Monday, October 5, 2020

The Perfumery in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Perfumery in Santa Fe, New Mexico is one part apothecary, (referencing my great grandfathers homeopathic farmacy) one part alchemical lab (where I distill and transform plant matter into golden elixirs), one part naturalist/artist studio, one part wizardress/priestess, and one part stylist.

All these parts are all the aspects of a modern day perfumer and myself as a multidisciplinary artist. If you have not yet watched the video interview with Ron, of our local art supply store here in Santa Fe called Artisan, then follow this link to the YouTube video or the embedded video at the end, from when he came by the visit. The entire video is just under thirty minutes long, thus set aside the time and enjoy!

The first out of the home perfumery, above, was located in Agoura Hills, California, just a short drive to Malibu. In mid-March of 2014 I came upon the location while celebrating Greg's birthday, and rather auspiciously the Universe aligned and the glorious space manifested into a work / showroom / teaching space.

I was there for about three years and would have stayed if it weren't for the shared ventilation system which caused synthetic aroma molecules to drift into the perfumery from the other units as well as a challenge with having any control as to the temperature of my space. Regrettably the landlord was not interested in working with me and thus I left, setting in motion the move to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The current perfumery is located in the mid town area of Santa Fe, New Mexico within a hidden complex called Lena Street Lofts with the anchor business being the original Iconik Coffee, with their roaster situated amidst tables & couches. Iconik happens to be in building A, the same as the perfumery, albeit they are at one end and I am at the other in unit A6.

Although I wanted to be in downtown Santa Fe or along Canyon Road, at the time no affordable or acceptable spaces were available. I was also told that mid-town would be a better location so that people, especially locals, could park easily. I still yearn for a spot in one of those two locations due to the vibe and visibility. It may still happen one day, while keeping the current space more for larger classes and product making.

I'm loving the connection and antique vibe of the perfumery with my great grandpa's homeopathic farmacy in Buenos Aires, Argentina called La Farmacia de la Estrella. Here are a few pictures above and below, so that you can get a flavor for it, there are more in the video linked above and here, or at the end of this post.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

A Perfumed Bestiary, I for Iridogorgia, Part I

The letter I in the Perfumed Bestiary has us embark on a journey to the inky depths of the Pacific and Atlantic ocean for what appears to be fireworks frozen in time. Our creature is Iridogorgia, a "soft" coral referred to as an Octocorallia, or octocoral, which according to UC Berkeley is not a true coral, the main difference being that this deep water octocoral does not possess the symbiotic relationship with algae (zooxanthellae). Iridogorgia is a genus in the Cnidaria phylum containing over 11,000 species of aquatic animals.

Octocorals have an eightfold radial symmetry. Each polyp has eight hollow tentacles fringed with little branches called pinnules, which distinguishes them hard corals.

The strange name, Iridogorgia, is derived from the Greek iridos or iris. For us, the word iris is most often related to are the flower or colorful parts of the eye. For the Greeks the word meant "rainbow".  The second part of the name, gorgia, is Latin for splendid or showy.

Like the coral reefs, these beautiful DNA-like structures are being destroyed at an alarming pace due to human activities such as overfishing, pollution, climate change and invasive species.


Iridogorgia shares similar themes with the perfume in this series titled C for Coral such as living in fluidity and a symbiotic relationship with others in your shared community. These slow moving, spiraling skeletons show us how to anchor ourselves and move in a naturally spiraling round and round in an upward movement from the deep, dark ocean floor.

As a water element being, Iridogorgia embodies a beautiful geometrical structure which is fluid, even when the currents change direction. Allow yourself to be loose, to flow in the constantly changing stream of Universal flow. Find a firm place to anchor yourself in, despite of the dark watery depths, and radiate out your magnificence, whirling, twirly, as lite as a feather, slow and steady.

Some of the questions that Iridogogia may be asking you are:

Are you anchored, happy and content? If not, is there any fear behind your resistance to change? Remember elemental water supports us to be fluid, allow this embryotic environment to face your fear, heal and move forward slowly, with grace and awareness

Iridogorgia move slowly in a graceful manner. Are you rushing through your life? Do you allow the crazy turbulent waters of life to sway and push you along with know anchor? Moving in flow with awareness while remaining open and anchored is the path that is being suggested to you at this time. 

Crystals associated with the medicine of the Iridogorgia:

Tangerine Quartz   
Snowflake Obsidian  

Letter I for Iridogorgia, Part 2 will be linked here shortly

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

1 Ocean Service, NOAA
3 UC Berkeley
4 Ocean Explorer, NOAA
5 WORMS, Marine Species
6 Cambridge, Journal of the marine biological association of the United Kingdom

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

New Mexico Adventure: Las Conchas Trail

On Monday, August 17th, we decided to head toward the Jemez Mountains and River to get some forest bathing in from a different area than our usual fifteen minute drive up to our local woods. Since we had not been to the area, and most of the lodging sites that met our criteria were booked, we deemed the trip would be more of an "exploratory mission" for a grander, future adventure.

Los Alamos

From Santa Fe we headed North for 35 miles, up winding roads toward the town of Los Alamos where we stopped at the French cafe Fleur de Lys to grab a few items for a picnic in the forest. I find the city of Los Alamos slightly creepy, mostly due to its history with creating nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project where the government recruited scientists to live as virtual prisoners during the infamous Manhattan project. There is a quiet, unsettling energetic quality in the Los Alamos area, reminiscent of The Hawkins National Laboratory from the Stranger Things TV series or perhaps a better example is the high-security facility in Guillermo de Toro's The Shape of Water.

As we drove through the town, past Oppenheimer Drive, (named after Julius Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist credited with being the "father of the atomic bomb") that uneasy feeling continued, exasperated by the charred trees viewed topping the mountain above the city. The skeletal trees sticking up out of the landscape like matches were due to the Las Conchas Fire of 2011, that burned over 150,000 acres. Both Greg and I felt emotionally impacted by the sight of the devastation. Little did we know that a fire had started in the Rio En Medio area of the Santa Fe National Forest. Perhaps on an unconscious level we were picking up on it.

Luckily the forest that burned in the Las Conchas wildfire is slowly coming back, evident by the scrub oaks and aspens. I asked a Forest ranger about this and she confirmed my suspicion explaining that pioneer trees appear first. The scrub oak is one such tree, arriving on the scene early, as a slow-growing tree that are unpalatable to livestock and thus able to mature at significantly reduced sizes in arid, nutrient-poor soils, under harsh conditions. Other common pioneer tree species include red cedar, alder, black locust, most pines and larches, yellow poplar and aspen. 1

As the scrub oaks become dominant, their crowns form a thick canopy laying down a layer of leaves to produce mulch and, eventually, soil. By the time they have matured (which can take 40 years or more), the oaks have produced a layer of relatively rich, crumbly topsoil under a mulch of forest litter. With continuous cover, the forest soil will now be shaded and cool, and humidity within the environment is increased providing hospitable conditions for the taller trees to move in. They could not have survived in the harsher environment which the scrub trees prefer. But thanks to the enhanced soil and air created by the scrub forest, the taller trees are soon thriving. They’ll eventually shade out the older, shorter, slower-growing scrub. Once that occurs, then a “climax” forest has begun to form. At this point, the woodland is returning to a steady state of relative stability, and is on its way to becoming a mature forest once again. 2

This is reminding me of the slow moving Ents from Lord of the Rings, and how human time is completely different from the great cycles of nature and trees.

Valles Caldera

Continuing on our journey along Highway 4, we descended down into the Valles Caldera National Reserve, the site of "a spectacular volcanic eruption created the 13-mile wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera"3 over 1.25 million years ago.

The beautiful view of the Valle Grande meadow contains what appears to be an island, Cerro Jara, rising out of the expanse of prairie. It was humbling knowing that we were standing on the site of major magma flow as recently as 50,000 years ago. For context, the incident which created this magnificent valley was formed by an eruption 500 times greater than that of Mt. St. Helens in May of 1980! Regrettably the photo above does not quite do the beauty and magnificence of the scene much justice.

Las Conchas

Continuing along highway 4 we arrived at what we thought was going to be the first stop on our adventure, the Las Conchas Trail, which is located along the East Fork of the Jemez River. We parked and headed in stopping along the path to have our picnic lunch and then continuing along the scenic trail.