Thursday, February 28, 2013

Amethyst and sage

The amethyst cases came and went and will come again, here she is looking mighty fine with Vera.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Movie Monday: Oscar 2013

For several of years now, on Oscar night we head over to the home of Brad and Chiara in Encino for a meal and take in the show. The tradition began because we do not have TV hook up here at the house and Eve wanted to see the spectacle. Although Eve was not physically with us, she most certainly was in spirit.

All and all the overall show felt a bit over the top with the dance numbers and as if the niche market the show was appealing to was one that was not very sophisticated and the 70-80 year olds. Enough with the wacky dance numbers already and, personally Tiny and Amy blew this years host out of the water.

The buzz I was hearing from friends here locally in LALA land was mainly about Lincoln (although Lois was snubbed for her makeup work on the film) and Silver Linings Playbook. I thought for sure one of those two films would take it, thus when Argo won a loud "Hoorah!" erupted from my body. Given that I haven't seen the film, this outburst was a bit of a surprise, until I contemplated that it represented a victory for the smaller dude.

Although I knew, without having seen Lincoln, that Daniel Day Lewis would win for best actor I was holding a torch for Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master." Eve had gone to see in The Master in 70mm with a group of her friends during a brief visit to NYC. In fact she adored it so much she saw it twice and both times raved to me about how exquisitely beautiful the film is and some of the most amazing performances she'd seen.

Gregs response was, "Well, Joaquin is a great actor and as we know the best doesn't necessarily always win the award."

The thing that I am most thrilled about is that Argo won, what a mind blower. I took note how Ben Affleck said not to hold grudges, something I am working on in the current industry back stabbing/truth manipulating industry I am in. Instead of grudges I've been focusing on how the nemesis facilitates the opportunity to refine ones self.

It was a relief that the academy included Eiko Ishioda in the In Memoriam Tribute, although a shame that no other special mention or acknowledgement was given to her. As you may recall I was quite upset last year when she wasn't mentioned.

The best part of the show, in our humble, artistic opinion was the 007 tribute, a master piece of editing, which unfortunately I could find online to include here in the post.

Opening image of Ben Affleck via

Friday, February 22, 2013


Each time I create the synergy and or chord/accord for my fragrances there may be subtle shifts in the aroma due to the variability of the raw materials. This aspect of handmade, uber niche, botanical perfumery gets even more compounded when multiple chords appear in a fragrance. Sometimes the basic essences in one of my perfumes may stay the same while an essence in one or more chords will shift. These changes are extremely subtle, however, some of you have noticed them which has inspired this post titled "Editions" so that you will have a place to observe which perfume you may have. Keep in mind that the variability is one of the reasons why many perfume companies, both large and small, prefer to use stable and consistent synthetic aroma chemicals in their formulations.

 ROSA Solid February 2013

I just pulled the very latest version of Rosa solid from the "alchmezing closet" where it has been marinating to perfection. Rosa is composed of thirteen individual essences and two chords: a "rose" and a "leather". The leather contains two chords within its structure, the rose contains the elusive and hard to work with Rosa bourbonica. Of the thirteen individual essences two are attars from India and one is a co-distillation of Vetiver with Rose. As mentioned previously the Rosa bourbonica may not be part of future editions since I am out of it. There are a host of other essences in Rosa, including the attars that this may also transpire with.

The reason I am mentioning all this is so that there is a clear understanding why there are subtle aromatic diversities from one synergy to another. If any one of these materials shift then there might be a fluctuation in how the fragrance smells.

What is left of the  Rosa December 2012 edition, as of this moment, is a few samples, two honey pots and one compact. The formula for the February 2013 edition was doubled which produced some unexpected yet slight variations.

ROSA Liquid February 2013

The liquid version of Rosa contains the same essences as the solid, the only difference is that the liquid does not contain the infused plant matter that the solid does.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Waxing and waning

Several perfumes are just about out of stock or completely out. This re-occurring new phenomena is a sign that the formulas need to be made in much larger batches when the materials allow it. I'm going to create a post that lives here toward the top of the journal titled Editions, so that you all know what edition is currently in stock, running low on etc.

Here's the latest as I type this.


GreenWitch in liquid form is completely out, more is in the works and will be back shortly.


In the shop currently there are three vials with 1 gram. I discovered a bigger amber glass vial with 3.75 grams of perfume the other night in the studio, however it may already be spoken for. Keep in mind 1 gram is roughly equivalent to .036oz. There is about 1/4 ounce left of the original formula, although the client that has requested the 3.75 gram vial might take it. If you want to be put on a waiting list for it send me an e-mail at roxana (at) illuminatedperfume (dot) com.
Another edition is currently in the works which will also be available as a solid. I already have the wax for this one which makes things flow much better.


There is only 11 grams left of the 1st edition, which contains many precious distillates not currently available. When I had launched Vespertina in August of 2007 the formula contained quite a large amount of essences from when I was working in aromatherapy. Regrettably these essences are no longer on the market. The next edition will shift slightly in its aromatic experience and be aligned with the fragrance of the solid since that one also is being re-constructed.

I thought I was out of the synergy for the solid, however, I am not. I apologize if I created any panic.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Gracing the Dawn as a solid is back in stock in the round compact. The new wax for the seal of the samples, honey pot and silver rounds is being made, thus those are not currently available.

To find out more in depth information about the solid manifestation of this fragrance check out this post here at the journal Odorata and the LookBook below.

If you've read through the ingredients list in the Odorata post you will see a bounty of precious essences including the warm, green, woody, fruity Boronia absolute. Boronia megastigma is a native, wild shrub of Australia related to the citrus tree. It is utilized as a flavoring ingredient and quite extensively in high class perfumes to impart a floral, fruity note. Recently this precious aromatic has become more difficult to obtain due to larger companies buying entire harvests for use in fragrance and flavor. At the moment I have no new source and thus future editions of Gracing the Dawn will either have a shift in her fragrance notes or be discontinued.

Read about the origins of this perfume here.

Gracing the Dawn illumination ©Greg Spalenka, find the art cards and prints here.
Solid Perfume photograph by Roxana Villa
Boronia flowers via Wikipedia from Flickr.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

LOVE Essence

Greg and I have created a second LookBook together, this one took much longer than anticipated. LOVE Essence began as a seedling of an idea based on Floriography, the Victorian language of flowers. As we prepared the soil the book took on several incarnations until finally settling on this manifestation. Like a posy or nosegay, this visual poem of love,  whispers a sweet melody in three acts. We begin with an orchestration of Rose, which we have attributed to the love of self from where all love blossoms. Her velvety soft petals gently open from a once tight bud into a magnificent example of an open heart. The second act introduces Jasmine, a sensuous, night blooming creature who beckons us to share our fully opened heart with another. Having opened our hearts and expanded its strings of love the Lotus takes us up through the sacred channel, opening to beauty and light for union with the divine. We hope you enjoy this journey through the threefold sensorium of our language of flowers.

Many of the photos featured, like the one on the cover, are by Greg. They will be featured in a retrospective book of his work to be published by Titan Publishing in the UK.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Dozen Roses

Today we journey to the heart center with the flower governed by Venus along with six other bloggers. Please follow the links at the end of this post to travel to the other participants in this blogging feast centered around our 12 favorite rose-themed scents and/or products.

Since I don't use other products besides those that I make and am very particular about rose flavored food I have listed my twelve very favorite essences to use in creating whole, botanical fragrances, body products and edibles:

1. Rose otto and absolute, Rosa damascena, from Turkey and Bulgaria
2. Rose centifolia, "Rose de mai", otto and absolute from France
3. Ruh Gulab, a Rosa damascena essential oil, from India
4. Traditional rose attar, hydrodistillation of the rose flowers into sandalwood, from India
5. Rose bourbonica absolute, also called Rose Edward, from India
6. Rose leaf absolute from South Africa
7. Monsoon Rose Attar, Rosa damascena crop that comes just at the end of the monsoon rains in Uttar Pradesh, India hydrodistilled with sandalwood.
8. Rose and Vetiver co-distillation from India
9. Roses sur Fleur a co-distilling of rose geranium leaves with petals of Damascus roses
10. Rose water for colognes, cosmetics, drinking and culinary delights
11. Rose petals and hips for face and body scrubs, teas and other gourmet treats
12. A Rose Accord/Chord created using some of the items previously listed including citronella, geranium, neroli, sandalwood, benzoin and guaicwood.

We tend to view the rose as a flower not an herb, but in 2012 the rose was designated by the International Herb Association (IHA) as the official herb of the year. In India and parts of the Middle East it is an important culinary plant used for flavoring via rose water and petals. Here in the west the trend toward rose ice cream, jam, cakes and cookies has finally caught on and can be found in most of the bigger cities.

If you are like me and prefer your rose flavors true, consider growing your own roses for culinary pleasures. The best varieties are the heirloom roses since they have both strong scent and healthy immune systems. The later is important because they are low maintenance and require no chemical fertilizers, etc. 
Check out the book How to Eat a Rose for old rose varieties with fragrance. Find out more at
Here is the list of my fellow conspirators of the heart with their inspired prose on Rose:

All I Am A Redhead
Katie Puckrik Smells
The Non Blonde
Perfume Shrine
Scent Hive 

IMAGES: Eve holding a bouquet of roses and California wild rose flower on antique postcards, both by Roxana Villa

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Wild Woodland Rose is back!

"A rose does not preach - it simply spreads its fragrance."
~ Ghandi

Rosa, the perfume created for the wild, woodland rose of California is now back in liquid form! The flacon, the vial with 1 gram of juice and the samples have all been updated in the E-shop.

The reason this perfume was gone for many months was twofold: primarily because some of the precious aromatics were not available to me and secondly Rosa contains many chords and thus a complicated fragrance to make.

 I create fragrances from an artists perspective, not taking into account the possible extinction of raw materials. The challenge with this approach is that the perfume editions will change from one batch to another, even if I make chords to replace missing ingredients, there will undoubtedly be subtle fluctuations.

The February 2013 vintage of Rosa in her liquid form luckily did not shift from the last formula because two materials that were off the market eventually were made available again. I was working on creating chords of the missing materials, when, wahlah they returned.

Despite this rather fortunate turn of events, my amber bottle of the very precious Rosa bourbonica absolute also known as "Edward rose",  which is featured in both Rosa and Vespertina, is just about out. This honeyed, wood, rose essence comes from the dry dessert just outside the holy city of Pushkar in Rajasthan, India where it thrives alongside vetiver, another essence in both Rosa and Vespertina.

Many of the sacred oils that I use that come from India are cultivated and distilled in traditional alchemical vessels. The Rosa bourbonica from the region of Pushkar is prized for the high amount of Damascenone molecules present in the aromatic profile. The aroma is much deeper than other roses, with balsamic incense notes which pairs nicely with complimentary oils like Mysore sandalwood, vetiver and frankincense.

If I am not able to procure more Rosa bourbonica absolute for feature editions of  Rosa and Vespertina than it is possible the aroma of each will have subtle fluctuations. Due to the constantly shifting terrain of botanical raw material I am going to start putting a date on the listing of each item. For example, the date of the new Rosa liquid edition and Vespertina solid is February 2013. At this moment in time I am expecting the next editions will contain very little Rosa bourbonica.

Read about the orchestration of Rosa liquid here at the journal.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


They say that the beauty is in the details and patience is golden. These are two wisdoms I have been reminding myself of the last week as I continue to work on debuting the chocolates along with a little project Greg and I have been working on and the new edition of Rosa liquid.

Rosa liquid came together without a hitch, more on that soon, in the meantime expect her to arrive in the shop tomorrow with the imprint of Venus day.

The project Greg and I have been working on has the potential of debuting in the morrow as well, although I can't say for sure since this is a colloboration and isn't completely dependent on my efforts or intentions.

The chocolates, sigh, are a mysterious, ever evolving story with has made me think of Coyote, the trickster. I wrote about Coyote here at the journal back on September 18, 2008. At the time I was considering creating a Coyote perfume, regrettably another natural perfume did this recently...but I degress, that's another story about cats who copy and another perfume in the works.

I have been working with several formulas for integrating the scent of chocolate into the solids. The formula made in November works well with the synergy of Blanc, but does not last very long. Thus I added more of the synergy to get more fixation of the scent, the challenge with that is that it obliterates the scent of the chocolate. Sigh. Thus several tasks and adventures later I have several options and will make a final decision by Monday.

In the meantime I have some beautiful synergies based on the first edition of the chocolates from 2010. These will be available without the chocolate component like Blanc and art of the Soul Flower (soilfore) series.

Ready are Figure 1: Noir and Figure 5: Bois. In the works are Figure 7: Pétales, Figure 8: Coeur de Jasmin, Figure 2: Cerise is now more fruity than cherry, thus the name may change. Figure 4: L'Orangerie and Figure 9: Fleurs de Orange are melding into one fragrance. I also have a few new ones to add. Figure 11: Chêne is going to have a new name since I already have an oak perfume, the synergy will be similar to the original Figure 11: Chêne with subtle alterations.

In the meantime I leave you with this and suggest having a bite an exquisite piece artisan chocolate.

"The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!" 
- Terry Moore

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Honey Lover

The latest collection in the ever expanding perfume lockets and cases is the Honey Bee emblem oval compact in jewel tones. Right now I have listed them with Blanc. If you want one with a specific fragrance send me a note. I'm working on loads of new perfumes including a series of soliflores which will be called "Soul Flowers." Blanc is in that category, as a soliflore (single flower) perfume of the orchid bean, vanilla.

I've also added the little golden heart box with three "posey" perfumes, stemming from the language of Flowers. If you would like one of these customized with specific messages for your lover please send me a note.

The team at Honey Love has deemed me the "HoneyLover" of the month, check it over at the Honey Love site here.

Whew, now back to making perfume for me, Greg and I have a surprise coming soon, keep your eyes peeled its a beauty! I'm so excited I can barely contain it.

Friday, February 1, 2013


When the muse comes in to pay me a visit I tend to drop everything to take a walk with her. The challenge is that since she comes often, sometimes the sea of ideas I am left with is like a tsunami. The trick is to take it in, make notes and then piece it together for integration with left brain activity.

As I write this, I realize that the muse who flew in today was Cerridwen and her visit was prompted by a few things simmering in my cauldron. Cerridwen's mission was to remind me of a NeoPagan book proposal I wrote back in the mid nineties while studying aromatherapy and shamanism. Back then, I had fleshed it out a nice, tight proposal, including feedback from prominent aromatherapy professionals and published authors. Regrettably none of the book publishers were interested in the bait, as it was a little ahead of the curve, so nothing came of it.

Cerridwen shared with me how the presentation I will be giving at the San Francisco Artisan Fragrance event, the new perfumes I am about to launch and the book all tie together seamlessly. It's just a matter of sitting down to stitch it all together.

Top (low res) and bottom images by Greg Spalenka, the bottom image has been altered slightly with the addition of the solid perfume compact.