Saturday, February 27, 2010

Choux & Vespertina

The scent of my day today has been Vespertina™ solid perfume mixed with the aroma of puffed pastry. Eve and I decided to make Cream Puffs this very rainy and grey washed day in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Invented in France, by the Pastry chef of Catherine de Medici, Puff Pastry is referred to as Choux meaning small cabbages, according to Stephanie Jaworski at The Joy of Baking. The word was most likely used because the small puffs of pastry when cooked resemble cabbages.

We filled ours with fresh blueberries and homemade whipped cream. The crispy pastries turned out delicious. Decadent, rich and extremely messy to eat...but well worth it.

Vespertina™ solid perfume feels like a good match with French pastries. The Jasmine and Rose in this fragrance have a vintage yet modern feel, like something Kirsten Dunst would have worn while filming Marie Antoinette. Staying close to the skin she would have enjoyed it's aromatic without nuking her fellow actors overpowering silage.

Eve and I are planning a photo shoot inspired by these photographs from the film Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola. Here's a small clip for you to enjoy...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Perfume Illuminated: Rosemary

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance."
(Hamlet, iv. 5.)

Rosmarinus, meaning "dew of the sea" in Latin, is the first binomial name for Rosemary. The full botanical name is Rosmarinus officinalis. Part of the Lamiaceae (previously known as Labiatae) family, this evergreen flowering shrub has it's origins in the Mediterranean, specifically Spain and Morroco.

At today's installment of the Perfume Illuminated Project we will visit this fresh, herbaceous plant that features prominently in dishes of the Mediterranean region and perfume formulas of the past.


Right now, along the back hillside the rosemary is in full bloom with tiny delicate, pungent, and camphorous blue flowers. The European honey bees and sweet little golden finches have been frequenting the slope covered Rosemary shrub frequently lately.

The needle like leaves are where the pale yellow essential oil is stored. For the aromatherapist and natural perfumer the steam distilled essential oil is available in different chemotypes. The chemotype (ct) is determined by the conditions of where the plant is grown and/or where the plant is within it's cycle. The chemotype of Rosemary found in Tunisia is Rosemary ct 1.8 Cineole Rosemary ct Verbenone tends to grow near the coast as in France and California. Each of the different chemotypes has a distinct quality to the aroma and varying therapeutic actions on the body.

The culinary odor of rosemary falls primarily within the herbaceous family of notes in perfumery with others such as Lavender and Sage. A fine quality oil will also impart woody, resinous and balsamic notes depending on the chemotype.

Rosemary in perfume has it's history as a main ingredient in "Hungary Water" a revitalizing preparation created for the Queen of Hungary during the late 1300's. Reputed as the first alcohol based European perfume, "Hungary Water", was the precursor to Eau de Cologne (EDC).

The original "Hungary Water" appears to have been a very simple tincture of Rosemary twigs steeped in wine for several days. Over the formula evolved with more herbaceous and some floral elements added in.

In Section III of the book "The Art of Perfumery" by Septimus Piesse the following formula is found for his interpretation of "Hungary Water":


By distilling the Rosmarinus officinalis a thin limpid otto is procured, having the characteristic odor of the plant, which is more aromatic than sweet. One cwt. of the fresh herb yields about twenty-four ounces of oil. Otto of rosemary is very extensively used in perfumery, especially in combination with other ottos for scenting soap. Eau de Cologne cannot be made without it, and in the once famous "Hungary water" it is the leading ingredient. The following is the composition of

Hungary Water.

Rectified alcohol,1 gallon.
Otto of English rosemary,2 oz.
" lemon-peel,1 oz.
" balm (Melissa),1 oz.
" mint,1/2 drachm.
Esprit de rose,1 pint.
Extract of fleur d'orange,1 "

It is put up for sale in a similar way to eau de Cologne, and is said to take its name from one of the queens of Hungary, who is reported to have derived great benefit from a bath containing it, at the age of seventy-five years. There is no doubt that clergymen and orators, while speaking for any time, would derive great benefit from perfuming their handkerchief with Hungary water or eau de Cologne, as the rosemary they contain excites the mind to vigorous action, sufficient of the stimulant being inhaled by occasionally wiping the face with the handkerchief wetted with these "waters." Shakspeare giving us the key, we can understand how it is that such perfumes containing rosemary are universally said to be "so refreshing!"


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

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


The 2010 Fall Fashion Report from Pantone features some lovely hues and interesting concepts. The themes and trends are based on popular culture and current events. For example choosing military green tones and and hues from films.

The 2010 Colors are:

Endive, Pantone 13-0632
Golden Glow, Pantone 15-1050
Living Coral, Pantone 16-1546
Lipstick Red, Pantone 19-1764
Purple Orchid, Pantone 18-3027
Chocolate Truffle, Pantone 19-1526
Lagoon, Pantone 16-5418
Woodbine, Pantone 18-0538
Oyster Gray, Pantone 14-1107
Rose Dust, Pantone 14-1307

Since I have a color palette based on my own eye, skin and hair color triad I don't BUY according to what others dictate as the "latest" fashionable colors. I DO however pay attention to it as a designer and creator of imagery.

Woodbine: Q Botanical Perfume, devoted to the California Native Oak

Chocolate Truffle: Chocolate Truffle Natural Perfumes

Purple Orchid: Perfume Packaging

Golden Glow: Pure light, Pure fume

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Wonderland

From what I have seen of the upcoming interpretation of Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton, it looks like stunning visual eye candy. Here are some pictures I discovered on the web, enjoy!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Circa 1903

The antique postcards were unearthed once more on Saturday and met with a few perfume bottles. I adore the look of these cards from 1903 with the glass flacons, there is a nostalgic, romantic quality that works well with the branding of botanical perfumery. These three are the only ones I have edited so far of about 60 photos I took. The top image includes the perfume devoted to Peace with it's circular top, an Amber perfume and Chaparral®. The two on the bottom if the Chaparral® liquid and the pouch hand. The pouch is hand crocheted by my mother of TwoKnit.

You can see more of my photos at Illuminated Perfume on Flickr
Photos ©Roxana Villa

Friday, February 19, 2010

Perfume Illuminated: Tiger

The Tiger
By William Blake

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Lunar twelve year zodiac of the Asia is upon us. The twelve animal symbols, according to ancient lore, were chosen by Buddha. Beginning on February 14th we entered the cycle of the passionate Tiger.

To celebrate this event for today's Perfume Illuminated contribution Beth and I are focusing on the scents and flavors of Asia.


An Oriental Perfume is determined by scents with a warm, rich and spicy character. The fragrance catagories which go into composing Oriental perfumes are Amber, Incense, Balsamic, Wood, Floral and Spice with Citrus in the top notes. On a personal note this is my favorite type of perfume and the one that I tend to automatically create.

Main stream perfumes considered Orientals include: "Jicky" Guerlain 1889, "Shalimar" Guerlain 1925, "Old Spice" Shulton 1935, and "Opium" Yves St. Laurent 1977 . While attending art school in the 80's Opium was my main signature scent. My current obsession has been with the perfume devoted to Peace in the solid format, which happens to be an Oriental featuring all the notes mentioned above.

The Scents of Asia include those of China and Japan. The first scents of China were utilized for incense, sachets, tea, cosmetics, gardens and interior design featuring their flowering shrubs and trees. Many of these can be seen in their decorative arts.

The main raw materials include: Citrus, Camphor wood, Nanmu known as Southern wood, Cassia, Osmanthus, Chrysanthemums and Lotus. Today's contemporary botanical perfumer enjoys many essences from China including: Star Anise, Borage C02, Cajuput, Camphor, Cassia, Cedarwood, Champa essential oil and C02, Geranium, HoWood, Litsea Cubeba (aka May Chang), Rose (rugosa), Jasmin sambac C02, and Aglaia Absolute.

In Japan, like China and many ancient cultures, incense was the main use for fragrance. The Japanese also scented their clothing like the Chinese using sachets but also developed little laquer boxes on silken cords called Inro. Essences contained within a botanical perfumers palette from Japan include Yuzu, Shiso and Hibawood.

While on the phone this week with Beth she mentioned creating a classic five spice powder or syrup. When she described it I thought ah, this is like a Spice chord, similar to the Garam Masala chord I created. Upon researching a recipe for a five spice blend I discovered that the combination is based on the philosophy of Yin and Yang combining sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty. The five spice blend from Herb Companion Magazine lists: Star anise, Fennel, Clove, Cinnamon, and Pepper, all of which exist as essential oils and can be combined for a Five Spice chord utilized in the formulation of an Oriental type perfume. The Herb Companion suggests combining the ingredients with these proportions which can be interpreted into parts and or drops.

Fennel - 4 Tablespoons
Clove - 4 Tablespoons
Cinnamon - 4 Tablespoons
Pepper - 4 Tablespoons
Star anise - 12 whole

FLAVOR: Beth Schreibman Gehring
Please continue reading about Happy Chinese New Year! at the Windesphere Witch blog

Top: Tiger by Kuniyoshi Utagawa
The Enchantress by Frederick Stuart Church from ArtMagick
All others are old engravings cleaned and placed on parchment by Roxana Villa

Monday, February 15, 2010


Ben came by Sunday afternoon and made delicious African Peanut Soup with Eve for dinner. While we were enjoying the spicy, creamy liquid food Ben mentioned a hologram of Kate Moss created for Alexander McQueens at the Spring 2010 Paris Fashion Week.

Curious, I looked it up...

Wow! I showed it to Greg and he wanted to know how the technology worked. So then I found this one done in for the Spring Summer 2008 Fashion Preview Collection for Diesel title Liquid Space.

GASP! I just love that part with the perfume, albeit I'd probably run as far as I could from the haze of synthetic chemicals contained in the bottle.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


In Arcadia as children we played, unaware that the other was close by. Later we both attended art school in LA, you in Pasadena at Art Center while I in downtown Otis. Heeding the sirens call of illustration off to New York City we both fled. Although Manhattan was no island in a flowery meadow, a plethora of work we both did find.

I made my home across the river in Brooklyn while you dwelled on the island. With the same clients and companions we painted our dreams and wove our lives, still unconscious of the other. In the same magazines our illustrations did appear, in the same shows our paintings were displayed.

The letterpress was moved from Soho to the Village within a few streets from you, yet, still we did not meet. Cupids laugh echoed with the tinkling of bells but his arrow he did not sling.

With clients cultivated and names created we bade farewell to New York and once again said hello to LA. Onward our lives did evolve, I with newly acquired aromatic wisdom and daughter Eve, you with auric accolades of Gold.

Tis then that Cupid choose to take an arrow from his quiver and aim it at our hearts. No mind that we had lived and loved for many years since Arcadia, the journey from the mind to the heart can sometimes be the longest.

My sweetheart proposed on Valentines night after having cooked a splendid meal. On bended knee he asked me to marry him handing me a beautiful little handmade book. In December 2008 we were married in the Santa Monica Mountains above the wide open sky and in a grove of ancient Oaks.

Images from ArtMagick:
Cupid's Hunting Fields by Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Eros Jacques by Clément Wagrez
Cupid and Psyche by Annie Louisa Swynnerton
Photo of Roxana and Greg by Peleg Top

Friday, February 12, 2010

Perfume Illuminated: Chocolate, Wine and Roses

"You are the rose of me
in you I have lost myself utterly
your fragrance, as a breath from paradise
about me ever lies
I crush you to my heart with sutblest ecstacy
and on your lips I live, and in your passionate eyes."
~ Chettur

Long before paper valentines, male and female humans strove to inspire each others love and lust with potions and cocktails from the arena of the sensual. In today's contribution to the Perfume Illuminated Project Beth and I feature a heavenly triad to awaken the senses: Chocolate, Wine and Roses.


In ancient Rome, where pleasure and luxury held extraordinary value, scented wines were created by macerating rose petals in fermented grape juice. During the feast of Rosalia, in honor of Roses, garlands and petals of the flower were used to adorn palaces and villages.

Roses, as other flowers, are the reproductive organs of the plant. As such they blossom open exuding their enchanting aroma to attract pollinators such as honey bees, moths and hummingbirds. In the Arab world, where the rose originates, glorious gardens have been created as an homage to the rose and a place for contemplation. In poetry, literature and aromatherapy the rose is associated with the human heart.

"The red rose whispers of passion
and the white rose breathes of love
O, the red rose is a falcon
and the white rose is a dove
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
with a flush on it's petal tips
for the love that is purest and sweetest
has a kiss of desire on it's lips"
~ O'Reilly're in my blood like holy wine, you taste so bitter and so sweet.
Oh, I could drink a case of you darling and still be on my feet...

~Joni Mitchell

Wine also had his own celebrations in adoration of Dionysus, known as Bacchus in Rome, the god of agriculture and pleasure. Anthestêria, a three day long festival of flowers in honor of the mythic God and the arrival of the blossoming Earth.

Considered an aphrodisiac due to it's ability to relax the mind and cause an altered state of awareness wine is also pleasurable to the palette. For those who do not like wine or drink alcohol a lovely alternative is hydrosols, a by product of the distillation process. Hydrosols are now produced worldwide and are available in of virtually every plant that is distilled. My personal favorite is Jasmin sambac hydrosol.

"Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off.
It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time."
- Anonymous

The third ingredient in this frothy trilogy is chocolate, from the cacao seed of South America. Rich, creamy chocolate offers physical pleasure to the palette and soothes the nervous system. This edible wonder began first as a frothy, spicy beverage in the rain forest of Mesoamerica, meaning middle earth. Discovered and brought back to Spain by conquistadors, the seed eventually was processed into the hard and delicious confection we adore today.

Cocoa butter, the vegetable fat from the bean used to make the gastronomical delight, is also used for ointments and toiletries. Moisturizing with a mild, warm chocolate aroma the butter is an excellent emollient used in creams, soap and solid perfumes.

Like Rose and Wine, Cacao was honored with many festivals in Mesoamerica and is featured in their creation myths. The Latin name for Cacao Theobroma meaning literally “food of the gods”. The Mayans and Aztecs saw a correlation between chocolate and blood. Chocolate as the blood of the Earth and essence of life.

Although I have not come across any old formulas for perfumes made of this menage a trois, there are historical references to the first liquid perfumes evolving from scented wines made with rose and orange flowers.

In botanical perfume we have the following ingredients related to our trio:

  • Rose otto essential oil, steam distilled from the petals of roses. Rose otto refers to Rosa damascena flowers.
  • Rose concrete and absolute, chemically extracted from the petals of roses.
  • Rose wax, a left over by product of the extraction process
  • Rose hydrosol
  • Rose hip and seed oil
  • Grape alcohol, used as the base for liquid perfumes.
  • Cognac essential oil, Vitis vinifera, White and Green.
  • Cocoa Absolute and C02, Theobroma cacao, extracted from the seeds.
  • Cocoa Butter
For a liquid perfume I suggest a fragrance from the Floral bouquet family with a touch of Oriental. Use a base of Grape with these essences for the love potion:

- Rose absolute or otto
- Vanilla Co2 or absolute
- Cognac essential oil
- Cocoa Absolute or C02
- Rose geranium
- Bergamot
- Bitter Orange
- Ginger
If you want to take this more into a Mayan potion add:
- Black Pepper
- Cinnamon
- Hazelnut
- Honey Absolute
- Butter Absolute

FLAVOR: Beth Schreibman Gehring

Fun related items:
Famous Rose Gardens of the World
The Worlds 50 Most Beautiful Gardens

Images: Nose and Mouth are old engravings on Parchment, Paintings from ArtMagik
The Shrine by William Morris
Gather Ye Rosebuds while ye may by William Morris
The Wine of Tokai from Luis Ricardo Falero
Roses of Youth by Henrietta Rae

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bee Mine

The second tier, or phase, of the chocolate perfumes has now manifested. Delicious and taunting you even more than before, combining the marvelous South American elixir with such botanical wonders as Rose, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Vanilla Orchid Bean and Moss.

Adding these five new fragrance truffles to the series equate to a total of eleven in the series, perfect for the large Couer de Chocolat luxury box set.

I have also created some special pairings like the small Couer de Chocolat which features the three flower Divas of the fragrance world.

Figure 7: Pétales
The classic combination of Chocolate and Roses.
Queen of fragrances, Rose, adored by ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians and the courts of European Renaissance marries the magical seeds from the Aztec Indian legends.

Figure 8: Coeur de Jasmin
Rich heart of Jasmine enveloped by Chocolate.
The heady, full bodied grand dame of India mates with cacao like the acclaimed drink of the Medici dynasty during the 17th century Italian Renaissance.

Figure 9: Fleurs de Orange
A buzz with Orange blossom flowers and honey
Delicate and euphoric white Orange blossoms, originating in the Far East, perform an enchanting classical ballet.

The other two rounding out this aromatic quintette are:

Figure 10: Blanc
Opposite of Noir, a milk chocolate truffle featuring the Vanilla Orchid Bean at center stage.


Figure 11: Chêne
A tribute to the mighty Oak with notes of wood, resin, aloeswood and moss.

These sweet and creamy artisan delicacies are now at the shop in a myriad of forms from clustered samples, individual truffles and a variety of box sets like those pictured above. The best place to access all of these is this direct link to the bounty of chocolate natural perfume confections.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Perfume Illuminated: Aphrodisiacs

"As the spirits of certain people hover music,
My soul, o my love! swims on your perfume."
~ Charles Baudelaire, "La Chevelure"

The word aphrodisiac comes from the name of the Greek Goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. This day, attributed to Aphrodite and ruled by Venus, we will take some tips from the Goddess, for she was a devotee of pampering herself and knew how to cultivate and inspire beauty.


In aromatherapy circles "Aphrodisiacs" are essences which evoke a sense of relaxation and euphoria which then opens the doorway to a heightened state of sensuality. Most often these essences come from flowers. Morphologically flowers function within the plant to attract pollinators and for reproductive purposes. Examples of aromatics used in natural and botanical perfumery that are derived from flowers and considered aphrodisiacs are: Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Neroli, Rose and Tuberose. The aroma of narcotic Ylang Ylang flowers top the list as the most powerful of the group. My teach David Crow taught me that Ylang Ylang has the power to put a woman into her physical body and relax, he suggested it for all blends evoking sensuality.

In floriography, the Victorian language of flowers, tussie mussies or nose gays were given to a beloved to convey a message. Small floral bouquets were gifted to a beloved as a piece of poetry that appealed to the eyes and the sense of smell.

Besides flowers, aromatics from spices are also found to arouse and stimulate passion. Derived from seeds which are associated with reproduction, in morphological terms they have the ability to shift and transform, unlocking obstructions. Allspice, Anise, Bay, Cardamon and Cinnamon are just a few on the long list.

Roots, associated with the base chakra, ground us to the moment and this earthly plain. As an anchor to earth, roots bring us into our won physical bodies. Essences derived from roots that are also aphrodisiacs are Ginger and Vetiver.

Dark and viscous, base notes with their earthy and musky aromatics have a similar quality as roots. Their depth, even in their cimmerian hues, convey mystery and conjure the shadow side.
These essences include Sandalwood, Patchouli, Vanilla, Peru Balsam, Myrrh and my favorite Labdanum.

With such a plethora to choose from, you can see why perfume is associated with sensuality and charming the God and Goddess within. For today I thought we would create a perfume devoted to Aphrodite. I selected essences mentioned above as well as those associated with the Goddess and Greece.

Peru Balsam
Seaweed Absolute

Ylang Ylang
Honey or Beeswax Absolute

Bitter Orange
Black Pepper

Next week Beth continue our look at Aphrodisiacs by focusing on Chocolate, Wine and Roses.

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spalenka/ArtistAsBrand Winner!

As mentioned in the Artist Feature & Giveaway there are two winners. The first is for their choice of either Musing the Goddess set #1 or #2. The second winner gets FREE admission to an ArtistAsBrand Workshop during 2010.

Much gratitude to dear Greg for being our featured Artist this month and contributing fantastic prizes for the draw. The lucky winner was chosen by my daughter using the card deck methodology. I had my daughter choose four cards, the first for prize #1, the second for the workshop winner. The other two are just in case the first two winners are incognito, which in this case, I think not. The first card that was chosen was the Nine of Diamonds from the Red deck, which was assigned to GruvKitty and the second was the six of Spades which was assigned to Kym. Congrats to both of you!

The best place to hear more details about Greg's art is at his website, for his upcoming workshops stay tuned at his new web blog. For more info he has a Facebook fan page for ArtistAsBrand. To order you own Goddess Card set find them at his shop on Etsy.

Thank you to each and everyone of you who stopped by the feature and giveaway. Visit us again next month for another Artist feature and giveaway.

LotusFaeries Image ©Greg Spalenka

Love Notes 2010

In February of last year I created special little Valentines for a few individuals within my sphere. For the most part the individuals were those who had shown quite a bit of support through out the year, mostly composed of those glorious patrons we artists adore.

The intention was triple fold: 1. Promote. 2. Take advantage of the holiday to create a special one of a kind item for specific folk. 3. Get creative and do some painting.

While in the large studio one day I discovered a little gift I had created for Greg while he was working in Texas. The box was a simple heart shaped, cardboard shaped box picked up at the craft store. I painted it with my acrylics adding a few decoupage items and then filling with caramels, one of his favorite candies. This gift was made out of love and longing. He worked in Texas for 16 months, both of us flying back and forth for short little visits.

I came upon the box rather auspiciously while I was mentioning to Greg that as an illustrator I would use the holidays to do special promotions and thought it would be good to do the same my perfumes. As I was talking I caught site of the box. Ah-hah! I could re-create these boxes and fill them with a few little pots of solid perfumes!

So I did. In the process, the idea to create the chocolate natural perfumes was birthed. Albeit I had no idea what a challenge that would be both from a packaging and fragrance aspect. A year later, here they are. Samplers were sent to a small, exclusive group, including some of the same sweethearts as last year.

In the works are more, to fill the large heart box with eleven chocolate delights and body butter to slather all over oneself or perhaps ones lover.