When the dog bites…. when the bee stings… when I’m feeling sad,… I simply remember my favourite things… (Hammerstein II, Rodgers 1965)
Over the years I have composed many fragrances and some have become true loves – exactly how I want to smell. Usually I start with a small batch (1 or 2 bottles) and test drive them until I really know how they behave. If they behaved very well, I made them in slightly larger batches and gave some away and even sold a few.
But there was always new scent landscapes to conquer and new harvests of exotic flowers to tempt me on in search of new horizons…. and my favourites would always be there waiting patiently… wouldn’t they?
A tiny bit of anxiety started to set in when I noticed the small batches of my absolute faves had begun to dwindle, and I wondered how I could live without them… some of their ingredients are very difficult to come by, and some recipes – over time – have become a little bit hazy (I hand-write all my recipes on Kadhi (hand made paper) and sometimes I spill perfume over the writing by accident and the writing gets a little bit blurry…oops!
My recent sale helped me raise the finance to source enough of the precious ingredients to re-make some of my all-time favourite fragrances. (Now available in the Lusso Collection section of my website).
Tea Rose Mimosa is a perfect floral for days when you just want to smell like an angel. Dragonboat is an Oriental Floral with Green Tea absolute, Osmanthus absolute and Honeysuckle. Stunning.
Meta (previously named Kafka) is moody, sexy and earthy – an Oriental Amber featuring the finest grade of Indonesian Patchouli, with Mysore Sandalwood, Amyris, Jasmine Grandiflorum and Neroli.
Pema is named for Pema Chodron – a traveling Buddhist nun to whom I dedicate this profoundly spiritual fragrance – Pink Lotus flower, Mysore Sandalwood and Rose Damascena. Sublime. Om Shanti – Oct 2016 © TR
The wonder of life-in-nature inspires me to compose perfumes:- like a kind of fluid Haiku, I am compelled by creative challenges to sketch the pivotal point in a love affair when the anxiety of secret inner desires is transformed forever by a first kiss. I am transfixed by the solitude of heart-broken loneliness that teaches inner reflection and tender new growth. I am awed with child-like joy at our festivals, moved by human adventures and misadventures. Our memories are so powerfully highlighted by the seasons, by landscape, by climate, colours, scents and sounds… by each other.
My perfumes are snatches of these precious life moments. TR Sept 2016 ©
Making a brand new batch of vanilla tincture as the base for my amber perfumes – Blue Lotus, Embers, Mokaya, Quintessence, Hanky Panky etc.
I use 1kg of Vanilla Planifolia beans from PNG, 5 litres of ethanol, the trusty thermomix and a very large funnel.
The tincture must now rest and mature for 6 months after which a gorgeous black vanilla tincture is ready to be filtered and bottled ready for perfume blending.
You can see how shiny and plump the beans and the paste is. This makes an unbelievably intense vanilla fragrance.
Here is the tincture after one month of resting. Each month it rests it darkens and becomes more potent.
…btw it says NOT for consumption on the bottle, but the ‘NOT’ is ’round the bend.
Endless thanks to my dear friend Wolfgang who sourced these spectacular quality beans and sent them to me.
When reading through a number of perfume forum discussions I often see negative attitudes towards solid perfumes and how they unfavourably compare with spray perfumes. I’d like to weigh in on this topic.
Solid perfumes have been around a very long time. The Ancient Egyptian perfumers crafted luxurious unguents from precious aromatics imported from all over the Mediterranean and Africa and blended these in goose-fat. These unguents were then stored in beautiful alabaster jars and bottles and sold to the wealthy and elite who could afford such cherished cosmetic items. The Ancient Egyptians also wore cones of scented wax on top of their wigs at official gatherings which, over the course of the event, gradually melted and ran down their bodies creating a sheen to their skin as well as creating a wondrous scent trail.
These days many people believe that solid perfumes just aren’t as strong as eau de parfums or that the fragrance is not as durable. I have a couple of things to say about that: –
1. my solid perfumes are blended in pure jojoba and organic beeswax which means that they are wonderfully healthy, moisturising and emollient for your skin. Alcohol-based perfumes are drying to the skin. In dry weather this is a horrible feeling of having more moisture taken from your skin.
2. The application of solid perfumes should be generous, in that you scoop out a portion of the unguent, warm it on your finger tips and gently massage it right into the skin of your forearms and hands as you would a cream lotion. I also warm it between my palms and then apply to my neck and décolletage. The fragrance does not project like eau de parfums but it radiates and swirls around. Many people just sort of smear their finger across the surface of the unguent and wipe it on their wrist but this is not the way to use them.
3. When blending these, I use an enormous amount of pure and natural fragrance in each pot to ensure that the perfume is very rich and strong and when I use my unguents, I reapply every few hours. It takes a moment to reapply to hands and forearms and it greatly relieves daily stress to massage the hands whilst relishing the wonderful aroma as it warms on the skin. The moisturising refreshment is like taking a drink on a hot day.
4. I am more and more enraptured with the ancient tradition of anointing the body with natural oils and buttery beeswax – it reminds me to reconnect with the sensations of the body – to get out of the mind – return from the brink of ‘digitopia’ and take just a moment to drink in the loveliness of the perfume knowing that it is wholesome for my body (not toxic, non drying) and a practice that has been around for thousands of years.
5. The final word I would have on this topic is that – for many practical reasons – unguents are just terrific – they can be shipped everywhere so easily without presenting any flammable hazard, they are very pocket-portable, they layer so very well with each other and/or with corresponding eau de parfums/pure parfums, and they are a really affordable way to try a variety of natural fragrances. Think of your unguent as a glass of pure water, a fresh juice or a wonderful tea and reapply whenever your skin says ‘I’m thirsty’.
PS In case you’re wondering I never use goose-fat
A large number of people from all over the world have written to me asking for free samples of my perfumes. I understand it’s difficult to ‘blind-buy’ fragrances, it can be hit or miss. However natural perfumes are very costly to make and international postage is also very expensive.
So I have 2 solutions:-
1. A recipe for people to blend their own natural fragrance
2. I offer 3ml testers for $15. These are a great and inexpensive way to find out if what sounds good – smells right for you.
So here’s my recipe for new perfumers: Choose your base – either 40mls of perfumer’s alcohol or oil (can also be lotion, water or solid perfume but let’s keep it simple for now).
Fractionated coconut oil is fabulous – it’s very stable, easily found online and absolutely affordable. Jojoba oil is also great it’s a liquid wax not an oil so it is also very, very stable (long shelf-life). Perfumer’s alcohol is a complex discussion about pure ethanol and denatured ethanol – so I suggest that you sweet talk a compounding chemist/pharmacist into selling you 40mls of pure ethanol – explain that it’s for perfume making.
Alternatively use oil – it’s better for your skin and lasts a long time. To make 50mls of Eau de parfum (20% dilution) you’ll need 10mls of your own natural fragrance. So… let’s make a fairly straightforward and simple floral oriental. I’m thinking of essential oils/absolutes that are easily sourced, relatively inexpensive and smell great when blended together.
2mls of ylang ylang
2mls of mandarin
2mls of vetiver
1ml of jasmine grandiflorum absolute
2mls of geranium
1ml of rosewood
This blend avoids the obvious use of patchouli which overburdens too many natural fragrances and instead creates a cool, sweet earthiness by the use of vetiver and rosewood.
Add your fragrance blend to your carrier (oil or alcohol) in a glass bottle (preferably a dark glass 50ml bottle) and shake well. Allow it to mature for a few days – even a month is great. Test it, and if you want more sweetness add a little more ylang ylang and/or jasmine. If you want more of a kick, add a drop or more vetiver and play around with it. More citrus warmth – more mandarin.
As you’ll probably have enough raw materials to make a litre of this blend – well…. Christmas is at the door
Previous entries from my natural perfumer’s blog including notes on tincturing cocoa, tonka and a large quantity of vanilla beans for the construction of Embers were sadly lost in transit.
The Luscious Scent of a Warm and Cosy Winter
… she came to my house to buy a birthday perfume for her sister, and after smelling the new brew of Embers, she immediately bought a full bottle for her own delight. It’s turned into my absolute all time fave…and I have used every last drop of my precious Mysore Sandalwood stock to make 3 litres of Embers so there’s enough to last a couple of winters…
FLORAL WONDERS: Easter
In the final frenzy of Summer’s lingering Easter departure, the Muraya Paniculata (Mock Orange) is suddenly blooming like crazy – so Steve and I picked hundreds of blossoms to tincture their incredible fragrance and I used some of it to compose a stunning blossom perfume called Fiori d’Arancio –
…it opens with a crisp citrus top note of Lime, which drifts away to reveal an exquisitely beautiful heart chord of Orange Blossom, Neroli, Jasmine Grandiflorum, Jasmine Sambac, Honeysuckle and Ylang Ylang – a bridal bouquet firmly anchored by an earthy chypre base of Bergamot, Patchouli and Oakmoss married in the nectar of the mock orange. I’ve made a strictly limited edition of 1 litre – but it’s a perfect wedding perfume, and a rare and precious signature scent that arouses passion and joy.
PRECIOUS ESSENCE PERFUME OILS March
An amazing shipment of precious floral absolutes has just arrived from north India – including 3 varieties of Jasmine – (Sambac, Grandiflorum & Auriculatum), 3 varieties of Rose – (Damascena, May and Tea Rose) as well as a stunningly beautiful Iris butter.
Now available are 3 new perfume oil blends – The Roses, Yasym and Antiquity (a spicy, earthy floral with frankincense, myrrh, oud, rose, sandalwood and cardamon).
I went to the West End markets last night to catch up with my friend Mohamed and I bought some of his gorgeous Egyptian bottles in which to store my new perfume oil blends. Can’t stop staring at them…
My new perfume oils are pure and natural floral absolutes in fractionated coconut oil, they are intense, long-lasting and totally exquisite. 15mls in a stainless steel and glass roll-on bottle is $75 plus postage.
PRODUCT LAUNCH at Toombul Cinemas – Chicks at the Flicks
Launching my new fragrant delights at Toombul Cinema’s Chicks at the Flicks tomorrow night… well here’s hoping lots of gals who love Cinderella might also like a scrumptious new floral chypre on their way to queue up for popcorn and choc-tops :^)
UPDATE: Best smelling movie audience of 2015!
SOLID PERFUMES Feb 2015
As the frangipani leaves gradually drop from the trees and the fragrant flowers have already crumbled back into the grass, I realise that Autumn may finally make a flying visit through the sweltering Brisbane inner-city glare. It feels drier and dustier and my skin feels thirsty, and so, the emollient moisture of solid perfume make these my current fave way to wear perfume.
Solid perfumes – an ancient Egyptian custom of blending rare and precious perfume ingredients into an unguent or anointing cream.
My contemporary solid perfume range is made from gorgeous organic beeswax from Mt Nebo blended with golden jojoba and is available in 6 very posh fragrances – Mind, Body & Spirit as well as Jasmin Mystérieuse (mysterious Jasmine), Forêt Enchantée (enchanted forest) & Homme des Bois (the woodsman).
PERFUME: SWEET BALM for the MIND BODY & SPIRIT
Struggling with the stresses of tertiary teaching and the politics of life in and around the institution of university my mind is clouded and my spirit is contracted and my heart is heavy and I feel dull.
Noticing a very small bottle next to me, filled with a pale golden liquid, I remember the experiment I was attempting by diluting the exquisite Lumiere du Matin (Morning Light) essence compound into fractionated coconut oil as an alternative diluent to alcohol and I smile... I remember now, perfume makes me so very happy.
Picking up the little bottle, I smell, and I am blissed once again.
More and more I am convinced that I am bottling some of the precious smells from nature that are leaving the world. A library of wonders shimmers before me in a dance of joy for just a brief moment in time and then softly floats off into the mysterious cosmos. Energy, Light, Love and Life.
Try your own Lumiere du Matin – – Lemon, Sweet Orange, Bergamot, Pink Grapefruit, Neroli, Kashmir Lavender, Rosemary, Petitigrain, Jasmine Sambac, Bay Leaf, Tobacco/Zarda, Egyptian Geranium, Coriander, Ambrette Seed, Atlas Cedarwood, Bitter Orange.
NO, NO, IT’S NOT JUST MORE SOAP – THESE ARE THE FABBIEST, UBER-LUXE BODY LOTION BARS – These triple hand-milled lotion bars contain coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, generous quantities of premium 100% pure essential oils (eg fragrant spices of sweet orange, ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon leaf and clove), and at the super-fatting stage (once the lye has saponified and is no longer active) organic cocoa butter, unrefined shea butter, golden jojoba and extra luxe essential oils such as rose, myrrh, frankincense and aged patchouli. These luscious lotion bars are extremely emollient and are truly wonderful for skin softening and all-over body moisture.
…a freshly cut batch of lotion bars (yellow bars are chai masala spice, pink is kewra, aged patchouli and rose, and purple is lavender & ylang ylang soap – not lotion bars)
Luxe Body Lotion Bars are extra large cakes that weigh 150gms and are $17.50 each. As well, they are beautifully gift-boxed.
Discovered a very big box of sparkling new French crystal perfume bottles round the corner. The perfume maker had accumulated far too much stock and the serendipitous fairies of good fortune pointed them out to my son…
“Mum” he said, “there’s perfume bottles”… and yes there were.
Prestigious French Verrerie Cristallerie d’Arques – No longer in production or readily available, these exquisite bottles are rare, precious and highly collectible.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.