Saturday, September 23, 2006

A bee's gotta do what a bee's gotta do, a whale's gotta do what a whale's gotta do....

Photo of a woman perfuming her garments with incense of Ambergris "Fumée d ambre gris" by Sargent.
Vegans beware -- this post is not for you. Squeamish folks beware -- same warning. Animal products in perfume. There, we all settled in now for a nice discussion of using animal "stuff" in perfume? Well, not all perfume. I'm going to discuss the animal products I use in my perfume. As long as the animal isn't harmed, I'm for it. No need to address goat hair again, Frontrunner (see post below) has been ID'd and we can all see he's quite healthy and unharmed. I find that the incredible complexity, the pheromonal pull, and the staying power of perfume is fabulous when a tiny bit of animal "stuff" is in the mix. I won't use anything that harms an animal. Period.

One anonymous grouch (they're always anonymouse, lol) wrote me trying to be sarcastic and accusatory that there's no need for animal products in perfume. Well, that goes against centuries of perfumery, and I will purposely ignore any "holier than thou" person as being a self-appointed policeman. Or judge. People have to learn to leave other people alone, period. Unless you feel the need to take someone to task for possibly harming others, the world would be a better place without finger-pointing uptight folks, don't you agree?

Finger-pointers are usually the biggest hypocrites, like Jimmy Swaggart or racist Pat Robertson. Bible thumping in the name of perfume, probably eating meat and wearing leather in their "real" life, grouchy and strident. I mean, if you don't like what's in my perfume, don't buy it. Don't try to regulate me,or harass me, cause that'll get you nowhere (ok, maybe one paragraph on my blog where I can thumb my nose at you.) Sales and general delight over Pan (see post, I Steeled Myself, below) and my other perfumes rule my world, as well any positive response to an artistic product should -- money talks, BS walks.

Now we can move on to Yum! - ambergris, a bile mass that whales throw up. It floats on the sea for years before it is usable in perfumery. The sun and the salt need to work their magic, and like a well aged cheese, (a product that transforms via microbes) the wise humans know how to turn it into something even more transcendent. Ambergris has a gorgeous effect upon perfumes, marrying together the aromatics, providing a complex and long-lasting drydown - essentially making a perfume memorable (click here). In the Middle East and Africa, it has been used for centuries to scent clothes, as in Sargent's painting, and a tiny bit is pressed into the lid of a ceramic teapot to release the scent and flavor to the drink. It is also added to red wine for the same reason.

A few years ago a couple of women on aromatherapy/perfumery boards simultaneously came up with the idea of tincturing what they both called "bee goo". I got some from Jen in North Carolina, who raised bees and made products from them. Seems the scent of the "scrapings", i.e. end caps, soft beeswax, dead bees, yellow gooey stuff, brown gooey stuff and bits and pieces of hive detritus smelled so good that it wound up in oil or alcohol to tincture. Beeswax absolute is quite pricey, so many of us looked into this as a substitute. Found out later that the yellow "goo"ey stuff is bee poop (click here) yep, sure is (click here, too) and heck, y'all know that honey, that sweet yummy stuff you eat is dried bee vomit, right? (click here) I have no problem using beeswax absolute in my perfumes. Bee goo - maybe. Haven't yet. It's rather inferior to the absolute, and I prefer primo products in my juice.

More foodstuff turned aromatic -- seashells, some with the little critters still inside. In India, they're co-distilled with (usually) sandalwood oil and the yield the most smokey aromatic . It's called Choya Nakh and one drop in a liter of perfume is usually enough. Very, very potent. Treif! Not for Kosher use, for sure. That reminds me to mention what makes Kosher oils Kosher. A rabbi certifies that the aromatic brought in for distillation, whether it be mint, vanilla beans, roses, whatever -- is free of insects or little critters like lizards, mice, etc. Not to say any of the aromatic's properties are changed by the inclusion of Mickey Mouse in the distillate, but something to be aware of if you are vegan or opposed to any animal products in perfume. You'll have to purchase perfume that is made only with certified Kosher aromatics if that's your goal.

So there we have it -- the animal scents I use in my perfumes. Maybe someday I'll add others, but since I am an animal lover, I won't use any where the animal is harmed. Live and let live, and blend for yourself, wear what is comfortable to you, and most of all, enjoy the fact that we're able to create and enjoy the world of natural perfumery.

OhBeehiveYourself photo from isolatediguana at Flickr
Seashells photo from liyen at Flickr

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And a new day will dawn for those who stand long. And the forest will echo with laughter.

(Please see update at the end of this post re: Frontrunner.)
Helg's Perfume Shrine blog is featuring reviews of my perfumes, and her writing is putting me on cloud nine. Already reviewed this week, Fairchild is joined today by a review of Pan that cracked me up, replete with a quote from Led Zeppelin. Helg will review Riverside next. I'm stunned by her writing ability, as you will be if you look back through all her blog's entries. It is gratifying for a perfumer when a stranger on the other side of the globe (Greece) conjures up visions and words that make the fragrance come to life via words. Now if only the New York Times knew of Helg!

The lovely blond-haired goat that had the hair around his horns snipped for Pan is named Frontrunner and he lives contentedly on a farm in British Columbia where he keeps a lot of lady goats happy so they produce an abundance of milk for Tracy's Goat Milk Skin Care products at the Natures Natural Solutions farm (that's what I call it). So now you know the name of the star of the perfume -- Frontrunner.
UPDATE: A photo of Frontrunner at eight months of age, chewing his cud. He's the white goat staring the camera, I guess his buddy is shy ;-) Frontrunner is now about three years old, and his place in perfumery legend is set. Love that this photo has him standing at the edge of a forest!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Natural v. Synthetics

Just a short post today because I'm in a twirl over the fact that two stores, one in Dallas, one in Seattle, and two spas, one in Canada, the other in Miami, want to carry my perfumes. I couldn't let this wonderful dialogue, stimulated by an excellent post by the lovely Helg's blog, wafting out from Greece, go unnoticed. Her Perfume Shrine illuminates the oddities and innacuracies in the recent New York Times article by Chandler Burr that attacked the use of natural aromatics in perfume. I posted a link to Helg's entry on the Perfume of Life forum, and I think lovers of perfume - natural or synth! - will enjoy the exchanges and illuminations going on there. I will not even attempt to find an illustration for this entry, since Helg's is the absolute perfect image.