Category Archives: natural perfume

Strange Magic Perfume

Sunday - 18 June 2017

STRANGE MAGIC PERFUME

A perfume of color changeable tinctures from an organic garden in Miami, Florida. Read about a giveaway of this perfume, below.

Strange Magic perfume 15ml spray

Strange Magic perfume 15ml spray

Sustainable, cold-process extraction process of plant fragrance debuts

Launched May 31, 2017

Anya McCoy, perfumer, botanist, and founder of Anya’s Garden Perfumes in Miami has released Strange Magic, the first perfume composed of about 95% organic fragrant tinctures. Strange Magic is made with tinctures that reveal hidden colors in the flowers, leaves, and roots when they were placed in the alcohol. Anya has tinctured for herbal purposes for forty years, and for perfume purposes for twenty years. It wasn’t until she dropped snow white Michelia alba flowers into the alcohol and saw the alcohol turn pink, then red, then dark red that she realize there was some hidden secrets in some flowers – Strange Magic.

White champaca flowers turn a gorgeous red in alcohol

White champaca flowers turn a gorgeous red in alcohol

The magic appeared a few years ago when she dropped a handful of white Michelia alba flowers into 190 proof alcohol. She wanted to make a fragrant tincture of this delicious smelling flower to add to her array of natural raw materials for her perfumes. As soon as the flowers started to sink into the alcohol, the alcohol took on a pink tinge. It was quite startling, and by the second day, the alcohol was a light shade of crimson. The more flowers added to recharge the alcohol with scent, the deeper red the menstruum got, eventually becoming burgundy/opaque. Some said it was the dyes or waxes in the flowers revealing themselves, but she said it was Strange Magic.

Plant dyes have been known for thousands of years, but the colors extracted are somewhat related to the original plant material’s color. Onion skins make a golden dye, blueberries a bluish dye, and so on.

This was different.

She’s tinctured herbs, woods, roots, leaves, and flowers for many years, beginning with simplers herbal tinctures. What an epiphany the white champaca flowers were. Numerous tinctures that had changed color now flooded her consciousness. The yellow ylang ylang flowers turned the alcohol olive green, and eventually opaque, like the Michelia.

White jasmines such as the sambac Grand Duke of Tuscany turned deep gold. White gardenias and tuberoses again – deep gold. She had been using the orangy/brown jasmine absolutes and concretes from the 70s, but  never put the color change together until the white champaca. She’d never seen any talk of the color change on any of the aromatherapy or perfume forums she’d been on for decades, other than the color change mentioned was the blue azulene color that developed when chamomiles were distilled, everyone seemed entranced by that. The azulene is not present in the fresh flowers, but develops in the distillation process.But white jasmines turning orangy/brown? No. No discussion.

Yellow ylang ylang flowers turn the tincture green, and get darker with each recharge. The scent is very, very strong! Beautiful

Yellow ylang ylang flowers turn the tincture green, and get darker with each recharge. The scent is very, very strong! Beautiful

Ylang Ylang essential oil is pale yellow. The absolute of the same flower? Green. Her  tincture? Dark Green. It’s the alcohol wash of the concrete that reveals the green color, and the alcohol menstruum I used.
Well, it’s time to honor the Strange Magic of color change that happens, don’t you think?

Here are a few color-changing plants in Strange Magic, but not all are listed – after all, magic needs a bit of secrecy:

Aglaia: yellow flowers Dark amber tincture
Orris: pale white rhizome Bright coral, orange tincture
Chamomiles: white flowers Blue oils when distilled
Gardenias: white flowers Dark amber tincture
Jasmines: white flowers Deep amber tincture (some, not all)
White Champaca: white flowers Crimson red to dark red tincture
Ylang ylang: yellow flowers Olive green to dark green tincture
Cashmere Bouquet Clerodendrum: white flowers Deep red tincture
Vintage white ambergris from Vanuatu Orange tincture

Artisan perfumers can work with sustainable fragrance materials with a “grow your own” plan to harvest and tincture the fragrant plants. If they can garden, and have suitable space in the garden, it’s possible to lessen the carbon footprint associated with purchasing essential oils and absolutes. All that’s needed is 190 proof alcohol, and harvesting and recharging the alcohol to make the tincture strong with fragrance.

It is not a fast or rushed process: Anya and her assistants spent many hours over the years hand-harvesting the flowers, placing them in alcohol, straining them out, recharging them over and over. If you know the heat and humidity of Miami, you know the dedication this took. Some tinctures have been recharged dozens of times to reach the scent strength desired. Still, it is worth it because the cold process, with no heat destroying some of the more delicate floral notes, and the sustainability of producing some of the raw product on-site are dual bonuses of the eco-conscious perfumer.

Anya is currently in discussions with publishers about a book she has written Perfume From Your Garden. It’s the first of its kind, detailing extraction methods for the perfumer, soaper, gardener, hobbyist, or DIYer who wishes to capture the fragrant plants from their garden at the height of their beauty.

Samples and 15ml spray bottles of Strange Magic are available at http://anyasgarden.com/store.htm

Until June 20, 2017, there is a chance for you to win Strange Magic by registering and commenting on the Cafleurebon review of the perfume.

Anya’s resume:

Founder and Instructor at Natural Perfumery Institute http://perfumeclasses.com

Owner and CEO at Natural Perfumers Guild http://naturalperfumers.com

Owner/Perfumer at Anya’s Garden Perfumes http://anyasgarden.com

Former Writer at Organic Gardening (magazine)

Former District Manager at USDA Soil and Water Conservation District (elected position State of Florida)

Former Adjunct Professor of Urban Planning and Design at Florida Atlantic University

Former Landscape Architect at Collier County, Florida

Studied Landscape architecture at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Masters Degree

Studied Economic Botany at University of California, Riverside Bachelors

Strange Magic Perfume

Wednesday - 3 May 2017

Strange Magic Perfume

Strange Magic is inspired by the color magic of the flowers I grow. I have spent many years gathering the rare tropical flowers that provide fragrance and beauty in my organic garden in Miami, transforming them into strongly-scented tinctures. Some have been used in perfumes in the past, but this is a new approach, born of an observation that stunned me. Some flowers, when tinctured, or distilled, create a colored tincture that defies the color of the original flower. Some white flowers turn crimson or amber in a tincture, ylang ylang turns green, then so dark its opaque. Some white flowers turn blue, well, the colors are just surprising!

I believe this is the first perfume made almost entirely of tinctures, with some color magic essential oils and absolutes in the blend.

Strange Magic will be launched later this month, and I will post a guide to the flowers and their transformative color magic when the scent is extracted. The other magical aspect is that the scent is very, very close to the scent of the living flower, since no heat was used in extracting the scent. Magical!

Mother’s Day – 

Treat Her with Natural Goodness

My mother, Ann, around age 46
I was a toddler when I first raided my mother’s perfumes. I was besotted with the heady perfumes of the 50s and 60s, and would play with them for hours. In her later years, my mother came to live with me in Miami, and she loved the natural perfumes I make. Moon Dance was her favorite, and I do admit it is closest to the vintage perfumes of her era.
Sale on all perfumes and soaps for Mother’s Day
Use the discount code earthalways at checkout for 20% off all perfumes and luxury natural soaps through Sunday, May 7th so that your lovely gifts can be shipped in time to reach your mom by her special day. Live in the USA? Free shipping! Please visit Anya’s Garden Perfumes to choose your Mother’s Day fragrant delight.

 Rare Discount – on Perfumery Course

Have you been wanting to learn perfumery? I started teaching in 2007, sixteen years after I launched my first perfumery line, bringing experience in techniques, processes, and business and legislative matters. The textbook for the Basic Course is written at the university level, and the education you’ll receive is broad in scope and precise in detail regarding the art.
I don’t offer discounts often, so take advantage of 20% off the course. Read more here, and I hope to see you “up your game” and enroll in this course, a labor of love for me. Click here to read more. Discount code is earthalways and ends Monday, May 8th. Discount does not apply to kits.

June 1st is the 11th Anniversary of the

Natural Perfumers Guild!

 
From our website:
The Natural Perfumers Guild was established in 2006 and is the only international trade organization dedicated to promoting the beauty and benefits of 100% natural fragrances and giving a voice to the artisan natural perfumer.
Our mission is to gather, strengthen and empower our existing member community, increase public awareness through education about pure and natural perfumes, and establish standards of excellence in perfumery by protecting the traditional art of perfumery through ethical standards.
The Guild also addresses legislative issues that affect natural perfumery. Our Code defines the elements that make us a self-regulating organization. Our standards for our Professional Perfumers are the highest in the world regarding the use of natural ingredients. Please see the Definition of Natural Perfumery link in the menu and feel free to contact the Guild if you have any questions about natural perfume.

Join us as we enter our 12th year, and enjoy the benefits of the community, while supporting the advancement of natural perfumery.

In the coming year, we will be working on a definition of perfume permaculture, looking at ways to promote sustainability in the art. Climate change has accelerated the rise in issues concerning raw materials, and demands by consumers are two main areas to address. The Guild encourages artisan distillers, micro perfumery businesses, and a paradigm of respect and responsibility towards natural materials.
You can read of our previous projects, white papers, and benefits – such as downloadable vintage perfumery books – here.
Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.

A Modern Perfume Organ

Sunday - 2 April 2017

I started collection essential oils and absolutes in 1966. At the time, I didn’t know my bottles of aromatics were supposed to be arranged on a tiered shelf called a perfume organ. Because I was a botanist, I categorized them by the part of the plant they were extracted from: florals, woods, leaves, etc., and kept them in plastic boxes for storage.

Later, I had a beautiful old wooden printer’s tray, which, when attached to a wall, provided a lovely display for the small bottles, but was impractical for working, and, of course, didn’t hold the larger bottles.

In 1990 or so, I stored my perfume organ in a beautiful Thai display case.

Anya McCoy with Thai display cabinet holding perfume organ oils

Anya McCoy with Thai display cabinet holding perfume organ oils

I finally located a man in Kentucky who made the wooden tiered racks for essential oils you’d see displayed in stores. I carefully measured what I perceived I’d need, and sent him the information. He constructed a lovely, modern-looking perfume organ out of pine, sweet and pale yellow and perfect for my needs – at the time.

What many perfume organs still look like, but this was only temporary. You can see the beginning of my dilutions on the bottom row. This photo is about 10 years old

What many artisans’ perfume organs still look like, but this was only temporary. You can see the beginning of my dilutions on the bottom row. This photo is about 10 years old

All my bottles, except the ones that needed refrigeration were on the organ, interspersed with the dilutions I used in everyday blending. The dilutions sat right next to the undiluted aromatics, and that was okay for a while.

The Modern Perfume Organ in Practice

Ah, visual serenity, aesthetic beauty, and so much more refined! This perfume organ should be the desired type for artisan perfumers. Modern, cost-effective, and so easy to use!

Ah, visual serenity, aesthetic beauty, and so much more refined! This perfume organ should be the desired type for artisan perfumers. Modern, cost-effective, and so easy to use!

Top notes are on the top level, middle notes, of which there are hundreds, are on middle levels, and base notes along the bottom. Why dilute your essences? It saves a lot of money, first of all. Imagine using undiluted pricey oils, like rose otto, for all of your mods. Secondly, now you get the scent of the rose “opened up” by the alcohol in the dilution, too. Two great bonuses!

Don’t ever struggle with trying to use labdanum or tobacco absolutes by the drop again! The diluted essences are very fluid.

Now only dilutions are on the perfume organ. Most are 10%, some higher, some lower. The undiluted raw materials are kept in a refrigerator, with their specific gravity noted on a blending database. You may be able to blend a perfume modification with a diluted essence, but you need the specific gravity to be able to blend any quantity. This is taught in my Intermediate Level Perfumery course. Enroll now in the Basic course, which will prepare you to further your studies at the Intermediate Level.

 

The Passion of Natural Perfumers

Thursday - 12 January 2017

The Beauty of Botanicals Made Liquid – The Passion of Natural Perfumers

This article originally appeared on Basenotes.net on Feb. 20, 2008

by Anya McCoy

20th February, 2008

This flower is at the limit of wilting or decomposition that I will allow into my tincture. On-the-spot decisions are necessary when processing botanicals, and hands-on natural perfumers become adept at the process.

This flower is at the limit of wilting or decomposition that I will allow into my tincture.  On-the-spot decisions are necessary when processing botanicals, and hands-on natural perfumers become adept at the process.

The 21st Century Revival and Redefinition of Natural Perfume by Natural Perfumers

Like everyone who has progressed with passion, training and persistence to become a perfumer, the new wave of natural perfumers started with an intense love of scents. Many can trace their formative moment – the zing of recognition – when a scent transformed their life, and put them on the path of creation. They probably smelled everything around them (as did I) from grass to dirt, flowers, other people, cement, perfume, cereal, ink, paper, plastic dolls, toys, food cooking, hair, furniture, the air before a storm, rotten wood, burning leaves – in other words, the full spectrum of fragrance in the environment. The natural environment, complex, challenging, and often sweetly rewarding enticed and enchanted us. We were hooked.

Many who love perfumes in general, whether they contain all-natural ingredients or not, cite the kiss goodnight from a mother swathed in evening clothes, diffusing an exotic perfume as she bent over them before setting out to a party as a defining moment, a moment when perfume’s magic of transformation of their mother into an otherworldly, fragrant unknown star in the sky touched them deeply. Perfume profoundly moves us, and natural essences move us the most – we are entranced with their beauty, complexity and “aliveness.”

When the synthetic chemical scents coumarin and vanillin were discovered in the 1880’s, they were quickly added to the corporate perfumer’s palette, and natural perfumery as it had existed up until then disappeared. Looking back in time perhaps four or five generations, it must be acknowledged everyone who loved perfume knew only perfume with synthetics blended in with the naturals.

Whether floral and discreet, or Oriental and animalic, loaded with civet, musk, castoreum and ambergris, the all-natural perfumes created in the pre-synthetics era disappeared.

The pre-1890 natural perfumer had a rather limited range of aromatics to choose from, as many of the Indian and Asian essences we now have easy access to were not used in western perfumery at that time. Today, champaca, lotus, ambrette, agarwood and many other exotics round out the number of botanicals available to the natural perfumer. That, along with the adoption of classic French techniques of blending using top, middle and base notes, helps differentiate the modern natural perfumer from the 19th Century one.

A look back to the 19th Century would be little more than an intellectual exercise for a perfumer without the eternal beauty and complexity of the fragrant botanical extracts to kindle the fire of passion in the modern natural perfumer.

Since aromatherapy had opened the doors of small-scale distribution of essential oils, all the natural perfumer had to do was nudge open a few more doors, and suppliers were providing them with concretes and absolutes, attars and other raw materials. The aromatic palette was complete, and the niche field of modern natural perfumery was launched.

Some of the beginner natural perfumers liked, and had, all sorts of perfumes in their possession, from the classics like Chanel No. 5 to modern niche Serge Lutens creations. Still others professed a dislike to the strong sillage and diffusion modern perfumes. There was no common ground on like or dislike of perfumes containing synthetic chemical – only a professed love of natural aromatics.

Yes, even though they had easy access to aromachemicals – synthetic versions of the naturals, and fantasy scents – they chose to work with only naturals.

Why have you decided to be a “naturals-only” perfumer is a question we often get. The person asking the question may list the negatives:

Your raw materials are very expensive.
Your perfumes don’t last as long as those with synthetics, and they don’t have great diffusivity or sillage.
The raw materials are difficult to work with.
You’re artisans, often working out of a spare room in their house, isolated.
You have to for the most part, train yourselves and fund your own business.
You have to search out distribution networks, or, more realistically, depend on the internet or local stores for sales.
You realize they’ll never get rich at this, or have a corporate safety net.

We answer – Because.

Because:

We’re in it for the art.
We regard the natural essences as providing the richest, most beautiful, complex, challenging liquid artform to work with.
The fragrances evolve on the skin in a way synthetics don’t, and captive us with their slow, seductive nuances.
We don’t like big-volume perfumes with a lot of sillage or diffusivity.
We like subtle, complex aromatics that stay close to the wearer’s body and evolve slowly on the skin.
We take delight and pleasure in experiencing a unique natural aromatic.
The discovery and unlocking of a complex accord within a natural is rewarding.
The ability to connect on a level that speaks to an eternal fragrance is wonderful e.g., the cypriol we use is the same cypriol that was used in ancient Egypt.
The excitement of being in on the ground floor of a new art as it develops, and realizing that if we’ve come this far in approximately five years, how far we can go with natural perfumery in the next fifty?

Natural Perfumers create perfumes from 100% natural aromatics

There is no competition with mainstream perfumery. We’re just two different artforms, like oil painting is different from digital art. There are completely different aesthetics, mediums and results, and so it is and will always continue to be. These parallel arts will always have things in common, such as the need to respond to market trends, sourcing, R&D, and the need to always keep learning, keep on top of the perfumery and keep current, and that is our common ground.

Natural perfumers will always create for those who appreciate hand-made items from natural sources, and they are fortunate to live in the time of the internet and global transport that delivers raw aromatics and customers orders to their studio, allowing them to develop their art and business outside of the closed world of corporate perfumery schools.

We have a pronounced advantage in our pioneering of tincturing and infusing rare botanicals for our own use. Natural perfumers are as apt to create their own jasmine bases and tuberose tinctures as buy it from the supplier, if they have a garden to grow the botanical in. Others are tincturing seeds and soil to recreate some of the more exotic scents out of India, such as ambrette and mitti, which is soil attar.

And the clincher? Our mothers, who first turned us on to the world of perfume love our scents, and we now give back to them and their generation our liquid treasures, botanicals made liquid – naturally.

You may wish to sample the creations of the Certified Natural Perfumers in the Natural Perfumers Guild. Their perfumes undergo a rigorous certification process and are also held to high standards of packaging and ingredient transparency. http://NaturalPerfumers.com

Natural Perfumers Guild logo

Natural Perfumers Guild logo

Comparison Between Natural and Synthetic Perfumes

Monday - 25 April 2016

As head of the Natural Perfumers Guild, founder of the Natural Perfumery Institute, and a perfumer who only uses 100% natural aromatics in my perfumes, I am often asked about the differences between natural and mainstream (contain synthetics) perfumes. I created the following chart years ago for my textbook, and it’s a good, quick reference on the subject.

The bottle may hold natural or mainstream perfume. It's the customer's decision based on preferences, scent, price, or lifestyle whether to purchase it - or not.

The bottle may hold natural or mainstream perfume. It’s the customer’s decision based on preferences, scent, price, or lifestyle whether to purchase it – or not.

Chart for Quick Comparison Between Natural and Synthetic Perfumes

  Natural Mainstream (contains synthetics)
Perfumer’s Goal: Beauty and Health Beauty
Aromatic Palette: Essential oils, concretes, absolutes, CO2s, tinctures, and infusions Primarily synthetic aromachemicals, minimal essential oils and absolutes
Number of Aromatics per Blend: 10 – 30 30 – 100+
Creative Process Goals: Blend to create unique classic artisan vision with top/mid/base notes For corporate perfumers: meet market demands; can use top/mid/base structure, or linear
Diluent: Typically undenatured alcohol; sometimes oil, cream, or solid base Typically synthetic denatured alcohol; solid, dry spray
Customer Experience: Perfume unfolds on skin, revealing layers of scent Strong aesthetic statement, trendy, or nod to vintage
Drydown time: 1  – 8 hours;base may persist for 24 hours 1 – 24+ hours
Cost per pound of undiluted compound: Extremely expensive; some aromatics are $10 – $100,000 per pound Very inexpensive; corporations insist on lowest cost; there are rumors of a $20 per pound limit
History: Link to ancient Egypt, historical figures, use naturals in both ancient and modern style blends. Link to ancient Egypt, historical figures, use of synthetics to replace naturals began in 19th century.
Diffusion of Scent: Arm’s length, slight sillage, unobtrusive Can scent an entire room; strong sillage
Known respiratory issues: Little or none. If you are allergic to roses, rose oil in a natural perfume might trigger an allergic response. Well-documented; some municipalities have enacted no-fragrance laws

I hope this guide will clarify some issues on natural versus synthetic perfumes. If you have any questions on this issue, feel free to comment.

If you want a quality education in natural perfumery, click here to read more. 

For Natural Perfumers, every day is Earth Day – and a giveaway!

Thursday - 21 April 2016

I’ve neglected my blog for a few months, while cultivating and nourishing other aspects of my life as a natural perfumer. I chose today to rebirth the blog in celebration of Earth Day. It feels right, and I look forward to posting regularly again, reporting on discoveries, musings, and general fanciful natural aromatic news.

I took part in the first Earth Day celebrations on April 22, 1970. It was a “happening” on Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. Fairmount Park is the largest park in an urban area in the world, encompassing woodland trails, meadows, wetlands and manicured grounds on 9200 acres.

I spent many hours crossing the stepping stones, loving the wildness of the park.

The Cobbs Creek area of Fairmount Park photo is circa 1905, showing a child of that time doing what I did 50-60 years later. I spent many hours crossing the stepping stones, loving the wildness of the park.

I was very familiar with the park, because as a child growing up in Philly, the park was just a few blocks from my home. It’s the largest urban park in the world and it provided a playground for the kids. I loved the pine forest, the open meadows, and all the fragrant beauty it offered. Earth Day seemed an extension of my fun days of childhood, and was a signal of an awakening of the general population that we need to take care of Mother Earth.

earth week 1970

The last name was spelled incorrectly – we called it Filthydelphia, and were determined to clean it up!

A video of Belmont Plateau and why we needed Earth Day in Filthydelphia:

Did you know that the first Earth WEEK was that week in Philly? It was conceived at the University of Pennsylvania, right in my neighborhood. Interesting fact, and one I’m proud of. I was distributing a local underground paper at that time, and writing a bit for Rolling Stone (very informal stuff), and the city was abuzz with the big event upcoming at the Plateau.

I don’t have any photos of myself at the event, this was a time waaay before every event was memorialized on film. Yes, of course, we had film in those days 🙂 I can’t even find any photos of myself around that time, since I’ve moved so much in the intervening years things, like photos, got lost.

However, memories remain: I’m sure I was wearing patchouli or sandalwood oil that day, and later, when I was able to collect absolutes and a wider range of aromatic oils a few years later, the path to natural perfumery was beckoning. In the interim, I got degrees in Economic Botany and Landscape Architecture, wrote for Organic Gardening magazine, started community gardens, and was elected to a State of Florida office as District Manager of the USDA Soil and Water Conservation District in Collier County. All the time I was studying perfumery, herbalism, and aromatherapy. I connected the earth with healing and pleasure, and still do, every day. I am an Earth Child, for sure.

The label of Pan has changed, but the juice remains the same - pure earth, forest, soil, field, musk!

The label of Pan has changed, but the juice remains the same – pure earth, forest, soil, field, musk!

I love my perfume Pan because it’s an agrestic forest and field fragrance that reminds me of the park and my childhood. It’s also a very sexy musky scent, and when I created Pan I realized how musky the park was with wild animal pheromones. I was a lucky urban child because I was able to explore the feral natural world, and am lucky enough to still be doing that today, with my perfumery materials. To a natural perfumer, every day is Earth Day.

To celebrate Earth Day 2016 – a celebration that I never envisioned all those years ago, as a teenager lolling around on a warm sunny day on Belmont Plateau, I’m offering a 15ml spray bottle Eau de Parfum of Pan. Leave a message what Earth Day means to you, even if is a short note, just a phrase, a feeling, or something you learned about me from the post – and you will be in the random drawing to win Pan. Share on Social Media and you’ll be entered twice! Drawing is open until 11:59PM Saturday, April 23, 2016.

PS Enjoy Spring!

How to Sample Perfume

Sunday - 30 August 2015

I just revised my insert card that I include when customers buy my sample box of 12 perfumes. I decided years ago that it’s best to make a suggestion about the sampling process, and the parallel to wine sampling. If you’ve ever visited a winery, or attended a wine sampling event, you’re familiar with this process.

At the wine event, you’ll be given the light, crisp whites to experience first. You inhale the bouquet (smell) and then taste the wine. Then you’ll move on to a more robust white, something like a Chardonnay, and so on, through light reds, to deep, full-bodied reds.

Why? Because the fuller-bodied, deeper, more robust wines will dull your taste buds and sense of smell a bit, overwhelming them so that if you taste a lighter wine afterwards, all the nuances of that wine will be lost. Light first, then move on through the more assertively scented and tasting wines, and you’ll be able to enjoy and fully experience all the nuances. It’s the same with perfumes!

How to Sample Perfumes - from Anya's Garden Perfumes

How to Sample Perfumes – from Anya’s Garden Perfumes Photo: gardenia by Anya McCoy

Ironically, my lightest perfume is named Light, so I worked out the sampling progression from there, and each perfume from that starting point gets stronger and more full-bodied. By including this card, I help my customers in two ways: they have learned about the intensity and sampling system of wines and perfumes, and they don’t overwhelm their nose by choosing Fairchild or Star Flower first!

Hope this helps everyone understand and use a logical way to enjoy perfumes.

How to Make Perfume – Why I don’t enfleurage golden champaca

Friday - 28 August 2015

When you make perfume from flowers, there are several ways to extract the scent. I love to enfleurage rare flowers. Enfleurage is placing flowers on a bed of semi-hard fat, such as shortening, or rendered leaf lard and suet. The next step in the process is to “wash” the fat in alcohol. This post isn’t about enfleurage, except to point out why I don’t enfleurage a flower that seems ripe for the process.

Some flowers, even though they emit a lovely fragrance, shouldn’t be enfleuraged. There are several reason for this. Orange blossoms are fragile, and would fall apart in the enfleurage tray, requiring laborious defleuraging process – picking the petals out, one by one, with tweezers. Tweezers are routinely used to remove flowers from enfleurage fat, but not these, it would be a greasy fiasco, with much fat clinging to the petals, enveloping them.

My golden champaca tree is in full bloom, and I have never enfleuraged these flowers. Why? The edges of the flowers tend to start to ‘brown’ or slightly decay shortly after harvest. They would be a watery, moldy mess in enfleurage fat. I also don’t macerate them, which is place them in heated oil. The French, and before them, ancient cultures, such as the Egyptians, routinely placed flowers in warm fat or oil to extract the scent, but I find champaca so delicately scented, so ethereal, I use alcohol to tincture them.

Dozens of beautifully-scented golden champaca (Michelia champaca) flowers, all starting to  decompose shortly after harvest

Dozens of beautifully-scented golden champaca (Michelia champaca) flowers, all starting to decompose shortly after harvest

I have been making my golden champaca tincture for several years now, and probably have about 20 charges of replenished flowers in the menstruum. The tincture is divine!!

This flower is at the limit of wilting or decomposition that I will allow into my tincture. I may snip off the tips if the browning is too much. On-the-spot decisions are necessary when processing botanicals.

This flower is at the limit of wilting or decomposition that I will allow into my tincture. I may snip off the tips if the browning is too much. On-the-spot decisions are necessary when processing botanicals.

This is why solvents are used to extract champacas. It’s quick, and saves the flowers from decomposition. Alcohol is a great solvent, and does the job. I have a glorious extract to work with, a statement every artisan perfumer can relate to. To make perfume with raw materials is fun, and you often get rare plants into the mix that you might not otherwise have access to.

Do you enfleurage? What observations have you made as to the limits of the materials you choose to work with?

PS. White champaca, Michelia alba – same decomposition problem, but to a lesser degree. An added problem with them is their tendency to shatter, thus the same problem as orange blossoms.

 

How to Make Perfume – Excerpts from my textbook

Sunday - 9 August 2015

Slow Study

Making perfume takes time, and lots of thinking and introspection.

As I work through adapting my textbook for my new website, I am finding many passages that are very helpful for anyone who wants to make perfume, or is already making perfume, whether you stick to 100% natural ingredients like I do, or if you use aroma chemicals. I’ve decided to excerpt some passages on a regular basis, because I believe they can inspire and help others on this path. My first excerpt deals with the fear and indecision that every perfumer faces. If you don’t face it, I challenge you to challenge yourself, you’re too complacent.

Springtime image from the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, my hometown. I grew up knowing and loving this statue.

Springtime image from the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, my hometown. I grew up knowing and loving this statue. So, it’s springtime, and you’re evaluating the mods for your new perfume.

Excerpt: Conclusion of Module 5 – Some Closing Thoughts

Although I am an experienced, professional perfumer, I sometimes face creating modifications with a bit of trepidation.  For someone like me, a generally positive, self-assured person, that tinge of fear is a good thing.  It keeps me balanced, so that I don’t become overly confident that everything I create is a masterpiece, because if I feel that way, I know I’m fooling myself.

Why do I instruct you to re-visit your vertical accords, although you just performed that exercise in the last Module?  You might think it’s registered in your head, but I guarantee that, with your new concept or brief, you will be humbled when you evaluate your accords again.  Subtle nuances, bits and pieces of it that didn’t seem prominent before, will become obvious now.  Why?  Because you now realize that you have to build upon the structure of that one simple accord, and you have to engage your scent memory and your artistic passions simultaneously in order to meet the final challenge in the next module – building a perfume.

A perfumer cannot become too comfortable, and the perfumer also cannot be afraid.  Mods can humble you more quickly than any other exercise in this course.  An accessory note, which is so beloved, so necessary to give a mod or a perfume panache, can begin screaming out its aggressiveness, overwhelming the blend, or just poking out in the drydown in a negative way.

Autumn -- still thinking! Slow Study

Autumn — still thinking! Slow Study – taking time to make the right decision, apply the right tweaks to the perfume.

My course is online, a resource in distance learning for those who cannot travel to attend a perfumery course. The 350 page textbook is the first American perfumery textbook, and it is written at the university level. For thinkers. And doers.

If you’re a perfumer, or thinking of becoming one, subscribe to this blog so you receive updates on this series, which I hope will inspire and instruct. There is a place to subscribe in the right column. Your email is private, and will be treated as such.

Click here to find out more about the course.

 

 

Enticing Perfume from Anya’s Garden Giveaway

Tuesday - 2 June 2015
Super Moon over Miami and Tuberose photos by Anya McCoy. Reclining Lady by Raimundo Madrazo

Super Moon over Miami and Tuberose photos by Anya McCoy. Reclining Lady by Raimundo Madrazo

Research that Inspired the Creation of Enticing Perfume

On May 21, 2015, I launched my new perfume Enticing,

my 21st Century interpretation of the power of this tiny flower.

As an ethnobotanist and perfumer, I take the artistic license to call it the bad boy of flowers. Of all the “narcotic” fragrant white flowers, such as jasmine and gardenia, tuberose is the only one given the power to make girls lose their inhibitions. Perhaps there is some pheromone in the flower that is unidentified? I think research needs to be done to try to confirm or deny what makes tuberose so different, so seductive.

Perhaps 21st century young girls don’t swoon and lose inhibitions as they did in the past when smelling this narcotic flower at night, but its reputation is still sexy. In all my research over the years, I have never seen a flower given such incredible powers in aiding seduction.
The original warning seems to be pan-European, after the introduction of the tuberose flower in the late 1500s.

From the thesaurus, synonyms for “enticing”

• alluring
• appealing
• captivating
• desirable
• engaging
• fascinating
• inviting
• tempting
• attracting
• bewitching
• charming
• enchanting
• fetching
• luring
• winning
• siren

Yes, those synonyms pretty much sum up what the parents and guardians noted about the powers of this tiny, innocent-looking flower.

Tuberose by moonlight in Anya's Garden

Tuberose by moonlight in Anya’s Garden

Traveling out of Mexico, tuberose didn’t even follow the typical west-to-east route of New World imports, moving from the New World to Europe. It was wayward even then, moving east-to-west, first arriving in Indonesia. Not too much chatter about its seductive powers there, but India, Italy, France, and Britain all sounded the alarm.

The dainty white flower begins releasing its narcotic scent after dusk, and continues throughout the night, and parents and guardians thought the girls could be easily seduced while under the spell of its fragrance.

Enticing, the new perfume from Anya’s Garden, has a superdose of tuberose, lush and loud, announcing the intensity of the flower. 100% natural aromatics that hype the creamy, warm scent of skin were chosen to draw the user – and those close by – into the warm, heady nighttime allure of the tuberose in its most potent form.

The Language of Flowers

The Victorians developed a complex system of nonverbal communication, using flowers as the symbols for emotions. Tuberose was assigned the title of “Dangerous Pleasures”, and this idea is expanded upon:

From The Language of Flowers, published Lea & Blanchard 1848 Philadelphia, no author cited:
TUBEROSE, p197  DANGEROUS PLEASURES

If you would enjoy it without danger, keep at some
distance from the plant. To increase tenfold the
pleasure which it affords, come with the object of
your affection to inhale its perfume by moonlight,
when the nightingale is pouring forth his soul in
song:

The Tuberose, with her silvery light,
That Is in the gardens of Malay
Is called the mistress of the night,
So like a bride, scented and bright,
She comes out when the sun’s away.
Moore

Then, by a secret virtue, these grateful odours
will add an inexpressible charm to your enjoyment;
but if, regardless of the precepts of moderation,
you will approach too near, this divine
flower will then be but a dangerous enchantress,
which will pour into your bosom a deadly poison,
Thus the love which descends from heaven purities
and exalts the delights of a chaste passion ; but
that which springs from the earth proves the bane
and the destruction of imprudent youth.

From: http://www.forgottenbooks.com/readbook_text/The_Language_of_Flowers_1000210452/195

Rajnigandha means tuberose in Hindu language

Rajnigandha means tuberose in Hindu language

THE POLIANTHES

                Voluptuousness

This beautiful and most odoriferous flower, commonly known as the Tuberose, and which is calculated to please all, was brought from Persia in 1632. It flowered for the first time in France, at M. de Peiresc’s, at Beaugencier, near Toulon. The flower was then single; but its petals became double after some time, under the careful hand of Lecour, of Leyden. From that place it spread everywhere. The Tuberose, that superb native of the East, which the illustrious Linnaeus has named Polianthes, from the abundance of its flowers, a flower worthy of cities, has become with us, as it is in Persia, the emblem of Voluptuousness.

A young Icoglan, who receives from the hands of his mistress a stem of the Tuberose in bloom, experiences supreme happiness; for he knows that he may thus interpret the happy symbol of their mutual affection; “Our happiness will surpass our anxieties.” All the world knows and admires the white spikes and stars of the Tuberose; those beautiful spikes are the termination of a tall and slender stem, and they diffuse a most penetrating and intoxicating perfume.
Shelley says of it, “the sweet tuberose, the sweetest flower for scent, that blows”

The Perfume Brief for Enticing

My goal was to recognize the sexiness of the flower and to enhance the buttery, lactonic, deep, dark aspects of it. I wanted to make a skin caressing, long-lasting perfume that holds tuberose close to you, and one that has a silky effect when breathed in. Clary sage is another plant recognized for its power to affect your senses merely by breathing in the essence, both in the garden, and from the distiller’s essential oil. It’s perceived in the opening top note, along with a trace of cardamom, to tease the nose into not quite recognizing the lush floral headiness of tuberose, and then they recede, and the full blown power of tuberose, bold and soft, smooth and velvety, takes over – like it has always done.

Enticing Perfume Ingredients:

Organic Sugar Cane Alcohol, Tuberose Absolute, Scented Alcohol extracted from Anya’s handmade Tuberose Enfleurage Pomade, Butter CO2, Opoponax Absolute, Clary Sage EO, Terpene Acetate Isolate ex. Cardamom, Beeswax Absolute and Anya’s handmade Beeswax Tincture, Patchouli EO, Mushroom Absolute, Siberian Musk Tincture.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about my interpretation of this heady flower, and the ingredients I used to create Enticing. Leave a comment, and you’ll be in a random giveaway drawing to win a 4ml mini of the pure perfume. Giveaway deadline ends 11:59 PM June 4, 2015. I encourage you to subscribe to the blog and to this post in particular to discover if you are the winner. The winner will be announced here in the comment thread June 5. Open to all worldwide readers and commenters.

Enticing is available in both pure perfume form as a 4ml mini, and as an Eau de Parfum 15ml spray from Anya’s Garden Perfumes store. Click here to purchase.

4ml bottle of Enticing pure and natural perfume from Anya's Garden

4ml bottle of Enticing pure and natural perfume from Anya’s Garden

Reclining Lady by Raimundo Madrazo

Reclining Lady by Raimundo Madrazo