Arabesque’s Etsy Shop is Closing but Arabesque Will Remain in Business…

Natural Botanical Perfumes by Arabesque Aromas

As an art historian, as well as an artist, I’ve spent the past twenty or so years of my life researching the lives of the authors and artists of Modernist Europe, all of who were thriving before the idea of an internet was even remotely conceived. Their rich, varied, vibrant lives revealed the exciting, and endless possibilities to me in designing a creative life of my own.

And, despite managing to live a rather exciting early life, I have lately managed to get myself stuck in the too-formulaic formula ‘for being a successful internet artist’ that Etsy endlessly promotes…  A company, and a formula, that no longer truly serves me.

So, I have just closed my Etsy shop. However, my artisanal perfume business will not close. Instead, I am relocating my store to my own web site, currently ‘in the works!’

As always, if any of my clients would like something, please do not hesitate to email me at Arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com
I can easily create a Paypal invoice for you and business can, and is, still carrying on — as it has managed to do for many artists and writers for many centuries, and in a myriad of ways, before Etsy! And will continue to do so — post-Etsy.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to better honoring my own unique creativity. (And have I mentioned that I’m learning to belly-dance?!)

A big thank you to my new subscribers, and another thank you to everyone for your patience during this exciting transition of mine.

~Kirsten

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A Sultry Summer Sale…

I’m on my summer holiday! Let’s celebrate the dreamy weather, my blooming, fragrant garden, and the sweet luxury of having time to spare with — A Perfume Sale!

See details and coupon codes, below…

Use the coupon code SummerHoliday2017 to receive free Priority insured shipping (domestic/US parcels only, please!) on all anointing oils, scent samplersbotanical perfumes in the 6 ml Moroccan bottles, and the larger size in the Minaret perfume bottles, from now through July 5th in my Etsy shop. 

As a bonus, combine my ongoing 10% off gratitude coupon code ArabesqueAromas with this sale on Etsy and, until July 5th, you can also apply it to my cookbook, The Fragrant Kitchen: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer. The hard copies have sold out, the cookbook is currently available in PDF format only, 4th edition. (And it was recently complimented by a professional dietician, which meant a lot to me!)

Convo me on Etsy, or email me at arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com with any questions, custom listings, or requests. My Summer Sale ends on July 5th. Scent Subscriber Shipments, and further news, coming in the July blog/newsletter…

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Arabesque Aromas artisanal botanical perfumes, pictured above are, top: The Star Seller, left: Veriditas, and right: Drann. Photography by Arabesque Aromas.

 

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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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Between the floral and the exotic… Arabesque Aroma’s Spring 2015 “The Temple of Flora”

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My newest scent was inspired by the title of Robert Thornton’s The Temple of Flora, a book from 1807 which first caught my attention last year via the Public Domain Review. (I am an enthusiastic subscriber of their newsletters!)

Their current newsletter makes for a very interesting Spring read, exploring the late 18th to early 19th century Romantic era attitudes concerning sex, gender, and science within the world of botany. (The illustrations in The Temple of Flora, created by a variety of Thornton’s contemporaries, and as seen above, are lush sensuous, otherworldly treasures — not to be missed!)

My botanical perfume, The Temple of Flora, is also lush, sensuous and otherworldly. It reflects the 19th century Romantic penchant for earlier times and exotic places and is made with Neroli, Jasmine, and Bergamot essential oils blended into a heavenly base of Agarwood, Peru Balsam, and Sandalwood. I hope that you will love it!

Patrons of my 2015-2016 Scent Subscription will automatically receive samples of The Temple of Flora in their mailbox next week.

1 ml samples and 1/3 oz size bottles of The Temple of Flora are also available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Finally, introducing my new sampler, The Ancient Worlds. Includes my 5 Arabesque Aromas botanical scents that were inspired by ancient worlds… makes a beautiful gift and is best enjoyed listening to the album Towards the Within by Dead Can Dance! ha ha!

Happy Spring.

(Illustrated Plate: Egyptian Water Lily from The Temple of Flora, 1807, Robert Thornton.)

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Getting to Know Your Botanical Perfumer…

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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…

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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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SALE: 3 ml Botanical Perfumes!

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Receive 25% off of 3 ml perfumes with coupon code 
DAFFODILS
now through February 1st, 2015!

 

Hello everyone!

It feels like Spring has arrived early here in beautiful Nevada County, CA. I went for a walk several days ago and was surprised to find a patch of purple irises already in full bloom! And my tuxedo kitten Cricket, pictured above, is delighted to be enjoying the scent of fresh daffodils once again.

Like our Spring, I thought I’d have my annual sale a bit early this year, too.

You can peruse my selection of 3 ml botanical perfumes here. And feel free to email me if you are looking for a scent that is not listed in the 3 ml section of the shop.

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Temples, Pyramids and Ziggurats

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Follow your desires because you are alive. Place myrrh on your head. Dress yourself in the finest linen drenched in precious fragrances. It is a true gift from the gods.Multiply your pleasures. Don’t let your heart become tired. Follow your desires and your pleasures.

–Song of the Harpist, Egypt, 2000 BCE

I am just loving my return to school this Spring! My studies of mythology and ancient civilization have inspired me to make a fresh batch of that aromatic marvel of antiquity – Kyphi!

Several recipes for Kyphi, a sacred incense, still exist today. One recipe is, in fact, carved into the very walls of the Temple at Edfu in Egypt, built 237-57 BCE in honor of the god Horus. (The temple is pictured above, with thanks to Ad Meskens, Wikimedia commons.) Another recipe was recorded by the Greek scholar and physician, Pedanius Dioscorides, who lived 40-90 AD and is best known for his Materia Medica, the first comprehensive, illustrated Herbal ever recorded.

I have adapted Arabesque Aroma’s Kyphi recipe from a 2nd century Syrian receipt. The process of making the incense, and the aromatic ingredients used, remain fundamentally the same in all of the variations. The incense is a concoction of fragrant, precious resins such as Frankincense, Myrrh, and Benzoin, with spices and fragrant roots such as Cinnamon and Galangal, all powdered them melded together with wine, raisins, and honey. The incense is then formed into bricks and cured in the sun until dry.

Incense has long been used in human history to carry prayers, offerings, and supplication to the deities. Like both the sacred temple, and the ziggurat, the ancients regarded the act of burning incense — the rising smoke, the sweet fragrance, the most precious and valued of ingredients used — as a vehicle, a sacred space, a means to connect with the gods. The use of Frankincense in the Catholic mass originates from this pre-Christian practice.

I will be making this batch mid-March. Pre-orders are available now, and the Kyphi incense will ship by the end of this month.

And for those who are not lovers of smoke, even the most fragrant and decadent varieties, I have a unisex botanical perfume called “Kyphi” inspired directly by the incense.

In Further News…

Two new Sainted Scents will launch at the end of March, kicking off the 2014 Arabesque Aromas “A Year in Perfume” subscription. So stay tuned!

AND finally — I am having a flash sale from now until April 1st! Receive 28% off of 3 ml botanical perfumes in my etsy shop with the coupon code “Tuxedokitty”

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A Note on Wearing Botanical Perfumes

It’s true that Botanical, or Natural, Perfumes are very different creatures than the more traditional, ‘Department Store’ synthetic creations that many people are used to. When making the switch our noses, and indeed our actual beauty routine, needs a bit of re-training, re-structuring and re-organizing.

But the sensory (not to mention the healthful!) rewards of switching to all-natural scents are numerous, and well worth it.

One common complaint is that natural scents just don’t last, or carry, like the synthetic brands do. But in my years of wearing essential oil-based perfumes, I’ve never found this to be a problem. I have strangers come up to me frequently, to tell me that I smell really good!

I think this is because I’ve always been a huge fan of layering my botanical scents. It’s when I’m in the shower that I decide which perfume I will be wearing for the day. I often have more than one body bar, and I make it a point to only buy botanical/natural/essential oil soaps that match my perfume with at least one, but preferably two, common notes.

Generally, my personal scents all have a Patchouli note in common. So I keep a large glass apothecary jar filled with Patchouli-scented bath salts in my bathroom. I bring a scoop into the shower with me and rub my neck, arms, shoulders and lower back down with the fragrant salt. It’s a wonderful exfoliant, lends an extra perfume-layer to one’s fragrance, the Patchouli smells amazing and, as we know, essential oil enhances our physical and emotional health and wellbeing. The salt feels wonderful on my skin, too.

As a result, showering is one of my favorite and most sensuous moments of the day. I always look forward to my nurturing personal routine.

And perhaps even moreso, since I’ve bee-friended the very sweet and oh-so-talented Rebecca Silence of Ballerina Farmer Artisan Aromatherapy.

Rebecca, based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a talented aromatherapist, botanical perfumer and my very favorite soapmaker. In. The. World. (My favorite and highly-recommended Ballerina Farmer soap, btw, is the Very aptly-named “Swoon!”)

Rebecca and I have partnered up this year, creating three very pure and very beautiful handmade soaps blended to match three of Arabesque’s 2012 botanical scents; The Awakening, Alexandria, and the ever-popular Kyphi! (Which I think I’ve just sold out of, again!!! That’s how yummy her soap is, folks…)

Please visit Arabesque’s Handmade Salts and Soaps category in the Etsy shop for more information on Rebecca’s lovely creations designed exclusively for Arabesque, or visit her website to reach Ballerina Farmer Artisan Aromatherapy directly.

Also available in the Arabesque shop, bags of bath salts, custom-blended in the scent of your favorite Arabesque aroma, all made with love, by yours truly!

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