Monday, February 15, 2010

The Anya's Garden Natural Perfumery Institute Basic Course February 2010 is full.


Ah, I'm sentimental for the image I used on the old website. It was easy to visualize the international body of students gazing at this ;-)
I forgot to announce that the class was full a few weeks ago, that we had reached the class limit on the number of students  and two additional students actually got in the door after that ;-) Very interesting students, too - a medical doctor from Germany and a former Marine now working in Kuwait. It's going to be a very exciting, fast-paced course, and everyone is gearing up for the professional experience of sharing and learning the wonders of natural perfumery. In this economy, I was wondering if the class would fill up. However, as one student wrote: "I took the time to research what instructors had recognition from bloggers and great reviews for their perfumes, and your reviews and awards stood out above the rest." That made me blush, but on reflection, she's right. Why study with somebody who hasn't made perfumes that recognized by independent bloggers? I know I'd look for that criteria, too. ;-)


I used orchids in my rough draft for the new website. There are no orchid natural aromatics, but in the bonus module, I'm going to give the students some tools to create an orchid doppelganger!

Once again I have two students from Taiwan, and the rest are from Australia, the USA and Canada. I'm busy finishing up the kits, the webmaster is tooling up the website, and the editor is putting the finishing touches on the textbook. It's all good and wonderful!

When I started teaching online natural perfumery classes (note it's perfumery, not perfume classes, since it's the actual study of many elements ;-) ) I quickly put out a Primer (that I didn't have time to edit very well) and it linked to supplemental teaching modules on the website. A Fall 2007 student offered to edit it, and that helped a lot. The two sources of information really worked rather seamlessly, which was great, proving it could blend as I had foreseen it. Several dozen successful graduates later, and I had the time to hire and work with an editor to combine the Primer and the online information into one document, and it is fabulous. Illustrated with photos and drawing, and with the forms, charts, and study sheets, it will also function for the offline students who will study on their own. I'm tweaking the offline aspect, so that version won't be available for several months.

The Moodle platform I built the original website on is obsolete and clunky, I found out. Boo, hiss Moodle! Full of bugs and slower than a horse and buggy in the turbo age, I ditched it. After conferring with several savvy webmasters, I moved the site to a new quick, easy-to-use platform and I'm delighted with it. It's beautiful, loads swiftly and is easy to edit. I also redesigned the 'architecture' behind the website, and it is just how I want it, and I'm sure the students will love it.

Back to labeling the kit aromatics. My students receive 20 undiluted and 5 diluted aromatics. I only dilute five very pricey aromatics so they can use them throughout the course. They get 4ml bottles of the aromatics, and will have the option of a supplemental sample kit from Eden Botanicals for Module 2. They'll be in 2ml bottles. There's a firm reason for providing undiluted aromatics: there is no way they're going to learn the organoleptic properties of the aromatics without experiencing the undiluted ones. They'll blend with diluted materials, after they learn how to properly dilute them in the first Module. Ah, the process I've worked out in the three previous courses really works, and I'm stoked. Can't wait to see the students in class!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sending Love and Thanks to the Teachers, the Crones, the Wizards, the Mentors of Perfumery

 A beautiful fanciful image of a tree with branches that form a heart, 
rising up from deep roots.

I was speaking with one of the wise women of perfumery the other day and she bemoaned the fact that today's crop of students, followers, enthusiasts -- whatever the term may be -- were so easily shedding any bit of acknowledgment of those who came before and helped them on the perfumed path.  I reminded her that this is not a current problem, because perfumery for centuries has been fraught with jealousy, corruption and all sorts of chicanery. So odd to remember my studies in university that the spice trade of old, herbalism and many other scented or healing arts are the same way.

Remembering back to 1976, when I discovered William I. Kaufman's book Perfumery and the lush photos and history of perfumery and the -gasp!- essays by Edmund Roudnitska and Jean Carles, I can only smile at the great, fantastic strides that have occurred in this world, where artisan perfumery now can challenge, in a tiny way, mainstream perfumery. Kaufman's inclusion of those essays started me on my perfume studies.

I only wish I could remember the names of the two gentlemen who ran the Bannockburn Bookstore on the University of Riverside campus. They were retired salesmen from major perfumery supply houses, and they gave me some of their old sample cases with dozens of essences in them, and a lot of leisurely afternoons where they shared stories about the industry. They had retired from the New York/New Jersey area, so they knew everything about everybody in perfumery in the 40's, 50's and 60's. How I wish I had taken notes!

By the time I got around to writing this Valentine to all who came before me, and with all intentions of trying to inspire others to honor those who have done so little as to just help them source bottles, I find it's 9:00 PM and I'm exhausted. I'll continue this another day, perhaps even make it a series of thankful notes.

One person who did get a lovely blog out today on this theme is a young American perfumery student in France. His eloquent post touched upon many of the ideals I was going to write about, but he says it a lot better. Please go read and take a moment to think of those who have helped you on the path.

"God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say "thank you?"  William A. Ward 

"Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people" Samuel Johnson

"Ingratitude is the essence of vileness" Immanuel Kant

"Take from the altars of the past the fire - not the ashes."  Jean Jaures

Friday, February 12, 2010

Liability Insurance for the Bath and Beauty Microbusiness Community

I am posting this ad for Stratus Insurance, letting everyone know about the great deal they offer to the bath and beauty microbusinesses.  I was in negotiations with them for both the Guild and the 1800+ member Yahoo! natural perfumery group and the natural perfumery community at large.

They're offering great rates to the Natural Perfumers Guild, and some folks might want to join to save over non-Guild rates ;-) Don't forget we have a 20% off rate for Guild memberships until 11:59 PM February 14th.

BTW, if you have a business that is not 100% natural perfumery, you can still join in the Stratus deal. I did negotiate on behalf of the NP community, but I realize many here may use fragrance oils or aromachemicals. You can still get this insurance.

Just make sure you use this page to apply:

At the bottom of the page, if you're not a member of the Guild, check off if you are a member of the Yahoo NP group - this will work for everyone at this time. I will work with Natasaha Gray of Stratus to confirm Guild members, since we've had about a dozen new members in the past week and they're not listed on the website yet. In the future, the Guild will have a separate application page. Also, for the non-Guild and non-NP group members, they're going to reword this to be more inclusive in the future, perhaps "Found via a link from Anya's Garden."

For Guild members $1/M/$475yr.
non-Guild: $1M/$525yr.

Limits are as follows:
$1,000,000 General Aggregate Limit
$1,000,000 Products-Completed Operations Aggregate Limit
$1,000,000 Personal and Advertising Injury Limit
$1,000,000 Each Occurrence Limit
$100,000 Fire Damage Limit
$5,000 Medical Payments
For additional $55 you can increase Aggregate and Products to $2,000,000 at any time during the policy.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Perfumers Neroli Sussed Out

So What Variety of Orange Tree Gives us the Prized and Loved Neroli?

The short answer is - nobody knows for sure, but it's pretty certain that it isn't soley the often named variety Citrus aurantium var. amara. I started this quest to find out what variety in my last blog post. I was trying to figure out why Citrus aurantium var. Bouquet des Fleurs wasn't named, since that was the variety I studied at one of the top citrus schools in the world.

Turns out it's probably either/neither/a mix/or a bunch of others. I got feedback on a Yahoo group, and called UCR and spoke with one of the professors there. Neither source wanted to be quoted, since they're giving their opinion, and cannot point me to a source that will quote the facts. Due to their experience in the field, actually having visited neroli groves in several countries, I do accept their statements.

Citrus hybridizes readily and oftentimes there are gaps in the groves due to a tree dying for a number of reasons, and in the countries where the citrus for neroli is grown, it is an acceptable practice to just propagate from the fruit of existing trees, which can give rise to a number of variations in trees.

If the young trees that are raised from the seeds of the bitter orange trees exhibit similar growth and scent characteristics, they plant them. They have seen dozens of different varieties of sour orange, and even some sweet orange trees in the neroli groves. Amara and Bouquet des Fleurs may be the trees in some groves, but there is no guarantee they're the predominant tree, in fact, chances are they are just 'in the mix' as it were, one of many types.

In Florida, we're used to cloned trees, monoculture and the latest scientific information available. If someone has a Valencia orange grove, it's a Valencia orange grove. The neroli groves of Tunisia, Egypt, Italy, Greece and other lands have no such monoculture, so it seems that neroli is a lovely mix.

I kind of like that! If, someday, a disease attacks the amara variety, neroli will still continue to be produced, because other varieties are already in the distillation vat ;-)

It also gives me hope that in the effort I'm joining to attempt to introduce distillation of aromatic plants to Florida, we can spread the net wider in our efforts to identify trees that may contribute to a new neroli industry. Not stuck in the rut of having to choose just one type of variety, we can look at a traveling harvest set up. The blooms from sour and sweet groves can be distilled as they blossom, and the essential oil stored, and blended to create a lovely odor profile that closely matches neroli.

I really enjoyed this bit of research, and I'm hopeful for the establishment of neroli distillation in Florida. After all, the orange blossom is our state flower.