Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Daily Dose of Green

Today's theme is green as I am going to filter the new batch of Hedera helix liquid and am making more GreenWitch. I smell very Spring-like and fresh, nice contrast for winter gloom.

The plant photos were taken at our local nursery called Sperling, the pinned bug is from our collection.

Images ©RoxanaVilla

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Vanilla Soliflore

I've re-released "Figure 10: Blanc" without the chocolate base. This is a delicious vanilla soliflore, meaning one flower in French, a term used to describe a composed perfume dominated by one single flower, such as Gardenia or Jasmine. Blanc is a botanical fragrance dominated by the scent of vanilla. For the aromatic component I am using the original Blanc accord of essential oils, Co2 extracts and absolutes combined with a vanilla bean infusion I also created.

For the moment I have listed the Honey Pot and the Mini Compact in the E-shop. I also have it available as the oval and round tapestry compact as well as the little sample pot. All of these will be uploaded and listed shortly.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Magical Mystery Tour

Nineteen years ago, what seemed miraculous to me but a daily event on planet earth occurred in Culver City, California. Eve, my daughter was born. It was 6am, although my water broke at midnight labor didn't begin until around 4am. She was born consciously on a small cot at a birth center.

The journey has been fantastical and akin to a magical mystery tour. If blogs had existed back then I would have shared how I raised a child holistically, without vaccines, antibiotics and basically against the societal standards.

To celebrate many activities are planned over the weekend begining with a trek out to Santa Anita to the Arboretum.

Happy Birthday to my dear sweet Eve.

Photos of Eve ©RoxanaVilla

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Hive Report

"There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true,
do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know.
The keeping of bees, for instance."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Yesterday afternoon, just after "flight school" time for the bees, we assembled all our gear and added one medium super to each of the hives. Before doing so we checked the level of each and made some subtle adjustments. The ideal is to have each hive tilting ever so slightly forward.

To the smoker we used a mix of burlap and dried plant including white sage leaves, which by the way smelled wonderful intermingling with eau de bee.

Pictured above in the background are the two new medium supers, in the foreground the Warrior Bee's hive.

The girls now each have a new top floor added to their abodes. The hive I call the Warrior Bees (although they are quite docile now) has six medium supers while the Mische Bees have one deep on the bottom and two mediums.

Photos ©Roxana Villa

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pressing forward

Of the two presses that were brought over by Ben and partially set up in the autumn I've chosen to focus on the the Poco proof press. The reason being it is most similar to the Vandercook flat bed presses I use to own.

From the limited information I have gathered thus far there were three different varieties of The Poco Press manufactured by Hacker Manufacturing of Chicago, which eventually was bought by Vandercook in 1937. Although I have not been able to find a number on ours, I bet that it is the third, a number 2.

The bed of the press is not type high which I am assuming is because it was meant for proofing type that was set up on a galley tray. Although, even if I put a galley tray with type on the bed it is still not high enough. I tried to remedy this by adding more packing, but the cylinder only allows a certain amount of packing, thus that didn't work. I plan to remedy this by getting an additional piece of metal for the bed.

There are also challenges with creating complex imagery with multiple colors and precise registration. There is a fellow back east named Neil Giroux that has devised a rather complicated and creative system to get around limitations of the Poco. I'll boldy take that step eventually but not quite yet. For now I've just done some simple deboss pieces as I acquaint myself with the Poco and continue organizing all the new printing equipment in the garage studio.

It's been great fun getting back into setting type, locking things up on the press and pulling proofs. I'm addicted now and can't wait to do more. Yesterday I spontaneously set the word Thank you with a heart and made some little rounds to include with new natural perfume packages being shipped out. Soon I will create even more pretty ephemera and illuminations to go along with the perfumes.

Meanwhile, back in modern 2012, Greg now has a spiffy brand new apple computer. Nothing like embracing the full spectrum of new and old printing technology.

Image ©RoxanaVilla

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Edible Seed

In December, beamed down from the heavens into my brain, popped in an idea. It has taken until now to manifest. Many road blocks and pot holes got in the way which created some doubt if an end was truly in sight. Alas, I persevered and the first edition, which is only four and set to go out as a Thank you to specific people, is just about ready.

My customer, Elizabeth B., calls my house/studio Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory. Thus here is a little teaser relating to the project, more details next week once it is actually all finished, photographed, etc.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To Wonder At

The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist.
For man it is to know that and to wonder at it.
~ Jacques Yves Cousteau

I ordered more of the little round lockets with the purple honey bee from Lori just before Christmas. There is only one left at the moment, thus I've ordered more and have some other lockets in the works. If there is an image that you would like to see on the lockets please let me know. I'm contemplating my honey bee painting and some of the illuminated images, like the original Vespertina portrait, done by Greg.

Images: Bee locket photo and painting ©RoxanaVilla

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Here are some shots from our visit to the Getty Center on Saturday. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day with views reaching out to Catalina Island.

Since we arrived in the afternoon first thing Eve and I did was head toward the garden to take advantage of the light, knowing we could peruse the galleries afterward. Meanwhile Greg headed over to the drawing room to meet up with his art buddy Marshall Vandruff.

As we began to walk the labrinthian-like path of the garden I spotted some gorgeous blue flowers from above and pointed them out to Eve, stating that I definitely wanted to go check those out.

As we got closer I heard that special hum and saw that honey bees were very busy at work harvesting nectar from the blue blossoms. Must get some of these for my garden! Anyone know what kind of flowers these are?

After our fill of the garden we made our way to the photo exhibit and my personal favorite, the tiny gallery with the illuminated manuscripts.

By that time the sun was setting. We hooked up with Greg, Marshall and a bunch of Marshall's students in the big entry way before heading out.

All photos ©RoxanaVilla

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What kind of bird are you?

The trailer for the new Wes Anderson film was released a few days ago. It looks absolutely fantastic and features Edward Norton, a fav in our household.

Meanwhile, here in natural botanical perfume land the new edition of Hedera helix solid perfume is ready. There was a challenge in the formulation due to the a lack of the featured Faux Ambergris accord. Thus, I made more of the accord, waited for it to alchemize and then went back to working on Hedera.

Friday, January 13, 2012

In the Raw

The price of the raw materials necessary to create authentic botanical perfume have been sky rocketing over the last few years. Many of the bottles of Jasmine, Rose, Oud, Frankincense I purchased years ago when first starting in Aromatherapy have run out.

I am committed to ordering high quality essences from reputable suppliers and thus have begun raising prices. I refuse to compromise and begin using lesser quality or borg materials like nature identicals and isolates. The silver lining to these challenges is that it makes me work harder to find creative ways around the perceived darkness. I have already begun several experiments that are proving quite successful. Since so many competitors read this journal that information will remain a trade secret and not be shared here.

Lately I feel like one of those tantric figures from Indian paintings with multiple arms. The amount of projects percolating is quite abundant. Some start off hopeful then fall by the way side when the challenges seem insurmountable. Then, after a period of time, things magically come together.

The biggest challenge right now is that the computer doc didn't have a good prognosis on our two towers, (sad face) and we need to get a case for my internal hard drive that has most of my imagery. This too shall pass. Sharing one laptop is certainly providing lots of opportunity for personal growth.

Today we are taking a little break and going to the Getty Center for some renew time. Wishing you each a beautiful and nourishing weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

J is for Jupiter and Jasmine

It's Thursday, ruled by the planet of luck and good fortune. I'm making solid perfume this morning and will be working on special little gift boxes going out to some special folks.

Eve and I are working on some photos and films, still in the planning phase of the film. We will begin shooting next week when we have the backdrop back.

Herbs associated with Jupiter include jasmine, which is rather perfect since I'm making solids of Lyra and Cimbalom natural perfume today.

I've noticed daily trends with perfume purchases, lately its been for the sweet, delicious florals like Lyra, Cimbalom and Page 47.

Image of Jupiter via Nasa, Cimbalom compact Roxana Villa

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To Be a Girl

My daughter Eve returned from a photo shoot for HereJ on Sunday with fabulous make-up. I had to take some photos of knitted items my mom had dropped by so we took advantage of the make-up. We also did some shots with the oval compacts which we collaborated on. I took the photos, Eve did the color on them.

"A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."
~ Coco Chanel

"Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?"
~ Anne Frank

"Where youth and diffidence are united, it requires uncommon steadiness of reason
to resist the attraction of being called the most charming girl in the world."
~ Jane Austen

"It's all right for a woman to be, above all, human. I am a woman first of all."
~ Anais Nin

Photos ©Roxana Villa

Monday, January 9, 2012

Strange Flowers of Reason

"There are strange flowers of reason to match each error of the senses."
~ Louis Aragon

The garden is starting to awaken. As mentioned previously the rosemary on the back slope is in full bloom. Out on the front slope where I have all the natives, the salvias have begun blooming. Salvia spathacea, known as Hummingbird Sage, has tall stalks with bright showy magenta flowers beloved by the local hummingbirds. I planted ours under a small oak with the intention that it would spread. It has been extremely slow growing for some reason, but very pretty non-the-less.

The other sage that is currently blooming is the Salvia mellifera, commonly known as Black Sage. I've noticed the honey bees and small bumble bees are really loving these blooms.

Meanwhile in the studio today, I'm packing orders, working on various new natural botanical perfumes and ordering supplies. Since our two main computers are in limbo Greg and I are on a schedule sharing the laptop which has been both good and challenging. Good in that it limits my computer time and thus I am doing lots of other things, like getting the Poco letterpress ready for printing. The challenge is that since we are on a schedule I am limited as to what I can do when.

My SOTD (scent of the day), in honor of the blooming sages, is Chaparral solid perfume. Regrettably Frankincense, which is one for the main ingredients has become quite expensive which equates to a price increase in the perfume once I make the new edition.

Postcard and salvia photos ©Roxana Villa

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sherlock Holmes

"Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent."
Sherlock Holmes, A Case of Identity (1892) - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

According to Sherlockian.net's Sherlock Holmes birthday today, making him a Capricorn. I became interested in Sherlock Holmes back in the 80's with the British series starring the actor Jeremy Brett. In my opinion Jeremy plays Sherlock as the perfect Victorian version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyles Sherlock. Here's a clip of the best quotes from the first season:

Last year Eve turned me on to a new series on Masterpiece Mystery theater simply titled Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (the new Bilbo Baggins) as Watson. This adaptation is set in modern day and quite brilliant, I highly recommend it. Here's a few clips:

In honor of this blessed day I've decided to begin working on a tribute fragrance to Sherlock as part of the Literarium series of my botanical natural perfumes. Eve and I have come up with a few ideas to begin the formulation:

~ Tobacco
~ English smells
~ Leather
~ Tea: Lapsang Souchong (tincture and infusion)
~ Smoke
~ Old wood for the Violin

Leave a comment on this post or send me your thoughts via e-mail (roxana at illuminatedperfume.com) and I will enter you in a draw for a sample of the first draft of the fragrance. Also, feel free to give me suggestions for a title.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Secret Life of Bees

The rosemary on my back slope started blooming early due to the late rain and cool weather we had in 2011. Thus the honey bees have been gathering nectar and pollen from it regularly.

The traditional blooming time of the rosemary hedge and when Spring hits the woodland is now, which means we will be adding an extra box to each of the hives next week. When we do add the extra boxes we will also check the honey stores of the warrior girls to see if there is any extra for us to take now or later.

Standing next to the rosemary is quite an experience. Since it is so filled with bees it looks like the mass of green and light blue flowers is undulating with a sound track of the bees aum chant.
I'll be harvesting some of this rosemary to make a tincture for the next edition of Blossom, the traditional eau de cologne natural botanical perfume I release every spring.

Capturing photos of the bees has been a challenge and something I've been practicing. Here are a few recent shots of them followed by an interesting video from one of my fellow b'eeks.

Video courtesy of oldboychoi with this info

A Bee’s Life in a Top Bar Beehive

A compilation of three summer months from inside the beehive. From colonisation of the empty hive to the days following the swarm (that probably reduced the colony to less than half the number).

Bee and rosemary photos ©Roxana Villa

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Best of 2011

Here we are in the fresh new year looking forward to endless possibilities and back at all the sign posts from the last year. 2011 was an amazing and adventurous ride powered by winds of faith, intention and support from devoted fans and patrons which I am endlessly grateful to.

The year brought more sales than ever in the history on this uber niche natural perfume biz. Pretty amazing given that so many people don't quite "get" natural" perfume and the economic situation. I've partnered with several retailers and artisans. As we look forward with excitement to 2012, we would like to take a moment to remember the events of 2011 with gratitude. Here are a few highlights:

~ My perfumes have sold to people in all the states of the US and in over 60 countries.

~ It was an honor have Denise Hamilton here at the house and be featured in the LA Times Magazine as well as through out the perfume and handmade blogosphere in 2011.

~ Many thanks to Trish of Scent Hive for choosing To Bee as one of her favorites of 2011, as well as all the customers who adore this scent. 2012 looks like a great year for the honey bee!

~ Family and friends got together and bought me a brand new Canon camera for my birthday. I'm in LOVE with the new camera, it has become an extra appendage and so valuable to my artistic muse and business.

~ This holiday season Illuminated Perfume packages were gifted to more recipients than any other year to date. Christmas morning was made extra special knowing that people all over the world were being treated to my handmade, nature infused fragrances.

~ 2011 was the year that I embraced new computer and design knowledge the debut of our first edition Roxana Illuminated Perfume Lookbook and an upcoming new website.

~ I have partnered with up with a several talented and amazing artisans to expand the illuminated line in new directions for 2012.

~ 2011 presented us with several bee rescues that have resulted in two thriving hives.

~ This past year also brought some very sad and challenging moments like the passing of John Neuhart. One of the silver linings that has transpired is the manifestation of a letterpress studio here in the garage.

~ Eve received a four year scholarship to Bennington College in Vermont. The adjustment has been getting use to the empty nest.

~ The California native garden we've been creating here at our little woodland cottage has finally taken off with many plants now self seeding themselves. The front slope is starting to look filled in and attracting lots of birds and bees.

It appears that 2012 will contain even more thrills for Roxana Illuminated Perfume including our very first honey harvest here at home. Happy New Year and much gratitude to each and every one of you!