Roots!

I was really glad when Brandi, best friend and fellow foodie, came to visit me for a few days. Among other fun things, we took an overnight road-trip to Sonoma. As I gazed at the rows and rows of the carefully tended, ripening grapes out of the car window I saw that, though I myself once managed an essential oil company in Los Angeles, I needed some reminding about where my perfumery ingredients originated from! It was powerful to consider agriculture, terroir, wines, and essential oils in this light once again.

My oils, the aromatics used in my infusions, absolutes, and jojoba oil were, much like the wines we sampled, the result of the very hard and dedicated labor of farmers who toil in all seasons and with all of the elements. Like grapes, some of these crops require highly skilled harvesting, sometimes by hand, and highly skilled distillation techniques, not to mention all of the additional craft and toil, love, sweat, and patience required. A family winery in Sonoma was the perfect place to remember and to appreciate such efforts of both vineyards and essential oil plantations alike, and I went home with a renewed appreciation of both.

Me, left, and best friend, travel companion and fellow foodie Brandi, right. Behind us is the vineyards of Gundlach Bunshu, Sonoma. This family has been growing wine in this very spot for over one hundred and fifty years. The top photograph is also of their vineyards.

Brandi and I were guided and advised by another dear friend of mine, Misty (pictured, right) through a wine-tasting. It was really enjoyable to use my perfumer’s nose to identify and savor the many notes in the wines. I eyed the stills that were visible in the tasting room, and was reminded many times, and in many ways, of the similarities between botanical perfumery and viniculture.

Perhaps a fitting Arabesque scent, in keeping with the theme, is Veriditas. This botanical perfume was inspired by the medieval German mystic Hildegard of Bingen and her understanding of  ‘a green truth’ or Veriditas which she came to comprehend and define from a series of mystical visions concerning God, nature, and humankind.

Samples, 6 ml bottles, and minaret bottles of the perfume Veriditas are available in the Etsy shop. The perfume contains an inclusion of Vetiver root, from dried Vetiver roots imported from a small farm in Madagascar.

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My Sultry Summer Sale continues until July 5th. Use the coupon code SummerHoliday2017 in my Etsy shop to receive free Priority insured shipping (domestic/US parcels only, please!) on all orders $10.00 and up.
Thanks everyone! 

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Vetiver Hydrosol, A Cinnamon Infusion, & Literary Perfumes

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Well, library work in Archives and in Special Collections is highly enjoyable and, I confess, there are several literary perfumes (and one very big, ever-growing reading list) swirling around in my mind as I write this! So stay tuned for summer. I’m also excited to say I have been accepted to Library School, where I will begin studying for my MLIS, Masters in Library Science, in the fall.

Pictured above is a glimpse of my very favorite shelf in the Tsakoupolos Hellenic Special Collection at CSUS. When I walk by I always pause, admiring the rows and rows of 1001 Nights & The Arabian Nights. They are so beautiful and rich, displayed together in English, French, Italian, German, and Arabic languages and in all of their illustrated volumes, ages, and editions. I’d absolutely feel inspired to make a perfume from this collection except — I’ve already designed a scent inspired by Scheherazade and her storytelling powers, (and the sheer power of storytelling!) almost two years ago. You can find a sample here!

In other news, my good friend and mentor Suzanne Catty has opened her own Etsy shop so I wanted to share the link. She sells the finest in hand-crafted botanical infusions, and for you sun-worshipers, Californians, or especially, those of you who are both, her Golden Brown (food for sun-kissed skin) is a particular delight. Also included in her shop is her cookbook centered around tea. So – do take a look!

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In other news, my Spring 2017 Rose Geranium hydrosol is already sold out (Scent Subscribers had first dibs!) but my Spring/Summer 2017 Madagascar Vetiver hydrosol, which Suzanne taught me how to make several years ago, is now available.

Please note that it comes in a spray-top bottle unless otherwise specified upon checkout.
Hydrosol is distilled in the Alambiccus Gaggia upon receipt of order.
Shipping turnaround is 7-14 days.

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Lastly, Alexandria is back!
I haven’t been happy with the quality of cinnamon oils I’d been finding so I stopped making Alexandria for awhile. Fans of my Alexandria botanical perfume may find it slightly different as I’ve swapped essential oil for a botanical infusion made by me, from the spice itself! Hopefully, you’ll find it to be better than ever. Samples and the perfume are now available in the Etsy shop. Each perfume is handmade to order; shipping window is 7-14 days.

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Arabesque’s 2015 Fragrant Distillations

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Every Summer I distill aromatics with my small copper tabletop still, The Alambiccus Gaggia. The result – fragrant, steam-distilled hydrosols – are aromatic, medicinal, cosmetic, and culinary treasures!

On offer this year are the fresh-distilled hydrosols of Witch Hazel, made from organic Witch Hazel Bark, Vetiver Root Hydrosol from Vetiver I imported from Madagascar, Spearmint harvested fresh from my garden, and wildcrafted Melissa or Lemon Balm.

They are available in my Etsy shop June-September and also by special request. An excellent resource for learning how to integrate the use of hydrosols into your daily life is Suzanne Catty’s Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy available on Amazon in a hard copy or via Kindle.

My first distillation of 2015 happened on May Day Eve, as pictured in sequential steps below, courtesy of my botanist friend, Ty Wheeler. The result was a fresh and — we thought, quite surprisingly floral –Spearmint hydrosol.

Pictured left to right, below, are my beautiful plant materials, gathered in preparation for several distillations: Fresh Spearmint from my garden, soaking in the round bowl is Organic Witch Hazel bark, and soaking on the right in the rectangular bowl is Vetiver root from Madagascar.

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For a single distillation, fresh, clean water must first be added to the copper still. In my case, I used fresh, Northern California well water!

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Then the fragrant plant material is added. It rests in a metal and mesh basket on top of the fresh water inside the copper container. When it reaches the proper temperature the hot water then passes upwards and through the plant material, producing a fragrant steam which results in our end product – a hydrosol.

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Here I am preparing the still for the distillation…  it is important all screws are tightened and seals are properly closed to enable the hot water and steam to travel through their required channels.

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Time to hit that glowing red button and begin the distillation, which typically takes about an hour and a half. (And, yes, enjoy a beer or, in my case a Dark and Stormy, while we wait… )

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