Thursday, September 6, 2012


I take loads of photographs, as you have all noticed, however I rarely take them of me. It has been brought to my attention that I have no photos of myself making my perfumes. There are loads of my end product, my garden and all the raw materials, the studio, the tools...but none of me actually making perfume.

This is primarily due to the fact that it is really difficult to take a photo of oneself. I set the timer on the camera yesterday while in the studio and attempted a few shots. They didn't quite work out because the two second timer was not long enough to run over to the desired shot location before the shutter clicked on and off.

Thus, I recruited Greg to take a few photos while making Vera solid perfume mini samples and a solid honey pot that is headed to France. When Eve takes photos of herself she uses a hand held remote for her camera. I might get one of these in the near future, although truthfully, I'd rather shoot other things.

Here are the basic steps that go into a hand made, authentic botanical perfume.

Step 1: The Idea
This most often comes from a spark of inspiration related to an environmental cause, like saving native oaks, bringing attention to native plants or honey bees. Sometimes the inspiration is art, like the GreenWitch book or the Vespertina concept album and story. In some cases the inspiration is from a specific materials like Jasmine or the California native rose.

Usually it is in the idea phase that I begin to contemplate the color vibration for the perfume, the related imagery and tinctures/infusions that will be part of the end product.

Step 2: Formulation
In the formulation stage I set down at my drafting table and begin sketching out the idea, meaning writing down potential essences and then researching each of those essences to see how they might pair with others. Once I have a basic outline I move over to the table and shelf where most of the essences are stored and begin the sniffing phase. This phase will determine of a certain essential oil will be added or subtracted. The process will result in several bottles of potential synergies. Once these sketches have aged and melded its time to sniff, which may result in a green light to move forward or go back to the drafting table.

While the sketches marinate I will begin the tinctures and infusions or order the plants that ultimately I want to be part of the formulation. In some cases, this becomes very complicated, like with the Violets in the liquid and solid Gracing the Dawn.

Step 3: The Making
With a liquid perfume the finished, aged synergy gets added to the organic grain or grape alcohol and tinctures. This blend is then aged, like the original synergy in step one. Once ready the perfume is filtered the bottling of samples immediately.
The process is slightly different for solid perfumes. Once the synergy is ready it is not added to the organic jojoba oil and beeswax until I actual make the solid perfume.

I personally hand pour each solid perfume whether it is into a small, pink sample pot; honey pot; mini tin or larger tin for the compacts. Sometimes I pour all pink pots or a combination, depending on what orders have come in or if there is an impending show like the upcoming LA Artisan Salon.

In the future instead of hand pouring each sample I may just scoop a bit of solid perfume from a larger container and drop it into the pink pot.

Popular perfume this week is Vera, not sure why, fascinating nonetheless.


Unknown said...

Lovely! It's always fascinating to watch a fellow artist at work. Your simplicity is as beautiful as your work.

Parisbreakfasts said...

soooo beautiful
Love the 1st shot
where will they be in France?
Maybe I could get a picture of them when I'm over in October..

Illuminated Perfume said...

Thank you Raina, I agree, I love seeing how other artists work. Especially when you get a glimpse at their studio!

Illuminated Perfume said...

Carol, in the background of the first photo you can see a non pink pot, that one was for a customer who lives in Brittany. Greg and I would very much like to take her up on the invitation to visit.

How wonderful that you will be there in October! It's been ages since I've been.