Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Namaste Byron Bay

The Vanilla perfume has a name. 

"Namaste"....I greet the God/dess within you.
It's my personal gift to Byron Bay....a new perfume for my new home town. Embodying the spirit and the vibe of the place...
There's a wooden sign on the road leading into town painted with peace symbols and flowers that says :"Slow down, chill out and relax!" and it really sums up the place.
It's the New Age Hippie Mecca of Australia, a bit like San Fransico in the States in the 60's used to be.
It's full of colourful people, amazing beaches with clean sand and blue water, shops selling tie dyed clothes and really expensive designer hippie gear. (Because all of the hippies from the 60's are now grey haired and some of them very well to do.)
Anyway, it's also home to a plethora of workshops, meditation and yoga classes. And chanting OM and useing "Namaste" at the end of
each class is so normal that it's part of the local language.

My perfume Namaste is a scentual impression of Byron in all of it's neo hippie spiritual laid back glory. Vanilla and Sandalwood are the main notes, and here is why I chose them:
Vanilla is sweet and soothing and comforting and relaxing and sexy and well, just downright NICE! on every level you can think of. Everyone loves Vanilla. It's one of those true feel good, happy scents that envokes good childhood memories, innocence, playfulness and just makes you feel like the world is a better place.
The Vanilla in Namaste comes in the form of organically grown gourmand Vanilla beans in the actual
bottle. Amplified by a Vanilla accord made from a combination of incense resins, from tolu balsam over tonka, labdanum and a variety of vanilla absolutes and CO2 extracts to give a real sophistication and a sexier, elegant take on the innocence of Vanilla itself.
And it's held by a beautiful classic Sandalwood base. Sandalwood is one of the most spiritual scents in existance. Used for thousands of years in spiritual ceremonies for healing and blessing.
It is also used in Aruveda to treat depression and anxiety, and has similar applications in modern Aromatherapy. The twist is that it's an Australian

Sandalwood, not Indian. Indian Sandalwood has been harvested almost into extinction, which makes it a really bad environmental choice. And I also wanted to make sure that Namaste had a real Australian grounding to it, since, after all, it's from Byron, and Oz and all. Australia is a very down to earth place. And Byron Bay, for all of it's spiritual side, is still an Australian version. So I've used a really wonderful Australian Sandalwood that actually reflects this perfectly. It's an amazing deep, musky, dry and elegant smelling Sandalwood grown in Western Australia on an eco-conscious environmentally sustainable plantation.
And it's musky deep woody character enhances the elegant notes of the Vanilla and resin accord in the top and mid layers of the perfume.
I made up the first batch a few weeks ago. And sold the whole lot within 5 days. So I guess there must be something right there :) So I've made up a bath and body oil to go with it too....just for Xmas! If you'd like to try some for yourself, click here to go to the webshop!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Vanilla, Vanilla and more Vanilla

One of the first questions people seem to ask is "Do you have anything with Vanilla?"
And while some of my perfumes have Vanilla notes, ("Goddess" and "Craving" in particular)
I've never made a straight Vanilla perfume.
There's a number of reasons for this.
For starters it's not one of my favourite notes. Vanilla in itself is a tad too sweet for my taste. And the commercial artificial Vanilla perfumes out there actually make me a tad nauseous. They tend to be so overwhelmingly sickly sweet and cloying that it made me a bit of a Vanilla Nazi.
But after moving into my new bricks and mortar studio, and being asked, again and again whether I had a Vanilla Scent, I figured I should listen to my public and take another look at that ingredient.
This brought me to the second reason Ive never brought out a Vanilla perfume before: Natural Vanilla is a pain in the a*** to work with.
I have quite a collection of Vanilla extracts in my collection. Vanilla absolute from 4 different countries, CO2 extract forms, even food grade Vanilla essence!
What they all have in common is that they don't willingly dissolve in either alcohol or oil bases.
So I went back to the drawing board and ordered a large quantity of high quality natural Vanilla beans to experiment with too.
I began the Vanilla project in June this year, and one of my shelves is literally stacked with with tinctures in a variety of bases, powdered Vanilla beans, bags of Madagascar Special pods, absolutes in alcohol and CO2 extracts in oil....all sitting there flatly refusing to bloody well dissolve!
But in the end I remembered an old trick I had learned from an ancient apothecary text book many years ago and lo and behold, I got my Vanilla scent into an oil base! (And yes, I could tell you how I did it, but I think I might save that to include in the book I'm writing at the moment!)
This does mean that for the moment, it will only available as a perfume oil, as the process simply doesn't work properly in alcohol....but the oil base seems to lend itself to the softness of the Vanilla scent anyway....

So from there I sat down to come up with a Vanilla perfume that actually appealed to ME!
As I said in the beginning, my biggest beef with Vanilla has always been it's sweetness.
So I built my Vanilla perfume on a deep dry woody base with a lot of Australian Sandalwood in it. The Sandalwood I use has a particularly high Santalol content, similar to the Indian Mysore Sandalwood, but it is a lot drier and sharper than the Indian one, which in this perfume works perfectly.
I then experimented with a number of other resin extracts with complimentary notes to them to enhance the shy softness of the Vanilla itself.
There's quite a number of them: Styrax, Benzoin, Labdanum, Tonka bean, Tolu and Peru Balsam being just a few I tried...
each of them lent a different note to the perfume and it took quite a bit of fiddling to find just the right combination for the effect I was looking for.
But I got it.
And made up a test batch.
And sold the first bottle half an hour later, with no label, no name....
And then posted on facebook and sold the rest of the batch in a week.
Still with no name, no label, not even a proper website page.

So I've just made up a second batch, and added a bath and body oil version...(of which Ive already sold the first 2 bottles here in the shop).
And have added it to the new website.
Still without a name, or proper label.

Vanilla Wood perfume oil

Vanilla Wood Bath & Body oil

Monday, June 30, 2014

Adventures in Gardenia Enfleurage

Gardenia Macadamia oil Enfleurage
One of my experimental projects this year was in the making of Gardenia Enfluerage. As some of you know, a few years back I managed to track down a small amount of real Gardenia absolute, and made a small batch of a perfume I called "My Gardenia". Which sold out. And to my horror, the supply I had for the absolute dried up and there has been no more to be found ever since!
And I was living out in the bush in Nimbin, norther NSW Australia near a rather large crop of organic gardenias...
So I thought I'd have a go at seeing if I could actually extract the scent myself.
And not wanting to muck around with toxic solvents out in the bush, I decided to try "Enfleurage".
This technique was developed in France a century or so ago, and it involves covering glass plates with a solid oil or fat and laying the petals on them over and over again...each time waiting for up to 24 hours till the scent from the flowers has infused into the fat, and then replacing them with new flowers until the fat has become thoroughly saturated with scent.
gardenia coconut enfleurage
Now the problems I faced were many fold. For starters the Gardenia flowers needed to be picked at exactly the right time of day when the scent was strongest. I started off picking them in the morning, but quickly realized the scent was far stronger in the evening. Which meant making sure I was home at the right time to be able to pick them before it got too dark to see both the flowers and any stray snakes that might be slithering around (remember this was right out in the Australian bush). Then it rained and there was no point picking wet flowers as you need them to be as dry as possible while still young and fresh. Then I found out that the bushes were growing right over the nest of a particularly unfriendly form of jumping ant. But eventually, dressed in jeans tucked into sturdy hiking boots and a long sleeved shirt I managed to harvest enough flowers for the first run (with only a small number of ant bites).
Back in the mountain chalet, I hit the next hurdles. Australia is hot in summer. Very hot. And where I was living there was no air conditioning. So any of the fats I tried simply melted off the glass within about 15 minutes.
So I decided to simply immerse the flowers in the melted oil in jars...
Which worked...but I discovered after the first 4 batches failed that I had to immensely careful about timing. If the flowers were left in the oil for too long, first the water content would begin to seep into the oil, and then the whole melange would begin to ferment in the heat. the french instructions of 24 hours were definitely too long!
It was more like a couple of hours with the jars being left in a nice cool spot of the stone floor!
The first batch I did was in coconut. Which worked...but the smell of the coconut was very strong and tended to over power the gentle delicate gardenia, and I was trying to get a strong pure gardenia note all of it's own for my perfume....
So I ended up using a beautiful scentless locally produced macadamia oil which is light and beautiful, plus being environmentally friendly as it's produced in the same hills.
I ran into the same scent strength versus fermentation timing problem over and over....the oil would go from a lovely clear jar full of glowing white flowers dancing in a cloudy yellow tinged mess with a distinct fruity smell overpowering the delicate floral gardenia. Which was particularly heart breaking if it was the 4th of 5th run of new petals in a jar.
In the end I ended up with a mere half 500mls of perfect clear delicately scented Gardenia oil! About half of which I have decided to share with my perfumer friends...the other half will be further transformed into "My Gardenia" perfume oil.
So if you'd like to have your own share in this olfactory adventure:

click to buy some Gardenia Enfleurage

Friday, June 20, 2014

perfume questions on ABC radio

 ABC radio rang me the other day to ask if I'd be willing to answer a few questions about perfumery on their afternoon random questions show...."can you bruise perfume by rubbing your wrists together?", "what are perfume notes", "which are the best places to wear perfume?",
And nerve wracking it was too....there I was pacing up and down the courtyard in front of my shop trying to hold the mobile phone steady in my shaking hands...
Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Very Vanilla

My latest project: A Vanilla perfume.
I've been asked for one so many times over the years...but it's not an easy undertaking.
You see I want it to be a real "pure" vanilla. Maybe with some woody musk ingredients to it, but nothing to mask it or take away from it's basic..well.. "vanilla-ness".
So I'm working with gentle woods, and ambers, and musky smooth bases....
And it's challenging. Vanilla is such a subtle scent...and almost anything seems to overpower it.
Plus the bloody vanilla absolute I like best doesn't seem to dissolve in anything. Argh.

There's so many forms of Vanilla to play with...starting with the fermented vanilla pods themselves which I have incubating in oil and alcohol in bottles all over my shelves...then there's the aforementioned absolute (grr), CO2 extracts, and wonder of wonders, natural vanillin powder! Lovely and subtle to the EXTREME!!!!
Then there's all the "vanilla-ish" other ingredients...benzoin, styrax, tolu balsam, labdanum, peru balsam...but all of them are strong and sweet with sharp overtones I dont really want in the mix.....
So far I'm happiest with a really gentle wood/ musk base which doesn't take centre stage...but it still outshines the vanilla....
We'll see.
Any testers and bloggers out there who'd like a few of the advanced version to test sniff when I'm happy with them?

Sunday, May 18, 2014


I've been sidetracked from perfume into making jewelry....beautiful glass and metal pendants with art nouveau paintings and delicate flowers....
beautiful nature photos behind glass... the interplay of colour, metal and glass, plus the textural addition of silk and paper flowers is such fun to work with...

click here: Jewelry on the Website

And a series of Victorian perfume lockets.
These ones have material inside that can be soaked in perfume or essential oils to make them wearable perfume necklaces.
They are based on old Victorian ones I found in a book and are just delightful.
They are all decorated with delicate silk and paper flowers and come in 2 different sizes.

These beautiful filigree lockets come with replaceable perfume pads so you can "wear" different" scents or essential oils that you don't want to apply directly to your skin.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

teaching perfumery...and the natural perfume playset

Well, the question has reared it's head again....Ive been asked so many times over the years to teach classes on natural perfumery...and I'm still torn.
On one hand, I love teaching....and sharing my 30 years of perfume research and knowledge is a very tempting idea..
On the other hand, I've worked so hard to gain the knowledge I have...and I'm not sure how I feel about sharing my secrets and bredding my own competition so to speak.
Anyway, last week a lovely young woman walked into my shop and asked me to teach her. And I sort of got talked into it...
Ive been thinking about how I would do this for a long time. My methods and approach are a bit different to most of those I have seen out there. And beyond anything, I think you first of all need to educate your nose and learn how to "smell" really.
Ive had this idea of putting together a sort of "playbox" of premixed scent ingredients, so that would be perfumers can have a go at putting together scents of their own. And providing a booklet with it to guide them through approaching their experiments in a way that will teach them the basics of perfume making as they go along.
And I found these delightful little dropper bottles a while back which are just perfect (I'm such a sucker for pretty bottles!).

It's not easy deciding which oils to include in the set. I have so many favourites, but I don't want to make it too complex, because
a) it makes it too confusing and
b) too expensive
So I've chosen 9 of the most important oils in perfumery. I've picked a collection of oils that will almost all work together harmoniously, so that you can actually make really lovely scents with them. And I've also added a few that will work with some, and not with others. This is on purpose, to give you an idea of how easily you can go from a lovely blend to a yucky muddy clashing nightmare, and most importantly, to teach you WHY this happens.
It's a pretty versatile collection, allowing you to make everything from sweet musky florals to herbal men's colognes. Daniela will be the first person to receive one of these, so it will be interesting to see how she finds it!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Green Mandarin Friday

Working on new bath and body oil bends...and today it's green mandarin that I'm playing with.
This stuff has been begging me to play ever since I got it...
And now I finally have time and space to do so....

It's such yummy stuff...the freshness of mandarin, without the fruity bite! It's so soft, and well, green!
What you can see in the bottles are blue corn flowers... the colour backs up the fresh restfulness of the scent, but corn flowers are also some of the few safe flowers to use in infusions for skin too....
I'm combining it with mint in a few different forms....
just lush and soft and fresh.....Suggestions anyone?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Website Rebuilt

My new Webshop
Well, after a few weeks of sleepless nights and tearing my hair out in frustration, my new website is finally up and running!
I loved the look of my old website, but it was handmade by another programmer, and I simply didnt speak enough techie to be able to update it at all....
So this one was built on a shopping platform by a friend of mine, Rowan from and I can actually upload new products onto it myself, edit the shipping etc etc....
There's still some bots which need fiddling with, but at least its working, and my customers can place orders through it!
And best of all, it's finally got all the perfumes on it that weren't available through my old one! Things like "Avalon" and "Craving" and my beloved "Sense of Honour".
I'll also be able to offer short runs of wierd and wonderful things I come up with now that I've got time and space in my new workshop!
And the very first is a range of "Love Potion" Bath and Body oil!
I used to sell this one years ago, and people have been asking for here it is again! It makes a lovely after shower moisturizer too if you pour a small amount into your hands and rub it over your still damp skin! All over body scent.....

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine's Day Opening Party

Opening Party February 14th
Shop9/ 18 Centennial Circuit
Byron Arts and Industry Estate
(from 2 pm)

Well, I'm officially opening the perfumery to the public on Valentine's day...and I'm all a panicking! The Northern Star came by the other day and took a stack of embarrassing photos of me holding perfume bottles...hopefully the bottles will come out ok, grin. Must find out what day the article is coming out!
Theres still boxes all over the place, the beautiful handmade display tables and shelves from Nimbin wont be here for a week or so (when the guy has organized his new ute) ...I need to rewrite and print out backdrops and stories for each perfume and and and...
The credit card machine wont be here till next week of course, so it will all have to be cash only on the day! Arrgghhh!!!!
What do I need for an opening party?
I mean, my original workshop furniture has finally arrived from down south, so the perfumes are all out on display...I'm frantically bottling in our new snazzy mini sample atomizers and stocking up on "Love Potion" and "Death by Chocolate"...
And I've got music via stereo, will lay on a supply of bubbly..and have friends and old customers coming to help me celebrate...
Now if only I knew some local musos....
I've also got a stack of beautiful new "Love Potion" Bath and Body oils in their gorgeous new bottles...with 3 different labels at this stage as I cant make up my mind which ones work best...maybe I should have a competition and let my customers choose?

Actually a competition sounds great... A "Which is the most romantic fragrance" competition...with a giveaway of a bottle of their favorite as a prize!
 But it is SOOOOO cool to finally have enough space to spread out and focus entirely on making perfume! To have a public space I can invite people in to share what I do, to see and smell what I work with so they can experience how different botanical perfumes are!
Even before the official opening date passers by have been wandering in and they've all been fascinated and delighted! Its such a lovely thing to hear "I don't really like perfumes...but yours are so different! Wow!"
Bringing Mother Nature's real scents back into peoples lives, grin! My new sock of Moroccan Rose Absolute arrived yesterday too....oh how beautiful it is! New stock of "Goddess" in progress...and it came with a few new goodies to try from my favorite distiller too! Amazing Oud CO2...and some awesome Vanilla....after the opening party I will definitely finally get to work on that Vanilla perfume everyone has been asking for for so long.....

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Byron Bay Workshop..the adventure begins!

Well, I finally did it! A real public workshop! Found a beautiful small factory space in the Byron Arts and Industry Estate and am now in the process of fiddling with furniture, unpacking boxes and working out displays and workspaces. Its' so exciting to finally have space to really spread out my things again... dedicated workbenches that don't need to be cleared at the end of the day, lovely solid wooden shelves to put all my bottles and jars where I can see them instead of sorting through endless boxes trying to find what I need! Oh the bliss of coming to work and having a whole studio to play in!
It's a wonderful space, with enough room to have
a proper public shop display as well as a large workspace for filling and blending. And as an added bonus, a lovely mezzanine that I'm going to set up as a proper consulting room for custom design, where I can sit with clients and show them samples and discuss projects in elegant peace and quiet!
There's already been a few random walk in customers who came in to see what I was up to and sniff through the few perfume bottles I have on display so far in my half set up chaos....
I've printed a whole stack of rack cards to distribute all over the place, and I'm having a Grand Opening Party on Valentines Day afternoon here 9Shop 9/ 18 Centennial Circuit, Byron Bay Arts and Industry Estate NSW 2481 Australia) with belly dancing, music, champagne and of course lot's of specials....including the new and lovely mini perfume sprays I've found to give people
a cheap way of buying and trying my wares before they invest in a full sized bottle...
All up it's incredibly exciting! I'm so looking forward to being able to make small runs of special perfumes now...indulging in experimental runs of things I can only ever make say 10 bottles of because I can never get that particular ingredient again! Weird and wonderful things I can make and offer to the public without having to be able to keep them in stock as part of the regular range on the website...And now to get back to packaging "Love Potion" for next week!