Archive for June, 2008

can you sign the petition, please?

Posted in FDA, news, Uncategorized with tags on June 26, 2008 by scentedwench

If you haven’t already.

I posted about the FDA Globalization Act of 2008 previously.

Here’s your chance to get active, eh.

In a nutshell, the current draft of the Act spells business closures for most small businesses who move under a certain volume, annually. It is in essence an income stream for an agency that has proven time and again to not serve the public interest, to not protect the consumer, and to be in big pharma’s back pocket. The Act is about monopoly. In this case, the companies that small businesses like myself laughingly refer to as “the Big Boys” will wind up being the winners.

Anyway, Donna Maria runs an org I belong to, the Indie Beauty Network. And she put a petition up on the blog for the org. She used to be a corporate attorney, but is now in the business of helping small businesses get ahead and stay ahead, and just follow their bliss and live creative lives that are lucrative.

If you’re so inclined, I’d strongly suggest you sign the petition. And if you blog as well, and think it’d be a good exercise to post about the topic there, go ahead and permalink her blog link. She’s got a video up that addresses the Act as well, and is hoping to get 100,000 signatures (you are welcomed to embed and link to the video from your site; I cannot figure out how to do this at the moment, so I’ve only got the petition URL linked right now).

Link and petition, here.

Thanks for reading.


okay, so it’s not 33 1/3, it’s turned up to 78 speed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 25, 2008 by scentedwench

That overused phrase about being as busy as a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest kind of landed on my head like a piano falling out of the sky, yesterday.

Busy much?

Everything was at standard 33 1/3 rpm during the Mercury retrograde, I felt kind of like some strange slow motion thing happening in the external sense, where I had infinite time (and it was normal-paced) in the internal sense.  I got a ton of stuff done and had plenty of time in which to do it.

Monday morning I started wondering if someone had put the record on, but switched the speed to 45.  Okay, so it’s Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, the opening strains.   Orderly, a bit twee but who cares and why be cynical.  But a minute into it, I’m listening to something straight out of the Looney Tunes music archive (Carl Stalling was a genius); everything is sped up, and I’m panting to keep up.

Well, this morning, the symphony is now thoroughly a silly symphony and is turned up to 78
(uh oh, this is where I confess to playing my grandma’s 78 records on a console record player – I guess I’m dating myself; just call me an old 36 who still owns records…)

I have to do the following today:
create a press kit (well, edit the one I have)
take more product photos
finish trying some blends from an experimental group, and then review all of them
a focus group
mail some orders
pack and mail some more orders
maybe fix my bike, again
update my site

That’s after my regular job.

The cats watched me fly around the house this morning.

“Do you think she’s going to feed us NOW?” chitters the little one to the big one.
“I dunno”, chirps the big one.  “Let’s follow her around to remind her to feed us.”
“Yes! And I’ll find something crackly to chew on to get her attention before we start following her!” squeaks the little one.

So I had an entourage for an hour this morning.  And they didn’t quit shadowing me after I fed them.  When I took a moment to clean the litterbox, they were waiting right there to bury treasure in the thing.  Thanks, kids.  When I tripped over my own feet hauling out the bike and dropped my helmet, they were right there behind me waiting to almost get stepped on.  “HISSSSS!  SPIT!” sputters the little one.

I just want to make perfumes and get on with my life.   It’s hard to just do that this week.

rosemary revisited

Posted in mandrake apothecary, natural aromatics with tags , , , on June 15, 2008 by scentedwench

I had to decant sample vials of Rosemary today and something about its greenish brown gummy character (the absolute is like a olive green hunk of herbaceous fudge) made me wonder how it would behave with chocolate, to sort of play up the fudgy weirdness, and would a particularly dusty and greenish-smell patchouli be an appropriate supporting note in that.

Which got me to thinking about lavender and chocolate, and patchouli of course.  I used to make a soap (back in the days of using fragrance oils) which was scented with equal parts patchouli, lavender, and vanilla FO.  It sounds gnarly and kinda gross to think about, but the vanilla softened and absorbed the camphor of the lavender, which kicked down some of the ‘just be mellow, man!’ vibes of the patchouli with its purple buds.

I have a vial of ‘rosemary extract’ that I may dilute judiciously and blend a bit with, since it has a similar character to the spendier absolute, and is easier to work with.

But I need more ideas on what to blend rosemary with.  The essential oil of rosemary is singularly blunt and deadening to things aside from eucalyptus species and the various mints, and I don’t relish putting it into perfume, but a couple drops are okay in eau de cologne, so…

*looks at rosemary bottles on workbench*  Hmmm.

degrees of coffee

Posted in natural aromatics with tags , , , , on June 11, 2008 by scentedwench

I have a row of bottles at my work bench, filled with freshly roasted coffee beans of various origin, and biodynamic grape alcohol.  They’ve been there since I moved, following a crazed trip to Peet’s for a half pound of decaf that quickly became a quest to try coffees from all producing continents.

What is surprising is how while they all have very distinctive toasted and burnt tones due to the roasting and the oil sheen which results from that (and which seems to be the first element to get acrid and flat), they all assume a uniform darkness that only seems to change with the elements one combines them with.  But with a twist.  If I add rose to samples of all four, it brings out different elements.  Same rose, different coffees.

If you’ve ever tinctured roasted cocoa nibs, you’ll know how cacao gives up different secrets with different florals.

After the coffee experiment, I’m itching to source roasted cocoa nibs of different origins/species, and try the above experiment.

All of this is to say that in perfumery, the sky is indeed the limit when it comes to shading, drawing out nuances, tones and different hues.

so, because the FDA isn’t stretched enough already

Posted in business, FDA, regulatory agencies with tags , , , , on June 9, 2008 by scentedwench

There’s word on the wind about the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2008.

A lot of us small businesses are quaking in our boots abut it. With good reason, because many won’t be able to afford the reg fees that’ll be required for us to remain in business.

And, you can tell in spades that it is ALL about making up for lost funding more than it is about doing the right thing and protecting consumers. Look at this passage and tell me that they’re not just looking for another income stream,

“The legislation is aimed at giving the FDA authority to promulgate new regulations that are supposed to protect consumers and also provide the funding the agency needs to enforce existing laws in a global market…”

It’s the line about the funding, in particular. (I am quoting from the Indie Beauty Network forum, there).

It isn’t enough for all of us to go crazy capitalist style and spend money we don’t have in order to stimulate the economy, no, we have to balance a federal agency on our backs now, too.

If you’re interested in reading more, here’s a few links worth perusing:

(I hope the people in the Soap Guild who were actively lobbying for this kind of micromanaging dreck, before they were ousted from the leadership, are happy now. In the end, it’s not worth getting rid of your competition by any means necessary, if it negatively impacts the ability of your contracted soapers to make your products for you. Meow. Hiss. Spit.)

So, is this FDA act worth worrying about? Yes, it is. I really do think that some regulation is going to be necessary for as long as rebels without a clue pick up a stickblender one week and start selling their wares the next week. And for as long as would-be ‘perfumers’ decide to bottle some fragrance oil they bought for scenting something else and call it ‘perfume’. In those instances, it is really going to separate the chaff from the grain. And don’t get me started on the learn-as-you-go manufacturing of aqueous solutions like lotions and gels.

BUT… self-regulation is nothing to sneeze at. I dare anyone to join a soaping bulletin board and post some seemingly innocuous questions like, “I just made my first batch of soap! How do I go about selling it?” or, “I made some lotion and it grew hair! What do I tell my customers?” See, people will be on your case so fast you’ll learn in a hurry that there’s a careful way to go about doing things, and a very careless way. We’re all in this together.

But I also see what the FDA is proposing on a par with what happened when RLI decided to screw most of its handcrafting customers and tell them they’d no longer be insured unless they were making just enough money to warrant a tax audit rather than enough to sustain and enable them to grow their businesses. And to that end, I’d ask what the greater goal is here.

Everyone in business has to start someplace, so why would you cut off your nose to spite your face by effectively shutting down scads of small businesses before they even get a chance to take off and expand to where they can afford the fees?

the power of copal and myrrh

Posted in mandrake apothecary, natural aromatics, perfume with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2008 by scentedwench

I poured and packed three bottles of Ofrenda this morning, for an order.  This is one that I had to make an emergency batch of a couple months ago, because it looked like I’d be running out in June (and lo… it happened).

It’s a bit strange to describe, but I feel like I’m working in sacred space when I blend this one.  Granted, it is all about sacred space…  It’s offertory incense with some twists to bring the natural world (the greater temple) into the hand-made world, the inner temple – whatever space you are sanctifying with scent.

And it is supported by a tripod of resins.  Frankincense (Boswellia sacra in this instance), copal, and myrrh.

I think that my favorite essence in this is the Abies grandis and not just because it smells of Christmas trees.  It adds an evergreen to the incense which elevates the resins and coats them with silvery frost.

Just thinking aloud 🙂

appreciating roses right now

Posted in mandrake apothecary, natural aromatics, natural perfumery with tags , , on June 6, 2008 by scentedwench

I had to make up another batch of Medea some weeks ago, and finally filtered it yesterday afternoon, after work.  There is something very guttural and yet refined about how the damask rose plays off of pink lotus, ginger lily, and carnation.  The touch of ambrette in the base (not a predominant note, so I don’t usually list it) adds a powdery and sort of antique hue to the whole mix.  Sort of like applying a sepia tint.  I smell this and I think of my great grandmother in her younger years (I have a picture of her dressed like a flapper, with the bobbed chin-length hairdo), for some reason.  I can imagine her dabbing this on and applying some to a cloth brooch on her lapel.