Sunday, October 31, 2010

Letter from a Vampire

The witching hour has arrived here in the wooded hills. The neighborhood has gone all out this year with their decorations. While on a walk the other afternoon Greg mentioned how odd it is how holidays evolve from one thing to another.

Halloween for me is the celebration of what Carl Jung calls the "Shadow" aspect of the unconscious mind. This dark side is made up of repressed feelings and desires which tend to get more dense the less the are revealed. Golum of Lord of the Rings is a great archetype of the shadow aspect.

Always, always, always, always, always, always,
always do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

For many the shadow side offers a connection to a plethora of creativity, vividly honored in the holiday of Halloween. This evening wondering through cities we have mummies, zombies, vampires, dark witches, skeletons, etc.

While sifting through old postcards yesterday for a photo shoot I found the one shown above and thought...Ooooo so creepy and perfect for Halloween. So here tis...front and back. Of course it has nothing to do with vampires and blood.

Tonight is also the celebration of Samhain, one of the high Celtic holidays celebrating the shift from light to dark and the end of the agricultural year. For more about Samhain and some ideas for creating a Samhain natural perfume check out this order post here and here at the blog.

"Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble."
Macbeth Quote (Act IV, Scene I).

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Composite

I've been doing these composites of photos for my perfumes lately. Above is the one I did for Cimbalom, which was sent out with the press release.

The full moon bestowed an enormous amount of orders on this little apothecary in the woods and thus I am super backlogged. The landslide is attributed to having had a few perfumes on the front page of Etsy, being featured in the Etsy Finds newsletter and on other blogs. I am super grateful for all the orders and really overwhelmed at the same time.

I've been going to the post office daily, sometimes twice in one day with my basket full of packages traveling to all parts of the globe. It's quite a thrill. I apologize to all those who are not getting packages as quickly as normal.

Now...back to making and packaging....

Image: Photo composite by Roxana Villa, illustration in the composite is Enchantment by Greg Spalenka.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Cimbalom Moon

Cimbalom liquid will be formally released on the full moon transpiring Friday, October 22nd. This lunar event is often referred to as the Harvest or Blood Moon. In the northern hemisphere it is a time of the last harvest and honoring the fruits of our labors.

The fragrance features a limited edition tincture of jasmine sambac blossoms from my woodland garden paired with three different jasmine absolutes. Generally associated with the planet Venus, jasmine also has a magical affinity with the Moon due to her watery, heavy, sweet fragrance combined with the aromatherapeutic properties of balance. Nothing compares to pure jasmine absolute, even perfume artists who work with synthetic counterparts augment their accords with the pure plant essence. The aroma is available as a Certified Organic extract, a concrete which is then distilled to produce an absolute, a C02 extract and an enfluerage.

According to a wide variety of aromatherapy books on my shelves real jasmine essence is attributed to having a sedative quality on the nervous system. The aroma of jasmine may assist with menstrual cramps, insomnia, depression and is a powerful aphrodisiac. Famed aromatherapist Marcel Lavabre writes that jasmine "..has the power to transcend physical love."

Throughout many different countries this season is filled with celebrations of light as we transition to the cold winter months that lie ahead. Cimbalom is a vibrant warm floriental that provides nourishment for the soul and illuminates the spirit during times of darkness. Like my other formulations this is an organic vital plant perfume made by my own hands in my studio.

The liquid aspect contains the same melodic notes of jasmine with percussive beats of amber and resin, the main difference is that the citrus top notes are much more vibrant.
Labdanum, Indonesian Patchouli, Indian Jasmine, Ginger and Orange.
The base is plant tinctures and Certified Organic grape and grain alcohol.
The vibrant colored crochet pouch, pictured above, is made by the hands of my very skillful mother, Martha.

Images: Cimbalom photos ©Roxana Villa, Harvest Moon photo by Tracey of Raceytay on Etsy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Giveaway winner!

The winner of the giveaway for 1 gram bottle of Tangent Botanical Perfume is Katie! Congratulations, I'll be sending off the vial as soon as I receive the shipping data. Many thanks to everyone who participated, I'm really grateful for each of you that stopped by. Please keep in eye out for a giveaway for a vial of Cimbalom, the floriental with the hand crafted Jasmine sambac tincture.

Photos ©Roxana Villa

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


One of the primary exercises in art school is doing a drawing using perspective. Generally we learn one point perspective usually based on the geometrical horizon. The exercise is then followed with creating an image with two, three or more points.

Today I offer you an intersection of five point perspective on the natural perfume Gracing the Dawn. Instead of my single perspective on the notes, sillage and evolution of the perfume, here are three other points of view for you to savor:

Beth at The Cleveland Examiner
Donna at Perfume Smelling Things
Trish at Scent Hive
Lucy at Indie Perfumes
Elena at Perfume Shrine

Gracing the Dawn, more so than any of my other creations, has a very tangled and twisted her story. Originally she was a draft of notes called The Three Graces created for Heather Ettlingers Perfume in a Poem Project. Over time, with the birth of many other accords and perfumes, the formula morphed and shifted. The original illumination for the fragrance by my husband Greg Spalenka changed as well, becoming his iconic image at the 2010 San Diego Comic Convention where the perfume was debuted.

GreenWitch and Gracing the Dawn, as representatives of the two classical chypre perfumes in my collection, share similar notes and accords from the Animalia kingdom. GreenWitch leaning more into the realm of the Protoctista family and Gracing the Dawn in the Plantae arena. I call both of these "natural" perfumes because they contain ingredients from the animal kingdom.

While visiting Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel and Barneys in NYC last week I was very distraught to hear the sales people refer to many non natural perfumes as natural. When I politely told them that so and so brand was not a natural they argued with me and explained that the creator(s) of the fragrances told them they were natural. I decided to drop it, even though I know for a fact that the fragrances are not natural. Even worse is the fact that the term organic is applied to synthetic perfume. I must be living in an alternate universe where linguistic terminology and integrity exist on the same plane. Thankfully most of the perfume bloggers are well educated.

Beth, who was sampling perfumes with me at the Henri Bendel department store, commented that the word has obviously become "fashionable". The L'Artisan rep shared a scent strip of a fragrance with us featuring apple mentioning all their perfumes were natural. Hello? Not only is it plain as day that the perfume had synthetic aroma molecules but also there is NO apple essential oil. Only apple blossom concrete which is difficult to obtain.

The orchestration of ingredients in Gracing the Dawn shares a few similar essences and four accords which are also in GreenWitch. The four accords have all been crafted by my own hands using essentials oils, absolutes and C02 extracts. In total there are twenty other pure, plant essences including a plethora of flower: rose, jasmine, tuberose, ylang ylang, boronia and nightqueen. I choose to use whole essences in my perfumes, primarily from the botanical world, no isolates what-so-ever.

The base alcohol is organic grape and grain from Oregon with a tincture if infused violet flowers from my mothers garden. There is only a limited amount of the tincture, however, I will be making more in the early Spring as the little violets once more grace us with their delicious aroma.

Samples of the first edition including the violet tincture are available by weight in .25 and 1 gram, the full flacon size features the light purple crochet pouch. I choose purple as the Gracing the Dawns color harmony because when my daughter and husband first experienced the perfume they both murmured "purple".

1. Perspective engraving from the 17th century mathematics work by Marolois
2. Detail of The School of Athens (full image) by Raffaello Santi, 1509, showing Euclid
3. Gracing the Dawn ©Greg Spalenka. Postcards and posters of the illumination are available at Gregs E-shop, if you ask nicely he might be willing to print up a big banner for you like the one at Comic Con, which sold. I was rather looking forward to displaying it in my studio.
4. Roxana Illuminated Perfume display from Comic Con 2010 ©Evangeline Neuhart.

5. Detail of Gracing the Dawn Gracing the Dawn ©Greg Spalenka
6. 1 gram bottle of Gracing the Dawn Natural Perfume.
7. Violet photo ©Roxana Villa.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New York, NY

I'm in Connecticut and New York at the moment...since Sunday actually. We are staying with our buddy Ric Meyers, a friend from Comic Con. I thought I'd be blogging regularly but it has been a bit of a challenge. I'll be back shortly with stories and pictures.

Image: December 15, 1931. "River House, 52nd Street and East River. Shoreline with clouds." 5x7 safety negative by Samuel H. Gottscho.