Thursday, May 31, 2012


Gracing the Dawn in her solid manifestation is here! I know fans of this fragrance have been waiting quite a long time for this interpretation, thanks so much for your patience. The structure of this perfume follows what is considered a classic Chypre, a french word meaning Cyprus. Perfumes of this family traditionally are defined by notes of oakmoss and animal musk in the base, rose and jasmine at the heart and bergamot or fresh citrus within the top. Since I refrain from using the historical animal ingredients found in traditional natural Chypre perfumes, I created some faux natural accords to mimic civet, castoreum, ambergris and deer musk. There is also a very minuscule amount of Africa stone, the fossilized distilled droppings of a small animal known as a hyrax.

I use the term botanical perfumer to define what I do in the fragrance realm because I have chosen not to use the historical animal ingredients for ethical reasons. All artists find their path in different ways, mine was via the magical duirway of nature and the oak.

I refer to Gracing the Dawn as a violet perfume, although the violet note in the solid version of the fragrance is subtle, it is a more fictional representation. The main scent component of violet flowers comes from the naturally occurring chemical constituent ionones. The natural perfumer has no violet essential oil, C02 extract or absolute. There is a violet leaf absolute but the aroma is not one of the delicate little flowers we all adore. Opting for maximum nature in my fragrances I utilized Orris and a variety of other whole essences to convey the impression of violets. In the liquid version of this fragrance the violet note was further enhanced with a tincture of violet flowers.

It was my intention to release the solid version with an enfleurage of violets, but alas it is not ready yet. Thus, the addition of the precious infusion will come in future editions of the fragrance. The synergy of the solid is almost exact to that of her fragrance liquid counterpart. There are five accords, one of which is contained within another accord. The most complex of these accords is one I call Fern which is so pretty on her own I may release it as a perfume.

Here's a list of the included essences, which illustrates in the first six ingredients why this perfume is costly:

Night Queen
Orange Blossom
Black Current
Ylang Ylang

Peru Balsam



Violet Leaf
Choya Nakh

Solid Mini Sample 
5 gram Honey pot
Round Compact

More about Gracing the Dawn can be found at these links here at the journal: Perspective, October 2010 Gracing the Dawn, July 2010 The Dawn, July 2010

Opening photo by Roxana Villa, illuminated ©GregSpalenka. Find the Gracing the Dawn Flower of Fortune Cards and the print on etsy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Transport thyself to alternate realms of being via little pink pots of nature. Sniff and journey to ancient lands, wonderous gardens and the world of faerie. One sniff to encounter an enchanted encounter now available in sets of three, four, five, six, nine, twelve, or fifteen.
These sets include the brand new GRACING the DAWN: The aroma of purple painted with florals and botanical leather.

Our global hive needs some tending so that we may all evolve to “an illuminated state of floral consciousness.” As author Tom Robbins says,

“With an increased floral consciousness,
humans will begin to make full use of their
‘light brain’ and make more refined and sophisticated use of their ‘smell brain.’
The two are portentously linked.
In fact, they overlap to such an extent that they may be considered inseparable.”
— Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Image ©Greg Spalenka

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Make Good Art

Last night I watched the Grant Morrison documentary, today I saw two commencement speeches given by Neil Gaiman and JK Rowling. These wizards offer timeless wisdom and tell us...that if we don't know how to do something then pretend you are someone who does or to use the power of your imagination.

Gotta love these inspirators of the cosmic fantasy realm. Enjoy!

Meanwhile in the studio Gracing the Dawn natural perfume in a solid format is about to hit this planetary sphere, prepare thy nostrils.

Friday, May 25, 2012

From Buddha to Batman

While at Spectrum Live I was reminded of the inspirational talks given by Grant Morrison and Deepak Chopra at Comic Con. Today, rather auspiciously, I came across the video of one of those presentations and am putting it here not only to share with you but so that I can find it easily and re-watch over and over again.

The Grant Morrison documentary can be found here at Hulu, watching it tonight, can't wait!

Image ©GregSpalenka, available as a print soon.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gift of Wise Men

The June issue of National Geographic has a short piece on how Frankincense trees are threatened, thus limiting the production of the precious resin. This is not something new, I've been hearing about it for years within the aromatherapy community. Working in this field of natural perfume is tricky business due to the stresses on the environment which impact the palette of raw materials.

Back in the mid nineties when I made the conscious decision to teach aromatherapy instead of art and eventually launch my perfume company, it was with a very clear mission to illuminate the beauty and nature within the precious fragrances I compose.

I made a choice to limit my palette to the use of highly vibrational ingredients, use magic and intention, and weave mindfulness in all aspects of the business. On June 15th it will be the five year anniversary of the website and blog launch. As I look back on the five years and forward to the next five, ten, twenty and beyond – I am uncertain what lies ahead. It seems that the terrain now shifts daily and the ability to bend like a reed is more important than ever.

It would be very sad to lose such a precious aromatic like Frankincense, that would mean that the formula of Chaparral® and a few other natural, botanical perfumes from my line would shift dramatically. However, I am also holding a strong intention for a massive awakening of the two-leggeds. In this prophecy I foresee humanity and our precious natural resources valued along with a visionary approach to problem solving.

Since hearing that Star Scientific in Australia has created a type of Cold Fusion, specifically Muon Fusion, I can see how we can move forward to create a new reality. The main challenge is the Corporate system with their focus on power and greed. The iconic symbol of dark versus light, so luminously portrayed in J.R.R. Tolkiens fantasy novel Lord of the Rings, is still very much alive in our collective thinking. I keep forgetting that polarity is part of the integral workings of Planet Earth.

Onward we go, along this spiraling path, may yours be a fragrant one imbued with the essence of wisdom.

“Until the day break, and the shadows flee away,
 I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, 
and to the hill of frankincense.” 
~ Bible

Image: Drawing by Edward Burne-Jones: Desiderium, 1873.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spectrum Live, Kansas City

The Spectrum Live event began for the artists on Thursday evening with a special screening of the documentary Better Things about the life and choices of artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones. This was a compelling way to start a Sci-fi/Fantasy art convention that would in the end defy all other conventions of this type.

Here's a short clip that wasn't in the version we saw....

The film maker, Maria Cabardo, is in the final phases of putting the documentary together and will be doing a kickstarter campaign to get some funding. Keep track of the project at the Macab Films site. Jeffrey Catherine Jones transcended this material plane of existence last May.

Friday morning we headed over to the Bartle Hall at the Kansas City Convention Center to set up our booth and prepare for the 4pm opening. This year we decided to showcase our work on one large table in a corner booth with fabric draped on each wall. All and all we were happy with the outcome.

The most popular natural perfume at Spectrum Live appeared to be Terrestre with Blanc and GreenWitch tied for second. It's always fascinating how each event will have specific fragrance favorites. My honey bee print was also a popular item.

Besides patrons Greg had lots of fans asking for autographs of books he's illustrated, pages from Spectrum, Magic Cards, etc. The most amazing fan was one who brought a box with fifteen different books Greg illustrated covers for, pictured below.

We saw lots and lots of our friends, including a few that we haven't seen in years, like illustrator Anita Kunz, pictured below sandwiched between Greg and I.

Along with the art show on the main floor there were presentations and portfolio reviews on both Saturday and Sunday. Production/concept designer Ian McCraig was a big draw at the event with three separate very well attended talks. On Saturday Greg moderated an Artist As Brand panel with artists Michal Whelan, Donato Giancola, Virginie Robars and William Stout.

We also made new friends like Virginie Robars from Brittany France who makes the most exquisite dolls. She won a gold medal for Jack.

Each night, after the show the artists gathered for various activities. On Friday everyone assembled on the 16th floor of Aladdin for a drawing fest with live models. Saturday night was the Spectrum Fantasy Art Annual awards ceremony at a spectacular 1920's theater called the Midland. it was an award show like no other in the illustration industry. Greg was the presenter for the
"Institutional" category.

By the end of the event on Sunday Arnie and Cathy seemed open to the idea of organizing a second Spectrum Live for next year.

Photos ©RoxanaVilla

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The three R's

Last night we returned from our exciting week long sojourn in Kansas City. It's so nice to be back amongst the oaks, honey bees and blooming sage. I am perplexed that I didn't see one honey bee in Kansas City, even among the blossoming trees, shrubs and wild flowers.

Today is all about re-organization, re-integration and re-inventing while I pack up all the orders placed while I was away, download a bizillion photos and breath in the dry arid smells of the chaparral.

I've had to deactivate the perfume necklace and bee locket listings in the E-shop since they were packed up with the crated items from our booth at the convention center. They will be back by the end of the week or so.

Intending to have a detailed post from all the fun in Kansas City soon. I've also got some projects underway here in the studio and prepping for the early July perfume show in San Francisco.

Images: Hammerpress and River Market Antiques in Kansas City, MO ©RoxanaVilla

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On A Jet Plane

Tuesday morning we hopped on a tiny plane at the Burbank airport headed to Kansas City by way of Denver. I guess these little planes must be the new trend in air travel. Just before boarding I got myself a Guayaki mate latte. Score!

We are here in Kansas City for an Artist As Brand workshop and the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live event beginning Friday. Cathy and Arnie Fenner, of the Spectrum Fantasy Art Annual, were instrumental in creating Spectrum Live as an alternative to the monster San Diego Comic Con. Back in time Comic Con was mainly centered around all things related to the world of Comics, now however, it's turned into an event focused on movies and related celebrities instead of the artists that created those brilliant Sci-Fi stories we all love. The art collector that once attended Comic Con no longer makes the journey, thus Spectrum Live. According to the website, four of the major hotels surrounding the KC convention Center this weekend are now full, which leads me to suspect the event is filling a very much needed niche market.

The photo above is a shot of the Sky Stations sculpture created by RM Fischer, taken from our 13th floor hotel room window at twilight this evening. The four pylons are over 200 feet tall and measure 24 feet by 15 feet in diameter.  In 1994 R.M. Fischer designed the towers  with an art deco theme, an art style from the 1920s and 1930s.  Made of aluminum and steel, helicopters were used to place the Sky Stations on top of Bartle Hall at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Tribe of Womban

Blessing to all the Mamas out there today! Yesterday at mama fest I had the opportunity to be in the presence of so many beautiful mothers with their precious babes at Mama Fest. Being surrounded by all that loving, nurturing vibe of Great Mother Spirit is powerful medicine. Here's a fabulous video with the voice of author Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Many thanks to the two Womb-an who inspired the imagery for this post. Marisol of Diosa Fitness who I met yesterday, for the opening image. I took it off her Facebook page and Jamie for the video.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I have put the E-shop in vacation mode while I prep for shows, travel and a workshop. I'll open it again on May 17th with orders being shipped on or around the 22nd.

On Saturday, May 12th from 10am - 4pm I'll have a booth at MamaFest, an event put on by The Birth Sanctuary located on Venice Blvd, in Los Angeles. Get directions here. I'm thrilled to be part of this event as natural birth and motherhood is part of the fabric of my life.

If you are local and would like to pick up any orders on Saturday please contact me via e-mail so we can make arrangements. It is my intention to have some of the new products Ive been working on at Saturdays event, however, that will all depend how much I can get done prior to Saturday morning.

Hope to see you there!

Why have I put the rather reptilian image on this post, no reason other than I loved it and its getting me in the right mood for Spectrum Live in Kansas City. The image is by Cyan

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


“Penetrating into the earth,
I sustain all creatures by My strength;
by becoming the moon full of juices,
I nourish all plants.” 
~ Bhagavad Gita

 According to the pagan Calendar of the Sun, May is called Thrimilchimonath (three-milkh-ee-mon-ath) in reference refers to the dairying time. Some texts indicate that the Greeks named May after their Goddess Maia, the daughter of Atlas. She is the Goddess of the Spring Time, the benevolent lady who brings an increase in warmth and light.

Plant angelica today on May 8th, or make a potion using the dried herb or the essential oil, to honor Archangel Michael. 

In the northern hemisphere the month is associated with a bounty of flowers and honey bees.

“A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay.” 

On May 14th it will be two years since the first swarm of bees arrived here to our compost bin. Our two current hives are busy bringing in nectar and expanding their numbers. The garden is pulsating with blossoms and continued signs of the restoration of the land.

 Blue Ceonothus flowers

Back in the Autumn of 2007 we began transforming the land around our little cottage with California natives. Many of those tiny little sprouts are now mature with lots of new siblings and finally shifting the look of the landscape.


Although we still have a large swath to fill, the last two years have been really inspirational as we use very little water and observe how the local fauna facilitate in planting seeds. The first blossoms tend to be the blue ceonothus followed by the purple sage, Salvia clevelandii.

Purple Sage flowers, Salvia clevelandii, beloved by Hunningbirds

Next up will be the sacred white sage, perhaps if we are lucky the California roses and later during the summer the spectacular Matilija poppies.

Sacred White Sage, Salvia apiana, named Apiana for the honey bee

May 1st marked Beltane, a Fire holiday on the constantly turning Wheel of the Earth when the sexual life force is at its peak. Alongside the force of procreation and growth is the pattern of sacrafice and transcedence, perfectly symbolized in the journey of the caterpillar into a Monarch butterfly.

"The monarch changes its ecological niche entirely when it transforms from a caterpillar 
to an adult butterfly, they are two ecologically different organisms, 
as distinct as a field mouse and a hummingbird."

The word "psyche" in Greek means both butterfly and soul. Planting the native plants of your area provides plenty of food sources for both butterflies, birds and other beneficial insects.

The Full Flower Moon took place on Saturday, May 5th, the Strawberry Full Moon is on June 4th.

Images: The Pleiades, 1885. Elihu Vedder (American, 1836–1923) Oil on canvas, Garden photos and digital bee collage ©RoxanaVilla,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Melody of Sambac

 The studio today is trending with melodic notes of Jasmine and percussive beats of Amber and Resin. The latest edition of the synergy for the solid version of Cimbalom is ready. This fragrance along with Page 47 and the temporarily titled Jasmine Noir are all part of the Birthday series of fragrances created with my favorite botanical notes.

Pure jasmine essences are now available to the authentic natural botanical perfumer in a variety of forms such as essential oils, C02 extracts, absolutes and for a few of us who have gardens and greenhouse, tinctures and infusions. Jasmine is a hypnotic and calming, often referred to as an aphrodisiac – a reference to the Greek Goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite.

Cimbalom is a very sensuous natural perfume with an underlying wild, animalic note. Working on it in the studio is a euphoric experience and makes me so very grateful to have the opportunity, thanks to patrons like YOU, to create expressions of Mother Earth utilizing her very own, woods, resins, fruits, etc.

 The latest incarnation of the solid has had some subtle additions and subtractions from the formula due to the disappearance from the market of a few botanicals. This new edition contains more precious sandalwood than the previous formulas, three different varieties of jasmine flowers and a bit of the jasmine sambac infusion from my own flowers. Jasmine sambac is known as Pikake in Hawaii, it is a very green compared with the grandiflorum and auriculatum. I've weaved all three of these along with other precious flowers in a moist base of patchouli and labdanum high lighted with citrus and spice. Personally, I am addicted to it as our many of my girlfriends and clients. This fragrance when it was first created in August of 2008 was titled Birthday Balm and BeBee.

Here are a few comments: "Roxana, your "Birthday Balm" is exquisite. When I closed my eyes I was transported to a blossom and incense scented harem. I felt as though I had entered a hidden world of women-- where sensuous secrets are revealed. It is delicate, potent, sexy-- irresistible." ~ D. Alexander "Hypnotically addicting...can NOT get enough. Wish I could bathe, drink and surround myself w these scents 24/7. More than just winners ; a way of life for those who appreciate themselves." ~ E. Warshavsky

Next up the perfume formally known as Jasmine Noir will hit the shop soon, stay tuned!Hey, speaking of birthdays, remember that I have a Birthday coupon for you that can be used once a year, whether its your birthday month or not.

Images ©RoxanaVilla, feel free to pin.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Branding the Artist in West Virginia

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly." ~ Richard Bach 

Last Wednesday Greg and I hopped on an early flight eastward to West Virginia to share our work and wisdom with students at West Liberty University. We were greeted at the airport by faculty member Brian Fencl who happened to be one of my students back in the 80's at Otis. 

We stayed at the Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, just a few minutes drive from the University. The Wilson Lodge had the kind of wood cabin charm you find in mountain hotels, my first impression was Twin Peeks, sometimes the long hallways reminded me of The Shining.

On Thursday morning Greg taught a super concentrated version of his normally three day Artist as Brand workshop. The class took place at the library of West Liberty University, where just outside the Dogwood trees were in their bloom cycle.

Although the information was crammed, the students ranging in age from 18 to 72 really got quite a lot out of the experience. As an observer I love watching the transformation that occurs in each student as they align with who they are and really own their heart virtue

On Friday the University had their yearly MAD (Media Arts Department) Festival where Gteg and I were slated to do several presentations and critiques through out the day. The first was an informal Q&A with students followed by Gregs presentation on Concept Design.

Next up was my first presentation titled Art & Perfume where I shared the journey from illustrator to natural perfumer and the thread of nature in both.

After a quick lunch in the very frenetic school cafeteria we critiqued student portfolios and then I presented my second 50 minute feature on marketing followed by sampling of perfumes and  some Q&A. Of the small sampling of perfumes I brought along Page 47, To Bee and GreenWitch appeared to be the favorites in this college town.

From there we headed to the theater for the MAD Fest award show, which felt a bit like those reality programs I don't watch. Although I did judge the visual art portion of the competition with Greg I became cement mouth during the presentation.

After the show there was an electronic music concert, a very surreal performance as musicians sat on the stage with their laptops while synthesized sounds pulsed through the room.

We met lots of students from many disciplines doing extraordinary art. Among them were Sean Ritner the artist of the digital college above, Victoria Lavorini and Seth Miller just to name a few. Jim Hartley, the organizer of MAD fest, also makes his very own maple syrup from trees on his property. We were fortunate to receive a bottle from Jim which we plan on using real soon. In exchange we will be sending some of our ultra pure, woodland honey out his way.

Opening image is a digital collage by Sean Ritner, photos by Roxana Villa and Sean Ritner.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beltane Blessings!

'But I must gather knots of flowers, 
And buds and garlands gay, 
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, 
I'm to be Queen o' the May.' 
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson