light.

Here in our little woodland home we have a small Cypress tree that is moved inside for the holy days. This year we have done a more traditional decorating of our little evergreen with colored lights and our tin ornaments.

Normally I celebrate the Winter Solstice with girlfriends atop the mesa in Topanga. This was written by my dear friend Jane on the invite in 2006:

On this longest night, from the depth of the dark,
we sit,
we invite,
we meditate,
we listen,
and then
we honor the light of our unfed flame.
How do we stroke that spark of the dream?
How shall we fuel the passion to truley be?
And where might we shine
even more brightly
in 2007 (2009)

Thoughts and musings on creating a Winter Solstice perfume begin with the conifer notes of the evergreen trees such as Pine, Spruce and Fir. Woody elements to represent the "Yule" log such as Cedar and Cypress would weave in nicely with the conifer notes. Since bonfires were a n important component to ancient Solstice celebrations consider a few strands of a smoky note such as Cade. Bright and luminous citrus, like Yuzu, works nicely as the top notes signaling the return of the light.

In Japan, where bathing is incorporated in their Winter Solstice celebration, the citrus fruit Yuzu is utilized in the bath. The tradition of eating pumpkin soup and bathing with Yuzu fruit insures good health during the cold months.

During this time of great change, consciously light a candle connecting to the inner light within which burns brightly even during the darkest hour. Use your Winter Solstice fragrance with intention to courageously guide you to that luminous brilliance within your self.

Illuminating Midwinter perfumes include Sierra, Q and Sierra Solid Gold, each of these has been created with strong intention and contain many of the notes and aspects discussed in the post above.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Friday, December 19, 2008

Green Feet

Illuminated Perfume has been featured on the Greenfeet pod-cast! Valerie Reddemann Founder/President of Greenfeet along with her Co-host Dori bring you the "More Hip Than Hippie" Podcast. This show has an interview with Ken Grossman, the owner of the Sierra Nevada Brewery Company as well as several other environmental news, tidbits and earth friendly products. Be prepared, they are a bit wacky.

Valerie and I studied Aromatherapy together. Her company Greenfeet began online in 1997 and is now a brick and mortar store in Chico along with her uber successful web store.

Here is a link to the More Hip Than Hippie Podcast and one to the Greenfeet website.

Start saving money, energy and your sanity. Greenfeet is here to make your path to living green and sustainable lifestyle easy and fun.

Very green and very cool!

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hedera helix

Continuing down the ever greening path of verdant perfume we step onto the spiraling and purposeful Ivy. Hedera helix is the botanical name for Ivy as well as a perfume I created in April of 2007, two months after the formulation of Greenwitch.

Having devoted the last few years to learning the wonders of native California plants and creating indigenous perfumes, working with Ivy, required a tremendous paradigm shift. Here at our little woodland home we have been removing large amounts of ivy since arriving in order to facilitate a hospitable location for our native plants. Ivy is not indigenous to this area and is extremely water greedy. In fact it is considered a invasive, meaning it will crowd out native plants and create habitat destruction.

This is from the "Don't Plant a Pest" handout form The California Invasive Plant Council":

English ivy or Algerian ivy
Hedera helix or Hedera caneriensis
Some ivy species in the Hedera genus are a problem in California.
They can smother understory vegetation,
kill trees, and harbor non-native rats and snails.
It's difficult to distinguish problem species from less invasive ones.
Do not plant ivy near natural areas,
never dispose of ivy cuttings in natural areas,
and maintain ivy so it never goes to fruit.
Researchers hope to determine which ivies can be planted safely.


I discovered that creating a “Green” scent was fairly easy, however, creating a masterful botanical perfume that conveyed “Green” and “Ivy” was a challenge. Most especially given my particular orientation toward the plant.

Thus, I took a deep breath and dived in. The aroma of crushed Ivy leaves, to me, is very green with hints of citrus and powdery notes.

Here is my list of ingredients, as usual quite long:

Tonka Bean+Sandalwood+Oakmoss+Orris Root+Labdanum
+Cedarwood+Guaicwood +Rosewood+Angelica+Ambrette Seed
+Elemi+Seaweed+Choya+Styrax+Peru Balsam
+Beeswax+Hay+Mate+Vanilla+Tobacco+Peach Leaf+Boronia
+Orange Blossom+Jasmine+Rose+Pink Lotus
+Galbanum+Clary Sage+Geranium
+Parsley+Lavendin+Violet Leaf+Rhododendron Leaf
+Bergamot+Yuzu+Grapefruit+Lavender Flower tincture
in Organic Grape Spirits & Organic Grain Alcohol

Here is a segment of an article by Tonie Silver in Sniffapalooza Magazine:

"My favorite potion from Roxana was a special commission per my request.
Hedera helix~ the mighty Ivy Dark green leaves, reddish,
yellowish pink vines, and that special sharp tang that ivy possesses.
This is the big, aged, thick leaved ivy of my Grandmother’s front porch,
climbing and twining in the shade.
Cool and crisp, an inviting home to innumerable dark creatures."

This fragrance will be available, I'm just not sure when. It's possible it may be part of an upcoming project. In either case, when I put small vials of it on etsy I will give you all a holler.

In October I wrote a little post about the Celtic Tree Month of Ivy, find it here.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Watch for the Greenwitch!

“Hazel for the framework,
Rowan for the Head,
The body is of Hawthorne boughs and Hawthorne blossoms.”

~ Susan Cooper

In January 2007 I created a Green Chypre perfume, forthwith are the nitty-gritty details. Following this post I will also contribute the workings of another very green perfume with the working title Hedera helix.

In honor to the White Lady
A Green Chypre Perfume - January 2007

Initially I was intending to follow a formula for a traditional floral chypre to see what I could do with it. A basic floral chypre consists of Labdanum, Oakmoss and Patchouli base, floral heart notes with citrus at the top, Bergamot being the most favored. I have some formulas where Vetiver and Sandalwood are also in the base with the other trilogy of traditional base notes. Being a fan of Vetiver I choose to include it in my chypre base. The first step was in experimenting with different chypre bases to get a nice melding of Oakmoss, Vetiver and Patchouli. Two were created; one with a light use of Oakmoss, the second a traditional formula which utilized copious amounts of the lichen resin. As the different Chypre Bases melded, I created a botanical Musk accord and several Floral accords, one of which went very green. I called the green accord, Fern.

The book on tape I was listening to at the time period of creating these formulas was “Greenwitch” by one of my favorite authors, Susan Cooper. Inspired by the story, I decided to create a green chypre using the very green floral accord, Fern, as the heart of the perfume and calling it Greenwitch. Green notes in the botanical/natural perfumers palette include primarily Galbanum, in a variety of forms and Violet Leaf.

For the tinctures I initially decided upon Kelp and Onycha for the sea element of the White Lady and both Hawthorne flower, leaves and berries for the Greenwitch. I was not able to strain the special tinctures I made in time to add to the first version of Greenwitch, due to the deadline. In the final edition I will also add tinctures of Hazel and Rowan. Other planned additions include Birch to the base and more Rose since the Hawthorne and Rowan are from that family.

In the story the Greenwitch is created as an offering to “Tethys, the ancient ocean goddess and Queen of the Wild Magic”, also called the White Lady. There are references to the Greenwitch also being termed as the bride of King Marks. I would love to know if there is an actual making of the Greenwitch in Cornwall, England as described in the book or if it is a fictional rite.

“The making of the an old spring rite...
for greeting summer
and charming a good harvest of crop and fish.”

“Hazel for the framework,
Rowan for the Head, The body is of Hawthorne boughs and Hawthorne blossoms.”

~ Susan Cooper

Hazel, Corylus avellana - Betulaceae (Birch) family
Rowan, Sorbus aucuparia L., Rosaceae – Rose family
Hawthorne, Crataegus monogyna, Rosaceae – Rose family

I created several versions of the fragrance. My favorite is labeled number one, however, a few friends adore version number two. The second version is more in line with a classical Chypre fragrance.

This is a list of the essences that are included in the first two variations:

Monsoon Rose Attar
Jasmine Sambac Absolute
Orris CO2
Tonka Bean
Geranium Absolute
Galbanum Absolute
Bergamot, Italy
Petitgrain, Lime

Musk Accord: Ambrette, Cassie, Africa Stone, Spikenard, Cumin and Beeswax
Chypre Base Accord: Haitian Vetiver , a dark Indonesian Patchouli and Oakmoss Abs.

Grape Spirits + Grain Alcohol

Tincture of Onycha

for the Greenwitch:
Seaweed Absolute
Celery Seed Absolute
Labdanum Abs.
Peru Balsam

I'll be putting a few small samples up on my etsy boutique for those who wish to explore the fragrance. However, it may not be until after the holidays. The studio is gratefully very bee-sy at the moment and I have quite a lot of orders to fill and custom perfumes to finalize.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™ at Etsy

Images ©Greg Spalenka, at top a cropped version of Emerge and below it is Imagination Vibration. My daughter Eve was the model for both these pieces which were commissioned as posters. See more at the Spalenka website and at his outpost on etsy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Green Man

The tree which moves some to tears of joy
is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.
Some see nature all ridicule and deformity...
and some scarce see nature at all.

But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
~ William Blake

The Green Man iconography appears thousands of years ago throughout the world. Most often we associate the figure with European churches and connecting structures. However, the image has much deeper roots.

In ancient Egypt and Greece we have similar Green Man imagery with Dionysis, Osiris and the goat-god Pan. Even throughout parts of Mexico, India and Asia the green figure materializes in sculptures, Thangka paintings and on sacred sites. Native Americans had their own form of the green figure in the Story poles of the Pacific Northwest.

The most abundant use of the image is in the Celtic tradition where the earth is revered and the trees are considered sacred. The Green Man often appears with horns and a leaf masked face with names ranging from King of May, Green Jack, Jack in the Green and Green George. Tales of Robin Hood and Gawain and the Green Knight stem from our camouflaged hero. In some parts of the British Isles effigies of a green figure are created during a high holiday. My favorite of these stories is in Susan Coopers The Green Witch.

Mother Nature, symbol of the goddess of the earth, represents the feminine aspect of the Green Man. In Celtic Wisdom we see her represented as Sovereignty, the goddess of the land. GAIA, the idea of earth as a living organism where we are all connected, is the modern incarnation of the Green Man ideology.

"The human woman gives birth just as the earth gives birth to the plants ... so woman magic and earth magic are the same." ~ Joseph Campbell

The Green Man and the related archetypes discussed are symbols of our intimacy with nature.
These mythic images have an enchanting power which continues to thrive in the popular art of cultures worldwide. We see it as re-occurring themes in our modern day bards, like Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison.

In the realm of perfume "Green" is a modern fragrance family that grew out of the traditional Chypre (pronounced sheep-ra) catagory. Chypre stems from the French word Cyprus and was made famous with the perfume by Francois Coty. A classic Chypre perfume consists of a basic accord of Oakmoss, Labdanum, Patchouli and Bergamot. For more on the origins of Chypre read on at Perfume Shrine.

The closest Chypre in the Roxana Illuminated Perfume fragrance collection is Q, the oak perfume. There is also Hedera helix and Green Witch, but those are only available upon
request at the moment.

Q, with it's association to the sacred Oak, connects us to the spirit of the Green Man. Heather Ettlinger, the poet and authoress of the Memory and Desire blog writes:

The night I tried Q turned out to be a vivid and marvelous evening in which I picked up a fairy tale I've been crafting since I was a child, and took it straight into the woods for several hours. Q is both lush and restrained, majestic and simple. Not angry, not quarrelsome, not angular, but very green. I lay in bed for several hours with my wrists wresting on a pillow in front of my face, and explored the calming green of trees in sunlight."

Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?
Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Susan Cooper
Neil Gaiman
Grant Morrison
Memory & Desire

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

At top our illuminated oak image ©Greg Spalenka, just under it is a porcelain Green Lady pendant handcrafted by Ilsa and Suzanne in Holland. Below that the image is titled Spring ©Roxana Villa, prints available here, and the woman emerging out of the tree trunk is titled "Divinus" ©Greg Spalenka, card set available here, prints available here.

+Q Perfume

I've been twice blessed with beautiful reviews in one week! The enchanting and lovely Simone over at +Q Perfume, meaning "mais-que" more than perfume, has done a little write up about Roxana Illuminated Perfume.

Here is how Simone transcribes "mais" (+) "que" (Q)

+Q Perfume means more than just perfume but it is also a game of words in portuguese: mais-que-perfeito a tense of verb in portuguese grammar. So it means that I give more than just perfume, because i talk about inspirations, perfumery, perfumer, books, scents, flavors, design and I interview people...

Once again, I am deeply humbled and grateful. It is especially delightful to receive accolades by a fellow South American. As a teen I had the opportunity to visit Rio de Janeiro with my mother. I adored the visit and the joyous nature of the people. Master Gregorio has been lucky enough to have gone on a visit to Brazil during carnival, which is also celebrated in Argentina. My experience of carnival in Argentina was getting pelted by water balloons in Mar del Plata. Very different from Brazil, where entire cities live for this celebration and are transformed by rhythmic beat.

Besos querida Simone!

Photo above ©RoxanaVilla, is of the Oak perfume Q, in honor of Simones blog with the letter Q in the title.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Blog Lady

I received a comment on one of my posts stating that this blog has been nominated for the best fragrance blog in a competition titled Fragrantica Blog Awards. I've wondered over there to investigate. Illuminated Perfume is in very good company with many of my favorite perfume blogs.

My father suggested I clue my readers in on this, thus, if you enjoy the posts here please mosey on over and vote for Illuminated Perfume.

Thanks Dad!

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Vespertina at Fragrance Bouquet

"Meaning “Evening”, Vespertina is a glorious, floral scent with rich veins of spice. Its construction is absolutely marvelous, with top notes that you’ll want to chase after like fleeting dreams, floral heart notes so deep they make you feel like you can get lost in their nuances forever, and spicy, woody base notes that linger comfortingly on the skin until the skin’s own beauty shines through."

These are a few of the eloquent words Divina has written to describe the botanical perfume Vespertina. Head on over to her blog to read more and post a comment if you have experienced Vespertina.

I am particularly struck by her choice of descriptive words and paragraphs. They mimic the journey that the character Vespertina goes on in her quest for the spiritual heart. It is obviously that Divina has a very astute nose, besides being a gifted writer.

I feel very humbled when an inspired writer transcribes their sensory exploration of one of my perfumes. It is a profoundly tangible sensation. I heard once that artists live and create for recognition not for money. Hmmmm....

Vespertina perfume extrait is available at my new etsy shop in a variety of quantities from
.25 gram and 1 gram vials to the 7gram bottle. Read more about Vespertina on the website and here at this journal.

The image at top, ©Greg Spalenka, is a cropped version of the music cover CD titled The Visions of Vespertina.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Illuminated Heaven & Hell

“The shell must break before the bird can fly.”
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

The intersection of perfume and visual art transpired for me while studying aromatherapy back in the early nineties. In 2001 the concept of creating natural perfume as a constructed artwork, like my paintings really struck. Then while at a Visionary Art workshop in Austria I saw, within even more clarity, how all the pieces fit together.

Over at my visual art journal I just posted a piece about an image I created titled H2 Illuminated, Heaven and Hell. This was brought on by uploading the limited edition Giclee up on etsy.

Here are some links for your journey...

Roxana Villa - Visual Art Blog
Old Masters, New Visions Workshop in Austria

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™

Painting at top "Heaven", below "Hell" and here to the right is a little sketch that started the whole thing going.
All are © Roxana Villa.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fitting the Pieces

I came across a book on Gregs bedside table yesterday. It was given to him by one of his music making buddies. His accolades have put it in the sphere of the Artist's Way, one of my favorites, so my curiosity was peaked from the onset.

Here is a snippet for you....

"In the tricky business of fitting the pieces together, we work from a double point of view, moving deductively from our original inspiration of the whole and inductively from our particular inspirations of detail. Sometimes what is needed is to crudely smash through the confusions and obstacles; sometimes the most delicate, patient, intermittent massaging of the problem. Sometimes it is we ourselves who need to be hit over the head or gently massaged. Sometimes the pieces we love most are the ones that end up on the cutting room floor. They may be some of the first-born images upon which the whole work was built. But when a building is completed, the scaffolding must come down."

~ Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts

Meanwhile, I continue to take photos in my mock photo studio...the living room. I am contemplating purchasing a "photo booth" and setting it up the bigger studio. What began as a simple task of photographing perfume bottles has enlarged into a....not monster....invading morning glory vine. With two shops on Etsy one for aromatic art and one for visual art the photographs have come in very handy.

When you don't have super website techy skills, venues like a blog and Etsy are super handy.
It's getting super busy here with orders, so I may not be posting as often...we'll see.

The patchwork tapestry image above has been put together using some of the photographs of the perfume bottles and packaging taken over the last few weeks. Some have been altered are move into the photo-illustrative realm.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™ on Etsy

Image above, Perfume Tapestry © Roxana Villa,
image at right is the cover of the book mentioned above.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Medicine Buddha

"Fragrance is the bridge connecting the colorfully scented plant realms, the human heart and the soul, and the spheres of the gods."
~ David Crow, In Search of the Medicine Buddha

Image is a detail from Expand Your Vision©Greg Spalenka, for posters of this image follow this link.

Pure Fume

A friend and I were discussing the Universe of Perfume yesterday with it's various cast of characters from the kings, queens, knights, warriors, princes, wizards and elephants. Elephants? Yes, elephants.

Elephants are often referenced when something is obvious, but, no one talks about it because it is not appropriate or politically correct. There are quite a few elephants roaming the Kingdom of Perfume. Some are discovered right away, others take years to see and witness.

In the field of illustration when artists create a new piece, they make postcards and send them out to art directors. In this way the art directors can see the latest work by the artist. Sometimes artists will put the piece up on their website and send out a link. In the eighties when I lived in NYC and had my letterpress studio in Greenich Village I would create letterpress postcards and send them out to a select group of art directors. Within the Kingdom of Illustration this was all considered appropo.

When a niche perfumer has a new product how do they get the smell of that product out? Sending samples is, in some circles considered unethical. Not to mention sending full bottles of the perfume. Some perfumers have contests or giveaways to get around the moral dilemma.
The challenge lies in that if no one experiences the scent and shares their perception, then how does the perfume have a chance? Time to access that inner magician.

One friend referred to bloggers as lobbyists, that's an fascinating perception. Read what Scentzilla wrote on her blog about this issue, it's pretty interesting.

The big conglomerates...even some of the "supposed" niche brands have an advantage with the ability to hire PR people and get into magazines and newspapers. If they are in shops, department stores or online venues many times the shop keeper will participate in the promotion. Even here you have yet another animal in the Kingdom, the media hogs.

The elephant that is causing me discomfort today is the deceptive advertising one. The one where someone will taut their product as "natural" for example, when the product contains elements that most would not consider natural. But, petroleum is natural they might say? How about the huge conglomerates that have a parcel of land in Grasse and refer to it in the marketing. This way when they say there is REAL Rose or Jasmine in their perfumes they refer to their little plot of land. Never mind that the amount of essential oil produced by those plants would never be enough for the massive amounts of product they manufacture and distribute all over the world.

Let's call a spade a spade shall we? King of Spade, Queen of Spade or Jack of all that's Jack of all Trades, oops.

E is for elephants but it is also for ethical...what exactly defines ethical behavior? After all, perception is an act of creation.

Roxana illuminated Perfume™
Illustrations ©Greg Spalenka, see his luminous website by clicking here. Contact him
directly if you would like to license his artwork.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Art Happens

Click this link if you are having trouble watching this.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™