Thursday, April 30, 2009

Earth Perfume: Name Game Part II

Thank you to all those who dropped on in here at the Illuminated Journal to leave a suggestion for the Earth Solid perfume name. I'm so grateful for your suggestions. As I mentioned in the original Earth Perfume: Name Game post, naming a perfume is tricky due to trademark. I have selected five for you now to choose your very favorite. It was really tough to choose just five! A few were knocked out because other perfume artist's are utilizing the name. Please vote for one which you feel best represents the Earth Solid Botanical Perfume. Only one vote per person. NOTE: I've been alerted that there is a cosmetic company using the word Avani. Thus, since I can't seem to alter the poll, please do not vote for the name Avani, although it is a great word for this botanical perfume. Thank you.

Voting will remain open until Thursday, May 7th. The winning name will be revealed on Friday, May 8th. Along with the name, of course, there's the illumination that will accompany the fragrance. I have illustrated this post with a beauty from Maestro Gregorio's available imagery. The image may change depending on the new name.

Thank you so much for your creative input and many thanks to Lillyella for the inspiration to conduct this Name Game.

Native of South America

"Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. "
~ Forrest Gump

This morning I made a cheese and chocolate omelet for Eve and I. Sounds a little out there I know, but, I've been missing my morning pan de chocolates. Eve thought it sounded pretty darn weird, in that rolling eyes teenager way. No matter, after one taste she changed her opinion.

As we headed out the door to the carpool drop off location I realized I had somehow gotten chocolate all over my face. Then I remembered the photo pictured above, take by my grandfather. When my family first moved to California we lived in Van Nuys, Arcadia and then moved to our own home in Encino. On the back of the photo it says Van Nuys 1966, which would mean I was four years old at the time. Turns out that chocolate, like myself, are native to South America.

Yesterday Greg has an old friend over for a visit, Roger. Roger and Greg met as children in Arcadia. Turns out Roger attended the same elementary school as I did, Holly Avenue in Arcadia. He is my brothers age which means they were school mates. What a small world, a six degrees of separation, "Lost" moment.

I ended up flunking first grade because I didn't understand or speak english, however, I did win the all school illustrated book competition. Language is no barrier when it comes to the art spirit.

Speaking of the art spirit, I am working on a chocolate perfume.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Knock on Wood

On this Wednesday I am working on the Forest accord which is contained within the Sierra liquid perfume. Sierra liquid perfume is the most complex out of all the fragrances I have created. So complex in fact that the formula is contained within a binder devoted souly to her.

Sierra's early form was a bath salt and scrub I created back in 2000 titled Forest. Due to customer demand I modified the original blueprint to develop the liquid perfume. I began by utilizing the original Forest accord for the bath salts. This accord is what I am preparing more of today, for the perfume as well as the bath and salt scrubs.

For the updated version of the bath and salt scrubs I am also infusing some of my jojoba oil with benzoin and frankincense. Now is a particularly good time for infusing and tincturing due to the position of the Moon.

Read more about Sierra liquid perfume at these links:
+ Memory and Desire blog post: Entirely Green
+ Here at this journal: A Secret in the Forest

The term "knock on wood" may have been derived from the Celtic peoples belief that trees have the power to heal humans. The Celtic tree alphabet called the Ogham was a secret a ritualistic language. I have referred to the Ogham extensively here with entires corresponding to the Celtic Tree Calendar. Currently we are in the middle of the fifth month associated with Saille, the Willow.

"Willow and the Rowan Tree, Were tardy in array."
~ from the ancient Celtic poem The Battle of the Trees

The etymology of the word willow is rather complex but appears to stem from "withy" meaning to bend. Wicker furniture was originally created utilizing willow switches.

The Willow is part of the Salicacae family which includes two genera Salix and Populus. In botanical perfume, we have a Poplar essential oil that could be utilized if one were creating a magical perfume attributed to the Willow. Poplar is contained in our Sierra liquid perfume.

Willows are found near water and thus symbolically are connected with knowledge and spiritual growth. Other associations include: protection, healing, and cycles. Most often these cycles appear in relationship to mysterious associated with women, like the moon. The white willow tree is also referred to as The Tree of Enchantment and connected to the White Lady. If you have a willow tree nearby, give the tree an offering, select a shoot and tie a loose knot while intending your wish. Once the wish has been granted, express your gratitude to the tree and untie the knot. Tonight I'll be delving into water element and partaking in a bath with my Fresh bath salts as I invoke the White Lady.

The leaves and bark of this tree have been utilized by the Assyrians, Sumerians, and the Egyptians for aches and pains. In fact the origins of aspirin are preparations with white willow bark. The main chemical component in white willow bark is salicin which was isolated in 1828 to create the synthetic, patented version we all now refer to as aspirin. Willow is also utilized for the charcoal many artists use for drawing. Willow nectar is especially appreciated by the apis kingdom, the bees, for making honey.

The Scent for Today is Sierra liquid perfume or GreenWitch, devoted to the White Lady.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Forbidden Fruit

In the kitchen the other day I remarked, "Something smells fruity." My teenage daughter rolled her eyes answering, "Mom, everything smells fruity to you lately!"

Well, not everything, although I have been picking out the fruit note in a number of items that normally I would not have. It's as if my olfactory antenna is tuned to that fruity note. Our local farmers markets and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program is abundant with fruit lately, amplified by the fact that I've been working on a fruity Chypre perfume.

As I develop other perfumes and accords I've become keenly aware of the note. Each time an essence crosses my olfactory terrain that has a semblance of fruit I add it to my expanding list. Some essences are obvious like those in the Citrus family and Osmanthus. I've got some Apple blossom concrete which is within the right family but has more agrestic qualities than fruit. Will see what transpires with the aroma when I dilute it in alcohol.

Why fruit? The addition of the fruit accord for this fragrance is at the request of Ms. Michelyn Camen. Read some of the back story about this fruity chypre by following this link.

The odors of this major fragrance family are of edible fruits such as apple, apricot, banana, berry, citrus, peach, pear, pineapple, and prune. For the botanical / natural perfumer we have plenty of aromatics are our disposal from the citrus subfamily and a few from the berry grouping. However, we rely on other materials which impart fruit notes, like Osmanthus for example. Osmanthus is an evergreen shrub/tree producing fragrant flowers native to China that is often referred to as The Jasmine of the Orient. Boronia and Champa are other exotic, rich floral notes that can be utilized for imparting fruit. Chamomile has a strong apple aromatic note while Ylang Ylang can sometimes convey the banana note. Absolutes from the conifer family contain fruit jam notes that will be part of this bouquet.

Essences which impart "wine" notes (referring to grapes), include Ambrette, Pomegranate, Davana and Cognac. The two later have the ability to impart fresh, fruity notes to the top of the composition when utilized with mindfulness. Sea Buckthorn is an extract from berries commonly used in aromatherapy that has sweet berry notes. I have not used it in a composition as of yet and am sensing it may work well in this accord.

With this fragrance I am also interested in essences with warm, honey notes like Genet, also referred to as Broom, Mimosa, Beeswax and Hay are possibilities. These will work well with conveying the Pampas, which plays an important aspect in my connection with Argentina. I'm just not sure if I will add them to the accord or the overall composition. We will see as this accord progresses and matures....just like fine wine.

Read part three of this segment here: Equus caballus.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lyra Review at Scent Hive

"Collect your pollen and fly away inspired" is the subtitle to the blog Scent Hive. Please fly on over to Scent Hive, Trish the Queen bee of her hive has posted a review of our Lyra Solid Botanical Perfume. She shares her impressions of the fragrance and a lovely personal story.

Trish Vawter, the owner and writer of this blog, is a mother and a nurse midwife by profession. Her muse, like myself, are all things natural. At Scent Hive you will find recommendations on "Greening" your hive, from perfume to hair and body care as well as fashion. From what I have encountered, this the first natural perfume blog. Cheers to Trish for finding her niche.

Scent Hive

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Earthly Delights

I decided to go sit outside in the glorious sunshine while drinking my tea to air out the ol'factory a bit. Well, the splendor of the day soon captivated me and I found myself sucked into garden work. Slowly, but surely, I have been removing the non-native plants and putting in California natives. It's turned into quite a journey which has spurred on five botanical perfumes inspired by the California landscape. More are in the works, along with a bizillion other projects. There's no lack of creative flow in this little woodland house let me tell you.

Today I tended to the newly plant ceanothus and sages. Holding a strong intention that they will take hold. California native gardening is tricky at the start, I've regrettably lost quite a few plants. The ones that have really taken hold are those that I see when walking amongst the chaparral here in the woods. They are Artemisia californica (California sagebrush) and Salvia apiana (White sage)...and my goodness the aromatics of these two plants is heavenly! The native roses, other varieties of sages, manzanita and artemisias all seem to be doing well. Keeping my fingers crossed on the ceanothus....that one has been the most challenging and I am not giving up yet.

Finally emerging from the front slope with dirt crusted shoes I found Greg painting! He hasn't painted in I don't know how long. Almost all Borg now, he creates his imagery digitally, whether it's for film or a comission. What has brought him out of his digital cave is a gloriously drafted large scale drawing he created while on assignment with Mike Tyson. Greg has decided to sell as the pieces he created for the Sports Illustrated commission. This large scale drawing has been mounted down on gator board and is now being remastered. The image he is working on is not available so I am putting in this image from the cover of has a similar feel.

Ah, the smell of oil piant and turpentine!

The article he wrote about his experience with Mike Tyson is available at his Etsy shop, here's a link: SpalenakArt on Etsy.

In other news, I came across an inspiring article this morning in the NY Times, enjoy!
Into-the-Woods Effect in a Well Tended Plot, NY Times

If you have not yet contributed a suggestions to the Earth Solid Perfume Name Game, there's still time. Make sure to read the comment by the editorially excellent Nathan Branch.
Thank you Nathan, I feel like this blog has been blessed by your beautiful word smithing.

Both images are ©Greg Spalenka, and

Friday, April 24, 2009

Congratulations Sniffapalooza!

Heartfelt congratulations to Sniffapalooza Magazine for scoring two of the five finalist spots in the online/blog publication category at this mornings FiFi (Fragrance) Awards!! There were among eighteen nominations.

Wafting my very best to Raphaella, the editor of Sniffapalooza Magazine, Team Karen of Sniffapalooza, Elena Vosnaki of Perfume Shrine, and Nathan Branch.

Sniffapalooza Magazine
Perfume Shrine
Nathan Branch

Ode to the TREES

On planet Earth today we celebrate the trees! Those beloved beings that give us oxygen, shade, fruit, wood, and provide homes to many creatures. Thus, the scent for today is the botanical perfume Q, devoted to the California native Oak, the Coastal Live Oak Quercus agrifolia.

"I am the Lorax,
I speak for the trees,

for the trees have no tongues."
- Dr. Suess

Let's be crystal clear here, the Palm, more a grass than a tree, that has become emblematic with Los Angeles is not native to this region. Further south it is...but not in LA. Thousands, maybe more, native Oak trees have been removed for the sake of human housing and industry. To add insult to injury folk have been removing oaks and replacing them with palms to create an "exotic" feel to their homes. Hello? Even the City of LA does this! Oak trees give us shade, convert Co2 into oxygen, provide homes to beneficial insects and wildlife and aesthetically work beautifully with other native plants to bestow an authentic style to a Los Angeles home.

Kill your lawn, go native!

The word Oak in the Celtic language is Duir meaning door. My path to awareness of the California Oak and native plants began with this gracious tree. Read more about this at the links provided below.

Anoint yourself today with the the botanical perfume Q, connecting to the energetics of the Mighty Oak. Open the Duirwaigh. A percentage of the profits from every 1/4 oz flacon of Q sold is given to the California Oak Foundation.

I leave you with this clip from Lord of the Rings.

Get a sample of Q botanical perfume at our shop on Etsy
A few posts about Q and the Oak here at our journal
The California Oak Foundation
Arbor Day Foundation

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Perfume: Name Game

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance;
they make the latitudes and longitudes.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

The newest solid in our stable of pure, botanical perfume needs a name. Inspired by my inspirational friend Nicole of Lillyella and her monthly Name Games, today we begin our first and very own Name Game.

The Earth Solid Botanical Perfume fragrance has a grounding, warm quality with chocolate gourmand notes. There are 19 essences total in the composition including: Patchouli, Vanilla, Labdanum, Benzoin, Vetiver, Saffron, Myrrh, Rose, Cepes (Mushroom), Cedar and Bergamot. Comprised primarily of base and middle notes the longitude evolution is a hum, like a giant OM. Besides the Gourmand fragrance category this perfume treads lightly the latitudes of Chypre, Leather and Incense.

Our planet Earth is a dynamic living organism which is continually evolving. This fragrance is also in the evolutionary phase. I am currently tinkering with it just a bit. Mainly I will be adding infused oils and a few more top notes. If you would like to add your suggestions as to what notes or themes you would like to experience in this perfume please let us know.

Perfume names are tricky because of trademark. Unlike a painting, a film or a book a "perfume" name can be owned. Thus, the ideal with naming a perfume is to find a name that no other perfumer or cosmetic company is utilizing.

This fragrance is currently available as a solid perfume mini and in the antique finished compact. The color vibration is a dusty, rose brown. (See picture) I may create it as a liquid or a body butter in the future, not sure yet.

How to participate:
Embark in this game by reading the blog entry here about the Earth perfume titled The Scent of the Earth, for further inspiration order a sample so that you can have an experience with the scent. If you have suggestions please leave a comment on this post with your name idea(s) and contact information. We will select the name we like best that also does not appear to be utilized by any other perfume(r). If the name you submitted is the one chosen for the fragrance, you win the Earth solid perfume compact! Maximum number of name entries per person is ten different names, entered all at once or sporadically during the competition. We will then conduct a poll with the top five names entered.

The first phase of this contest ends at 10pm PST on Thursday, April 30th with results being posted Friday, May 1st (May Day!). Feel free to e-mail me,, if you have any questions.

Thank you to Nicole for inspiring this game!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seeds of Manifestation

" We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children."

~ Native American Proverb

Happy Earth Day! What seeds of manifestation are you planting today? Make sure to water those little embyros with lots nourishing thoughts. We can take the lead by following Mother Nature, by emulating her ways. Most seedlings require the elemental forces to manifest themselves, take the mighty oak for example. The acorns fall to the ground and first needs the assistance of a squirrel to come on over and give it a nibble. The squirrel takes a few bites and then spits the acorn out because it tastes something bitter. He plants the seed to return later when he's REALLY hungry and the bitter taste won't matter so much. That bite is exactly what the acorn needs to begin it's journey, by the squirrel burying the seed in the ground, this furthers the process. Then we have step three: rain, water element. Slowly the acorn germinates and sprouts sending roots down into the earth and shoots up towards the heavens. In about fifty years that little acorn will turn into a great tree providing shade, homes to many creatures and yet more acorns.

Early this morning while the air was still slightly chilled, I watered my little native plants. One day they will cover our rather barren slope and manifest into a beautiful and inspiring native landscape. The garden will require little to no water, foster biodiversity, provide food to song birds and homes to a few native creatures.

Perfume of the day is a toss up between Rosa, dedicated to the California native rose and Earth Day Solid. Hmmm, perhaps layering these, yea that's it!

What are you planting today for the future of Earth?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Green Thing

In connection with the Earth Day Giveaway over at the Modish Blog, Cosa Verde has been blogging about the different artists who contributed to the event. Roxana Illuminated Perfume is one of the featured artisans today. Make sure to head on over to Modish and enter the giveaway for some terrific eco and handmade treats.

Cosa Verde Blog

The Vespertina Giveaway at Scent Hive ends tomorrow, Earth Day, head on over to enter for your chance to win a 1 gram sample of Vespertina in liquid and/or the upcoming solid format.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Xenotees Giveaway Winner

The winner of this months Etsy Artist Feature Giveaway has been chosen. We had quite a lot of entries, but, alas, only one gets to be the recipient of a very own Xenotees. That lucky person is Sierra Nelsby from Scranton, Pennsylvania! Congrats!!

Please come back next month when we will feature another luminous talent from the Etsy community.

The Scent of the Earth

On March 28th, as Earth Hour began on the East Coast, I began an "Earth Hour" accord for an "Earth Day" perfume here on the West Coast. Knowing that I only had a three hour window until all the electricity was to be switched off, I configured and formulated an earthy, dirty accord. According to the Earth Hour website hundreds of millions of people in over 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries voted Earth by participating in this event. All that intention for the Earth, along with mine, is bottled up in this new solid perfume.

Notes considered "earthy" according to An Introduction to Perfumery by Tony Curtis and David G. Williams, are those of sunbaked earth after the rain (Mitti Attar), freshly turned over soil, and woody-vegetative notes.

Everyone will have there own olfactory experience of "earthy"...this domain seems to rich far and wide. After all there is the flowering of the earth as we experience in the Spring which will have more floral and green notes than the the sunbaked earth of the desert or the very vegetative and indolic earth of the tropics.

Notes that I tend to classify as having an earth quality are:

  • Mitti Attar: This is an essence that comes to us via India. It begins as earth just after the first monsoon rain, collected and formed into patties, sunbaked in the sun and then co-distilled into Sandalwood. The aroma is not necessarily earthy, however, it is literally distilled earth and thus is placed into this catagory.
  • Vetiver: A very thick and resinous material that comes to us from the roots of a tropical grass. Based upon the aroma one would never suspect that the source is roots of grass. The fragrance is deep, heavy , sometimes slightly sweet with a vegetative quality. Depending where the essence comes from the aroma will have a variety of odor qualities. While studying aromatherapy I use to wear this as a single note perfume, one of my friends once commented that I smelled like a camp fire.
  • Patchouli: Dominant notes of Wood and Herbaceous/Camphoraceous with a back note of Green/Vegetal and a subsidiary note of Spice. Other earthy notes include: Mushroom absolutes, sometimes called Cepes, Lovage, Myrrh, Spikenard, Oakmoss, just to name a few.
In aromatherapy essential oils that are grounding and facilitate bringing one into the NOW with feet firmly planted on the earth are Vetiver and Patchouli.

My interpretation of Earth for this fragrance contains over ten different essences including:
Labdanum, Cedar, Precious Oud, Vetiver, Patchouli, Indian Rose and Bergamot.

The aroma is more along the realm of parched desert earth with a tad of sweetness and green. There is a progression which (on my skin) moves from dry and woody to sweet, green floral and a soft, woody, amber dry down. Off course this will vary on each individual as the solid mingles with the ultimate base note...your skin. Let me know how the scent progresses on your skin.

For a limited time I am offering FREE mini samples of the Earth Day perfume with any orders made on my website or my shop on Etsy. You may also choose this perfume in the solid trio and five pack solid sets.

I need a REAL I thought we would conduct a game here on the blog where the individual providing the BEST name wins a full size version of the fragrance. Stay tuned for details on the upcoming name game.

Image above is by the luminous Gregory Scott Spalenka, ©Greg Spalenka.

Perfume Illuminated Part II @ The Non-Blonde

I'm delighted to share with you all that the beautiful and gracious Gaia has done it again! Please head on over to The Non-Blonde blog to read Ms. Fishler's second segment of Roxana Illuminated Perfume - Part 2.

Poke around her blog to read further reviews and her witty insights into beauty, fashion and perfume. I'm rather fond of her snarky celebrity remarks.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Feature on the Etsy blog

My mother, Martha, Eve and I are all three featured today on the Etsy blog, the Storque. The story is part of a series showcasing mother and daughters who craft. Here is the link for your viewing and reading pleasure.

Crocheting the Generation Gap

The picture was taken in the early fifties on the beach in Mar del Plata. My mother is the cute blond one in the back row. She was there with a bunch of her cousins, they were all learning how to knit from her aunt pictured in the foreground with the sunglasses.

Cheers to mothers and daughters!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vespertina Perfume Review

Trish Vawter of the blog Scent Hive has written a very lovely, poetic review of our Vespertina Botanical perfume for the April 15th issue of the prestigious Sniffapalooza Magazine. Scent Hive is also hosting a giveaway for a 1 gram vial of Vespertina and a special sneak peak sample of the upcoming Vespertina solid perfume.

Vespertina Giveaway at Scent Hive
Sniffapalooza Magazine

Read more about Vespertina here at the journal by following this link.

Artist Feature and Giveaway: Xenotees

Once again, here we are on this auspicious day of tidings, Mercury day. Today I bring you yet another inspirational muse from the land of Etsy. Her name is Noelle and her company and shop is called Xenotees.

When I joined the Universe of Etsy I quickly began noticing a very iconic purple and green avatar and the very unique name Xenotees. It was through a twitter she sent out one Saturday morning about Greg being at Etsy that Noelle came into my conscious mind. I followed the tweets curious that an entire discussion was taking place based on "Greg Spalenka" being on Etsy. Next she placed one of Greg's paintings and one of my perfumes in a treasury that made it to the FP (front page)! A chat ensued, and we've become friends.

Noelle is extremely witty, smart and has an enormous heart. She has a knack for making friends, clever insights and creates conceptual, fun treasuries. Besides being a talented graphic artist with a T-shirt business she has a soft spot for cats, enjoys growing her own herbs in Philly and has a new blog. She calls her shop and business Xenotees, 100% unique, screen printed clothing that is sweatshop free and original.

Notice Eve pictured at left in her very own "French Pet Lobster" T, which she adores and was happy to model for all of you. The fabric is luxiously soft cotton and besides the groovey lobster graphic features these french words:

" J'ai le goût des homards, qui sont tranquilles,
sérieux, savent les secrets de la mer, n'aboient pas..."

"I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures.
They know the secrets of the sea, they don’t bark..."

This has been inspired by the French poet, Gérard de Nerval, who supposedly would walk his pet lobster with a ribbon. This was his reasoning for adopting a lobster as opposed to a dog!

See what I mean about smart and witty!?

So, lets begin with a little interview:

1.) What is the one thing you find most inspiring to feed your creative spirit?

More than anything, I find time away from working for other people helps me creatively. Time to go to the amazing museums in Philadelphia, time to sketch, and time to dream. It doesn't happen often, but I am trying to carve out these niches when ever I can! Really one of my most favorite things to do is have a glass of wine or too & sketch out ideas while my husband plays records! I have a lot around me that inspires me creatively, it's just a matter of "slowing" down and taking it all in- getting away from the computer & back to basics.

2.) What is your favorite scent from the natural world?

Hmmm... That is an excellent question! I'm going to have to name a few! Tomato plants (the stems) always make me happy to smell & I love lavender - this is tough because I feel like there are so many scents that make me happy. I always like the smell of fresh rain & I will leave it at that for now. I know I'm forgetting an important one, oh well!

3) If you were queen of a village what would you wish for your kingdom?

That's easy! I would wish that they would all have time to follow their creative instincts & make the most of the time they have on earth! Even if they just carved out a couple of hours each day, I know it would be a much happier kingdom than the one I currently live in.

4.) Did you go to Art School?

Actually, I was lucky enough to take college-level classes starting in high school, through a half-day program at a school in New Haven, CT. For 3 years, I took figure drawing, sculpture, painting & photography classes. I could have gotten into a lot of different colleges, but money was a big issue (being 1 of 10 kids!). I ended up going to The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, over Parsons, because they had a better financial aid package. It was a real struggle because I had to pay an insane amount of rent & the program was really unstructured. Basically I needed a real "foundation year" like most schools give you. So, I took a year off, worked & saved money, and started school at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond VA. After a couple of years there, I had learned a lot, but I was just kind of tired of school. I think what I would've done best with an old timey apprenticeship experience. It never occurred to me to look for one though. Really, I can make all the excuses in the world, but the bottom line is- working AND attending art school always overwhelmed me & I'm not a super-charged person to begin with, so I never really lived up to my potential. I don't dwell on it though. I still have my sketch books & ideas, & now I'm making Xenotees, so that's been awesome for me!

5.) As an artist what kind of tip can you give other artists who want to start a brand?

Firstly, just go for it! Don't wait forever, thinking that you will be "ready" someday. Start small & gain momentum. If you have confidence in what you do, it will show through in your presentation. You can always refine all your processes as you go along. Once you're out there, you'll have a chance to get feedback & find a support system, which is invaluable. Never be afraid to ask a lot of questions & try not to be too sensitive! (That's a hard one for me!)

6.) Who is your favorite artist?

Another toughy! Egon Schiele is probably my favorite, although I'm a huge fan of Camille Claudel & Frida Kahlo, too. Of course, there are many many more! Can you tell I have a hard time making decisions?

7.) I notice that you are very passionate about felines and donate $1 from every T-shirt sold to Flat Iron Wildcats of Philadelphia. How many cats do you have and what are there names?

Oh, I had to get involved with helping cats here! There are so many strays- it's really devastating! I actually designed & maintain the website for Flat Iron Wildcats to help out with skills I've been lucky to learn. If you're in the Phildelphia area, we have lots of kittens right now!

I currently have to black cats- Barnacle & Pepito. I love them like children. Yes, I'm a crazy, but proud cat lady! :D

Thanks for the interview & for hosting the giveaway Roxana!

My pleasure Noelle! Now...the Giveaway.

The winner will have the chance to choose a piece from Noelle's shop valued at $22 or less & is open to everyone, including our individuals outside of the US.

Here's how to enter:
Begin by leaving a comment on this post mentioning your favorite Xenotees item. You may only enter once and you must include your first name -and- etsy username or email address with each entry or it will not be included.

For additional entries, you can do the following and post in the comments to let me know:
(2 extra) Twitter this Giveaway and supply your twitter name
(3 extra) Follow my blog (if you already follow, just let me know)
(3 extra) Follow Xenotees's blog (if you already follow, just let me know)
If you do any of these you must let me know for your additional entries to be included. You got the let me know part right?

You have until 12pm (pst) on Monday, April 20th to enter. I will announce the winner that Monday afternoon. Good luck!

My daughter Eve is a huge fan of Xenotees as well as a blogger, thus, I am allowing her to be join this giveaway contest. Instead of Eve picking out the name, this time we will have Maestro Gregorio choose the lucky winner.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Scent of the Day: LYRA

The Scent for Today is the warm and floral Lyra. She seems to be one of the favorites as of late, especially the last few days. Tuesday is ruled by Mars, the red planet and associated with Spring. Named after the Norseman God of War and associated with our current astrological period of Aries. For these rather challenging times Lyra is the perfect balm to soothe the meteorites being hurled our way.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais Nin

As mentioned on the website, Lyra has its origins as a custom perfume for my daughter Eve. When I changed the formulation to include the perfume in our line I settled on the name Lyra, the protagonist in the Phillip Pullman book trilogy His Dark Materials. Eve and I were reading the books at the time and fell in love with the story.

When the perfume was created for Eve it was a very simple sweet, heady, floral perfume. It was a fairly traditional composition of an Amber accord in the base, Florals at the center and Citrus top notes. The fragrance was reconstructed keeping the primary elements and adding in a few others. During one of the formulations a "happy accident" occurred and altered the formula a bit more.

The creative process in perfume formulation for me has many levels to it. Some are rather linear, like looking at chemistry and MSDS Sheets. (MSDS stands for Material Safety and Data Sheets) Usually the true inspiration comes through nonlinear means. For example I may be working in the garden when an aromatic molecule drifts into my sphere. That molecule then triggers a series of Rube Goldberg type responses. Sometimes I ponder what fragrance family that note is associated with, other times I wonder what other aromatics would work with that note and then sometimes it's just one of those divine interventions. By that I mean I'll be working on a fragrance and the molecule that just drifted in would be a perfect fit. Another good example of this type of experience is what took place when I created the image H2 Illuminated. Read about that at this link over at my Visual Art blog.

Lyra is available as a solid and a liquid perfume, both are completely botanical, no animal or synthetic material what-so-ever. Some essences like Beeswax and Honey Absolute, Choya (which comes from Seashells) and Seaweed, are not technically animal but also not necessarily botanical. Thus, since there may be very tiny amounts of some of these I will not label these vegan. The liquid version is almost completely vegan and organic.

Images: Mars image at top by HST, Lyra perfume images by Roxana Villa.

Better to Give

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”
~ Albert Einstein

Giveaways are in the air. Now that the website and blog are once again running smoothly, we will resume our regular scheduled Etsy Artist spotlight and giveaway in the morrow.

Today head on over to Modish who is facilitating an EarthDay giveaway with the eco-friendly marketplace CosaVerde. I've contributed a liquid perfume sampler for the event.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Bunny + Flying Dreams

In the wee hours of the morning I dreamed I had the ability to become one with the elementals and lift off the ground when desired. I would go up into the air and dance in the currents. It was thrilling! I highly recommend it.

My daughter Eve turned me onto this, pretty neat: Dream Dictionary.

As you know Max was the winner of our Botanical Perfume Giveaway a few weeks ago. Well today he decided to be the Easter bunny and deliver a nice little review of our perfume Chaparral over at his blog. Head on over red rover: AromaX and remember Gaia aslo has a review at her blog The Non-Blonde. Give these bloggers some love and leave a comment if you feel inspired.

Happy, Happy Easter!!! Hope the bunny brought you lots of chocolate!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Perfume Illuminated @ The Non-Blonde

I invite you to stroll on over to Gaia Fishler's Beauty, Fashion & Perfume blog title: The Non-Blonde. She has posted Part one of a review of our natural botanical perfumes. I enjoy reading this blog for her eye and wit on fashion. She is also the scent twin of one of my very favorite perfume bloggers Tom Pease of Perfume Smellin' Things.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Scent of the Day: OAK

For the scent of the next few days I'm choosing Q, the botanical perfume devoted to the Coastal Live Oak of California. The Celtic tree month of the Oak isn't until June, we are currently in the Alder phase. The oak, with it's association to strength feels like a good one.

Here is what the renown faerie artist Wendy Froud has to say about our Oak perfume, Q:

"I love fragrances and everything that my favorite ones evoke but I was truly captivated by Roxana's Q perfume the first time I experienced it. It evokes something ancient and at the same time very intimate and personal. To me it's a "remembered" fragrance that taps into the green world of Faerie in the same way that a painting or sculpted image can. When I wear it, which is often, I feel closer to that elusive and magical world."

Wendy and Brain will be making an appearance at the Trolls and Legends Festival in Belgium. Here's this from the website:
"Around the theme of Faery, enter the world of Fantasy and live three days in the universe of fairies and elfs with, concerts, animations, a games convention, many entertainments for everyone, a fairy market and about fifty authors for an unforgettable moment!"

I wanna go! Here's a link.

Froud website
Image above is ©Brain Froud

EGG hunt for Bath & Beauty!

When I became a seller on Etsy I read that joining an Etsy team was a good way to network within the community. After looking through the vast listings of teams I choose the Etsy Green and Clean Guild.

"The Etsy Green and Clean Guild was formed in 2006 (?) and is the only Etsy street team for sellers specializing in soapmaking, perfume, cosmetics, herbal products who have also committed to serve as advocates for Truth in Advertising and full ingredient disclosure for bath and beauty products. We also have as our goal to educate the public about the merits of well-crafted products from small businesses who care about their customers, as well as to promote Etsy in general."

We are currently doing an easter egg hunt giveaway for three large bags of Bath and Body products from our team members. If you love handmade beauty then head on over to our team blog and forum thread and get your basket out. Time to go a huntin'.

Easter Egg Hunt link
Egg Hunt link at the Etsy Forums

Monday, April 6, 2009


Feels great to be back. Website, blog and twitter account are all healed. Lots of great lessons learned and relationships formed. So, the attacker, and we all have a pretty good idea who SHE is, didn't gain fact she probably lost out. Especially in the karmic department. When I began my path in the Natural Perfume world I was pretty naive and trusting of people. Rather quickly the veils were lifted and I realized "this isn't Kansas anymore" and natural perfumers sure act differently from my fellow professional artist buddies. A fact that is reaffirmed every year at Comic Con in San Diego. Despite the animosity within this wacky field I choose to stay and focus on my contribution to this aromatic art.

The image that graces this blog post is of the Ouroboros, an ancient symbol of a serpent consuming its tail. Circular in form, like alchemical processes, the snake kills and gives birth in the ongoing cycle. In the book Alchemy & Mysticism Libavius states that: "The Ouroboros is the symbol of the second fixing after putrefaction."1 Okay good, glad the putrefaction phase is complete!

When turbulence like the last few days appears, afterward I like to take a look and assess what lessons have been learned, so here is a list:
  • Stay calm and centered in the eye of a storm. It does no good to get all twisted up, unless you can channel that energy into something else. Just a few hours after the incident I got some REALLY GOOD news, so I was able to focus on that. By shifting the energy of what was transpiring on the outside I was able to shift the energy within myself.
  • Web hackers are really hard to pinpoint and track down. Even if you have an IP number, IP stands for Internet Protocol, a super clever hacker won't leave any traces by rerouting their IP number. Most likely the gal that attacked me, and several other perfumers, hired a web hacker in another country.
  • Make sure you have a hosting provider that is willing to work with you with safety measures to protect your site. If you have a blog, create log in security features. My hosting provider sucked big time, they are completely useless and thus I've moved to a new one that will take responsibility if I am attacked.
  • Back up your site and blog often so that if it does go down it can be put up again fairly easily and quickly.
  • Change your passwords often and make sure they are STRONG.
  • Install an SSL certificate to all essential sections of your website.
  • If you have a shopping cart feature follow the security measures.
  • If your website and blog are attacked and you have a twitter account, remove the links from your profile ASAP until the sites have been restored.
  • Having an alternate website where customers can shop, like Etsy, is a Godsend. They might be able to cripple your website for a small amount of time, but I doubt they'd be bale to take down a megalith like Etsy.
Do you have more hints and suggestions? We'd all love to hear them.

Other good news, while I was creating a treasury on Etsy the path of creative ideas opened and I was taken down the river of inspiration. Can't wait to share with you all.

1 Alchemy & Mysticism by Alexander Roob, page 302