Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Making of the GreenWitch...

“The making of the an old spring rite...
for greeting summer
and charming a good harvest of crop and fish.”
~ Susan Cooper

The Vernal Equinox arrives this SaturnDay, heralding in the long awaited Spring time. In the old pagan traditions of creating an offering to a divine deity for a plentiful harvest, I have created GreenWitch, as a gift to Tethys.

GreenWitch is a liquid, natural perfume in the Chypre fragrance family. The scent began as a recreation of a traditional Chypre. At the time of the formulation I was listening to the book on tape GreenWitch by Susan Cooper which inspired a different navigational course for the fragrance.

In general I create perfume for me. All my early fragrances: Q, Lyra, Aurora, Chaparral® and Sierra, as well as others: Cimbalom, Rosa, Terrestre, Page47, Peace and Smell Me were formulated first according to a specific topic like "Oak" for example and secondly with the intention to satisfy my own perfume aesthetic. Vera, the Chocolates, Vespertina™ and now GreenWitch have not been developed according to my own personal fragrance aesthetics. Perhaps you will notice how the fragrances are different from the first grouping I mentioned?

GreenWitch began without a name, as a study on a classical Chypre formula from the book "An Introduction to Perfumery." As I sketched and the story worked it's magic on my pagan soul, I veered in the direction of a "green" Chypre and then added specific elements from the story. Last year for the Spring Equinox a small amount of the perfume was released as a trial edition. Read a much more in depth herstory of the creation at this link at Sniffapalooza Magazine.

“Hazel for the framework, Rowan for the Head,
The body is of Hawthorne boughs and Hawthorne blossoms.”
~ Susan Cooper

The first edition is close to the trial version but with more sea notes woven in. I think the sea elements and the evolution of the fragrance are my very favorite aspects of this perfume. Here is how I interpreted the basic formula from "An Introduction to Perfumery" by Tony Curtis and David G. Williams:
  • Bergamot Oil, FCF >>> Bergamot, Italy
  • Sandalwood Oil, E.I. >>> Sandalwood, Mysore
  • Vetivert Oil, Bourbon >>> Vetiver, Haiti
  • Oak Moss Absolute, Decol >>> Oak Moss Absolute
  • Rose base >>> Monsoon Rose Attar, Geranium Absolute & Rose Otto, Iran
  • Jasmin base >>> Jasmine Sambac Absolute
  • gamma-methyl ionone >>> Orris Root C02
  • Patchouli oil, light >>> Patchouli, Indonesia
  • Musk ketone >>> Faux Musk Accord #1
  • Clary Sage Oil >>> Clary Sage
  • Neroli reconstituted >>> Neroli, Morrocco
From there I looked at other formulas like the one in"Perfumes of Yesterday" by David G. Williams. Besides the ingredients listed above the Williams formula also contained:
  • Bitter Orange
  • Tuberose >>> Tuberose
  • Clove
  • Cassie >>> Cassie Absolute, Egypt
  • Ambergris >>> Labdanum
  • Castoreum
  • Civet >>> Faux Civet Accord
  • Tonka Bean >>> Tonka Bean
  • Vanilla >>> Vanilla C02
  • Ambrette >>> Ambrette C02
  • Pimento
  • Oppoponax
I then evaluated both formulas and created a Chypre Base with:
  • Sandalwood, Mysore
  • Vetiver, Haiti
  • Patchouli, Indonesia
  • Oak Moss Absolute
After deciding to move toward a Green and Sea based Chypre I added these elements to my Chypre Base Accord:
  • Labdanum Absolute
  • Seaweed Absolute
  • Celery Seed
  • Choya
  • Peru Balsam
To further the Green element I added an accord which I call Fern due to it's very green imprint. This accord contains 29 different plant essences including:
  • Boronia
  • Tuberose
  • Lavender
  • Violet Leaf
  • Mimosa
  • Musk Rose
  • Parsley Seed
  • Pine
  • Galbanum Absolute
  • Ylang Ylang
Faux Musk Accord #1:
  • Ambrette C02
  • Cassie Absolute, Egypt
  • Africa Stone
  • Spikenard
  • Cumin
  • Beeswax
Once I had my accords I combined varying amounts of each and added:
  • Tonka Bean
  • Orris C02
  • Elemi
  • Geranium Absolute
  • Jasmin Sambac
  • Katafray
  • Galbanum Absolute
  • Parsley
  • Lemon
  • Bergamot
  • Petitgrain, Lime
After this synergy matured I added the tinctures and the Organic grain alcohol.
The tinctures in this edition are: Kelp, Hawthorne flowers, leaves and berries.

Notice that this fragrance contains Africa stone, technically not a botanical ingredient. I used a dilution (tincture) of Africa stone absolute, Procavia capensis. Africa stone is one of those particularly odd ingredients that has made it's way into the palette of natural perfumers. It is the fossilized urine and excrement of a small African mammal called the Rock Hyrax. Before going into a perfume the substance has gone through a number of alchemic transformations. Africa stone adds an animalic quality to a natural perfume, or in this case an accord. In GreenWitch the ingredient is barely in the perfume since there is minimal amounts of the Faux Musk Accord, however, I wanted to let you all know that it is there.

Once the fragrance was solved it was time to decide on the color harmony. Green was the obvious choice, however what shade of green? Q and Sierra already had the two greens in the palette, what to do!? With the help of my mother Martha and my little maiden Eve, we decided on the pastel tone of teal because it "felt" most appropriate to GreenWitch. The photo below is of Eve, which she took using her camera remote.

From there Martha created a sample for the top of the pouch, which resembles the rolling waves of the ocean. The little star fish charms were chosen last year while in downtown Los Angeles.

The illumnator of our perfumes, Master Gregorio, is developing a new image for GreenWitch. He has been quite busy with Artist As Brand thus the illumination may not be ready for SaturnDays debut. We shall see, please hold a strong intention that it may manifest. In the meantime there are plenty of other images that will suffice, including this one pictured below.

Please return to this journal on Saturday when friends join me for another blogorama event with their impressions of the first edition. In the meantime...Watch for the GreenWitch!

Photos and images ©Roxana Villa, ©Eve Neuhart and ©Greg Spalenka.


DWR said...

How beautiful! I first learned of the Greenwitch through Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series. I was seven years old, and the whole series seemed so magical. I love how the little girl wishes that the Greenwitch won't be sad or lonely, trapped alone in the sea. I'll definitely keep watch!

ScentScelf said...

I came for the comfort...and I saw below that the Green Witch is at long last about to arrive!! (When you are in the throes of eagerly awaiting, time does seem to move a bit more slowly...)

How wonderful. I definitely wish to make her acquaintance. :)

Illuminated Perfume said...

How lucky you are to have been introduced to Susan Cooper as a child. I found her through my daughter and am head over heels in love with the series The Dark is Rising. GreenWitch is my favorite, although that entire series is really rich. I too love how Jane makes a wish for the GreenWitch instead of herself. In sharing that part of the story with my husband I found tears gushing out of my eyes. Very moving.

Illuminated Perfume said...

Indeed, it is the time of year of the GreenWitch and the offering to Tethys. I'll be listing the perfume in the shop late this evening. Watch for the GreenWitch!

DWR said...

Roxana, I got lucky. I randomly found "The Greenwich" on a children's book rack in a grocery store. I actually read that one first, so it's my favorite, too. One of the first moments I knew I was in love with my husband was when I discovered he owned and loved the books, too.

Unknown said...

A couple of years later, coming here via Pefume Shrine...

I have loved The Dark is Rising series since I was a child (& even got to write on it at Uni) - so when I saw this scent, AND that it was a chypre, I had to have.

It arrived last week, I am wearing it today (& got the book out to read as well). I am thoroughly enjoying both, thank you - and look forward to exploring further perfumes.

Illuminated Perfume said...

Dear Anon, thanks so much for posting your comment about GreenWitch here. I love it when a fan of the book finds the perfume! At the Spectrum Fantasy Art show in Kansas I was telling four young gals about each perfume. When I started to describe GreenWitch to them, one of them went stark white. I asked what was wrong, she answered, "That's one of my favorite books!"