Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

On Moonday evening, November 22nd, we drove into Century City for the cast and crew premiere of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Michael Apted, the director, was there along with other friends and industry professionals, including members of the cast.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the third film in the series. Although I am a huge fan of the books I was skeptical, despite the fact that Michael was stirring the production and Greg's contribution was superb.

The film was shown to us in 3D at the Zanuck theater on the 20th Century Fox lot. The theater is named after the Darryl F. Zanuck, one of the founders of Twentieth Century Pictures. I would have preferred to have experienced the film sans the 3D experience, but, I imagine they did that to prevent any pilfering since it was so far in advance of the actual premiere.

The world premiere is this evening in Leicester Square, England with the Queen herself! You can see a live webcam of the event here. I am curious what the fans and critics will think. I was impressed mostly because I was terrified that it wasn't going to be very good. However, after seeing the latest Harry Potter film, I must admit it pales in comparison. I found the story telling to be a bit weak, despite some beautiful visuals. I would like to see it again, without the 3D experience and expectations to get a better sense of my feeling about it.

Much of Greg's visual development work was used and much of it wasn't. It was disappointing not to see the big wave image he did with the starry universe and seagulls. Unfortunately I can't show you the image because it is owned by the studio and they are rather like rabid dogs when it comes to sharing such things.

The visuals that were used include the Dufflepods, Star woman, Eustace transformation, the sea of white lily flowers and the wave scenes at the end. If you do go, make sure to keep a lookout for these scenes and Greg's credit under concept designers.

At the premiere I was wafting Cimbalom solid natural perfume.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spontaneous Combustion

While in art school at Otis I fell head over heels for the work of an illustrator named Lane Smith. The specific piece is this one pictured above from the third American Illustration Annual that we were both in. This image was created using alkids and was part of his portfolio, although there was no title the description reads: Illustration showing the effects of spontaneous combustion.
He-he, so very Lane-like.

Later when I moved to New York Lane became a dear friend and introduced me to a handful of art directors who gave me some of my first big jobs. One of those art directors was his wife Molly Leach. Those were fun times back then in NYC in the 80's. I must admit I miss sitting at my drafting table conceptualizing ideas for assignments and then painting them. Life as an editorial illustrator was much easier than that of a perfume artist. I miss the camaraderie between the artists. Nothing like the cat fights one encounters in Natural Perfume, yuck, that's a whole different story.

Here's a recent video featuring both Molly and Lane in their home/studio in Connecticut.

Monday, November 22, 2010


The new Narnia film "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" hits the theaters this December. Greg contributed significant amounts of artwork to the visual development of the film, working intimately with director Michael Apted.

Below is the older trailer, see the newer trailer on the Walden website here.

This evening, just as we have arrived from a whirlwind trip to SF we will be attending a special preview on the lot in Century City. In the meantime from what we can see of the trailer much of Greg's work was used. Unlike The Golden Compass film where his work was cut when the producers decided to shift the ending to a second film the new Narnia film is rich with his vision.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I'm off to San Francisco today to assist Greg with his Artist as brand Workshop at the Academy of Art University. I'll be back shortly with stories and pictures. In the meantime I have left the E-shop open but will not be filling the orders until I return.

Image: Air Travel in Africa: 1936

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Story of Eames

Ben just sent me this exclusive video of John and Marilyn Neuhart talking about their new book, The Story of Eames Furniture. Enjoy!

The Story of Eames Furniture: Marilyn Neuhart with John Neuhart - Interview from Gestalten on Vimeo.

John and Marilyn are my daughter Eve's grandparents. I am so thrilled to see that this book that they have spent so many years working on is now available and getting lots of press.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Greg made hair appointments for the both of us on Saturday, thus reluctantly I left the studio with no clue how much fun the day would hold.

Our adventure began with breakfast at a little French cafe in Venice with Greg's art buddy Jeremy who brought along David, another English artist. As we sat sipping our teas and talking art I began to realize why I love LA, particularly the west side so much.

From there we strolled down Abbot Kinney, under the brilliant sunshine and cerulean sky, to my favorite source of inspiration Bountiful. As always the store is deliciously arranged to produce mouth dropping splendor.

Self portrait, before the hair cut.

After our hair appointments we have some extra time before heading back over the hill to pick Eve up. Thus we took advantage of the invitation by David to come see his art. David and his wife live in a refurbished 1940's California bungalow which they refurbished. It's the epitome of Venice Beach, California with a fabulous studio in the back.

David and Greg discussing one of the large scale paintings.

One of my favorite paintings, among many, is this one above. It is a portrait of one of the bridges the city wants to tear down. I wish Los Angeles politicians would work on preserving historical sites as much as they work to empowering builders and lining their pockets.

David also has an interest in plants. We spent quite a bit of time in his backyard learning about Cycadeodia, a plant that lived along side the dinosaurs. Among his large collection of Cycads he had New Orleans oak tree moss artfully arranged in several locations. When we realized with great regret we needed to get on the road he gave us two plants to bring home. They are so going like my natives and fit in perfectly with the silvery greens of the artemisia and sage.

It was a really fabulous day and much needed getaway from making and packaging natural perfume, which I need to get back to right now.

Photos ©Roxana Villa
Cycadeodia engraving from caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cimbalom: Her Story

“The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne,
Burn’d on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar’d all description.”

From Antony & Cleopatra by Shakespeare

Cimbalom began as a perfume I created for myself within a small window of time on my birthday in August 2008. I had taken my daughter to Shakespeare camp at the Will Geer Botanicum Theatricum and rather spontaneously decided to blend a fragrance for myself.

I got out all my favorite raw materials Labdanum, Patchouli, all the Jasmines, the vibrant Oranges and some Ginger among others and began sniffing and blending. Within two hours, which is about how long my labor lasted with Eve, wahlah a Birthday solid perfume for my day!

At the time I had no idea that this would become my very favorite and most often worn perfume, nor did I know it would be the best seller. What I learned from this experience is to follow your nose and your heart.

For the full her story of this fragrance follow this link here at the journal. During this past summer I tinctured Jasmine sambac flowers for the fragrance, read and see photos of that process at this link.

I sent out vials of the new Cimbalom liquid to a variety of fans and patrons. Three of those are joining me today to share there impressions of this sensual floriental. I invite you to board my ship as we, on purple perfumed sails travel to read the eloquent words of my two dear friends.

Donna at Examiner

Ida at Cafleurbon

The perfume in all her sizes and formats is available at my E-shop.

I have a sample vial here of .25 grams of Cimbalom organic liquid perfume. To enter the draw please leave a comment with your e-mail addy so I can contact you if you win. Only one entry per person. The last day to enter is Sunday evening at 10pm PST.

Cleopatra Painting by Jean-Leon Gerome
Photos ©Roxana Villa

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide 2010

The gift giving season has arrived along with the Autumn winds and cooler temperatures. In the spirit of the season Trish at Scent Hive has gathered together some of her favorite bloggers (links below) to offer a few recommendations of heart warming gift ideas.

Most people will most likely head to the mall or perhaps a favorite street with lots of boutiques for their shopping. It is certainly what I use to do. These days however I am interested in breaking free of supporting the big conglomerates and focusing on small indie business and handmade as much as possible.

The list I have compiled is from items I desire for myself and those I would love to gift to others.

For the Fashionista

Anna-Marie of MinxShop in Pittsburg designs clothes that are interesting and unique, but also comfortable and wearable on a day to day basis. They are artfully created with attention to detail, expertly crafted as well as photographed.

Another favorite is TreeHouse28 owned by Alix McCauley a mother of two located in California. I have been lusting for something from her shop on Etsy ever since I discovered them in September 2008. The clothes look as if I could easily wear them here in the studio and then dash over to a yoga class looking chic.

For Him

I just ordered the most amazing handmade soaps from the Rocky Top Soap Shop in Maine. There is so much to adore with these, particularly the nature loving spirit of the creator Tony. I plan to give them to a few of the guys in my life...as well as ladies. These mindfully handcrafted soaps will also make excellent stocking stuffers!

Another item I just ordered, which has yet to arrive, is incense from Alchemy Works. I am very particular about incense, not only because I want something that is truly made with plant materials but I also want to support artistry. This incense is the best! I love the aroma, the way it burns and the magical aspects which Harry uses to make them. The website is a treasure trove of fabulous details which you can easily get lost in for hours. For those who love magic, wizardry these are for you! Perfect for your upcoming Harry Potter film release party!

For the Gourmet

Normally I head over to William Sonoma, Dean and Deluca or Sur La Table to find gifts for the gourmet. This year however I have found a bounty of artisanal products at the local farmers market. Supporting your local farmers is another conscious choice that is quite fun and rewarding. We patronize ours once a week to get our veggies, fruits, honey, chicken, fish, bread and...if our income has been good, flowers!

I have found some wonderous hand pressed, local virgin olive oil flavored with blood orange peels as well as incredible vinegars, one was a fig and vanilla infusion!

Other fabulous gifts for the gourmet are specialty baked goods like these from Whimsy and Spice in Brooklyn. Picture above are Earl Grey sandwich cookies which have been flavored with Earl Grey tea. The small indie shop was founded in 2008 by the husband and wife team of Mark Sopchak and Jenna Park. They have a fabulous blog called Sweet Fine Day where you can get to know them and appreciate the fact that you are supporting a sweet family.

For the Gardner

How about some hose clothes! These hose covers are made of strong water-friendly fabrics with a textured grip. For those who have high aesthetics and don't like the look of those old garden hoses this is a great alternative! Made in California by Dirt Couture.

Intending this list has inspired you to forage into the realm of handmade, local and artisanal. For more ideas and suggestions, specifically related to scent, please follow the links below to the others participating in the Holiday Gift Guide 2010 blogging event.

Scent Hive

All I Am - A Redhead

Perfume Shrine

Indie Perfumes

I'll post a gift guide for Roxana Illuminated Perfume in the next few weeks.

Images: Gift box, Rocky Top Soap and Corn Yellow cuff photos by Roxana Villa all other photos please refer to individual shop owners.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Terra on Mercury Day

It's Wednesday, which is ruled by the planet Mercury, and I've got my contribution to the Aromatic Journey series up at the Lillyella blog. This month I share a simple, yet effective DIY clay mask, enjoy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two Bean

Vanilla is derived from an orchid that originated in central America. The bean or seed pod contains that fragrant delicious substance that is beloved worldwide, especially now during the holiday baking season.

I have brought back a few of the chocolate solid perfumes and am working on a few others. Blanc, which is rich in vanilla is one of the solids that has returned along with Noir and ChĂȘne. I will also be bringing back La ForĂȘt and Bois de Chocolat eventually making my way to offer twelve for the return of the Couer de Chocolat Natural Perfume Luxury Gift Box.

Photos by Roxana Villa

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shadow Lands

Yesterday we hit another indicator of the shift from the light to the darkness as we moved the hands of our clocks back, The light here in the northern hemisphere begins to subside as it increases in the southern half of the planet. A great symbol of the duality found on this earthly plain we reside.

In most parts the trees are now loosing their leaves and moving into a more structural, silhouetted shapes within the landscape. Sometimes trees become slim architectural forms set within the whiteness of a background of snow.

Halloween celebrated the shadow, the darker aspects of the human and our unconscious desires. As we move into this time continual reminders of balancing the light and dark appear. The nemesis rears her ugly snake infested head once more, driving some to hibernation. That wont be the case for me, like my honey bees I will continue to forage despite the low levels of pollen. The great thing about nature is that she is constantly seeking balance between the opposing forces. We can seek nourishment in warm baths with lit candles and essential oils as well as great archetypal stories. Harry Potter, a classic of the light versus dark take is soon to be released and I can't wait.

I've learned that the nemesis, as awful as she might "appear", offers terrific gems to garner from the experience. The most important is not to allow a single individual or event to disrupt one from their mission and path.

While on the east coast last month we stayed with our dear friend Ric Meyers who is loaded with wisdom. In this interview conducted by Greg, Ric shares insight into how to deal with the perceived negativity and stay in balance. I love this one quote in particular...

"Don’t force things and don’t fight things.
Remember that water doesn’t choose its path down a mountain."

Enough about Medusa, something tells me her head will be getting cut off soon. I'm making chocolate solid perfumes today. Rather auspiciously it is Blanc and Noir that is being created here in the studio. Blanc is the chocolate natural perfume featuring vanilla as the main note while Noir is a musky, dark chocolate with patchouli. Read more here at this link on the journal and find them for a limited time in my E-shop.

The Head of Medusa by Simeon Solomon British, 1840 - 1905
Ric Meyers photo by Greg Spalenka
Medusa by Franz von Stuck German, 1863 - 1928
Chocolate Perfume Image Roxana Villa

Friday, November 5, 2010

Goldie Lockets

I am happy to share that the new Victorian design perfume lockets will be available soon! Hooray, it's a thrill to finally see there much anticipated return to my E-shop. Please note that I had quite a number of requests for these and only have a total of twenty on their way. Thus, if you are one of the individuals that longs for this perfume locket than carpe diem my friend!

Although they will not be shipping for another week or week in a half, depending on when I receive them, here is the listing to pre-order your very own. If you desire the chain at a specific length please indicate that in the note to seller or via e-mail.

Images: Antique brass, Victorian era inspired perfume locket with separate solid perfume tins, photos ©Roxana Villa.