Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chocolates @ IndiePerfumes

Like the troubadours of days long ago poetress Lucy sings a melodic ode to the first tier of chocolate natural perfumes. Please visit Indie Perfumes and leave dear Lucy a comment if you have sampled one of the chocolates or would just like to show her some LOVE. Merci!

For more scent impressions of the Chocolates read what Tom at Perfume Smellin' Things and by Trish at Scent Hive. La Foret of the series was voted BEST Winter Fragrance by Beth.

Read more about the crafting and benefits of the Chocolates here at these links:
- The crafting of the chocolate perfumes: Like Scent for Chocolate
- The benefits: of the chocolate perfumes: Le Croquers de Chocolate

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tea for Two

Welcome, you have arrived to the journal today just in time for tea. What is your preference, Black, Oolong or perhaps a Green Tea? Today our Perfume Illuminated journey travels to the far east to focus on Tea. Camellia sinensis is what is most commonly thought of when the word tea in used. The leaves come from a small evergreen originating along the forest border of Burma, China and India. In some cases it is referred to as Camellia thea.

Related to our garden Camellia, the tea plant has been cultivated for more than 1500 years. Both green and black tea is derived from Camellia sinensis, the difference lies in the fermentation of the leaves.

The earliest accounts of tea consumption in China indicate that it was used as a stimulant. The Dao De Jing, a collection of writings by Chinese philosopher Laozi from the 6th century BC, references tea as an elixir. He has been sited as saying: " I am not at all interested in immortality, only in the taste of tea."

Although tea is now known worldwide, the leaves arrived in the west in the 17th century first in Amsterdam, then France and Russia. The introduction of tea in America arrived with Peter Stuyvesant, a Dutch, who brought it to the colony New Amsterdam, now known as New York.

Camellia sinensis plant will grow into a tree and should not be confused with the Aromatherapy essential oil known as Tea Tree, indigenous to Australia from the Melaleuca family.

FRAGRANCE: Roxana Villa

In natural and botanical perfumery raw materials termed "tea" are Black Tea absolute, Black Tea C02 and Green tea absolute. The note, in general terms is described just as the aroma of the actual leaves, warm with an herbaceous quality. All these essences work well when paired with florals, woods and similar herbaceous notes. It is also very easy to venture into the gourmand fragrance family using tea notes by partnering them with vanilla, spice and fruit for example.
  • Black Tea absolute Thea sinensis L. origins China. Dark and very viscous, best when used with alcohol rather than an oil base.
  • Black Tea CO2 Select Extract from Kenya
  • Green Tea absolute Thea sinensis L., origins China often distilled in France
Two other teas included in my palette are Yerba Maté absolute and Rooibos CO2 Select Extract.

Yerba Maté, a traditional drink of my homeland Argentina, is created from the dry evergreen leaves of the sub-tropics in the Amazon. Due to the red berries it is considered the Rainforest holly. The Quechua Indian word "Maté" meaning cup, in reference to the gourd used for drinking the tea, most often in indigenous regions. In Argentina is became the popular drink of the South America cowboy of the Pampas called the Gaucho.

Rooibos, referred to as Red Bush tea is high in antioxidants like the previously mentioned teas. The are picked while green and turn red during the oxidation process. Grown in the Western Cap Province of South Africa, the tea has a long list of beneficial health properties including strong antioxidant properties and the power to improve the immune system as well as repel aging.
  • Yerba Maté absolute Ilex paraguayensis, origins Paraguay, distilled in France. Generally a base note available as a white powder or a thick, dark green, viscous material. The aroma is green and herbaceous like the drink but with a warm, coumarin-like note.
  • Rooibos CO2 Select Extract Aspalathus linearis, cultivated and distilled in South Africa. A very warm and fruity heart note which imparts distinct honey tones to a perfume.
Besides using the above mentioned raw materials in perfumery, tinctures can easily be created with a variety of different black and green teas as well as maté and roobios. Each will add a completely different quality of their inherent aroma. Tea tinctures work well for alcohol perfumes and unlike the rather, odd musky note that some plant tinctures impart. Tea remains true a bit more true to the aroma of the material. Experiment and see what works best for you, some teas will not "give up their fragrance" in alcohol, while others will. I suggest allowing the tincture to marinate for a long period of time, in a dark location.

None of the historical perfume books contain formulas using any of the tea extractions since the material was not available in days of old. Thus, I here is one suggestion to build upon that I am working on.

Pair Green tea with one of the Jasmine extractions, like sambac, for a fruity tea accord that can be expanded upon in a variety of directions such as an Asian theme. Jasmine sambac is the material utilized for creating Jasmine Green tea. For this I would add wood notes and perhaps something with a "toasted" character to the base. In the a few notes of honey notes and hay with Ginger and Yuzu uplifting the entire composition. I'll let you all know when my version is finished and in the shop, I think this will be really nice for Spring.

FLAVOR: Beth Schreibman Gehring
Please continue reading about Tea at the Windesphere Witch blog

Alice in Wonderland image by Arthur Rackam
All other imagery has been created by Roxana using an old engravings, scanned parchment paper and photoshop.

Fun related items:
Taking Tea with Alice Book

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chocolates @ ScentHive

Trish at Scent Hive has posted her impressions of the first six solid natural perfumes in the Chocolate series today. She is also offering the opportunity to receive one of the 5 gram pots from the first series to one lucky winner.

Fly on over to the Scent Hive blog, collect your pollen and enter the giveaway. At this moment in time the chocolate perfumes are exclusively at my little boutique at Etsy, however, that may change very soon. Be aware that supply on the chocolate perfumes are limited. Another set will be released within the next few days.

For more scent impressions of this series read what Tom at Perfume Smellin' Things has to say at this review: Sweet Tart - Part Two

Read more about the crafting and benefits of the Chocolates here at these links:
- The crafting of the chocolate perfumes: Like Scent for Chocolate
- The benefits: of the chocolate perfumes: Le Croquers de Chocolate

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Spade

There is a continued trend to harness Mother Nature and at the same time paint products to appear as if they are made from nature when they are actually created in labs. The rise of corporate power and the promotion of conjured facts in relation to nature are also on the rise.

Let's first look at the microcosm of an incident that just transpired. In my experience most fruit teas I have sampled are made with synthetic aroma chemicals. In fact I have yet to find one I like, so I stick to my Earl Grey flavored with true Bergamot essential oil. Recently I decided to ask a tea company about their ingredients, I had a strong intuitive feeling that the tea was flavored with a synthetic. Two weeks later I got the response back from their customer service department. I expected an answer like "Yes, we use synthetic flavoring." or "No, we use no synthetic flavoring and are completely devoted to using only the highest quality flavorings from the botanical world." Instead I got a long, mumbo jumbo e-mail going on about how they use nature identicals because, I quote: "It is not artificial because it can be found in nature and man has figured out a way to copy it."

Sometimes I feel like I'm Alice who has fallen into a strange alternate universe. The e-mail went on to justify that using these chemical recreations is actually a benefit to the environment. I'm thinking that they must be referring to the environment of their corporate offices. By using song and dance the company manages to deceive people into thinking their product is something it's not. Surely we are all aware that supporting organic agriculture is a benefit to the environment, right?

The tea company went on the establish their position by telling me that the copied molecules are safer than those made in nature. This reminds me of a perfume event here in Los Angeles where the representatives of a large synthetic perfume conglomerate convince the audience that it is more sustainable to recreate aroma molecules than use the real thing. To my astonishment the audience is not able to perceive the truth.

This is one of many challenges that those creating true botanical products face. As corporations attempt to gain more ground, deceptive advertising will continue. I'm an advocate of calling a spade a spade. Green washing and greed seem to be intricately woven. It's up to the consumer to ask lots of questions and do their best to evaluate the answers. The customer service fellow who contacted me back was very clever how he worded his paragraphs. The average consumer might be swayed by the mumbo jumbo and the idea that creating copies in a lab is actually better than Mother Nature. Personally, I'm not interested in supporting products that copy Mother Nature, most especially when their marketing uses deceptive advertising.

On a marco level, a similar related challenge has been brewing that begs for consciousness from the human race. I've been teaching this in my Aromatherapy classes for over ten years now. Let's begin by looking at slice of history with the attempt to control the feminine and wild magic which began in the early fourteenth century Europe. This resulted in the deaths of somewhere between 40 to 100 thousand individuals of all types but more importantly it wiped out much herbal remedy lore. Many historians believe that this period was an attempt to eliminate female midwifery skills. An antiseptic cleansing transpired which then continued on into the 1900's with the invention of the microscope and the establishment of the drug cartel. Now in modern times we have the majority of the population with no clue on how to manage their health. We've also got the conglomerate Monsanto trying to harness and control Mother Nature by disallowing the growing of crops unless their "seed" is used, even in our own backyards! A patent of food.

The symbols of the feminine, wild magic of Mother Earth versus the patriarchl Father are evident in this ongoing Earthly drama and beautifully illustrated in the film Avatar. My personal favorite illustration of the times, via the media of film, is the Matrix.

In these rather surreal times we live in remember who you are, be ever so mindful, dig for the truth, ask questions and make your voice heard. Call a spade a spade.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

California Poppy

Poppy season has arrived early here in the Santa Monica Mountains. I don't mean our native poppies, Eschscholzia californica, but "The Poppies", a virtual awards event over at Poppy Handmade. My work has been nominated in three categories and I need your help with votes.

If you enjoy this blog please go vote for Roxana Illuminated Perfume here, this is Vote 7, Favorite Handmade Artist's blog.

If you appreciate the fact that my perfumes are made from plants, bring awareness to nature and support organizations like The California Oak Foundation, The California Wildlife Foundation, The Theodore Payne Foundation and The Chaparral Institute then cast your vote here, this is Vote 5, Favorite Handmade Eco Artist.

and thirdly and abundantly, if you appreciate the handmade aspect of all my perfumes and jewelry also cast your vote here, this is Vote 3, Favorite Handmade Accessories.

Thank you for your support everyone, wafting gratitude from the sunny Santa Monica Mountains where the native poppies and sages will be blooming soon!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Creating Value

Thursday, late in the afternoon, I took a trip over to the Etsy Virtual labs to hear award-winning writer, documentary filmmaker and scholar Douglas Rushkoff. Elated that Etsy had brought someone with this type of visionary thinking to their speaker series, I have since done a little research on Douglas and consider him my new hero. Have a listen...

Life Inc. The Movie from Douglas Rushkoff on Vimeo.

Related posts here at the journal Aftershocks

Perfume Illuminated: Lemon

If it's Venus Day it must be the day we illuminate notes and flavors in perfume. Lemon is the flavor and fragrance that my co-creator Beth and I will delve into this day.

FRAGRANCE: Roxana Villa

Expressed from the peel of the lemon, this fresh, clarifying and uplifting essential oil is used in both aromatherapy and natural perfume. California is one of the leading producers of the expressed essence in the United States along with Arizona. Other countries producing the essential oil include Cyprus, Italy and my homeland of Argentina.

Indigenous to Northern India and Asia lemon came to Europe in the 12th century by way of crusaders. The seeds of the citrus fruit lime was introduced to
the West Indies via Christopher Columbus in 1493. That same year the seeds of lemons arrived to the shores of America.

Here in California the citrus arrived in 1769 via Father Junipero Serra and his friars during the time the missions were being built. In 1840 the California citrus industry is born on two acres of land near what is now downtown Los Angeles. Read more about the history of Citrus in California at this informative timeline supplied by Sunkist.

Lemon essential oil is obtained by pressing the rind of the fruit to extract the green to pale yellow oil or via distillation. The pressed variety is the most widely sought after by those the aromatic field as it is the most fragrant. Rich in limonene, a monterpene, lemon essential oil has a wealth of therapeutic properties in aromatherapy. Below is a snippet from a newsletter I published in October 2001. The article is titled CREATING AN AROMATIC LIFESTYLE - Nature’s Disinfectants.

In our homes we can replace many toxic, synthetic chemicals with natural substitutes.
We, and our beloved blue planet, are organic beings. Using pure botanical products in our homes enhances our immediate environment, improves our immune systems, and adds to the growing awareness of natural products that support life and an organic agricultural industry. Unlike conventional cleansers, pure essential oils lift the spirit. The most effective form of using essential oils as a means of disinfecting is in the air. Odors, smoke, pollens and microbes can be substantially reduced and eliminated while cleansing the air. Essential oils provide the additional effect of elevating the mood of anyone within the vicinity of the aromatic molecules. The French doctor Jean Valnet found that many bacteria, fungus, parasites and viruses cannot survive in the presence of vaporized essences. For example: within fifteen minutes essential oil of Lemon can kill the meningoccus bacteria. Some of the most powerful bactericidal, antiviral and antifungal essential oils according to the doctor include Eucalyptus, Clove, Niaouli, Thyme, Garlic, Sandalwood, Lemon, Cinnamon, Lavender, German Chamomile and Peppermint.

As in aromatherapy, where lemon essential oil is used to uplift the spirit, in perfumery the light filled essence has similar properties. Adding the essence to natural perfume provides refreshing, fruity and sparkling top notes to a formula. In both aromatherapy and perfumery the essential oil can be used to obscure more therapeutic notes like those found in eucalyptus.

The most typical uses of essential oil of lemon is in a colonge. Here is a slightly altered formula for a traditional eau de Cologne from An Introduction to Perfumery by Tony Curtis and David Williams:

Bergamot 27 drops
Lemon 20 drops
Orange, Sweet 16 drops
Neroli 12 drops
Lavender 6 drops
Rosemary 4 drops
Thyme 1 drop
Clove Bud 1 drop
Petitgrain 3 drops
Clary Sage 2 drops
Benzoin 3 drops

Combine these essential oils and allow to sit for a few days or weeks to meld. Add the synergy to at least 300 drops of a high grade ethanol to create your natural cologne.

If you would rather purchase a handmade botanical cologne based on the infamous 4711, I suggest my recreation titled Blossom.

Please take a journey over to to read the continuation of Perfume Illuminated: Lemon
FLAVOR: Beth Shreibman Gehring
at the Windsphere Witch blog

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chocolates @ Perfume Smellin' Things

The first six solid natural perfumes in the Chocolate series are reviewed by Tom over at Perfume Smellin' Things with a giveaway for the complete sample set of the first tier. Tom is the first of the perfume logging community to share thoughts on this latest item from the Illuminated Perfume studio here in the very wet Santa Monica Mountains.

Please pay our dear Tom a visit over at the Perfume Smellin' Things blog. If you happen to have sampled the chocolates, your scent impressions would be a great addition to the commentary. Currently I am working on five more to include in a beautiful antiqued gold heart box. These chocolate perfumes are exclusively at my little boutique at Etsy. Supplies are limited.

Read more about the crafting and benefits of the Chocolates here at these links:
- The crafting of the chocolate perfumes: Like Scent for Chocolate
- The benefits: of the chocolate perfumes: Le Croquers de Chocolate

Photographs by Roxana Villa


Regrettably here in the US of A we are still feeling the political aftershocks of the corrupt, right wing dictatorship that reigned for eight years straight. The Supreme Court has just ruled in favor of corporate funding of political candidates. Yet, one more victory for the massive corporate monster that continues to invade the already weakened immune system of the country.

So, here is what I am going to do and suggest we all empower ourselves and our voice. Discontinue supporting the mega conglomerates that fund money hungry politicians. Have you heard that the former Monsanto VP is adviser for FDA?? Even with a democratic President we have corporate monkeys moving forward their agendas of greed and devastation. Thus, get your voice heard and support indie businesses as well as those corporations that act responsibly and with a vision toward a supporting truth, nature and our basic freedoms.

I will begin by evaluating each large corporation that I currently my bank, phone company, grocery store etc. Where I see something I do not like that does not support a truly holistic paradigm I will withdraw my patronage.

What does this have to do with perfume, specifically botanical or natural perfume? Well, I started off in the eighties creating illustrative content for magazines such as the Progressive. Now, instead of creating visual commentary I use my creative freedom to make botanical perfumes that come from plant based materials. I enjoy the freedom to express myself, in fact I feel it is the right of every sentient being to have that freedom. The honey bee is in danger due to the use of agrochemicals. In my opinion the large corporations are the enemy of nature of freedom as we know it.

Think outside the box, think circular and know that you have power...use it!
Remember who you are.

Here is a list of companies that support conservative politics from the website Buy Blue
which means these are companies I will no longer patronize. I got the list from a website promoting conservatives to buy from these companies.
  • Ace Hardware Corporation 100%
  • Advance Auto Parts, Inc. 100%
  • Best Buy Co., Inc. 100%
  • California Pizza Kitchen, Inc. 100%
  • Cintas Corporation 100%
  • Citgo (Petroleos de Venezuela S.A.) 100%
  • CSS Industries, Inc. 100%
  • Curves International Inc 100%
  • Dollar General Corporation 100%
  • Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. 100%
  • Domino's Pizza, Inc. 100%
  • Fruit of the Loom 100%
  • In-N-Out Burgers, Inc 100%
  • Kohl's Corporation 100%
  • Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. 100%
  • Lowe's Companies, Inc. 100%
  • Michaels Stores, Inc. 100%
  • Nordstrom, Inc. 100%
  • PETsMART, Inc. 100%
  • RE/MAX International, Inc. 100%
  • Russell Stover Candies Inc. 100%
  • The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Inc. 100%
  • WinCo Foods, Inc 100%
  • Bob Evans Farms, Inc. 99%
  • Chick-fil-A, Inc 99%
  • Huffy Corporation 99%
  • Pier 1 Imports, Inc. 99%
  • Raley's Inc. 99%
  • Gold's Gym International, Inc 98%
  • Outback Steakhouse, Inc. 98%
  • Kelly Services, Inc. 97%
  • Williams-Sonoma, Inc 97%
  • CBRL Group, Inc. 96%
  • McDonald's Corporation 96%
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation 95%
  • Geico 95%
  • Hershey Foods Corporation 95%
  • TJX Companies Inc., The 95%
  • Applebee's International, Inc. 94%
  • AutoNation, Inc. 94%
  • Urban Outfitters, Inc. 94%
  • Wendy's International, Inc. 94%
  • 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, Inc. 93%
  • Darden Restaurants, Inc. 91%
  • PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc 91%
  • AirTran Holdings, Inc 90%
  • Circuit City Stores, Inc. 90%
  • International House of Pancakes (IHOP Corp.) 90%
  • Panda Restaurant Group, Inc 90%
  • Chevron Corporation 89%
  • Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, The 89%
  • Saks Incorporated 89%
  • Activision, Inc. 88%
  • Dell Inc. 88%
  • J. C. Penney Company, Inc. 88%
  • Kroger Co. 88%
  • Meijer, Inc. 88%
  • Office Depot, Inc. 88%
  • OfficeMax Incorporated 88%
  • Publix Super Markets, Inc. 88%
  • Zale Corporation 88%
  • Ahold USA, Inc. 87%
  • ConocoPhillips 87%
  • TIAA-CREF 87%
  • Hallmark Cards, Inc. 86%
  • America West Holdings Corporation 85%
  • American Greetings Corporation 85%
  • Oracle Corporation 85%
  • Brinker International, Inc. 84%
  • EarthLink, Inc. 84%
  • Helzberg Diamonds 84%
  • Limited Brands, Inc. 84%
  • Molson Coors Brewing Company 84%
  • Papa John's International, Inc 84%
  • Staples, Inc. 84%
  • USAA 84%
  • Marriott International, Inc. 83%
  • Menard, Inc. 83%
  • Shell Oil Company 83%
  • Target Corporation 83%
  • Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. 83%
  • Home Depot, Inc. 82%
  • Southwest Airlines Co. 82%
  • Campbell Soup Company 80%
  • YUM! Brands, Inc. 79%
  • Longs Drug Stores Corporation 78%
  • May Department Stores Company 78%
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 78%
  • Heineken N.V. 77%
  • Procter & Gamble Company 77%
  • Weyerhaeuser Company 76%
  • Albertson's, Inc. 75%
  • Continental Airlines, Inc. 75%
  • Intel Corporation 75%
  • InterContinental Hotels Group PLC 75%
  • Nestle S.A. 75%
  • General Motors Corporation 74%
  • Georgia-Pacific Corporation 73%
  • Guess?, Inc 73%
  • MBNA Corporation 73%
  • US Airways Group, Inc 73%
  • Family Dollar Stores, Inc. 72%
  • Ford Motor Company 72%
  • Harley-Davidson, Inc. 72%
  • Motorola, Inc. 72%
  • T-Mobile International AG & Co. KG 72%
  • United Parcel Service, Inc 72%
  • Allstate Corporation, The 70%
  • Clear Channel Communications, Inc. 70%
  • Safeway Inc. 70%
  • Qwest Communications International Inc. 69%
  • Covad Communications Group, Inc 68%
  • Federated Department Stores, Inc. 68%
  • Northwest Airlines Corporation 68%
  • Bank of New York Company Inc., The 67%
  • Sears, Roebuck and Co. 66%
  • Verizon Communications Inc. 66%
  • Burger King Corporation 65%
  • SBC Communications Inc. 65%
  • Sprint Corporation 65%
  • Walgreen Co. 65%
  • Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. 64%
  • Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company 64%
  • Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. 64%
  • State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company 64%
  • Books-A-Million, Inc. 63%
  • BP PLC 62%
  • Coca-Cola Company, The 62%
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc, The 62%
  • Bank of America Corporation 61%
  • Capital One Financial Corporation 61%
  • Constellation Brands, Inc. 61%
  • Rite Aid Corporation 61%
  • Xerox Corporation 61%
  • Blockbuster Inc. 60%
  •, Inc. 59%
  • Hewlett-Packard Company 59%
  • Sirius Satellite Radio Inc 59%
  • International Business Machines Corporation 58%
  • Jones Apparel Group, Inc 58%
  • MetLife, Inc. 58%
  • Wells Fargo & Company 58%
  • Carnival Corporation 57%
  • Countrywide Financial Corporation 57%
  • Delta Air Lines, Inc. 57%
  • Microsoft Corporation 57%
  • Wet Seal Inc, The 57%
  • AT&T Corp. 56%
Images © Greg Spalenka, used with permission, see more at his website:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Artist Feature and Giveaway: Greg Spalenka

Welcome to the 1st Etsy Artist Feature and Giveaway of the year 2010! The talented and heart felt visual artist Greg Spalenka graces us with his glorious, inspiring imagery. Greg is the visual artist behind the Etsy shop Spalenka.

Maestro Gregorio, as we have refer to him at this journal, graduated from Art Center College of Design in 1982. Shortly there after he moved to New York City to launch his impressive career as one of the leading conceptual illustrators of the era. Throughout his extensive career illustrating for such publications as Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and the NFL. he has garnered numerous awards. Displayed at his studio in Los Angeles are gold and silver medals from the New York and LA Society of Illustrators as well as the Spectrum Annual of Fantastic Art. The scope of his artistic life also includes conceptual art for films such as the academy award winning, “The Golden Compass” and the upcoming third Narnia film, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

Last year Greg opened two shops at Etsy, one for his elder illustration work which included his journalistic work with Mike Tyson and the Spalenka shop featuring "Fantasy and Visual Art from the Mind's Eye." The image that originally drew me to his work, even after being aware of his name in illustration circles, is Blessings. The original painting Blessings was created for a festival created by San Francisco organization called Open Hand.

Greg's work embodies elements of the old masters with his a devotion to the figure. The expertise as a draftsman and painter is highlighted by his use of collage, tape, texture and wild abandonment. See more of his technique at this and this Bouquet link on his website.

Lately Greg has been manifesting more than just beautiful imagery for print and film. He has decided to be of service to the larger community of artists with empowering workshops. Greg refers to ArtistAsBrand™ as an "Indie Art Revolution" with a lofty goal of creating empowered, self sufficient artist entrepreneurs.

I asked Greg a few questions so that you'll could get to know him a bit more. He was in the car driving to Laguna Beach to teach ArtistAsBrand™ as I asked him these questions via the phone.

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

My goal is to channel the essence of the divine through my work and live in the art spirit.

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

Carnation absolute, essential oil of Ylang Ylang and Spice.

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

The first thing that comes to mind is peace and prosperity.....and divine creativity,

4.) How did you find yourself making and teaching art?

For as long as I remember I have always had an interior cathedral in my head, a sacred space of infinite imagination. I am grateful to have had success as an illustrator and now empower others with what I have learned in the span of my career.

5) Tell us a secret?

Hmmm, a secret...hmmm...I'd like to receive an academy award!

Thank you Greg, it is an enormous delight to share your beautiful imagery with the readers of this journal. We will all be visualizing you receiving an academy award, can't wait! Get to know Greg a bit more and tap into his interior cathedral by visiting his art website and his new blog.

Now, for the giveaway....Greg has decided to give two things away, which means there will be two winners:
1. A Goddess Postcard set from his Etsy shop, winner chooses set #1 or #2.
2. A FREE pass to one of his ArtistAsBrand™ workshop during 2010 (a value $500 !!!)

This giveaway ends at 10pm PST on Sunday, January 31st.

To qualify to win one of these prizes, please....

Begin by visiting the Spalenka shop on Etsy and sharing in your comment what item you most crave from his shop. You must include your first name -or- etsy username AND email address with each entry or it will not be included.

For additional entries you can do any or all of the following, please leave a separate comment for each entry.
  • 1 entry: Be or become a follower of the ArtistAsBrand web log
  • 1 entry per day of the contest: Twitter this message: RT @RoxanaVilla is hosting a giveaway with Greg Spalenka! Visit for a chance to win
  • 2 entries (total) - Blog about this giveaway, leaving the URL to the post in comments (1 blog per entrant, please)
  • 1 entry: Be or become a follower of the Greg at ArtistAsBrand on Twitter
  • 1 entry: Be or become a follower of the Greg at ArtistAsBrand on Facebook
  • 1 entry: Be or become a follower of this journal: IlluminatedPerfume
More fine print, learned along the way
1. If we cannot contact you we will give your prize away to someone else.
2. The featured seller will do their very best to mail the winners package in a timely manner, please contact them directly if you have any questions.
3. Depending how many entries I receive I determine how the winner shall be chosen. Normally each entry is assigned a card from several decks here at the house, I then shuffle all the cards and have someone handy (like my daughter) choose a card for the winner and a runner up.
4. If you have won the Artist Feature and Giveaway in the past you may enter again.
5. Please don't make up any new guidelines, what is outlined above is what we follow.

Good Luck everyone!!

Everything's coming up poppies!

Jan of Poppytalk Handmade has sent me a note announcing that my work has been included in the award and celebration of the handmade community! The nomination has occurred in the "Accessory" voter, which includes lots of friends and fellow Etsy artists. What a thrill to be in such wonderful company.

Thus, my dear beloved readers and fans here I am again asking for your vote. Please take a stroll on over to the field of poppies and cast your vote for Roxana Illuminated Perfume in the third voter: Accessory. Follow this link and scroll down to Roxana Illuminated Perfume where you simply click on the dot and then submit the vote by clicking on the VOTE button at the bottom. Thank you for your continued support of handmade, botanical perfume!

The voting will remain open for one week effective today(January 20th, through Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 11:59 pm. One vote will be allowed per computer and one vote per category. It's not intended to be a competition as much as to bring more awareness to the handmade community.

While you are there, consider hoping over to this link and voting for my mother and daughter who are in the "Crafters" vote as TwoKnit. Image at top are the intricately mad crochet cuffs that Martha creates for the shop TwoKnit at Etsy.

Elemental Earth

While we here in the City of Angels are experiencing force of the Water elementals, on our little patch of hillside elemental of Earth is also quite dominant. Living in the wooded hills seems to have its series of challenges with drainage and oak tree issues. The drainage troubles are compounded by neighbors. while part of the hillside continues to move its way into our driveway and our new neighbors above us ignore the challenge, I'm contemplating elemental Earth.

Earth element provides stability and a sense of knowing where you stand, literally. Grounding, fertile and abundant she offers herself to us unselfishly. The flip side is that we must not get too comfortable for you might turn into stone, become rigid, large and lethargic. If the negative side takes hold then there is always an earthquake or mudslide to bring you back down to Earth. Ha!

While we were in Ecuador this summer teaching we heard stories about the several of the volcanos in the region. In fact, when we drove to the Amazon through Banos I read in the tour book how this region is often closed due to the activity of the volcano. Well, a couple days ago our friend and host in Ecuador, Eduardo, sent me this picture of the volcano in Banos. She seems to be active again, gulp.

Associated with the North, elemental EARTH, is home to our connection to the here & now. Located in the base chakra, this is the place of manifestation, control & restraint and grounded in experience. Home of the Male, strength and ability to create magic. The spirit medicine of Snake dwells here with the ability to move swiftly, above and below the ground, to shed what no longer serves and be born anew.

In natural perfume we have many different botanical essences that are considered earth. The ones that come to mind immediately are Patchouli and Vetiver. Where Patchouli contains more of a musky note Vetiver gets down and dirty with dark and damp qualities. The aromatic qualities of both of these essences will vary dependent on where they are from and the extraction methods utilized.

Yesterday I noticed that I was almost out of Terrestre solid perfume, thus I made more. The earthy aroma instantly grounded me. This perfume was created during Earth hour and released on Earth day. Terrestre, French for "of the Earth" contains over ten different essences including:
Labdanum, Cedar, Precious Oud, Vetiver, Patchouli, Indian Rose and Bergamot.

Read more about the creations and formulation about Terrestre natural perfume, Earth element and related essences this link to the original post.

Opening image ©Greg Spalenka titled Fountainhead, prints available at his website.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bee Spoke

In a response to mass marketed perfume consumers are searching for more ways to express their own individuality by having scent custom designed. The monoliths of the fragrance industry continue to seek greater profits by going to countries with cheap labor costs and using more synthetic raw materials.

In the meantime more and more consumers are interested in products made with natural ingredients, supporting the handmade movement, shopping local and having items tailored for them. What could be more luxurious than having a natural perfume specially crafted for your very own personal style.

Here at the Illuminated Perfume studio I am developing several scents for individual clients. Besides creating a personal scent palette and supplying what I term as scent "sketches", the final liquid and solid perfume is delivered in customized pouches.

Pictured above and below are photos of the latest light blue custom scent pouches, also referred to as a bespoke perfume, that will be packed and sent off to the client this week.

Friday, January 15, 2010


The word Vera is the Latin binomial for Lavender in the botanical language of plants. This linguistic terminology, made popular by Carl Linnaeus pictured at left, is a two part naming process called binary nomenclature. The system was designed to help identify all types of species in a more specific manner including Homo sapiens. For lavender the genus is Lavandula and the second, specific name or epithet is vera. In Latin the word vera means "true" referring to true Lavender.

The new and third edition of the liquid botanical perfume Vera is now ready to ship in the French flacon and smaller vials. The flacon version is sporting a new haute couture pouch. I'm still working on reformatting Vera as a solid perfume, although the little pouches are ready.

In a recent journal post, inspired by a question from the illustrious shoe artisan Wendy Holden I shared the details regarding Vera, which I have since amended with some additional information included below.

Vera Liquid Botanical Perfume
Fragrance family: HERBAL, FOUGERE
Ingredients include:
Wood, Resin, Bees Honeycomb, California Lavender and Sage, French Lavender, Bay, Citrus, a faux Ambergris accord I created and two of my own tinctures of Lavender and native California Sage.
The primary fragrance notes include:
Lavender, Orange blossom, Hay and Honey.
Vera included in a Review at Scent Hive

I much prefer to acknowledge the YES instead of the NO's, however, to put your mind at ease, here are the NO's.
  • No animal ingredients, nor do I test on animals.
  • No isolates.
  • No synthetic fragrances.
  • No petrochemicals.
  • No parabens.
  • No phthalates.
  • No artificial colors.

Vera is a botanical perfume extract is available in a French glass flacon containing 7 grams by weight of the liquid perfume, a glass vial containing 1 gram by weight and in sample packs.

Perfume Illuminated: Birch

For today's contribution to the Perfume Illuminated Project my co-creator Beth and I have decided to focus on the flavor and fragrance of Birch. This was brought on by the realization that we are in the Celtic Lunar phase of the Birch. Auspiciously, or perhaps synchronistically, the Ogham letter for the Birch is "B" for Beith/Beth!


Sweet birch, Betula lenta, is an essence that requires mindfulness when used on the skin. The steam distilled essential oil is derived from the macerated wood . The note classification tends to extend between the top to middle range. The aroma of the pale yellow to clear essential oil is categorized as camphorous, minty, sweet and sharp. Although the scent is similar to Wintergreen, please be aware that the later as an essential oil has found to be toxic and should not be utilized in skin preparations.

In the palette of the botanical and natural perfume artist we also have the rectified oil of Birch Tar which imparts a very strong leather, charred wood and smoke note to perfume formulations. Birch Tar is created by a process known as "destructive" distillation. Although related, as essences these two are pretty different. Birch tar is a base note that works best diluted. It is a terrific addition for creating a perfume in the leather fragrance category, known as cuir.

Sweet birch essential oil, in contrast, is fresh and uplifting. In aromatherapy, the pure distilled essential oil is used for the circulatory, muscular and urinary systems of the body. It is considered energizing and thus is also included in psychological blends where lifting of the spirit is needed. In general sweet birch will work with other essential oils in the citrus and wood families.

In contemplating a scented item for today's post I have settled on the re-creation of a Peau d-Espagne, also termed Spanish Hide. Old formulas for Peau d"Espagne perfumes can be found in Perfumes of Yesterday by David G. Williams, Formulary of Perfumery and of Cosmetology by the father of Aromatherapy Rene Gattefosse and Encyclopedia Of Practical Receipts And Processes, by William B. Dick.

I have a leather accord/chord that I use in many of my perfumes which contains five accords within the one accord. Below is an ingredients list or a botanical perfume recreation of the Peau d'Espagne formula in the Perfumes of Yesterday book...

For the base:
  • Birch Tar (diluted to between 1 and 10 percent
  • Labdanum absolute
  • Vanilla absolute
  • Patchouli
  • Myrrh
  • Styrax
  • Tonka
  • Sandalwood
  • Cedarwood
For the heart:
 For the top:
  • Sweet Birch
  • Verbena
  • Petitgrain
  • Neroli
  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Citronella
  • Bergamot

For well over 20 years, I was lucky enough to live in Burton, Ohio a gorgeous little town filled with amazing pre civil war history , thousands of maple trees which produce an abundance of delicious syrup every year and the worlds best apple butter festival.  All of these things though as wonderful as they were absolutely pale in comparison to the best part of living there for Burton is also home to the oldest  state fair in Ohio, aptly titled “The Great Geauga County Fair”.  For 5 days every year beginning on the Thursday before Labor day this sleepy little town comes to life and the fairgrounds change almost overnight becoming filled with tractors, farm animals, arcade games and rides filled with loud music and laughter.  I’ve only missed it one year and that was the summer that Alex was born.   I haven’t missed it since and I make a habit of going everyday! My friends and family think that I’m nuts!

My husband teases me and says that maybe in some past life I was a gypsy, traveling from show to show. I think that really it1s because of the gorgeous produce and abundant flowers, huge draft horses and THE FOOD. I haven’t even begun to talk about that yet. For a girl like me, those 5 days are a slice of heaven! Up and down the fairways I walk, deciding what is that I will eat that day! Fair food is truly a strange mixture from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are deep fried oreos and twinkies; a food which has yet to make any sense to me at all. There is so much cotton candy and so many caramel apples and sticky buns that my teeth are beginning to hurt just thinking about it.

Funnel cakes with cheesecake topping, bratwurst of all kinds, reuben sandwiches, triple “big mac” type cheeseburgers, pierogies and cabbage and potato pancakes are proffered by all of the local church groups and my husbands favorite are the chocolate milkshakes offered by the AFS group. All these things tempt me to be sure, but everyday I return for my favorite meal and the one that I can only have for a week out the entire year. That meal is an ear of fire roasted sweet corn salted and fairly dripping with butter, locally produced Swiss cheese on a stick, dipped in corn bread batter and deep fried and slathered with Dijon mustard and a huge glass of homemade Birch beer. There you have it, all of my gourmand tendencies aside, this IS my favorite meal. I don't ever try to replicate this at home because I'm fairly sure that nothing I'd ever make would come close! The Burton Fair was the first place that I ever tasted Birch beer. I like root beer, but I have to say that nothing eclipses the taste of fresh Birch beer for me. Subtle and sweet with an almost piney, herbal and wintergreen taste, Birch beer is simply delicious and screams to me of something authentic in this world. I just love it!

Birch syrup, which is hardly ever available around these parts is an absolutely delicious alternative to maple, which I adore but doesn1t completely agree with me due to its very high sucrose content. Birch syrup is predominantly fructose and I just feel much better when I use it, although as I said it1s pretty hard to come by although there are many little cottage businesses springing up all over New England, Canada and Alaska that are tapping these tree and creating wonderful syrup products from the sap. Xylitol , a sugar substitute sold in many health food stores is a natural sweetener made from a sugar alcohol derived from the Birch. The first time I ever used it I noticed it1s cool clear taste, which was unexpected to me. This same coolness is the taste of Birch beer without its inherent “barkiness”. If you haven’t tried it, do because it1s wonderful and very safe for most diabetics. I’ve baked with it, used it in sauces and most of my everyday cooking. I’ve experienced none of the side effects of sugar yet all of the pleasures! I don't think that you can1t beat that!

The Birch tree in all of it's many varieties is an absolutely beautiful tree and here in Ohio is a wonderful sight to behold when walking through a wintry wood.  I can remember peeling off the papery bark when I was much younger and using it to write down precious spells and secret wishes that I would later hide away in my diaries. I also use Birch essential oil in many of my home remedies because the oil is analgesic and really feels just wonderful when diluted with white vinegar and used as a liniment or mixed with a bit of sweet almond oil and vitamin e and rubbed into any sore places. Sweet Birch essential oil has diuretic qualities which make it a godsend when mixed with that same oil and rubbed into any places that cellulite is a persistent problem. Birch Bark tea is delicious and I use it to help to reduce inflammation and edema. I wouldn't use it however if I were taking  any white willow product , blood thinner or aspirin. Birch Bark is an excellent blood thinner in it's own right, so its important to be very careful!

One of my favorite things to do with Birch bark, is a trick that I learned over 20 years ago from the wonderful herbalist that taught me. I walked into her lodge one day with a sprained ankle and taking one look at me she set out into her woods to grab some Birch bark and then into her garden for some of her huge comfrey leaves. She came back and through the whole bunch into a food processor with some olive oil and chopped it not to terribly fine, but just enough that the whole thing could be smeared around my ankle and wrapped with saran. I sat there with this green goo on my leg for an hour or two and then she unwrapped it and massaged my leg with a mixture of olive oil and Sweet Birch. I smelled wonderful, but I felt even better and two treatments later I was walking with hardly a problem. I've used this on my horses with great success as well, although it takes a bit to remove the green stains from the legs of the grays, but its well worth it. This simple home remedy really works!

In honor of the this months beautiful Birch Moon, I knew that I wanted to make something with Birch syrup! However fate was working against me and I couldn’t find any in my hometown of Cleveland. What I was able to find was some Izze natural Birch soda so I set out to make a syrup of my own. The results were wonderful and although I love real Birch syrup, this is a very acceptable substitute.

I used it as a topping for ice cream, a flavoring for seltzer and this morning as a glaze on wild salmon with currants and shitake mushrooms. If you use this as a sauce for meat or fish, you’ll have to add a bit of salt or perhaps a touch of balsamic vinegar. I think that it would well. Maybe tomorrow I’ll make more!

You will need:
1 bottle of Izze Birch Soda
1 cup of amber agave nectar
3 heaping tablespoons of Black Currant Jam with whole fruits.
1 drops (only 1!) of Sweet Birch Essential Oil- food grade
Two Shakes from a bottle of organic Liquid Smoke

Take the Birch soda and put it into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the agave nectar and the jam and let the whole mixture reduce into a slightly thick syrup about 1 and a half cups worth. It will be gorgeous, sticky and purple. Add the shakes of liquid smoke and stir, and then add the drop of Sweet Birch oil. When I say no more I mean it, don1t be tempted because this stuff is not only strongly flavored it1s highly distilled and toxic to the liver in large doses. You just want enough to add a wild sweet flavor. The liquid smoke adds a bit of dimension to the flavor and a good memory or two!
Let it cool and enjoy!

Sending you huge hugs and fragrant fires from the ever chilly

Celtic Lunar Month: Birch

""The Birch was very noble,
Armed herself but late,
A sign not of cowardice,
But of high estate.
~ "The White Goddess" by Robert Graves

The first tree that is honored in the of cycle of the Celtic Lunar Month Calendar, according to the Beth-Luis-Nion system, is the Birch.  The celebration began on December 24th and lasts until January 20th. Birch, considered the "Lady of the Woods" and the divine mother in Celtic lore, bestows to us the divine Sun. During her lunar reign we celebrate the Winter Solstice marking the return of the light. Alternately it is also associated with the return of the bard Taliesen (The Merlin) who is birthed by the Goddess Ceridwen.

The bark of the Birch tree is what designates the color association and species such as Silver, Black, Yellow, White and Red. The paper-like quality of the bark was utilized for writing as well as medicinal preparations. In herbalism the leaves are infused in water and drank daily as a tea for the prevention of bladder and kidney stones.

We find the Birch primarily in Northern America, Asia and like all the trees in the Ogham calendar Europe. The species prevalent in the time of the Celts was the silver species Betula pendula. The animal totem most often associated with the Birch is the white stag.

"I am a Stag of Seven Tines" ~ Amergin Glúingel

The teachings of this elegant and graceful tree, represented by the letter "B" for Beith, center on new beginnings and rebirth. The birch is the first tree to begin anew in a forest devasted by fire as well as the first tree to sprout leaves after a long winter.

When I first began studying aromatherapy in the nineties essential oil of Birch, Betula lenta, was found in all the aromatherapy books. Lately I have noticed that the essential oil has fallen out of favor. A true Birch essential oil is 98% natural methylsalicylate, which has the potential of irritating sensitive skin and is toxic orally. Regrettably the toxic, synthetic methyl salicylate is often used as an adulterant to the true essential oil. However, according to the Dermatology Database, sweet birch oil has been found to be a non-irrritant when applied to human skin. Personally I have used sweet birch here at home and in my aromatherapy preparations for pain relief with great success and no side affects.

For a attunement with the sacred Birch take a moment to walk amongst a grove, with a quiet and peaceful mind. Be on the lookout for any gifts the tree may bestow on you. If you find fallen branches gather them for creating a magical wand. The color red is most often associated with the magic of the Birch, thus red candles, ribbons, fabric, etc work well for the creation of wands and pouches. For a magical potion consider a true essential oil of sweet birch, frankincense, rose and benzoin.

I will be back shortly with the publication of Perfume Illuminated where Beth and I will elaborate on Birch in fragrance and flavor, stay tuned.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blossom @ Perfume Smellin' Things

Blossom, the Eau de Cologne crafted in the style of a traditional cologne, is reviewed by Tom over at Perfume Smellin' Things. I suspect that this items popularity lies in the citrus components. Essences derived from the fruits and flowers of the citrus family are very fresh and uplifting.

Please pay dear Tom a visit over at the Perfume Smellin' Things blog. If you happen to have a bottle of Blossom handy, your scent impressions would be a great addition to the commentary. Blossom is currently available in its second edition, exclusively at my little boutique at Etsy, in a small spray bottle and a 1oz amber bottle size. Supplies are limited.

Read more about the crafting of this traditional Eau de Cologne here at the journal by following this link.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Aromatic Journey: Sweet and Salty

In today's Aromatic Journey post over at the Lillyella blog I posted a recipe that is tied in to my latest perfume endeavor chocolate.

Below are links to the other contributions, just in case you missed them, Nicole has been kind enough to create recipe cards for each item posted.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Poppies

There have been many wonderous gifts in 2009, but the grandest has been making new friends and discovering the enormous bounty of creative talent within the handmade community.

As a teen I was one of those fringe kids in high school who made their own clothing, gifts, etc. One year for my girlfriends I went as far as carving potato stamps for the paper that was to wrap the handmade gifts! Some of this attention to detail is evident in my perfume line.

Within the vast handmade community exists Poppytalk, a wonderous blog highlighting the beautiful, the decayed and the handmade. I came across Poppytalk last year when a friend in Long Beach turned me onto Blue Poppy Jewelry who had their studio featured on Poppytalk.

Jan of Poppytalk has just recently announced something she is terming as The Poppies over at her blog. The Poppies are a sort of virtual Oscar awards in appreciation and celebration of the handmade community.

This is not meant as a competition but more of an appreciation and acknowledgment of the handmade community; a light and fun process to celebrate the Handmade! The nominating began January 7th, with nominations running through TODAY Tuesday, January 12th at 11:59pm. Followed then by voting to ensure a TOTALLY democratic process. The voting of the finalists will commence Thursday January 14th through to January 20th at 11:59pm. The winners will be announced January 22nd, 2010.

Thus, dear readers and fans please take a stroll on over to the field of poppies and cast your vote for your favorite handmade items. Please consider my work for these sections:

Favorite Handmade Artist Blog >>> Illuminated Perfume Journal
Favorite Handmade Accessories >>> Your favorite perfume from our collection
Favorite Handmade Eco  >>> Your favorite perfume from our collection
Favorite Handmade Jewelry >>> Perfume Locket

Thank you dear hearts!!