Archive for the perfume Category

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 🙂

I don’t agree, but it is interesting.

Posted in perfume with tags , , on May 26, 2008 by scentedwench

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When a review is not a review?

Posted in perfume, reviews with tags , , on May 21, 2008 by scentedwench

I’ve been trying to work my way through ‘Perfumes: The Guide’ by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. This is happening in fits and starts, because the obvious glee with which the two of them render their opinions is thick enough to slice up like polenta, fry, and serve alongside a wilted spinach salad with heirloom tomatoes and kalamata olives. Don’t forget the cheap battery-acid pinot grigio, by the glass.

‘Schadenfreud, party of two? Your table is ready…’

And it’s not even that I take issue with some reviews (of course I do, I’m an opinionated nose-governed bitch that way, and I know my aromatics), it’s just that this book is not a definitive guide by any stretch of the imagination. Just like none of the self-described ‘guides’ are.

I think this book is more for the hoarders and collectors among us. And it’s not even a coffee table book with eye candy pictures, so much as a weirdly organized encyclopedia. If I had to take issue with anything beyond that, it’d be that the format is too big to slip into my purse when I take the train, but too small to warrant throwing into my messenger bag when I’m on my bicycle.

Which relegates it to bathroom reading, more than anything else.

ginger on my mind

Posted in mandrake apothecary, natural perfumery, perfume with tags , , , on May 12, 2008 by scentedwench

When I picture a fire-breathing dragon, I tend to think of ginger from several angles.  Ginger is sweetness, spice, sharp edges that dull into almost cool surfaces, warmth, and fire in the belly.  And it’s one of those aromatics that is unmistakeable, much like cinnamon cannot be mistaken for any other essence.

And I worked with a great deal of ginger yesterday, the essential oil from fresh roots, and from dried roots, and then ginger lily CO2 extract, which is not a species of ginger, but has the definite dry heat like the EO from the dried roots has.  It glows red, and is faintly leathery and ashy, when you touch it up with the smoldering campfires of cade or choya.

Ignis is my ode to fire.  A blazing salamander out of Paracelsus.

Hemera, the last of the summer flowers

Posted in mandrake apothecary, natural perfumery, news, perfume on October 10, 2007 by scentedwench

Hemera is the primordial goddess of the day, and Nyx (primordial goddess of night) is her mother.

Her perfume is built around a heart accord of tuberose and violet leaf, bolstered by ambrette seed, and exalted by neroli and petitgrain.  This scent is reminiscent of the sensory overload that is the overgrown and wild summer flower garden, once summer has peaked and the nights are starting to regain that chill they have much of the year.

Hemera is part of our general lineup, and is based in crystal clear biodynamic alcohol.  This perfume began as a torrid blend of florals carried out last winter, which was confined to a bottle for aging several months, before some re-blending and more aging.

Like Nyx (also part of the general lineup), this perfume contains a goodly amount of tuberose absolute.  Tuberose is one of those overwhelming essences that has native peculiarities which can be teased out with accessory notes from other essences.  In Hemera’s case, the grassy green tone (which can otherwise be sensed high up in the nose) is brought to the fore, where it evokes grassy green overgrown hedges in the sun.  The violet leaf, which is green and rather dewy like cucumbers, teases out the green which lies dormant in the flower.

spikenard, Nardostachys jatamansi

Posted in natural aromatics, perfume on June 26, 2007 by scentedwench

There are multiple forms of this available, but I favor the amber.  Spikenard is the renowned ‘nard’ that the woman (one of the women to form the Mary Magdalene composite character in the Bible) anointed Jesus’ feet with.

So, it has religiously symbolic trappings, which appeal.  A nose-governed friend of mine asked if Mary Magdalene could be a patron saint of perfumery, and I guess I could see that.

Honestly though, it just smells divine.  The green distillation is woody, biting, spicy,
dusty, diaphanous, and faintly herbaceous.  It ages well.

The amber distillation is woody, dusty, faintly acrid, faintly sweet, diaphanous, and resembles a single malt whiskey in its depth.  Imagine sipping a 12-yr old Laphroaig or even Oban, and then imagine what the taste smells like.

Spikenard is useful in leather accords, in meditational bases, and I’m learning it gets along quite well with florals as well.

It is also quite scarce.  I probably will not buy any more once my bottles are nearly empty, and it is likely I’ll store a wee bit for aging that only get brought out to be sniffed for inspiration.

Damascena, Centifolia, Bourbonia, Moschatus, and how!

Posted in mandrake apothecary, natural aromatics, natural perfumery, perfume on June 25, 2007 by scentedwench

May had me in the planning stages of a project based around roses, and June has seen that to completion, sort of. We’re still blending and reblending and aging and tweaking, but I think that the rosy end of the tunnel is approaching!

The rose is one of the longest-cultivated flowers. It is traditionally known as the Queen of flowers, where Jasmine is King. And there are so many aromatic species being used in perfumery. And then the species vary geographically, in hue and shading.

Rosa damascena from Turkey varies from that grown in Bulgaria, for example. My bottle of Turkish rose has a bright shrillness reminiscent of tea roses and lemon, of all things. But the Bulgarian rose is faintly warm and almost edible in its sweetness.

And the various species and extractions vary greatly in consistency. I have phytonic extractions of the damascena and moschatus species, which tend to be waxier, resembling a thick pectin-laden jam. Traditional solvent-extractions tend to be closer to an oil in consistency, the exception being the bourbonia species which tends to produce waxy extractions.

Rose otto, a steam-distillation of the petals, crystallizes just below room temperature.

And though it is an exercise in filtering and possibly futility, I still try to work w/ rose concrete, despite its waxy and hard texture. I have Rosa bourbonia and Rosa damascena in concrete form. The best possible thing is dissolving and aging for an eternity, and then using the tincture drop by drop, I’m starting to think.

I’m hoping to write about white water lily and blue lotus (both of them phytonic extractions) in the next entry, depending on how much blending I get done this week!

Demeter and Hekate are still available. I’ve about 10 bottles of each left, at present.

And after a couple months of procrastination, I’ve finally put up a page of perfumes from the various collections that work particularly well with male chemistry, available individually, and as samplers.