Winter 2017 Botanical Perfumes

As my busy and exciting semester of Library school, and work with museum artifacts, comes to a close, I’ve been grateful to spend some time with Arabesque. I’ve turned to perfume blending as a way of calming my thoughts, returning to my center, my senses, and my art. I’m really grateful to the Sacramento Maker’s Mart for giving me a little, and necessary, push in this direction. And I’ve enjoyed breathing life into some of my old scents, which feels like spending time with dear old friends.

Currently blending the following Arabesque scents, which will be available now through January 2018 (when I hope to launch my new web site!) Some of these will be featured at the December 2017 Makers Mart:

 

The Awakening, the botanical scent of which I feel most proud. Pictured above, this scent is one of my literary scents, inspired by the Kate Chopin novel and featuring seaweed inclusions collected on a beach on Malibu. A complex, unisex, warm, slightly sweet, earthy, powder scent with Patchouli and underlying spices and resins, and a unique top to middle note: the very precious white flower from Tasmania, called Boronia. $120.00 15 ml, $50.00 6 ml

 

Kyphi, probably the sweetheart of my aromatic oeuvre thus far. Inspired by the smell of the ancient, sacred, handmade incense from ancient Egypt (several ancient varieties exist, among them, Syria and Greece) the light, uplifting scent features notes of Cinnamon, Frankincense, Vanilla along with other exotic resins, woods and spices $110.00 15 ml, $45.00 6 ml

 

The Star Seller, a star-shaped flower for a star-shaped theme (pictured above.) This scent was inspired by a Donovan song called The Seller of Stars. Very sweet and magical, and somehow merged in my imagination while living in Nevada County, CA where I always appreciated the smoky, star-filled skies of winter, often going outside at night to take a peep, and a sniff. The perfume is a white flower blend, but is also grounded with Sandalwood and other subtle, earthy elements. Not too sweet, but distinctly feminine.

$110.00 15 ml, $45.00 6 ml

 

Merlin the Bard, the scent I often wear, and the most delightful of all perfume collections I have ever researched, Merlin the Bard comes from my Arthurian Scent Collection. Designed to represent the element of fire, this archetypal scent features Palo Santo, Tobacco, and other sacred botanical ingredients that recall earth as well as fire. $100.00 15 ml, $40.00 6 ml

 

The Green Mantle, the first perfume I ever made. Featuring an inclusion of Oak Moss, this classic, mossy green fougère was designed to be a unisex scent, and remains an Arabesque oldie-but-goodie. Another scent I wear myself! Wear/smell when your head is in the stars, and you wish to come back to Earth! $100.00 15 ml, $40.00 6 ml

 

 

The Man of the Woods, another literary scent and perhaps the most popular of my unisex scents. A soulful, wild perfume inspired by DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley stories, and also by DH Lawrence’s personal creed, which I find to be deep, as well as deeply gorgeous. Literary critics have surmised that Lawrence based the character of the Man of the Woods upon himself and, in my humble opinion, his personal creed certainly seems to reflect this.

“This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed.”
–DH Lawrence.

The Man of the Woods is sexy, with warm vanilla notes and earthy resins like Cabrueva, Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Peru Balsam. $110.00 ml, $45.00 6 ml

 

Drann, my Irish-inspired perfume, pictured above, is another unisex scent and features the essential oils from trees and botanicals that are considered sacred. Drann is a smooth, subtle, resinous, warm, unisex, meditative scent, featuring Oud, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cedarwood, Cistus, Lavender and Rosewood. The word ‘drann’ has its linguistic roots in early Northern European languages and the root of the word speaks of turning, twisting, weaving, and influencing via magic. (The same root is found in the old Irish word for Druid, Drai, wizard, Draoi, the Gaelic word for enchantment, Draoidheacht.) The Celtic spiral is a visual representation, a symbol, of this same magical meaning. (Celtic Knotwork and interlace is probably the most famous example of this.) A magical scent. $110.00 15 ml, $45.00 6 ml

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To order a handmade botanical perfume, please email arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com, and I will respond with a Paypal invoice. Perfumes ship insured Priority Mail with a 7-14 day turnaround. International shipping is also available.

 

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Arabesque Aromas at the Sacramento Maker’s Mart

I am very excited to vend at this event.
I will be offering a Scent Bar for sampling, my Autumn Rosehip botanical potpourri, some earthy hydrosols, festive essential-oil body/room sprays, 1.5 ml perfume samples, 6 ml bottles of perfume, and, of course my 15 ml signature minaret bottles of perfume, too.

Sacramento Maker’s Mart
7300 FOLSOM BLVD. Sacramento 95826
12-6 pm, Saturday December 2nd.

And if you have any aromatic requests, and plan to attend the event, please let me know in advance at arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com. You can pick up orders at the event to save on shipping.

I hope to see you there!

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Introducing Arabesque’s Summer 2016 Scent~ Armoise

armoise1

My Summer 2016 scent “Armoise” is named for the perfume’s main ingredient, Mugwort, or Artemisia herba-alba. “Armoise” is inspired by the Artemisia family of herbs and their connection to the goddess Artemis. The perfume is composed of a variety of fresh, almost fruity, green florals like Tuberose, resting atop the exotic green notes of the organic, Moroccan Armoise, built on top of an even greener layer of earthy, heady base notes in an organic Jojoba oil. It can be sampled in 1 ml vials, here, or purchased in the 1/2 oz. size here.

The photo above is of a nook in one of my container gardens.
Pictured behind the Nasturtiums, and next to the Bergamot, is an Artemis tile that was gifted to me by my mom, who taught me how to garden. If you look to the left of Artemis’s face you can see one of her main identifying symbols, the moon. Despite the elements, and the seasons, I always keep this plaque outside in my herb garden, where ever I happen to be living, in honor of the feminine principle. Many of the plants in my garden were grown from seeds or cuttings given to me by female friends, too. Several of the plants in the Artemisia family have a very old connection to women’s bodies and women’s health. The Goddess Artemis was once thought to preside over childbirth and her symbol, the moon, is synonymous with women’s reproductive cycles.

My favorite Artemisia herb to cook with is Tarragon.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about the folklore and the benefits of the Artemisia family, here is an Herbal Fact Sheet from the Herbal Society of America.

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Arabesque’s Solid Scents

solid perfume

Now your favorite Arabesque scents are available in solid perfume form.

The solid perfumes, blended into a 1/2 oz. base of beeswax and organic jojoba, are available in the following unisex scents: “The Holly, Moss and Ivy” “Drann” (inspired by ancient Ireland and the Celtic love of trees), “The Man of the Woods” (my DH Lawrence-inspired scent) and the first perfume I ever made, an earthy fougere called “The Green Mantle.”

Select your choice at checkout.

*Note: For those of you in California and other regions with extreme heat, don’t leave solid perfumes in your car or any place where they may melt. Keep them cool and protected at all times. And use your USPS tracking information when ordering to prevent perfumes from sitting in a hot mailbox upon arrival.*

 

Natural Botanical Perfumes by Arabesque Aromas

Scent, smooth, and condition your facial hair with Arabesque’s Aromatic Beard Oil. A diluted version of my botanical scents, the beard oil is available in 1/3 oz. minaret bottles in the following unisex scents: “The Man of the Woods” “Kyphi” “Merlin the Bard” “The Green Mantle” “The 1001 Nights” and also by custom request.

Select your choice at checkout.
And/or sample these unisex scents via my Masculine Scents Sampler.

 

turkish coffee

Just back (mostly) from a dreamy summer trip where I visited an old, dear friend in Olympia, Washington. We had tea, we had sipping chocolate, we had more tea, we had Turkish coffee with baklava and Turkish delight, we collected seashells and sand dollars on the beach of the Puget Sound, we took a train trip to Portland (where we met with another dear friend) and had yet more tea…

I hope everyone has as much delicious fun, this summer, as I’ve already had!
Midsummer 2016 Scent and Scent Subscriber updates and parcels are coming soon.
Cheers!

~Kirsten

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Midwinter Tidings!

trier

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ARABESQUE! 

December News:

~Two bars of Rebecca’s delicious, handmade soap in The Holly, Moss, and Ivy scent remain. And fresh, complimentary batches of The Holly, Moss, and Ivy, The Awakening, and The Thousand and One Nights botanical perfume await you.

~My themed Scent Samplers make pretty nifty gifties, and can be sent directly to the recipient. I hand-write gift cards upon request and am always delighted to play the role of Secret Santa whenever required!

~Several hardbound copies of my cookbook remain.

~I am feeling excited to make my end-of-year donation to my non-profit of choice for 2015, Bird Note. Here is a link to their Bird-themed Christmas Carol, from last year. (My cats are huge fans of this song. Usually they prefer that I play it with the windows open, at least five times in a row, while they gaze outside, and drool, and dream… )

~In the above photo, from May 2011, I am lighting a candle at the 12th century St. Peter’s Dom in Trier, Germany with my dear pal Brandi. School is finished for 2015, and now I am just intent in keeping my own metaphorical candles lit in my small corner of the world. Despite the news outlets and social media, I am keeping an eye on what is dear, and sacred in my life…. and am wishing the same for you!

ks trier

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Getting to Know Your Botanical Perfumer…

arabesque

Recently, at The Phoenix Rose boutique in Nevada City, CA, a young customer asked me about my collection of botanical perfumes that are displayed at the counter. As she smelled each perfume, she looked up the ingredients in the little burgundy book that accompanies my collection, written out very lovingly and carefully, in my own hand. She wasn’t at all ashamed to say, out loud, that she she had no need to buy my perfumes. She felt she could just recreate the scents she liked for herself. And probably, she said, thinking aloud, she would start selling her own perfumes, too. She slipped one of my business cards in her purse. “How hard can it be?” she said. She looked at the price tag on my 1/2 oz minaret bottle of The Green Mantle. “Seventy Dollars?!?!” she said. “Oh my god. That’s a fortune. I am definitely going to start selling my own perfumes.”

She proceeded to describe a blend of her own that she also had in mind. I pointed out that, should she proceed in making this perfume, she would probably give herself or her clients a severe case of sunburn due to the high level of photosensitive oils in the recipe. I wasn’t surprised to hear that she had absolutely no idea what I was talking about… But I was, indeed, alarmed!

Our encounter, as irritating and insulting as it was, brought up several key points for me. First and foremost, it served as a potent reminder to know who you are buying your natural products from. Essential oils are beautiful, precious and romantic things. They are sensuous, exotic, seductive and extremely tantalizing! But they are also extremely powerful, and need to be used wisely. Safely. And respectfully.

This young, green girl also inspired me to muse upon the value and substance of my own background and experience. And what lies behind my $70.00-80.00 price tag. (A sum which I feel to be quite modest, as I intentionally price my creations for accessibility.) I found myself musing over what, exactly, made me the botanical perfumer I am today.

Behind a carefully-cultivated nose, and my arabesque aesthetic, is quite a practical education. And about fifteen years of hard won experience! For those of you not familiar with my background, here is a brief recap…

arabesque-300

In a nutshell, I’ve studied with Mandy Aftel, Jeanne Rose and Kurt Schnaubelt. And I’ve mentored with Suzanne Catty for many years. (If you do not know these people by name, you can search for the considerable list of books they have published, between them!) I managed a wholesale essential oil company for seven years. I’ve been a botanical volunteer in the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena, for three years, mentoring with the Head Gardeners there, while also studying herbalism via Rosemary Gladstar’s excellent program The Art & Science of Herbalism. I have an academic background in art history and plant folklore, am well-traveled and have studied the contents, the history, the recipes, and even viewed original pages of medieval herbals. Then there is my very own tabletop still, The Alambiccus Gaggia. And my intensive year of study in the art of making spagyric tinctures under the tutelage of a master teacher (This was one of the most rigorous and demanding things I have ever done!)

I have also taught seasonal classes on plant folklore, been invited to lecture to large groups of people, and have appeared on two nationwide television shows. And all of these experiences have become, magically, intellectually, and alchemically, a part of my work today…

(Yes, how hard can it be, really!? Hmm.)

You can visit my web site for a brief clip from my 2007 television appearance on Noelle Katai’s aromatherapy-inspired show “Everybody Nose” where I discuss candle making with beeswax, herbs, spices and essential oils. The full episode still airs on Veria tv, as well. Email me for details.
(But – no laughing at my funny green apron, please!:)

And if you are searching for some other skilled botanical artisans, I am happy to make some recommendations. I know many talented, qualified artists who create beautiful, professional, plant-based products that are works of purity, integrity and value.

My aromatic cookbook The Fragrant Kitchen: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer also has a substantial Resources section at the back. It includes: a book list, helpful organizations, reputable sources for purchasing tools and ingredients, and a list of skilled artisans who I know, trust and love.

My thank-you coupon, 10% off of orders for Arabesque customers and subscribers, continues in my Etsy shop. Coupon code is *arabesquearomas* upon checkout.

With love, and gratitude.
~Kirsten

Pictured above:

Me, in the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena CA 2008-9. Photo by Mara West.

My arabesque insignia, hand-colored by me.

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The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer

Peasants_breaking_bread public domain

I am pleased to announce that The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer is finally here!

The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook features a beautiful introduction by my friend and mentor, Suzanne Catty. It is a labor of love that I have been writing in both my heart and my head for several years now. The black and white cookbook with color front page illustration (pictured) is approximately 70 pages in length, 8 1/2″ x 11″ spiral-bound, soft-cover, with 48 or so recipes to suit vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

My recipes have a simple, earthy, Mediterranean emphasis to them and the cookbook features aromatic tips and recipes that are a meaningful part of my own daily life and seasonal cycles.

The book is illustrated by beautiful and charming 14th century images taken from a medieval herbal on health and well-being, The Tacuinum Sanitatis. And at the back of the book is a rich Resources section with information on where to get aromatic supplies and ingredients, a list of my favorite cookbooks and aromatic research books, helpful organizations of interest, shopping tips for avoiding GMO’s in your cooking, etc.

There are two ways to purchase the cookbook:
1. You can email me from your Paypal address at arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com and I can send you a Paypal invoice.
2. You can purchase it from my Etsy shop.

The cookbook is $28.50 plus $5.50 Priority insured shipping within the US = $34.00 total.
(If you are outside of the US, or wish to order multiple copies, please let me know and I can get you a shipping quote, make you a customized Etsy listing, etc.)

Inscriptions and gift cards are available upon request, and please note that the Etsy coupon code is not valid for cookbook purchases. The first copies of the Fragrant Kitchen cookbook ship Priority Mail on December 10th.

With excitement! And thanks!
And a warm, happy, fragrant and cozy holiday season to you all.
~Kirsten

Cover art: “Peasants breaking bread.” Livre du Roi Modus et de la Reine Ratio, 14th century. Collection: Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

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The Golden Bough

Medieval Pilgrim's Path, Kaiserslautern, Germany, 2011.

Inspired by the labyrinth walk to reach the gold at the center, and the medieval pilgrim’s sojourn, this floral and sweet botanical perfume was made to assist one in going ever higher and ever farther.

The Golden Bough botanical perfume. Photograph by Louie Martinesse.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/93800559/the-golden-bough-botanical-perfume-oil-a?listing_id=93800559&listing_slug=the-golden-bough-botanical-perfume-oil-a

The Golden Bough is the fourth perfume in the Arabesque Aromas emotional well-being collection.

“The deeper significance of the pilgrimage through a labyrinth – which is equally true for any pilgrimage – is that it symbolizes the inner pilgrimage we make to the center of our Being.”

~ Jean Hani, “The Enigma of the Labyrinth,” from A Chartres Cathedral Publication.

A sample of The Golden Bough can be ordered here.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/48799681/one-natural-perfume-oil-sample-by?listing_id=48799681&listing_slug=one-natural-perfume-oil-sample-by

Walking a replica of the 12th century labyrinth in Chartres cathedral,
Forest Lawn, Glendale, California. 2012.

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“The Heart Illumined”

Arabesque’s “The Heart Illumined” botanical perfume is so-named after a journal entry I found, written when I was driving across Ireland on my first and fateful visit, May 2002.

Driving on Irish Country Roads, 2002.

“You can’t see my handwriting, but here it is shaky from driving on narrow country roads. And there is a map of Ireland folded beneath my notebook, because today I am the navigator.

We’re on the Ring of Kerry, just leaving Dingle… While up at some of the highest and most ecstatic points, looking down at the misty expanses of green unfolding around us, it occurred to me that my heart has healed on this journey, somewhere along the way… ”

“The Heart Illumined,” another of the four Arabesque Aromas perfumes designed with the theme of emotional well-being in mind, is a botanical perfume containing Australian Emerald Cypress, a naturally bright, emerald green essential oil. A fresh, slightly earthy unisex perfume with notes of Black Pepper, Bergamot and Geranium, “The Heart Illumined” also contains a sprinkling of Peridot semi-precious stones that rest at the bottom of the bottle.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/63803891/the-heart-illumined-botanical-perfume

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On Holy Wells & Sacred Water

“Lakes and rivers were seen as ways in which prayers could be carried to the deities. The waters were sacred messengers. Whereas lakes and rivers pour your supplications away and therefore calmed the gods or goddesses, or alerted them to your problem, the benefits of wells are usually depicted as being given freely to all.”

~from The Spiritual Traveler by Palmer & Palmer

Kirsten at the Christian Brigid's Well, Kildare, Ireland. 2002.

To me, holy wells represent unconditional purity and sanctity, renewal, blessing and recovery. From illness. From the past…  From whatever. I’m a big believer in ‘the fresh start’ and the ‘new beginning.’

I think this is because the symbolism of the goddess – and Saint – Brigid is sacred and beautiful to me, and I take it very personally. An ancient Celtic fire goddess, later turned saint by the early Irish Catholic church, both goddess and Saint Brigid are patrons of light, fire, poetry, brides, purification, renewal and holy wells.

Brigid’s time of year is early February, when snowdrops, the first flowers of spring, begin to appear, pushing their heads through the snow and the dark of late winter. There are many celebrations that exist in different guises, yet similar in essence, with which to honor Her. For instance, the medieval holiday of Candlemas, celebrated February 2nd, first inspired me to create the Brigid’s candle in 2001.

For roughly the past ten years, I’ve made candles in my kitchen during this holiday, honoring light and renewal, and creating this tool for others to do the same. I add drops of the holy well water to the wax as it is melting for an extra ‘benediction.’

Arabesque Aroma's Brigid's Candle

The word Candlemas comes from the Latin word festa candelarum, the festival of candles, and it isn’t at all a coincidence that it falls on the Celtic fire celebration of Brigid, celebrated sundown February 1st to sundown February 2 and the feast day of Brigid the saint, February 1st.

The ancient, pre-Christian Brigid's Well, Kildare, Ireland 2006

Both the Goddess and the Saint Brigid also have a connection with smithcraft.

Which sounds rather random and odd, if one does not know that smithcraft and metalwork was a highly revered and honorable craft in the North and Hiberno-Saxon (ancient Irish) art movement of the 6th – 9th centuries, akin to magic. (When our goddess became Saint Brigit, the patron saint of smithcraft, brides, poetry and purification, she was said to have lived in Kildare, Ireland in the 5th century. And the first Vitae Brigitae, or Life of Brigid, was written c. 650 AD.)

In the Hiberno-Saxon art movement metalwork, particularly where the use of gold is concerned, revealed the concern with the transmutation of the soul into something higher, better, illuminated and purified. For the above reasons, I find it difficult to entirely separate Brigid’s array of symbolism from the ancient art of alchemy.

courtesy of Chantal Simon

Roman Baths, Bath, England, 2008. Photograph courtesy of Chantal Simon.

Holy Wells such as the ones in Kildare, Ireland, the Roman ones in Bath, or the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England, are visited by thousands of pilgrims each year who bring with them their hopes and prayers of transmutation, purity and renewal.

Pilgrim's prayers and offerings, tied to a Blackthorn just outside the Chalice Well at Glastonbury, Somerset, England. December, 2008.

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