Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Neroli Tincture

Bitter Orange Flower Tincture
Often I'm asked if it is possible to make orange blossoms tincture. My snarky response is that you can tincture anything. Can't guarantee the results though... Fresh flowers, generally speaking, don't let themselves well to alcoholic tincturing. That is why enfleurage and solvent extraction techniques were invented in the first place. Otherwise why bother with such sophisticated process if it is possible to make such an easy homemade extraction with alcohol?

There are a few problems at play. One is the water content in the flowers. Once the flowers sit in the alcohol, it dries them up completely, which means it sucks all the moisture out of them. That's what alcohol does. It readily bonds with the water. This dilutes the alcohol's solvent powers. 

The other problem is that the alcohol dissolves also less desirable aspects of the plant matter, resulting in a very vegetal smelling tincture. It may be fine for medicinal purposes (which is the the main objective of most fresh plant matter tinctures). For fine perfumery - not so much. 

Bitter Orange Flower Tincture

Either way, one needs to watch out for over-steeping when preparing tinctures. Less is often more. Meaning, it is better to recharge the alcohol several times with the flowers until the desired odour strength is achieved. This is akin to steeping tea: Steeping the same amount of tea over a longer period of time will definitely give you a stronger tea, but not as fragrant and delicious as one that you've paid attention to preparing according to the appropriate steeping time and amount of tea leaf. When wishing you prepare a stronger tea, there is no way around using more tea. This is not the time or place to be thrifty with your raw materials. Remember the time and effort taken to grow, harvest, clean and infuse your plants. Remember how much you paid for that 96% alcohol. Don't waste these resources. 

So, with all that being said, the neroli tincture (bitter orange blossoms steeped in alcohol) smelled nice enough. I was smart enough to strain it before turning vegetable. It wears ok on the skin. But needs another recharge or two. In my opinion, aside from the cache of using something from my own orchard in my perfume, it does not offer anything more than what my high quality neroli oil and orange blossom absolutes have to offer. But we shall see once I use it within a composition. I will include some in my upcoming batch of Zohar (my orange blossom soliflore). Maybe it will transform into something more WOW inducing then. Either way, the process was fun. But I a more inclined to stick to traditional raw materials with these flowers and get a still ASAP to make my own orchard hydrosoles and perhaps even oils some day soon. 

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Wisteria Enfleurage

Wisteria Enfleurage
Wisteria is one of my favourite plants. In all season, it has grace and character. The delicate, fragrant and decorative racemes of purple flowers in the spring against the grey branches, followed by copious green and shade-giving foliage it the summertime, changing leaves in the autumn, and even in the winter, when it's dormant, it manages to keep its beauty with the sparse grey branches and trunk that curl around whatever it's climbing on.
Wisteria Harvest
I planted my wisteria in the summer, to give shade to my eastern window, which is bringing in too much heat in the summer months into the Pilates studio (and there are plenty of those where I am now). In the winter, when it's barren, it will allow the gentle winter sunrays to get through the east window and bring light and warmth to the room.
Wisteria
I was thrilled when the first clusters of buds started showing - but soon enough, there were nasty black beetles with white dots, the same ones that munched away at my roses last year - literally feasting on this and wrecking havoc! To top that damage off, a couple of days of dry east wind, and most of the flowers were gone. I was able to set up about two recharges of enfleurage trays, and it looked promising, but then turned kinda sour and musty smelling. My only consolation is that next year there will be more. And also there is still an abundance of sweet pea flowers to enfleurage, as well as broom. So I will have lots fo sweet smells to play with very soon. Not all is lost!
Wisteria Enfleurage
Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) belongs to the Fabaceae/Leguminosae family, and has flowers like all the other legumes, resembling butterflies and often fragrant, and even edible. Please note that wisteria contains a toxic glycoside in all parts to he plant - wisterin. It will causes all fun digestive nightmares, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ache. So don't eat it and make sure children don't get tempted to taste it!
The flowers are often purple (though white varieties also exist), with a yellow and white "landing strip" for guiding the insects to the reproductive organs.
Wisteria Enfleurage
As for the scent itself, it is hard to describe, and in my opinion also not exactly as distinctive as, say, sweet pea. I find  the one growing this year at my garden it to be extremely similar to ylang ylang, with pronounced clove-like scent. It has a lovely creaminess, however I am lost for words describing exactly what is special about it. I remember the ones growing in Vancouver as having a soft-focus personality, more powdery yet also heady. I do not recall them being so clove-like at all. Bo Jensen describes the wisteria scent being "a pleasant, mild, warm and creamy sweetness with rosy, peppery and spicy nuances", and cites Joulain et al. research with the key molecules as being beta-chromenes 7-hydroxy-6-methoxy-4H-1-benzopyran and 6,7-dimethoxy-4H-1-benzopyran, as well as 3-hydroxy-4-phenyl-2-butanone or phenylacetoin.

Poucher's one and only formula for Glycine, No. 1086 (Wistaria) from the rather archaic 1959  edition is spelled with an "a" instead of "e" and includes:
180 Hawthorn, Synthetic
50 Eugenol
100 Methyl iphone
100 Hydroxy citronallal 
70 Ylang oil, Bourbon
80 Rose centifolia, synthetic
190 Jasmine, synthetic
100 Terpineol
40 Coumarin
60 Heliotropin
30 Musk ketone
--------
1000

Best Smelling Garbage in the World
Here you see my post-enfleurage flowers of both sweet peat and wisteria. In other words: Trash. I have not only the best smelling garbage but also the best looking!
Enfleurage Tray
Next year is a blank slate... And I hope I get a better, more robust and abundant harvest, and also that it wouldn't turn on the tray. In the meantime, I'm actually feeling inspired to try and recreate it myself with my current arsenal of extraits from enfleurage. Wish me luck...

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sweetpea Enfleurage

Sweetpea Enfleurage
This spring has been unusually cold and rainy, which meant longer sweetpea flower season. Despite many delays between rain showers, waiting for the flowers to dry, I was able to collect impressive numbers of flowers for several recharges of the enfleurage tray. I think this is by far the strongest enfleurage I've been able to make. I am waiting for some more flowers to dry tomorrow and collect some more flowers for another couple (or more) of recharges before I move this into the alcohol extraction phase. 

Although the fresh sweetpea flowers hav ea very delicate and slightly lemony notes, the recharged enfleurage brings forward some more almonds notes. I think it will be really delicious. 

Sweetpea Enfleurage
Meanwhile, I have been able to make a very meagre amount of wisteria flowers blossoms, because the nasty beetles have eaten most of them. And I didn't have that many clusters to begin with. I'm afraid this was not a successful harvest - but it's the first season for this vine (I only planted it a few months ago). So next year will be better. 

With my enfleurage skills slowly picking up, I am sure I will be able to make broom enfleurage this year. Although it's just another one of the same family as sweetpea, spiny broom and wisteria - each has a different aroma and its own value as a perfume material. The spiny broom was super frustrating as something always went wrong and it is very about intense (and painful) to pick it. After I tried the second time and finding tiny bug droppings everywhere, I decided to give up on that botanical, at least for the time being. Way too much work and very little results. Really looking forward to work with the other fabaceae enfleurage results and composing with them though! 

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Monday, April 08, 2019

Immortelle l'Amour Soap

Helicrysum italicum

It takes a bit of imagination and creative formulation adjustments and changes to translate some of the perfumes into soaps. Last month, I've whipped up the first version of Immortelle l'Amour soap, which was tricky because immortelle (Helicrysum italicum) is one of the most expensive perfume and aromatherapy materials. The bars have been curing nicely for a month now, made with decoctions and oil infusions of the fresh and dried plants from my organic garden; as well as cinnamon, chamomile, marigold and vanilla beans and powdered cinnamon bark. A little bit of maple syrup added in the as well!

The result is delicious, albeit not exactly like the perfume. It has the same sweet intensity but a little more fresh and light because I did not use the heavy, curry-like immortelle absolute (otherwise nobody would have been able to afford it).

The soaps will be ready and wrapped April 17th, but you can already order them online now!

IMG_4566
Ingredients (In order of presence in the formula):
Saponified Virgin Coconut Oil
Saponified Olive Oil
Saponified Shea Butter
Saponified Palm Kernel Oil
Saponified Cacao Butter
Jojoba Oil
Maple Syrup
Vanilla Paste
Natural Immortelle l'Amour Perfume Blend (Benzoin, Peru Balsam, Sweet Orange, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Marigold, Chamomile)
Cinnamon Powder

IMG_4613


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Friday, April 05, 2019

Highlights of Florientals Week - Spring 2019

Florientals Week-Long Course, March 31 - April 4, 2019
The second perfumery course this spring was dedicated to the Florientals fragrance family - certainly one of the most charming and popular of all the floral categories. Narcotic white florals are the stars, supported by the contralto warmth of amber, woods and incense.

Florientals Week-Long Course, March 31 - April 4, 2019
Among some of my favourites lined up here are SamsaraSongesOpium Fleur de ShanghaiAzurée de Soleil/BronzeGoddess, Velvet GardeniaFleurs d'OrangerVintage Gardenia as well as some serious bombshells such as Narcisse NoirGardénia and l'Heure Bleue.
Florientals Week-Long Course, March 31 - April 4, 2019
Some of my contributions to the genre include Moon BreathYasminWhite PotionTreazon and GiGi.
Our Spinning Organ for Florientals Week-Long Course, March 31 - April 4, 2019
Our palette seemed particularly indulgent, with all the gorgeous, intoxicating white floral absolutes: Jasmine grandiflorum and jasmine sambac, orange blossom, tuberose, and a few kinds of ylang ylang.
Raw Materials for Florientals Week-Long Course, March 31 - April 4, 2019
The base notes were no less rich and delicious, with sandalwood, tonka bean, ambrette seed, vanilla, benzoin and several other balsamic notes giving the characteristic ambery quality. We learned how to create amber bases and how to incorporate them within the Florientals genre.
Scent Strips from Florientals Week-Long Course, March 31 - April 4, 2019
We ran through thousands of scent strips (my scented paper project round 2 is underway). These were used not only to study close to thirty fragrant building blocks, and doing several "blind tests", but also longingly through the composition process.
At the Baha'ii Gardens in Akko with My Fabulous Students! Florientals Week-Long Course, March 31 - April 4, 2019
And we visited the Bahji gardens and tomb near Akko, which is the Baha'ii faith's holiest site, to seek inspiration and scout out new scents, smells and insights. Each student found a different aspect of the garden inspiring and built a unique Floriental fragrance based on what they've found. Perfume school is not just about theory and technique, but also about being open minded, open hearted, and with nostrils wide open for new smells and ideas. And most importantly - being perceptive to the other students and their process, because we always have something to learn from one another as well.
At the Baha'ii Gardens in Akko
Seeking inspiration in the forms and structure of the garden.
At the Baha'ii Gardens in Akko
Finding new fragrant plants...
Raindrops on Hibiscus at the At the Baha'ii Gardens in Akko
Inspiring visuals and textures (Raindrops on hibiscus).
My Fabulous Students! Florientals Week-Long Course, March 31 - April 4, 2019
Thank you so much for such lovely two weeks, with wonderful students from across the globe! It was wonderful to spend this spring together,  delve deep into the world of perfume and get to know you from up close. I'm truly blessed to have this opportunity to share my passion and knowledge with such lovely ladies who appreciate it and are so receptive to learning, respectful of one another, the raw materials, and this unique art form. I can't wait to see you all again this coming Autumn for the continuation of the course. We'll be studying Orientals (November 10-14, 2019) and Leather/Tobacco (November 17-21, 2019).

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Fougere Week Highlights - Spring 2019

Fougere Week-Long Course March 24-28, 2019
Fougère Week has come to a close - after spending a week with five amazing women from all over the world (there were representatives from almost all continents!) - it's time to say goodbye. But before we move on to next week (three of them are staying for the more advanced Floriental course), I'd like to share some photos.
Fougere Week-Long Course March 24-28, 2019
Our studies are focused on the Fougère fragrance family, yet tackling it from many different direction. As you can see from our setup, we study not only raw materials but also classic Fougère fragrances and this genre's pre-cursor Lavender Waters. So we enjoyed sniffing classics such as Jicky,  Polo, Yerbamate, Caron Pour Une Homme, Azzaro, Brut as well as some naturals from my collection (Lovender, l'Herbe Rouge, Gaucho and Orcas).
Perfume Trail in Park Adamit
We also went on a field trip to find inspiration and open our senses to nature. We went up to Park Adamit and Keshet Cave and strolled on the Perfume Garden Path, where we were able more than a dozen perfume and medicine plants, such as lavender, wormwood, bay laurel, wild rose and more.
My Students Rock! Fougere Week-Long Course March 24-28, 2019

My Students Rock! Fougere Week-Long Course March 24-28, 2019 Perfume Trail in Park Adamit

My Students Rock! Fougere Week-Long Course March 24-28, 2019 Perfume Trail in Park Adamit

Perfume Trail in Park Adamit
We met different plants along the way, including one from the apiaceae family that I never met before (and am still struggling to identify). It has leaves very smilier in taste and shape to celery, but it is not wild celery from as far as I could tell. The flowers were honeyed and fragrant in a most surprisingly delicious way.

Keshet Cave
(This is Keshet Cave, also sometimes spelled Qeshet Cave - a cave that had its roof cave in and disappear, leaving this impressive arch behind).

Lavender Wands & Clary Sage Leaf
In addition to exposing the olfactory world and places outside of the studio, we also bring herbs, fruit and flowers from outside to tincture, study and smell. For example - various lavenders from the garden, and local natural sources of coumarin, such as wild purple clover (see below).
Purple Clover (Local Source for Coumarin)
It's amazing how each one of the students came out with a completely different brief, inspiration and Fougère fragrance out of this very same place of inspiration we all went to at the exact same time. It is important for me to teach not only the technical but also the creative and process-oriented problem-solving required to develop each student's unique voice and eventually style. It's not just about technique and raw materials, and I like to get this point across even in the beginner courses (Fougère is the second in the order of my courses).
My Students Rock! Fougere Week-Long Course March 24-28, 2019
If you too are interested in studying natural perfumery, I'd love to hear from you! The next beginner-intermediate session will take place November 10-14, 2019 and registration is already open. Before applying you should complete the Citrus & Colognes and Fougère correspondence courses.


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Friday, March 22, 2019

I Met Mignonette

Reseda (Mignonette) (Ein-Afek Aquatic Nature Reserve)
It's interesting how we dismiss things that are familiar, mundane and humble. Sometimes a different location or a different setting is what makes us appreciate those simple things in life. I've probably seen mignonette (Reseda alba) a million times growing up among the abundance of wildflowers in Northern Israel. But never thought of smelling this one up close. In fact, knowing how stinky its leaves are, with an almost poisonous, green aroma that sticks to your hand if you pick or crush them, I didn't even bother to sniff them, ever.

Fast forward a few decades, and I find myself on a lovely early spring day at the Ain Afek Aquatic Nature Reserve. It is dedicated to preservation of aquatic plants and wildlife, so naturally, every unusual plant that crosses my path, I stop to sniff, touch and snap photos. This tall cluster of tiny white flowers looked especially fresh and enticing, so sniffed it I did. And immediately was transported to perfume heaven: It smells like a mixture of tuberose, mango and crushed green leaves in the most lovely way possible. It also reminded me a lot of Private Collection by Estee Lauder. So when my brother identified it for me, I was not at all surprised that it was reseda. This is what gives this perfume this outstanding, unique, disturbingly green and orange-blossomy scent!
Migonenette (Reseda) in the Forest
I also realized it was not rare at all and can be found quite easily around here. So I'm waiting for the seeds to be ready and will save some to saw next year around my studio. There is also a desert variety which is yellow (Reseda lutea). It is not the exact species used in perfumery, which is Reseda odorata - but it smells good and strong enough for me, and I would love to try to capture the scent via vegan enfleurage technique. Can't wait!

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