Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Changes

Update 28-12-2013: My new blog can now be found at http://www.ajones-aromatics.com/blog/

Hi everyone, I haven't blogged for a while as I've been quite busy preparing for an upcoming craft show, where I will be showcasing a few new perfumes and also some other products. Here's one of the new perfumes I've been working on:


It's a perfume that has a natural base of cold-pressed moringa oil, and is scented with nutmeg, ylang ylang and other special ingredients to be revealed at a later date!
I also wanted to announce that later this month I will be starting a new blog over at Wordpress, where it will be more connected to my business website. There I plan to share more on the perfume-making process, including any new and current ingredients that I learn about, educational perfume books and resources and how to use them. I will transfer a few of the more useful blog posts from here over there as well. And I will still keep this current BajanScent blog open for now as I do have future plans for this blog as well.

Stay tuned,
Amanda

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Afro comb workshop

For those of us who love the beauty and craftsmanship of antique African combs - not to mention their rich culture and history (and I know there are many of us)....

Here's a quick look at two beautiful pieces:


Ashanti comb, Ghana. Early 20th century.


 
Kulango Comb, Ivory Coast
You'll also be pleased to know that The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is holding a series of events and activities until October as part of their Origins of the Afro Comb exhibition which is currently under way. I wrote about the exhibition just recently and why it's a must-see!
Yesterday one of the events held at the Fitzwilliam was especially for children and families and was conducted by K.N. Chimbiri, who wrote a companion piece to the exhibition entitled Secrets of the Afro Comb, 6000 years of art & culture.
She revealed fascinating and beautiful combs like the ones above that have been used over generations. Participants were asked to bring their own afro combs and to take part in actitivities around the exhibition. Chimbiri was also on hand to sign copies of her book.

Participants also got to create and admire their own afro comb prints....

There are more events to come at the Fitzwilliam, including hair braiding demos, a lecture on natural past and present, and a discussion on the art and materials surrounding the Origins of the Afro Comb exhibition.



Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dinner at Cafe Des Amis London

Last Saturday I was able to enjoy some lovely French dining at CafĂ© Des Amis, a restaurant and wine bar which serves seasonal French cuisine. The setting is warm and intimate and it's located quietly in Hanover Place just off Long Acre in Covent Garden.

Our evening started with some simple but divine fish favourites.....
....smoked haddock and salmon with carrot and lime salad and horseradish.
And also French onion soup with toasted gruyere crouton.
 
For our main we had...

roast rump of lamb, buttered green beans and pomme mousseline lamb jus.
 
And more smoked haddock...!
 

...in the form of smoked haddock, crushed parsley potatoes, grain mustard beurre blanc and fried egg.
 
They served it with the fried egg on top.
 
This was hands-down my favourite of the evening.

 Then time for dessert.
 Marinated strawberries and pink muscatel sorbet.....
...and vanilla cheesecake with fig coulis. I'll definitely be back.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Five reasons why you should see the Origins of the Afro Comb Exhibition in Cambridge

 
I recently took in the Origins of the Afro Comb exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of  Cambridge in England. This exhibition truly surpassed my wildest expectations.
 
It runs from July to October, and I will be returning soon, so that I can study some of the combs more in-depth. This exhibition is one of those things you have to experience more than once, because there is something new to learn and see each time.
 
Here are a few reasons you should take in this exhibition:
 
 It's truly ground-breaking.
 
 
 More than three hundred amazing combs from all over the continent of Africa are being exhibited in one place for the very first time. Some of the earliest are from ancient Egypt, dating back 6,000 years. And there are also some beautifully silver-plated ones on display which were recently made to depict the journey of the Maroons of the Caribbean. 
 
It opens our eyes.
Ivory comb. 16th Century, Benin, Nigeria.
 
This exhibition reveals so much about African art and culture, pre-slavery. We are usually told that Africa did have civilizations prior to the arrival of Europeans, but to actually see up-close real examples, and the artistry and skill that would have been an every day occurrence back then is fascinating.


There are many surprises.

If you have ever thought that combs are just simple objects for grooming the hair, then you need to see ones like these, created by a 20th century artist from Edo, Nigeria. The exhibition contains different African combs of many shapes, sizes and materials. All created for different reasons - some were small-scale sculpture, others were decorative, others still were for gifts or love tokens, and others were created to denote certain status.

You can get involved.
There's a special digital interactive section where you can record your own hair journey, and also listen to the hair stories of others with African hair type.

There's more to explore.
 
If you're unable to attend the exhibition, or if you simply want to continue the remarkable journey of the Afro comb on your own, you can also purchase the beautifully illustrated Secrets of the Afro Comb: 6,000 years of art & culture, which was written by K.N.Chimbiri as a companion piece to the exhibition. Like the exhibition, Secrets of the Afro Comb is unique in that it's the first book on African combs written for children. But it's definitely not just a book about hair combs or natural hairstyles; the information in this book and the way it is presented is just as mind-opening for adults as well in my opinion. It covers subjects such as hair biology, world art, the middle passage, the history of Islam and Christianity; it also contains some rare, previously unpublished photographs. It's available on amazon.co.uk (pre-order until July 20th), or through the Book Depository, which offers free shipping worldwide, and also at the gift shop of the Fitzwilliam Museum.
  
 
 
 



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tea & Chocolate

Chocolate & Lavender (source unknown.)

I created a board on Pinterest to showcase various tea and chocolate delights from around the world. Mainly anything related to tea or chocolate that captures the eye or imagination.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Making a frangipani perfume

The sight and aroma of this beautiful flower is always a joy, and I was reminded of this while attending a funeral recently. There was a huge frangipani tree on the grounds of the church cemetery. Not only the size of the tree, but also the colour of its flowers - delicate fuchsia pink petals with a touch of orange-gold in the centre, contrasted with shiny, dark green leaves and rustic branches, was spectacular. I knew my contact with the tree on this occasion would be fleeting, so I passed by as close to it as I could on my way to the grave site. For that very brief moment I tried to preserve the scent in my memory as best as I could.

I would best describe the aroma of the fresh, unpicked frangipani flowers in the cemetery as softly floral, clean, and with a delicate - not intoxicating - sweetness.

Later at home I decided to compare this aroma to that of some frangipani absolute that I obtained in small quantity from a supplier. This particular frangipani oil was sourced from Haiti and obtained via solvent extraction of the petals. My first impression of the absolute was that it was quite different from the scent of the fresh petals. It was more complex, with a spicy quality similar to pepper, slightly green and balsamic, with a faint, honey-like sweetness which tended to stay more in the background. It was definitely more spicy than sweet, and not floral or narcotic like other floral absolutes.

About twenty-four hours or so I smelt it again on the smelling strip and the earthy, spicy notes had faded away, leaving just the balsamic, honey-sweetness.

I went online and found a GC/MS* for frangipani absolute extracted by hexane solvent. The most important chemical compounds were found to be: benzyl salicylate (faint, sweet, floral, jasmine-like), benzyl benzoate (sweet and balsamic), farnesol (also found in many other plants including neroli, tuberose, tolu balsam and rose), geraniol (sweet, rose-like), isoeicosane and linalool (soft, floral, woody). There were others as well (about 17 in total) in lesser and trace amounts.


So how could we use this information? We could use it to create a frangipani base or scent by blending some or all of these individual aromatic molecules together. It wouldn't necessarily be a complete frangipani perfume, but it could act as a simple, raw concept or "skeleton" for one.

Or if you didn't want your frangipani base to smell exactly like the absolute and more like the fresh petals, you could also construct and adjust the formula more to your liking, by leaving out or reducing or increasing the quantity of some of the aroma molecules, or by substituting them for others altogether.


You could also research to what degree the aroma molecules that contribute to the scent of frangipani can be found in other more readily obtainable essential oils like, for example, ylang ylang - which is also high in benzyl benzoate. Or linalool, which can also be found in bergamot, ho leaf, lavender, and rosewood (endangered) among many others, and perhaps use those instead of the individual aroma molecules. It most likely wouldn't smell exactly like the original frangipani, and you would need to experiment with your chosen materials a lot. But the aim would be to get the different notes in your formula to combine perfectly until they each lose their individual identities and create a harmonized, single note or frangipani accord.

I found the presence of the frangipani tree in the church yard to be a moving, sad and uplifting experience all at the same time.  I plan to go back there again soon to analyze the scent of the frangipani petals some more, and also to take a photo of the tree.

St. Andrew Parish Church.

   
* Comparative Study of Scented Compound Extraction from Plumeria obtusa L.