Friday, February 27, 2009

Genie :: Genius :: Geni Us

My dear and inspirational friend Joan has done it again. Get ready to be inspired.


Botanical Perfume Defined

"Truth in perfume does not exist,
unless one means by that the transient state of coincidence of a scent with our soul,
which means that there are as many truths as there are souls."
Jean-François Blayn from Dictionnaire du langage parfumé

Perfume can be defined as both a noun and a verb. The noun refers to a substance or combination of substances which impart a fragrance. Perfume as a verb, refers to the actual aromatic particles that waft from the substance mentioned previously. The origin of the word comes from the Latin, per “through” and fumus “smoke”, thus “through smoke”. This verbage most likely alludes to the use of gums and resins as incense or herbs strewn over fires to impart a pleasant aroma. According to historians perfumes originated in Arabia and/or Egypt, refined later by the alchemists and Europeans.
The substances used to create perfume can be natural, botanical, synthetic or a combination. Synthetic compounds, created in a laboratory, became part of the perfumers palette in the late 19th century with the release of the aroma chemical, or isolate, “coumarin”, containing a hay-like fragrance. Thus the perfume industry was born. Before the introduction of these laboratory created components perfumers used whole ingredients, found in the natural world, primarily animal and plant. The animal ingredients consisted of ambergris (from whales), musk pods, civet and castoreum. Plant aromatics included essential oils, as well as infused and tinctured materials.

Natural perfumers today continue in this tradition using both animal, plant based “natural essences”, and isolates, however, the word natural is loosely defined. Thus, the use of animal ingredients such as those mentioned above (ambergris, musk pods, civet and castoreum) are often employed.

The botanical perfumer is a product of our current, modern day culture, choosing to use primarily materials of botanical origins, which are whole and complete, meaning not fabricated in or tampered with in a lab. Occasionally a botanical perfumer may include materials that come from the ocean, such as distilled seashells, material from the bee kingdom or an obscure tinctured matter. The palette of a botanical perfumer consists of whole essential oils, absolutes, concretes, c02 extractions, infusions and tinctures. Beeswax is also included in their apothecary, used for the creation of solid perfumes and balms.

The botanical perfume artist practices integral perfume, working to create beauty through the expression of pure plant extractions within the paradigm of sustainability and health.

I originally published this here at the journal, since then I've made a few small edits and am republishing as I've noticed quite a bit of confusion as to what defines a botanical perfume. If you are concerned about what is in an aromatic product I highly recommend asking the perfumer or perfume corporation what specifically they are using with the perfume. For example, if you would prefer not to use a perfume which contains the secretions of a tortured cat, then ask if civet is utilized. Also, one should be aware that the large perfume conglomerates are a bit like the tobacco companies in the 1950's. (Anyone here watch Mad Men?) History shows us that money can employ creative techniques, tactics and advertising to tell a His Story. Which leads us full circle to where we began.

"Truth in perfume does not exist,
unless one means by that the transient state of coincidence of a scent with our soul,
which means that there are as many truths as there are souls."

Images: At top Sierra Liquid Perfume, followed by old black and white engravings that I have cleaned up and placed on parchment using Photoshop.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Garam Masala Accord

Sunday we planned to go over to a friends to celebrate her birthday and also watch the Oscars. Although we have a TV, we are not plugged into any bad news networks. Instead we download our favorite shows like LOST and Fringe and head on over to friends house when something special beckons us.

We decided to bring over an Indian inspired feast for the dinner, which included Green Peas in a Creamy Sauce. I've been making these pas for years. It is out of the book Quick & Easy Indian cooking by Madhur Jaffrey's. I picked it up years ago at World Market.

Normally when I make this I use a standard Garam Masala spice mix from the market or Indian Spice shop. This time I decided to follow the recipe for precisely and make the Garam Masala as she suggests. Standard Garam Masala spice blends contain: Coriander, Cumin, Ginger, Red Chili, Cloves, Cinnamon and Bay Leaves.

I began the homemade version by gently opening up green cardamom pods and gently scooping out the seeds. A similar process is utilized for making Vanilla tinctures and infusions. Once I had meticulously scraped out the required amount of aromatic Cardamon seeds, I placed the seeds, a Cinnamon stick, a piece of Nutmeg, Black Peppercorns, Black Cumin Seeds and whole Cloves into my coffee grinder to make a fine powder.

The result was spectacular with a beautiful fragrance which was blending rather nicely with the chocolate brownies that Eve was preparing. It got me thinking about the spiced hot chocolate that the Aztecs & Mayan would prepare. Thus, I am going to work on a natural/botanical perfume inspired by this. The first step will be in creating a Garam Masala accord utilizing the exact ingredients from above but in the form of essential oils.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


"Each flower is a soul opening out to nature." ~ Gerard de Nerval

LYRA, the botanical solid perfume described by Victoria Austin as:

"A rich, full-bodied, sweetly tinged amber, floral fragrance that evokes the essence of Fall with its warm sensuality."

has been nominated for another at Etsy Gift Guide. This one is for the most delicious, refreshing spa items to rejuvenate your body during these winter doldrums. Well, Lyra definitely works perfectly in this catagory! In fact I've been anointing myself with it constantly for the last two days. The Ylang Ylang Jasmine combined with the citrus make this the perfect "Feel Good" fragrance.
Please go on over and vote for this sensual delight.
Here is the link where you can sign up for a free account at etsy, and here is where to vote.

Read Victoria's full review of Lyra at Sniffapalooza Magazine, here's a morsel followed by a link:

"A rich, full-bodied, sweetly tinged amber, floral fragrance that evokes the essence of Fall with its warm sensuality. Through a veil of tropical flowers, the amber and somewhat licorice tinted base glows leaving a dry down trail of light citrus so as not to allow the amber to overpower." and "The glowing amber floral fragrance exudes an ethereal waft of a bonfire note arising then transitioning in a light citrusy orange drink at the end of my sensory-awakening tramp in the cool, late October forest."
~ Victoria Austin, Sniffapalooza Magazine

Image above Lyra Solid natural/Botanical Perfume compact and hand crochet pouch.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

House Industries in LA

Andy Cruz, one of sixteen members of the eclectic and talented design team House Industries, will be making an appearance at CalArts Monday evening. I learned about House Industries through my daughters grandparents John and Marilyn Neuhart. During the summer Eve and I had gone down to El Segundo for a visit. Marilyn pulled out some dolls that House Industries was making based on her handmade dolls from the 60's.

Now, we all have the opportunity to hear Andy speak about his creative, out-of-the-box company and see his latest projects. Here are the specs:

House Industries at CalArts
Monday, February 23rd
7pm in building F200
California Institute of the Arts
24700 McBean Parkway
Valencia, California 91355
Admission: FREE!

Marilyn and John Neuhart are quite an eclectic talented pair. I first met them while dating my first husband Ben Neuhart. Immediately I fell in love with their strong aesthetic and attention to design details in every aspect of their lives. I'll do another contribution about them soon...with lots of photos.

See you at the lecture.

House Industries

Image at top is a flyer from House Industries, the Lion doll image is one of the dolls Marilyn created for House Industries, based on her dolls from the 60's. Image at bottom are photographs of Marilyn's original dolls.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Perfume Smellin' Things

Tom has informed me that the perfume giveaway over at Perfume Smellin' Things will end on Sunday, pacific standard time. So head on over, if you haven't already, by clicking this link.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Alchemical Wedding

" The alchemical operation consisted essentially in separating the prima materia,
the so-called chaos, into the active principle, the soul, and the passive
principle, the body, which were then reunited in personified form in the
coniunctio or 'chymical marriage'... the ritual cohabitation of Sol and Luna."
- C.G. Jung Mysterium Coniunctionis

Although we may have crossed paths as children in Arcadia, California or professional illustrators in NYC, we did not consciously meet until the Autumn of 1999. It was at a Society of Illustrators Portfolio Review here in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles where we finally collided, live and in person.

In January of 2000 we began getting to know each other more intimately, becoming aware that there was more to the relationship than art. On a very romantic evening of February 14th, in the year 2001, Greg romantically proposed to me on bended knee.

Several years later, under a groove of oak trees and an expansive view of the Santa Monica Mountains all the way to the ocean, we were married.

We had planned something more along the lines of the painting “Spring” by Sir Laurence Alma Tadema. We still hold an intention to manifest that vision.

Our secret ceremony began with our entourage meeting at our little woodland cottage. We all cheered with a hydrosol cocktail of Frankincense, Rose and Jasmine, then drove into Topanga State Park. We had selected two sites for our conceptual Heaven and Earth ceremony. First under a groove of ancient Oak trees where I read a poem, followed by all of us jumping through the duirway and then aromatic anointing. From there we walked up the hill to an expansive view of the Santa Monica Mountains all the way to the Pacific Ocean. There had been a rain storm the day before, so the day was gloriously clear and fresh. Here, in Heaven, Greg read a second poem, we proclaimed our vows and sealed the union with a kiss.

It was a very special, magical day that will live in our hearts, brightly illuminated.

Greg and I walking into Topanga State Park, hand in hand.

Continuing along the path, far in the distance is the entourage.

The Sacred Oak

The Duirway

I anointed everyone with an Amber perfume followed by Q, the oak perfume.
Yes, the Amber perfume will be released soon and I am working on a scent emblematic
of Heaven & Earth, with wood, amber, rose and the expansiveness of the sky.

A kiss from the Lord to his Lady


With our Muse, Craig on the left, whom we adore

The minister, Ricky, and his husband Peleg.

Afterward we all returned to the little cottage in the woods for a homemade meal:
Cheese and Onion Quiche
Carrot Ginger Soup
Green Salad
Fresh Bread
Lemon Drop Cake

Delightful & Delicious!

Alchemical Wedding image ©Greg Spalenka, using an old alchemical image as the base for the painting.
Alma Tadema painting Spring, on display at the Getty in Los Angeles.
Most photographs were taken by Peleg Top, with a few by Craig Marshall.

See more of Greg's work at his website.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pregnant Vegetation

We love various writers for different reasons, for example I adore Phillip Pullman and Virginia Woolf as well as Patrick Suskind. Diversely different writers, each brilliant. Same can be said for film...although here I can go from the Matrix to Orlando to Monty Python.

Writers and critiques of perfume are quite varied as well, the luminaries have distinct voices and sometimes tastes. One of my all time favorite fragrance writers is Tom Pease over at Perfume Smellin' Things. I think it's his strong sense of wit blended with a heavy dose of real authenticity that attracts so many readers to him, me included.

With extreme pride I invite you to journey on over to the Perfume Smellin' Things blog where you can savor some of Tom's wit directed toward a Valentine I sent him. Yes indeed, he is one of the few that received one of the handmade Valentines I mentioned in a previous post.

Again, it was one of those "zone" things that hit one me one day and had me scrambling to create Valentines within a few days. The idea came to me while talking with Greg is the studio. I had asked him a question and then saw in the corner of my gaze the answer. This then morphed into a quick and dirty heart felt and hand made Valentine bonanza.

As an editorial illustrator I would create special images for specific holidays, go to Greenwich Village where I had my letterpress studio and print up special promos for my favorite art directors. I've been holding the intention of doing something similar with perfume. This mailing was a little step in that direction, although on a smaller scale to a very select group of individuals.

I decorated twelve little cardboard heart shaped boxes with paper and paint. There are currently five solid perfumes in my line: Lyra, Sierra, Aurora, Cimbalom and Chaparral®. Sometimes randomly, sometimes mindfully I placed three solid minis into each little box along with some festive shredded red paper. All were sent out with extra doses of love and appreciation to each recipient. Tom, ever so heartfelt, decided to use his as a giveaway over at Perfume Smellin' Things. Thus...head on over and leave a comment to be entered in the draw.

If you don't win, get your own set at the Illuminated Perfumery at Etsy.

Goodnight and Goodluck!

Handmade Tag

Every once in awhile I get in this zone. It's very enchanting when it happens and I'm not conscious of it until afterward. The other day was a zone day. I was doing some work and research on the computer when I came across the blog of a fellow etsy seller. I am still not sure how I found her. The zone has this "Magical Mystery Tour" element where the Divine is driving the bus. The bus made a stop at an enchanting, beautiful oasis. This was my introduction to the luminous and inspirational Nicole of Lillyella. Have you seen her blog and jewelry? I'm a bit smitten by it all, so pretty. Thus I made a comment on her blog and joined in on a game. I've just discovered that I was one of the lucky winners of the handmade gift set by Nicole pictured here. It also means I now create the game here. If you would like to play along here are the guidelines:

1. You have to be crafty and willing to make three handmade gifts
2. You must have a blog that you post to regularly
Here's how it works:
I will randomly select three people to receive a handmade gift set from me. They then have to post this game on their blog offering a handmade item(s) of their own to three people and so on.

My handmade gift set will include:
Something from the Land of Botanical Fragrance and a yummy baked cookies or biscotti....or perhaps something else along that Lavender truffles. Feel free to make suggestions. Perhaps the fragrant item will have a relationship to the baked Vanilla
for example.

To enter,
simply leave a comment on this post by end of day next Tuesday (3/03) saying you would like to play. Please include your first name and a link to your blog. I will randomly choose three people and announce them on Wednesday (3/04) . Get your engines ready, this should be fun!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Color Purple

“Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

I had my color palette created back in March 2006 specifically with my business in mind. I had no idea it would affect my life in such a transformational way. Along with the palette I received my soul essence imprint which is illuminated by twilight. The energetic blueprint that goes along with this now informs everything in my perfume line. For example, my style motif includes Antique and Vintage inspired items as well as those that are Artistic Creative. These two styles are weaved into all aspects of my branding. It's amazing how deep into the rabbit hole one can go with this. I suppose as a visual artist with Venus in Libra, a Pisces Moon, and lots of Virgo planets the obsession for beauty can get a little overboard.

“I found I could say things with color and shapes
that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.”

~ Georgia O'Keeffe

Today I took a photo of some of my sample vials with the color coded wax seals on the caps. I have already integrated this color coding system to the photos of the perfume flacons with their crochet bags as well as the solid minis.

Finding the right kind of wax in the right color hue has been a bit of a dilema...sigh. For example the wax seal that I began using for the Chaparral® Solid isn't my favorite, the "bling" factor is a little over the top with the gold glittery quality. I'm now experimenting with a different sage type color, but, it's also not quite it. This particular wax also isn't adhering to the top as well as some of the others.
I'm also still on the hunt for the right wax hue for Rosa.

Finding the right color thread for the pouches has had challenges as well. It's all a bit of an adventure, the ability to bend like a reed and be flexible has been crucial. Martha has been an incredible asset and great to bounce ideas with. Her experience in the fashion world is a real benefit. In the morrow we are off to hunt for beads and other cool adornments.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Rose will Bloom

Wishing you all a very happy day with your beloved, whether that is another individual, your self or the divine. I was planning to write about the wedding today...but...activities have spontaneously interceded with my blogging plans.

Love asks me no questions,
And gives me endless support...
~ William Shakespeare

I created and sent out some handmade valentines to fans, friends and patrons who I am so grateful to. In a few days I will post pictures and details here.

And think not you can
Direct the course of love,
For love,
If it finds you worthy,
Directs your course.
~ Gibran Kahlil Gibran

What I will share is that exactly nine years ago this evening Maestro Gregorio made me a delicious homemade dinner and then on bended knee proposed to me. It was all very romantic. My fragrance that evening was probably either Jasmine or Ylang Ylang.

"Soul meets soul on lover's lips."
~ Percy Bysshe Shelly

Here is a clip from Franco Zeffrelli's 1968 Romeo and Juliet, I used it on an Etsy treasury I created last night titled the BELOVED.

Rather synchronistically Helg over at Perfume Shrine posted a clip of one of my all time favorite films, the 1998 version of Great Expectations directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Here is one of the beautiful scenes from that film. The art direction in this version of the Charles Dickens book of the same name is so stunning, with superb use of color script. It's eye candy.

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature
To stop speech when words become superfluous.
~ by Ingrid Bergman

Image ©Greg Spalenka titled Ignite Thy Passion, posters avaialble at his website: in the "psoter" catagory.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chaparral at +Q Perfume

Simone at the +Q Perfume blog has written a two part segment titled "When Cowboys Meet Indians" featuring both Andy Tauer and myself. The first part was a tribute to the Cowboy and Andy's fragrance Lonestar Memories. Today she published the second portion which focuses on Indians and the liquid version of our fragrance Chaparral®.
Follow this link to read today's portion, or this link to read both part one and two.

Interesting how Chaparral® is getting so much attention all of a sudden, must be on the air.

It is an honor to be associated with my dear friend and colleague Andy Tauer. I am so grateful for Simone's piece, she really captured the spirit and essence of Chaparral®. While you are over at her blog check out some of the other items she has written about. The interview with the author of "What the Nose Knows" Avery Gilbert of is particularly fascinating. I had the pleasure to meet Avery here in LA at a presentation and this past autumn during the NYC Sniffapalooza Fall Ball. I highly recommend "What the Nose Knows", I received it for Christmas and have just begun reading it.

+Q Perfume Blog
Lonestar Memories by Andy Tauer
Andy Tauer website & blog
Chaparral® is available in a variety of sizes at my Etsy shop.
Avery Gilbert

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Mark of Trade

I received official word that the trademark filing for the word chaparral within the use of perfumery has gone through. Hurray!

It was back in October of 2006 that this perfume was birthed, shortly after creating the Oak perfume currently known as Q. Read a detailed account of the creative process with the creation of this fragrance over at the Perfume Critic.

The word refers to the biome known as the chaparral in California. A biome is a community of distinctive plants due to specific climatic conditions. Besides California the chaparral biome is found in South America, South Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean.

Last week we also received a message from the administrators at Etsy that our Chaparral® Solid Perfume had been nominated for an Etsy Gift Guide. The photo of the antiqued compact is featured in the "Her" Gift Guide. Thank you to everyone who voted for us!

We give a percentage of the profits from the liquid perfume of Chaparral® to the Chaparral Institute. This organization is a group of scientists, wildland firefighters, naturalist, and educators who value the chaparral as both a valuable resource and a place to enjoy the wilderness.

Read more about our Chaparral
® Perfume here at our journal, on our website and at our Etsy shoppe.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the LIFE body

"Our sympathy and antipathy works on the etheric body. We can easily see this through ordinary observation. We know that the etheric body rules the glands. When, for example, a gourmand sees tasty food, the saliva glands become active and the 'mouth waters'. To the extent that we learn to master ourselves and balance our sympathy and antipathy, the glands in our body will dry out and become like the bark of a tree that protects what is within. In plants, the juices flow up and down. For this reason they cannot withstand the cold of winter; they die. Trees, on the other hand, allow the outside to dry up and become bark, thereby protecting themselves from the drastic effects of storm and cold. It is the same with initiates. Their life body does not die from one incarnation to another. Thus were the Druids. And 'druid' means 'oak', which is the strongest of the trees. "

~ Esoteric Lessons, Berlin March 14 1908, Rudolf Steiner
Steiner Books

The image above is of our perfume devoted to the California Coastal Live Oak. Samples, one gram vials and the quarter ounce flacons are available at my satelite store at Etsy. Read more about Q here at the journal and on our website.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love Notes

Yesterday morning I got the paints out and have been working on a few Valentines for a select group of about twelve individuals. My intention is to get them finished and out in the mail today with the new bundle of orders.

Julia Cameron, the author of the Artist's Way, encourages creativity by "playing" with art materials much in the way we did as children. When I unearthed the paints and brushes yesterday there was a sense of a fun creative adventure that she endorses. It felt different from the process of creating a perfume or an illustration. I also was reminded of the similarities between painting and creating perfume.

My painting brushes are very much like my glass droppers, the rinse water like the alcohol I use to rinse out my droppers and the paint colors like the essences themselves. At the end of the day I was cleaning my brushes at the sink just like I clean my droppers and beakers.

The image above is a digital photo collage utililizing one of Maestro Gregorios paintings with one of my valentines layered on top.

The Artist's Way
Greg Spalenka website, Etsy shop & Art Sale.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Name of the Rose

"And I will make thee beds of roses And a thousand fragrant posies."
~ Christopher Marlowe

One of the quintessential symbols of Valentine's Day is the rose. A perennial within the Rosaceae family, this flower has been here on planet earth for 35 million years. That number is based on fossil records, thus, more than likely the rose has been here much longer. Prized and revered in Islam, the rose has been used by many civilizations from fragrant pomades, edible delicacies and elaborate gardens.

The natural botanical perfumer has quite a array of rose essences available to us, from many different parts of the globe, including Bulgaria, Turkey, China and India. We obtain the essential oil of Rose by distilling rose petals. It takes over 60,000 petals of roses to obtain 1 ounce of the essence, this is why the cost of this gem is so steep. There are also specific essential oils that can add a rosey quality without necessitating the real deal. These include: Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), HoWood or an ethically sourced Rosewood, and dilutions of Palmarosa (cymbopogon martini), Lemongrass and or Citonella.

"It is at the edge of the petal that love waits."
~ William Carlos Williams

Here are a few recipes that utilize Rose Petals:

Rose Petals
Egg white
Extra fine granulated sugar

Gather fresh rose petals, preferably on a sunny, dry day.
Gently wash them with spring water and allow to air dry.
In a small ceramic bowl beat an egg white until it foams and add a tiny amount of water, 1/2 tbspn at most.
Gently place the rose petals into the egg mix so that they are well coated. Remove one at a time, allowing excess egg to drip off.
Dust the petal on each side with extra fine granulated sugar.
Place each rose petal on a piece of wax or parchment paper and allow to dry.

Use these to decorate a cake. This recipe can be used with any edible petal of leaf.

2 cups freshly picked petals of dark red roses, washed
1 liter water
Place the flower petals in a teapot. Pour in the boiling water, cover and leave the tea to brew for 10 minutes. Serve this tea hot or iced, with honey to enhance the delicate taste.

1/2 cup dried red rose petals
2 tablespoons dried lemon balm
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Mix well. Use 1 teaspoon for each cup.

Place clean, dry rose petals into honey, this is technically called a maceration. This will produce a heavenly treat that can be used on toast or to sweeten tea.


Herbal vinegars are used in skin tonics, added to the bath, dabbed on sunburned face or pressed on to a throbbing headache.

1 cup of fresh petals or herbs of your choice
2 cups cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Put flower petals or herbs into a large glass jar and pour in the warmed vinegar. Place on a windowsill in the sun or in some other warm place and leave there for 2 weeks, shaking the bottle well every day. Strain off the vinegar and store the sealed bottles. You can then increase the strength of the perfume by increasing the amount of herbs or flower petals used.

Dried rose petals
Lavender buds
Orris Root
and a small piece of Copal, ideally one that is heart shaped.
Put the following into some rose colored, breathable fabric and stitch together holding while holding your beloved and or thoughts of love in your minds eye.


1 cup vodka
1 cup of dried mint
2 cups distilled water
2 cups of Rose petals

Combine mixture and leave covered for several days, gently shaking daily. Strain off liquid. If the fragrance is not as strong as you would like it to be, take the infused liquid and repeat the process until the fragrance is to you liking. Substitute lavender in place of rose petals for a nice variety.

Read about our Rosa Botanical Perfume dedicated to the California Native rose at this link here at the Journal.

Image at top is a detail of Greg Spalenka's painting Art Heart, the image is ©Greg Spalenka, to see more of his work go to or his shops on etsy.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tale of Two Cities

This past summer, shortly after the review of Vera on the Perfume Critic website, the New York City based fragrance writer Michelyn Camen contacted me via e-mail. In our cyber exchange, I learned that we shared a plethora of shared interests including Argentine ancestry. The fertile connection has birthed a collaborative project on our beloved city Buenos Aires. With Michelyn's creative input I am formulating a Chypre perfume based on Argentina's capital city, Buenos Aires.

I was born in Buenos Aires in 1962 just as my mother was hitting her prime with her fashion business. My family roots go back to Western Catholic Europe, mainly Northern Italy with a bit of Irish and Spanish. My father and mother choose to immigrate to the United States with my older brother and I in the mid sixties. Read more about this by following this link to a post on this journal. Michelyn's experience of Buenos Aires stems from her Jewish Argentine mother.

Thus, Michelyn and I come together to bring you the two aspects of Buenos Aires; the Paris of South America- a city of culture, literature, mate and the Tango and the dark side of Buenos Aires, one of death, military juntas and tragic repression.

The fruity Chypre perfume will reflect a tale of two cities, reflecting the dark and light of Buenos Aires and the perspectives of its two creators.

Chypre as a perfume family was made famous by Francois Coty with the launch of 'Le Chypre' in 1917. The perfume contrasted the citrus top note of Bergamot with the heavy, lichen base note of Oak Moss. Since then the classic formula has grown to have many sub-families including the fruity Chypre.

I am beginning this formulation by creating a fruity accord. All the citrus essences are being contemplated as well as those notes in the natural botanical perfume palette which convey a definitive fruit note such as Black Currant, Osmanthus and the Absolutes from the Conifer family. Italian Blood Orange and Bergamot will tie in nicely with my Italian heritage and that of so many who have immigrated to Argentina. Labdanum and Patchouli will manifest in the base note as well as both my Vegan-Ambergris accord and a Leather accord. For the middle east influences and the nod to all the Argentine Jews we are contemplating Oud, Damascus rose, Dates, Star anise and Cardamom. Mate, Tobacco and Cacao will also be featured somewhere in the composition.

Michelyn has asked that the fragrance contain a hint of blood and tears. Two resinous materials come to mind for this request, Dragons Blood and Frankincense. These will be added either in the form of tinctures from the resinous material or a Blood & Tears accord.

Back in October 2006 I modified a chypre perfume created for the pastoral Pampas. It is warm and earthy, depicting the agricultural land so vital to Argentina. Aspects of that formula will be woven into this fragrance, as my family has a ranch out on the Pampas.

If you are a regular follower of this journal then you are already aware that as of late I create my perfumes utilizing multiple accords which I have formulated in advance. During Andy's visit here in April he referred to the word "accord" as bases.

This perfume is a challenge for me because I am not a fan of the fruity category of fragrances. Thus, I will be stepping out into a new arena on many fronts. I intend to create something beautiful that is evocative of my home land.

Read part two to this segment here: Forbidden Fruit.

Michelyn Camen is a New York City based writer and is the former Editorial Director/Fragrance Editor for Beauty News NY and LA. Michelyn is our Senior Contributing Writer for Sniffapalooza Magazine, the New in Niche Columnist for, and a contributor to national magazines.
Camen is a multi award winning marketing executive, a fragrance consultant and the Founder and President of BrandWidth Consulting Co., which specializes in brand development and positioning in niche and emerging markets.

Photo at top was take at La Recoleta in March 2005, ©Roxana Villa, photo of Michelyn Camen courtesy of the author and illustration of the question mark pen is by Greg Spalenka,

Thursday, February 5, 2009


The rains have finally arrived to the City of Angels! I love it when it rains this hard, there is a warm and snuggly feeling about it as well as an immediate sensation of clarity. All my newly planted native plants have got to be thrilled.

Lots of perfume projects are underway and will be disclosed here in the next few days. Some are still in the morphing / development stage while others are toddling along a clear path. The latter is what I will reveal.

I am also re-working the look of this blog, as you may have noticed, something that I've wanted to do since it's inception and am now starting to tinker with a bit. Thus, for awhile, things will be changing daily as I work on getting it just right. (Ha!)

More in the morrow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

VOTE Chaparral!

The botanical perfume Chaparral™ has been nominated for an Etsy Gift Guide! The top favorite items will be featured in the Season of Love Gift Guides. Please head on over to Etsy and vote for Chaparral™ Solid Perfume. If you do not have an account, it is super easy to get one, click here. If you are lucky enough to already be an Etsy buyer or seller than follow this link directly to the voting area.

Thank you for supporting our botanical perfume and the art of the handmade object.
VOTE for Chaparral here.

Read more about Chaparral here at our journal and at the Perfume Critic website.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Illuminated Perfume at Etsy

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Breath of Life

"The simple act of nurturing the senses
might well do far more
for healing of the world
than all our programs and inventions."

~ Cheryl Sanders

In the past I published a short newsletter focusing on aromatherapy. Here is one from November 2001 focused on respiration.


In clinical trials essential oils have proven to be highly effective in prevention of dis-ease in the body as well as combating infection. All essential oils to a higher or lesser degree are antibacterial. Some are natural antibiotics, some are anti-fungal agents and others exhibit immuno stimulating properties. The essential oils which work most effectively on the respiratory system often stem from the leaf of a plant. Interesting to note that if you place two leaves side by side they look very much like the lungs! Essential oils produced from woods and resins are generally used for more chronic conditions. For the purpose of this newsletter we focus on the following essential oils: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Peppermint, and Sandalwood. When these oils are combined with other anti-infectious oils such as Lavender, Tea Tree and/or Lemon, one can anticipate a powerful affect. These substances are strong medicines and should be used with extreme mindfulness and care, especially with children, the elderly, and pregnant women. During the cold & flu season these precious substances can be utilized to disinfect a room, enhance our immune system and uplift the spirit. I have found this to be especially true of Lemon. The most effective and therapeutic way of diffusing oils into the air is by using a glass neubulizer. A 4 oz spray bottle with 15 drops of essential oil and water is an easy and effective alternative. Make sure you shake and spray at the same time. I also suggest using essential oils in the bath. For an adult use 8 to 10 drops and for a child 4 to 5. A combination of different essential oils will always give you a much more powerful affect than using one single note on its own.
This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe. For serious medical conditions consult your health practitioner.

* Cedarwood (Juiperous virginiana) or (Cedrus atlantica) Helpful for asthma, bronchitis, and coughs, used by Native Americans for respiratory conditions.
* Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) Effective for respiratory catarrhal and congestion.
* Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) The green leaves of the Eucalyptus tree are prized as strong antiseptics aiding with asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, and all types of colds.
* Peppermint (Mentha piperita) These green leaves are rich in "menthol" often used in chest
balms and inhalants. Excellent for clearing colds, particularly within the head or sinuses, flu
and laryngitis.
* Sandalwood (Santalum album) The moisturizing properties of this oil make it useful in treating
dry and irritated conditions such as laryngitis, chest, throat and lung infections and dry coughs.
* Other oils which support the respiratory system include: Cajeput, Cypress, Ginger, Niaouli, Pine, and Thyme. I recommend contacting a qualified Aromatherapy practitioner for a specific blend or synergy.

Be mindful that not all essential oils are created equal. Many of the amber bottles found on store shelves may be a synthetic product labeled as an essential oil, have chemical adulterants mixed in or have been lab created to produce a "Nature Identical". Some store bought oils may or may not contain the therapeutic constituents mentioned in this article. For the best results I recommend purchasing from a professional Aromatherapy practitioner.

Below are a few tips on incorporating essential oils into a daily routine and further creating an aromatic lifestyle.

Steam Inhalations
- Inhalations help clear congestion in the lungs & sinuses as well as cleanse
the skin simultaneously. Add 2-3 drops of an essential oil or an essential oil synergy to a bowl
with 1 pint of hot steaming purified water. Drape a towel over your head and with eyes closed
inhale steam for 2-3 minutes. Jan Kusmirek suggests breathing through the nose for nasal
congestion and through the mouth for sore throats.

Localized massage to chest & back
- Add 8 drops of an essential oil or an essential oil synergy to a carrier, such as almond oil
and massage into chest and or upper back. If possible repeat, for a total of three applications.
- This can be taken a step further by adding an infused oil of ginger, or making a healing
chest balm.

- A hot or warm compress to the chest and back can help loosen congestion. Add 6 drops essential oil or essential oil synergy to a small bowl of hot water. Place a wash cloth on the surface of the water, wring out and place on the chest or upper back.

- Neubulizers are the top choice by professionals for the most effective and therapeutic affect. Add drops of an essential oil or an essential oil synergy to the glass neubulizer and diffuse.
- Mix 2-10 drops an essential oil or an essential oil synergy with 1 ounce of water in a plastic mister bottle, shake well and spray.
- Add a drop or two of an essential oil or an essential oil synergy. to a hot light bulb.

Tips and information in this article have been researched from a variety of books, publications and personal experiences. Aromatherapy by Jan Kusmirek and Salvatore Battaglia's The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy are excellent resources.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™
Roxana Illuminated Perfume™ at Etsy

Image at top ©Greg Spalenka,

Monday, February 2, 2009

Love will steer the stars

In the mid sixties a rock musical was birthed inspired by a painting by artist Jim Dine. The musical initially went by a different name and had many transformations before it became the iconic hippie counter culture Love-Rock musical we now know as Hair.

The songs from this ground breaking production became top 40 hits and left an indelible mark within the popular psyche. Even I, who was quite young when the musical hit Broadway, know many of these songs well. Most notably, Aquarius, which begins with:

When the moon is in the Seventh House
and Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

Astrologers tell us that on February 14th, the day we celebrate love, this alignment will indeed be upon us. The Moon in Libra will enter the seventh house and both Jupiter and Mars will be aligned in the twelfth house.

This auspicious alignment begins at 7:25 am on February 14th and will last 18 minutes.

A link to the songs & lyrics of Hair
Hair, the musical website

Roxana Illuminated Perfume™