June 24, 2010

Let the Reviews Begin!

Learned something new.  Here is a "hashtag" that will lead you to Basenotes Mystery of Musk reviews. (Apparently someone didn't mention to the Basenote folks that the reviews are supposed to start on July 1st, so... Hold on! Here we go!)


June 23, 2010

My New Name?

I've finally decided on a name for my line: "Joie Botanicals."  It is the french spelling of the word Joy, but even if American's  mispronounce it by saying the English version it will still have the same meaning!  Any thoughts before I make it official???

My first attempt at Enfleurage:
Lemon Blossom

June 22, 2010

I don’t mind saying I am new to perfumery.  As luck would have it, I was chosen to be one of the forum evaluators for the Mystery of Musk Project.  You can read more about it here: http://anyasgarden.blogspot.com/2010/06/mystery-of-musk-natural-perfumers-guild.html

To begin with, I tend to be “a right brain person.” Meaning, I let my senses take me away to places where words seem unnecessary. Life can be stressful and my lovely culinary, olfactory, visual and intimate experiences are a time where I let myself flow to life affirming places… places that energize my soul and remind me that life is beautiful and precious and that none of this should be take for granted. In doing so, I float on the emotions of joy and pleasure being generated from these most miraculous sensory experiences.  At times, I even close my eyes; allowing myself to go into my own world of colors and sensations. Like I said, when I am in that place, words can seem so unnecessary.  It’s like... to take the time to find the words to describe the experience is such a distraction from the experience itself!

Unfortunately (or fortunately), for this Musk Project, I am required to find words to describe these most delicious fragrances that have begun arriving at my doorstep every few days.  I must find the words to convey abstractness... these hues of olfactory indulgence.  What an exciting challenge! It is such a rare opportunity and privilege.  It is one that I most willingly take on! 

Soooo, I said all of that to say this: Today, for the first time, I sat down at my work area to begin to attempt to put words to my impressions.  One-by-one, I applied a fragrance to a scent strip.  (I have received 7 samples so far.) Noting the time and name of each one on the strip.  For each fragrance, I did a little brainstorm, writing down the words as they popped into my head.  I didn't try to think too much.  I just wrote my first impressions... whatever they might be.

I continued on, sniffing each unique scent every few minutes... noting the time and my continuing impressions... trying not to let my initial impressions interfere with my current ones. (From what I understand, this is called "the dry down.")

That was step #1.  I plan to do this a few times more on a few different days and as the remainder of the artisian perfumers send out thier scents.  I will not look at my notes from the previous days.  It will be a fresh perspective. In the end, I want to see which impressions remain consistent.  From that point, I will (along with all the other bloggers and forum members) do a separate write up of each individual fragrance and post them here between July 1st and July 7th.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. ~Anais Nin

June 8, 2010

"The Musk Project":

There are those who just do not understand the mind of one who would choose to go to such great lengths to create a purely botanical musk scent when synthetic alternatives can be inexpensively and more accurately created in a laboratory. 

I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but as one who considers herself a naturalist at heart, I will attempt to address what I believe are some of the most important reasons a perfumer might choose to create a botanical version of Musk rather than using animal or synthetic ingredients.  

It's at the juncture between expense and availability, after all, which the natural perfumer and synthetic perfumer seem to part paths. For it is no secret that natural perfumes contain ingredients that are more costly than and don't last near as long on the skin as long as synthetic perfumes.

The Allure of Musk:

The truth is, we really cannot help but be drawn to Musks. We have an inate attraction to it. It contains those soft, sultry, pheromonal (and fixative) qualities so desirable in our perfume creations (and on each other!).

It truly is a wonderous thing how all of the odor components in nature (including the animal scents) evolved over the expanse of time... and with no help from us whatsoever!  Following the laws of attraction and reproduction, Nature has crafted these complex, multi-layered, once-living aroma molecules and then we borrow them to compose our own little fragrant symphonies.

The Ethics of Musk:

As a natural perfumer, I not only have admiration for the complexities of nature’s creations, but my artistic choices also have ethical motivations.  When available, I choose to use sustainable, cruelty-free, organic, fair-trade and environmentally-safe botanical essences as ingredients in my perfume.  For me personally, this ideology borders on the spiritual.

Unfortunately, for the natural perfumer, the special scent of Musk has the nasty habit of trying to elude the our palette. In its various forms, Musk has either become extinct through greed and cruelty or it has polluted our ecosystems in the form of man-made molecules that don't readily break down. 

The Challenge of Musk:

The fact that the scent of Musk is, in all reality, an animal product, it can be quite a challenge to find botanical substitute. But, as a natural perfumer, most of the fun in what we do is exploring the possibilities.  We are on a search for the perfect composition using notes from the many botanical oils, absolutes, concretes resins or tinctures we gather from around the planet. The ultimate acheivement is when you find just the right combination... when you smell it, you just know... ahhhh, this is the one! It's like you've just touched the hand of God. (Okay... wait for it... It’s a most "scentual" experience! :o) 

The bottom line is this: Metaphorically, natural perfumers are swimming upstream in the world of high fashion and fine fragrance.  But, it must be understood that not only are natural perfumers fully aware of the limitations of their craft, they embrace them.  For to them, there is a much bigger picture in their view. This is a challenge natural perfumers celebrate because they have placed not only the art, but also the conscience of perfumery before profit.

To quote Booker T. Washington: “Nothing worth having is ever easy...   Excellence is to do something common in an uncommon way.”

June 6, 2010

Ambrette Seed

Today... My little tiny bottle of  ambrette oil came in the mail.  Oh my.... I am in heaven.  What to blend with it???


What is Musk and why is it so sought after?  Well, probably because it is one of the most sexy, sensual, pheromone-inciting scent ingredients in all of perfumery! Not only that but, it is a great fixative… giving perfumes a long life on the skin. Musk odor is not only highly sought after in perfumes, but in everything from laundry soap to air fresheners.  

The use of musk in fragrance dates back to antiquity.  Musk is the name originally given to a substance obtained from the gland of the male musk deer.  It has been used as a popular perfume fixative since ancient times and, because of its scarcity, is one of the most expensive animal products in the world.  No other natural substance has such a complex aroma. It is usually described abstractly as animalic, earthy and woody. (1)

Unfortunately, to obtain real musk oil, the deer is killed and its gland, also called a "musk pod,” is removed.  This practice has, over time, driven this animal almost to extinction. It is now on the endangered species list and is protected.

As a result of this, since the late 19th century, nearly all musk fragrance used in perfumery has been made through synthetic processes. Although, most recently even the synthetic “musk” molecules have become a problem because they have been found not only to have carcinogenic properties, but also because of the inability to break down easily they have been discovered in human and environmental samples and are accumulating in our ecosystems.  As we speak, there is a heated public debate on the use of these synthetic materials with many of them being banned or restricted. (1)

 (1)  Rimkus, Gerhard G. (Ed.); Cornelia Sommer (2004). "The Role of Musk and Musk Compounds in the Fragrance Industry". Synthetic Musk Fragrances in the Environment (Handbook of Environmental Chemistry)Springer.ISBN 3540437061.

June 5, 2010

The Mystery of Musk Project #2

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:            

Some of the Natural Ingredients one might include in a musk accord:

“Cruelty Free” Animal Sources: 

Ambergris, Beeswax, Hyrax, Goat Musk

Botanical Sources:

Ambrette seed, Angelica Root (Ambrette seed and angelica root are the only botanicals that contain macrocyclic musk, like the musk deer), Sandalwood, Labdanum, Vetiver, Spikenard, Oud, Vanilla, Musk Rose, Black Currant, Jasmine, sambac, Patchouli, Cumin, Black pepper, Costus, Seaweed, Carrot Seed

Natural Perfumer's Guild Mystery of Musk Project

Natural Perfumer's Guild Mystery of Musk Project
In celebration of the 4th anniversary of the Natural Perfumer's Guild…


President of the Natural Perfumer’s Guild, Anya McCoy, has initiated an event in cooperation with BaseNotes which 12 natural perfume artists are selected (in a random draw by a third party) to participate in a cooperative perfuming project.  In this project, the scent of MUSK will take center stage.  This project is being called: The Mystery of Musk. 

In addition to the 12 perfumers and their creations, 8 bloggers have been selected to evaluate and then write about their impressions of the 12 unique, musk perfumes. In addition to the above “pros,” Anya has also graciously opted to select 5 members from Basenotes Forum and another 5 members from the Yahoo! Natural Perfumery Forum to participate as well.


In this event, each of the selected perfumers will create their own version of what they consider a quintessential musk scent using only natural ingredients! In Anya’s words, “It's as if 12 artists are invited to exhibit their paintings on a (single) theme… The viewers are shown the beauty and diversity of the different interpretations on a theme. It is a great experience for the artists and the viewers.”

As a special treat, one full bottle will be sent to each of the bloggers from one of the perfumers as a giveaway. Also, one Basenotes forum member and one Natural Perfumery forum member will also receive a full bottle as a giveaway. (The bottle size at the discretion of the perfumer, and may vary from 4mls upwards.)

Soooo, mark your calendars and join the blogs, because during the week of July 1st-7th, 2010, 18 reviews of the 12 creations will be posted on the blogs and forums (see below) for everyone to follow along!  This should be a very interesting and entertaining experience for all (not to mention we might all learn a thing or two!)


The Perfume Artists:
Adam Gottschalk – Lord’s Jester
Alexandra Balahoutis – Strange Invisible Perfumes
Alfredo Dupetit – BioScent by dupetit
Ambrosia Jones – Perfume by Nature
Charna Ethier – Providence Perfumes
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz – DSH Perfumes
Elise Pearlstine – Belly Flower Perfumes
JoAnne Bassett – JoAnne Bassett Perfumes
Lisa Fong – Artemisia Perfume
Nicholas Jennings – Sharini Parfums Naturels

The Bloggers:
I Smell Therefore I Am - Abigail Levin
Indie Perfumes - Lucy Raubertas
Bitter Grace Notes - Maria Browning
Olfactarama - Pat Borow

Yahoo! Natural Perfumery Forum Members:
Marla Robb
Chris Morrison – Scents Ability
Alfred Eberle
Lisa A

(Still waiting for the list of 5 from BaseNotes)