Monday, March 28, 2011


"A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."
~ John Keats

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cimbalom Natural Perfume Review and Giveaway

From Cleveland with love, Beth has written a terrific review of Cimbalom weaved in with her special flair for flavor and great story telling. Please find your way over to Perfume Smellin' Things for a fabulous "Foodie Sunday" edition with an opportunity to win a vial and pink pot of Cimbalom natural and botanical perfume. I'll join in with a sample pink pot of Cimbalom solid natural perfume here to one lucky winner. This giveaway opportunity ends at 10pm PST on Wednesday, March 30th
To qualify to win one, please....
Begin by visiting the IlluminatedPerfume shop on Etsy and sharing in your comment what item you most crave. You must include your first name -or- etsy username AND email address with each entry or it will not be included.
For additional entries you can do any or all of the following, please leave a separate comment for each entry.
  • 1 entry per day of the contest: Twitter this message: RT @RoxanaVilla is hosting a giveaway of Cimbalom! Visit for a chance to win
  • 2 entries (total) - Blog about this giveaway, leaving the URL to the post in comments (1 blog per entrant, please)
  • 1 entry: Be or become a follower at RoxanaVilla on Twitter
  • 1 entry: Be or become a fan of IlluminatedPerfume on Facebook
  • 1 entry: Be or become a follower of this journal: IlluminatedPerfume
More fine print, learned along the way 1. If we cannot contact you we will give your prize away to someone else. 2. Depending how many entries are received I determine how the winner shall be chosen. Normally each entry is assigned a card from several decks here at the house, I then shuffle all the cards and have someone handy (like my daughter) choose a card for the winner and a runner up. 4. Please don't make up any new guidelines, what is outlined above is what we follow. Good Luck everyone!!

Jasmine sambac flower photo ©Roxana Villa, please have some integrity and respect copyright laws.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In with the Green

The first comments for GreenWitch solid natural perfume are in...

"The beautiful scent of Roxana’s Greenwitch solid perfume is a magical spell of hope and rebirth …a reminder to look within, to find the joyful wildness that lurks inside our hearts …to become undomesticated at last. In doing so perhaps we will finally discover that we are the only ones who can save ourselves before it's too late."
~ Beth Schreibman Gehring from a review at the Windesphere Witch

"Lord, do I love this scent! So glad it's out now in solid form!"
~ Private, customer

"Mmm, how I love Greenwitch.
I fell for this scent in the liquid form when Roxana released it last year.
So fresh and invigorating. Now in the solid, I think I love it more.
The scent is rounded out with a creamy delight. Greenwitch is full of energy form the sea and the forest recharging my chi from this deep slumber from the cold winter's past."
~ Private, customer

After wearing this scent several times, I finally realized that it reminds me of the scent of a Caribbean island garden. Sun warmed dark green, chlorophyll-rich, saltiness. I love this perfume. Thank you for creating it! Oh, and delivery was very quick and the packaging sweet.
~ Private, customer

More comments, testimonials and reviews arriving soon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Branch Out

"The creation of a thousand forests are in one acorn."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The rain from the last few days has caused quite a bit of challenges here in the wood lands. Many non-native trees, like the Pink Pepper Berry, have landed in the street. This morning one of the neighbors conifers was blocking the street on one side. It's still laying there, like a large corpse.

Los Angeles residents still haven't made the connection that the trees that continue to fall during these heavy rain storms are generally non native trees. Since Oaks are very deep rooted it is rare for them to fall, when this does occur it is usually because of grass, requiring regular watering, or cement/asphalt is at the base of the tree.

Speaking of Oaks, Q liquid is completely out of stock at the moment. I am not sure when this amber-licious botanical perfume will return, most likely sooner than later.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In the Pink

"Earth laughs in flowers."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hamatreya

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adventures in BeeVille

On Saturday afternoon, March 12th two members of my bee club came by the house to assist me in doing a hive inspection on the new warrior girls, the Red Barn Bees. The two gracious bee'ks were Roberta and Ceebs.

I had been at a High School tea prior to the meet up and arrived home a few minuted late to find both of Roberta and Ceebs standing next to the hive filming the girls. To my surprise neither of them were suited up or being attacked. Cool, I thought, perhaps these warrior bees aren't quite the fierce as I thought. Of all the video footage that was shot this one below is my favorite. Witness my girls flying backwards, as in Backwards Beekeeper, trying to pull out string from their hive.

I quickly suited up and got all the equipment together for Roberta and I started the inspection while Ceebs looked on. We began by gently smoking the hive entrance. Currently this hive is three boxes tall. We removed the top, added a little smoke and observed lots of bees but no new drawn comb as of yet. That box, called a "super", was placed on the ground next to us while we looked into the second box. Again, lots and lots of very busy bees. Roberta started lifting the second super when we noticed the bees begin to get agitated. I noticed that this had been brought on by string pulling up a frame in the first box. Angry buzzing arose, I got stung on the ankle by bees walking on the ground while Roberta was stung through her gloves.

We choose to stop the inspection since the bees had assumed warrior mode. Comically, after swiftly putting everything back in place, the bees decided to chase us. Since we had our suits on it was more just an annoyance than anything else, although upwards of an hour later the girls continued to harass and head butt us. Kidding!

A few lessons were learned here:
  1. Make sure to tape the bottom of your pants off or use spats that inhibit the bees access to your legs.
  2. Always remove the stinger from the sting site as soon as possible. Normally I do this and my stings result with minimal discomfort. This time I did not and my ankle swelled up so much I couldn't wear normal shoes for about five days.
  3. These warrior bees don't like people messing in anyway with their home. Thus, these bees will either be completely left alone or we might split the hive with the intention of breeding a slightly gentler race. I would rather not split them, as I am rather found of their ferocious nature and assume they will fight off local robber bees quite easily.
Meanwhile, Eve and I have been going through a huge box of her drawings from when she was a child. Sifting through what to keep and what to discard. It's been quite a fun journey. Childrens imagery is so very special. As we burrowed through the pile, Eve unearthed a piece exclaiming, "Mom, look at this, just for you!" Ah, how sweet, it was a honey bee. Although she hadn't drawn this one, I still love it very much, especially her signature with extra horizontal lines for the E in her name.

Image: Honey Bee by Eve Neuhart

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Song for Spring

The Sacred Earth wheel has turned once again this time arriving with a gift from the deep teal taverns of the sea. GreenWitch, the gift for Tethys, has manifested in a creamy solid unguent heralding in the Spring.

Enhanced with the potent sunlight energetics of beeswax the solid perfume expression of GreenWitch embodies all that we love in the liquid and more. The melodic notes of the siren are slightly softened with a resinous heart beat. GreenWitch as a solid sings the song of the sea in a different tone, despite the same synergestic orchestration of accords and botanical essences.

For the base of the perfume Jojoba seed oil has been infused with Hawththorn leaves and flowers as well as Seaweed. The oil is combined with unfiltered, local beeswax and the same pure, natural essences contained within the liquid. The list of these essences is vast, including several accords as well as accords within accords. Read more about the Making of GreenWitch by following this ink here at the journal.

Using authentic language GreenWitch is not a botanical perfume but a natural perfume both as a solid and a liquid. This is due to the minuscule percentage of Africa stone in one of the accords and the beeswax used for the solid. Both expressions of GreenWitch use whole ingredients, I refrain from using disembodied isolates or animal ingredients such as Civet. I have never bought, promoted the use of or utilized these materials nor do I intend to.

The creamy unguent is perfect for travel, tossing into ones purse or layering over the organic liquid. I also like using the cream perfume on my arms and hands as a lotion and for anointing myself with an intention.

GreenWitch is a song to the sea, an offering to Tethys and filled with the intention that human beings will recognize their connection to nature and respect her gifts. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the flacon go to GreenPeace. When the body butters are released and the compacts return a portion of those proceeds will also be gifted to GreenPeace.

Get your GreenWitch solid sample here and the Honey Pot here. Other renditions such as the liquid or the for your perfume locket can be found also be found t the E-shop or requesting an invoice.

Images: GreenWitch Illumination ©Greg Spalenka, photos of perfume by Roxana Villa.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Perfume Illuminated: Green

"Green how I want you green. Green wind. Green branches."
~ Federico Garcia Lorca

The day officially devoted to green may have been yesterday as we celebrated Saint Patrick, but here where the plant realm reigns supreme we cherish all things green everyday. As such today we will put on our garden clogs and take a walk into the lush verdant garden. Perfume gets Illuminated in the fragrance and flavors of green.

For 'tis green, green, green, where the ruined towers are gray,
And it's green, green, green, all the happy night and day;
Green of leaf and green of sod, green of ivy on the wall,
And the blessed Irish shamrock with the fairest green of all.
~Mary Elizabeth Blake


The greenest note in my palette is Galbanum in all its various manifestations. Obtained from the resinous gums of the Ferula family this very green aromatic us available to the natural perfumer in the format of an essential oil, a C02 extract and an absolute. Each manifestation of this essence has its own unique expression of green. The essential oil contains the freshest quality of fragrance with the viscous resinoid moving further from the green spectrum into earthy, balsamic notes.

I've noticed that in general people aren't fond of the note on its own but tend to appreciate it immensely when it is well blended in a perfume formula. For the natural perfume the aromatic is extremely valuable for it's fixative qualities to add that elusive permanence that evades so many perfumes constructed with pure plant material. As a tenacious material this green fairy requires a skillfulness as too much can overwhelm and dominate.

In terms of color, one of the greenest of all fragrance materials is the varying conifer absolutes of Fir, Spruce and Pine. The raw material, like Galbanum resin, is viscous and somewhat tedious to work with.

Take thy plastic spade,
It is thy pencil; take thy seeds, thy plants,
They are thy colours.
~William Mason, The English Garden, 1782

The fougère family of perfumery with notable green "fern" notes was introduced using one of the very first synthesized aromatic notes, coumarin. A typical fougère fragrance contain a formula featuring lavender in the top note with oakmoss and coumarin in the base. For those of us using plant derived essences we utilize tonka bean to impart that rich coumarin note.

Here are the ingredients for a botanical Fougère perfume which I have adapted from a formula in the book Perfume of Yesterday from David Williams.

Rose otto
Orange Flower
Clary Sage
Ylang Ylang
Accord of Amber
Tonka Bean

Visually green is the color of life, nature, fertility and renewel. In film the color is very striking used profoundly in Great Expectation by Alfonso Cuarón.

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.
~Hanna Rion


In flavoring green is abundant in the form of fresh green leafy vegetables and herbs. As we enter the Spring now is the time to cleanse the body and prepare it, like the earth, for the abundance of the new season.

Please continue on for a more expansive journey into the flavors of Green at the Windesphere Witch blog with fellow conspirator of Perfume Illuminated Beth Schreibman Gehring.

Images: Opening illustration ©Greg Spalenka. All other images and photography by Roxana Villa.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inspiring Luck

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”
~ Anon

What green fragrance are you wearing today? I'm working on the GreenWitch Solid on this blessed day of the land of Ire. The intention is to release the perfume on Sunday March 20th, for the Spring Equinox and start sending the creamy unguent out on Moonday the 21st.

"I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. " ~Thomas Jefferson

Plants associated with luck fall under the influence of the largest planet in the heavens, Jupiter, also called Jove referring to Zeus, the King of the Gods. Jupiterean plants have regal, majestic and bold traits. The aromatics tend toward rich and warming, making Aumbre and Sierra Solid Gold a nice fit into this scheme on this Jupiter day.

I've got a little luck of the Irish in my blood via my mothers side of the family. Although I was born in Argentina my ancestry is European stock from Italy, Ireland and Spain.

Happy Saint Patties Day to each of you! Breath deep and visualize your most expansive dreams as you anoint yourself this day with an inspiring fragrance.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Serendity came by for a visit resulting in a new member of the illuminated tribe of perfumes. The new fragrance is titled Aumbre alluding to three other words: Amber, the Spanish word Hombre and the mystical Aum. Amber + Hombre + Aum = Aumbre.

Amber is one of many linguistically challenging words in the world of perfume. Most associate it with the fossilized resin often used in Baltic amber. The etymology of the word reaches back to the valuable substance produced by the Sperm whale known as Ambergris called Ambra. In perfume the word Amber refers to rich, balsamic fragrances.

In natural perfume ambergris is utilized most often to convey the Amber note while in botanical perfume we employ only botanical based ingredients such as Labdanum, Cistus, Benzoin, Storax, and Vanilla. There are many variations on botanical Amber accords some of which feature Patchouli, Rose and Oakmoss.

My palette contains many Amber accords which are featured in almost every perfume to a greater or lesser degree. When I first stepped into natural perfume from the domain of aromatherapy Amber was my very favorite note and I often wore a constructed accord as a perfume. Greg, my husband, wore it so often that the accord quickly became known as his signature scent.

On the Valentines Day blog post I made reference to an Amber accord which resulted in Karen, a fabulous patron, requesting it as a solid perfume. This is when Serendipity stepped in. The perfume devoted to the honey bee is an Amber perfume. When Karen made her request I wasn't keen on releasing two Amber perfumes within the same quadrant. However, March 13th was my beloved Greg's birthday and he was all out of his Amber accord.

Thus, off to the land of Serendip I went and have returned with a solid perfume titled Ambre for my hombre who chants Aum in the morning and at night. The fragrance contains a botanical synergy of about twenty different essences. The notes are warm, balsamic and sweet with whispers of tobacco and incense smoke. The feel is nurturing and exotic.

Get Aumbre at the E-shop or I can send you a PayPal invoice.
Individual sample
Within a sample in a set of three
Within a sample set of six
5 grams in a Honey Pot

Images: Interior Cathedral Illustration ©Greg Spalenka, Photos ©RoxanaVilla

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quite Contrary

"If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden."
~ Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden)

The upper half of the Earth is springing, or about to, with the sweet songs of birds and om chant of the honey bees. Here in the foothills hills of Topanga Spring came early due to the supernatural weather patterns.

Yesterday was a splendid sunny day which lured me out of the studio and into the glorious warmth and sunshine. The intention of a few minutes in the garden turned into glorious hours weeding, watering and planting.

The garden is one of my very favorite places to spend time, however, this time of the year brings with it a paradox for me. I have dreadful allergies to pollen and thus if I spend time outside for any length of time am stricken with hay fever on the verge of turning into asthma. It's quite dreadful and so very contrary to my work.

I've tried all sorts of remedies, conventional, holistic and even old wives tales. This year I am experimenting with eating local honey, so far I regret to inform that it isn't working. It seems so very contrary that I have pollen allergies.

When Eve was a little tot I strove to keep her away from mass media and the tv as much as possible. Disney animated movies and tv shows were replaced by fabricated stories, art and craft projects, baking, outing to the beach and occasionally a special film such as The Secret Garden directed by Agnieszka Holland. Thus for this day graced by Jupiter I leave you with a trailer from the film and encourage you to watch it, as it is very magical and full of wonder.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Bounty

The bonus that came from rescuing the Red Barn Bees last Monday was the huge amounts of honey that was part of that cutout. The honey stores in this hive were so vast they were split four ways amongst the three beekeepers and the bees. Since this is prime season for collecting nectar and pollen it is safe to take some honey from the little winged alchemists.

The preferred method of honey extraction for the niche bee keeper is the crush and strain method demonstrated at the end of this video of Kirkobeeo. I used a variation of this method and so far have eleven glass jars of honey!

Honey flavor varies according to the location of the hive and where the bees forage. Although I am no expert, yet, in honey flavor, I would guess this hive foraged among Eucalyptus, Buckwheat and Sage due to a slightly menthol note and the brilliant orange color.

Next on the agenda is the task of "rendering the beeswax", which is even more complicated than extracting the honey. Oh joy! The beeswax is intended for the solid aspect of the upcoming Bee perfume which is in formulation.

Read more about honey at this post from Perfume Illuminated series. Honey notes in perfumes I have created are most apparent in the perfume devoted to Peace and Vera, albeit there is no honey in either perfume.

Image: Honey jars ©Roxana Villa

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Red Barn Bee Rescue

On Thursday, February 24th, Sherri in Woodland Hills called the Backwards Beekeepers hotline about a hive she had in her garage roof. Since this was in my neck of the woods I called Sherri and went over to inspect the situation.

The bees were located in the corner of an old wooden garage/barn, which was approximately 14 feet in the air. We assumed the bees had made their hive under the boards. The job looked a bit out of my range so I asked, Maurice, one of the master mentors in the bee club to help out. Once Maurice had gotten the A-OK from the property owners we were ready to get the job done.

The Backwards Beekeeping team consisted of Kristi, Meghan, myself and our leader Maurice. Our mission: to cut out the combs, place them into a hive box and transport them to my home.

We were set to meet at the location on Monday at 10am. Meghan and I arrived on the scene first. As we walked around the garage Meghan pointed out that it appeared that there were two different hives. One at the corner as we had thought, with a second about five feet away. Shortly Maurice arrived on the scene and confirmed that he also suspected it was two hives.

The first task was to staple and tie string on each of the frames to hold the comb as it was cut out and get the site ready. As Meghan and Kristi diligently worked the frames, I cleared brush and Maurice set up the ladders and all his gear.

Kristi and Meghan preparing the frames with lightweight string to hold the cut comb.

The masters tools.

The master with his tools.

The "Bee Vac" set up.

Once everything was in place, all our suits were buttoned, velcro'd and taped, Maurice smoked
the bees. After waiting five minutes he began sawing and removing the boards revealing undulating rows of comb in different shades. Next, Maurice very gently began vacuuming up the large amounts of bees while we looked on in awe as massive amounts of bees bombarded the air space creating a very palatable frenzied energetic.

Maurice gently vacuuming up the bees

The next phase was the task of cutting the comb out, studying it and determining where it would go. The brood comb was handed to me which I them handed to Kristi who would cut and place it into the frames. Honey comb went into a bucket which Maurice had conveniently placed just under him. Comb with drone cells were tossed while other pieces were placed off to the side with use to be determined later.
That's me in the foreground left corner with me new Bee suit.

Maurice inspecting the comb before either tossing or handing it down.

Kristi attaching cut comb to the frames. As you can see "duck tape" is a beekeepers best friend.

All this was taking place as bees attacked us from all angles and their agitated buzzing penetrating the core of our nervous systems. I've never been so happy to have my new bee suit. Later Maurice said that these were the meanest bees he'd ever encountered. Regrettably since our gloved hands covered with honey we were not able to take photos of the last segment of the process.

When all the comb had been cutout and placed into frames Maurice brought over the box with all the bees. Through the screened wire we sprayed the them with sugar water and then poured them into one of the hive boxes. To our amazement there were tens of thousands of honey bees, way too many for one box. Thus some were scooped out and placed into the second box. Eventually the second box was secured on the first, the top board put in place with two black straps wrapping around each side of the boxes.

The base board had already been secured to the first hive box with screen covering the opening. Meanwhile the large white bucket of honey was divided amongst us. It took quite a long time to clean everything and depart. Maurice, as the incredible mentor that he is, followed me to my home just five minutes away to give pointers on where to put the hive.

Although I have assisted with three cutouts nothing compares to the magnitude of this one. These bees are mean, highly productive feral bees, which indicates they will have no problem with the local robber bees and likely survive anything that comes there way. It's taken us one year and eight different hives to finally get to this point. The lesson, persevere!

"Fall seven times, stand up eight."
~ Japanese Proverb

The following day Maurice returned with Kristi to cutout the second hive. Kristi will give you a full account of that in Red Barn Bee Rescue, Part 2, stay tuned.

I am really grateful for the existence and help supplied by the members of the Backwards Beekeepers. Maurice is passionate about the bees, professional, calm and contains a bounty of wisdom. He is an awesome mentor, I recommend everyone to help him out with a cutout and learn from one of the masters.

Photos by Kristi Daggett, Meghan Wall Murphy and Roxana Villa.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Honey Bee Art

The little honey bee I painted back in September 2009 for a blogging event is finally available as a print. I scanned the painting and then digitally placed it on parchment paper with a few added embellishments.

We are using the Epson printer here in the studio to print these one at a time on a beautiful 260 grs. Velvet fine art paper. The image measures approximately 10 1/4 x 7.5 with a white border suitable for matting or framing. The copyright mark and signature shown above is not part of the actual print.

I plan to have these available in smaller sizes as well as more imagery soon. For now the print is available at the E-shop.

Bee Here Now images ©Roxana Villa