Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gullah learning and inspiration

Acquiring knowledge and insight for a Gullah inspired perfume......

Gullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green

The art and craft of sweetgrass basket weaving.

Sweetgrass Baskets and the Gullah Tradition

Sweetgrass Basket Making, Historic Charleston City Market, Charleston, SC. Photo from The Charleston City Market.

Culinary heritage & culture.

Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Nightby Sallie Ann Robinson.

South Carolina low country coastal culture and environment.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orange Blossom gets an upgrade

One thing you come to realize about perfume-making is that the more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn. This is probably true of most disciplines, hobbies or skills that you choose to undertake. As I study the materials used in perfumery more and more, read more books on the subject, gain more knowledge about the individual aroma molecules that make materials smell the way they do, and experiment with blends more and more, my confidence grows and with it my willingess to try new things to make each perfume creation even better and stand out more. Doing this means I will also make more mistakes, but there is always something to learn from those too.
Orange Blossom is one of the very first perfumes I made for sale, and I am pleased that it consistently got positive feedback from customers. But now I want to make it even better. So Jasmine sambac and a few other floral compounds have now been added to the formula for my Orange Blossom perfume, and it has definitely made a lovely difference to the overall aroma - it now has more depth and richness. It is still the same green floral which my customers approved  of, but now it seems more intricate and not as simple or straightforward as before.

I am also thinking of adding a tiny bit of either nutmeg or sage leaf (above) to the top notes. The sage oil I recently obtained is a variety from Spain and it has a lovely, fresh, slightly sweet and floral quality  that works well with the orange flower notes in the perfume. It's very mild, and quite different from the strong, camphorous more commonly used sage oil which originates from other parts of Europe; the Spanish variety is definitely more suitable for perfumery.
My reason behind the nutmeg was to see if I could make the perfume sweet and spicy in a subtle way, and even more complex. But I really love the sage oil on its own and think I will leave it at just that for now.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Medford Mahogany purchases

So here's what I bought from my tour of Medford Mahogany. Their mortar and pestle.....
which will be very useful for crushing herbs and spices.
And also one of their jewellery boxes, in a beautiful matte finish.
But instead of using it for jewellery, I'll be using it to store some of my smaller oils and perfume blends to keep them out of the sun and light.
The tour of Medford Craftworks was educational, inspiring, and how nice to come away with something decorative and functional in one.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Medford Mahogany Creations

Medford Craft World is the beautiful woodwork studio situated just outside of Bridgetown, which specializes in fine, one-of-a-kind pieces, handmade entirely from locally sourced Barbados mahogany wood. Owner and founder Reggie Medford has been practicing his craft for thirty-five years, carving sculptural works of art from the indigenous mahogany trees that grow on his compound and throughout the island. While his pieces have an organic quality about them, it's obvious that much intricate skill, time and talented hands are involved in the entire process.

The very first time I toured Medford Craft World was many years ago. Visiting the studio a second time last week, it was wonderful to see that Mr. Medford is still as passionate about his work. Everything from the tranquil, natural surroundings to Mr. Medford and his team of master artisans has a quietly vibrant, "alive" and effortless manner about them.

First we were given a brief history of Barbados mahogany and Medford Craft World, followed by a personalized tour of the workshop by Mr. Medford himself.

And we got to see the mahogany wood in its rawest, and most organic state....

....before skilful hands helped it take on a more refined, but still natural form. Look at those elegant curves and lines.

The mahogany is sanded, carved and shaped into different pieces....

before going through a unique and intricate varnishing process developed by Mr. Medford himself.

The pieces are then sold in their shop as abstract originals, clocks, coffee tables, pen holders and smaller souvenir items.

I'll show you the pieces I purchased in my next post later this week. Here's one of the two resident Medford Mahogany ponies.
Medford Mahogany Creations

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Another vintage Jamaican perfume

White Witch is another vintage perfume from Jamaica that I recently came across by chance online. This one doesn't appear to be by Benjamins like the Khus Khus perfume. But still extremely interesting none the less, especially as it seems to have been inspired by the legend of the White Witch of Rose Hall. I remember hearing about this legend when I was young, but I'll have to do some research because I've forgotten exactly what it was about.

No info on the actual notes this perfume contains, but it was made in Jamaica during the 1960's. Here it is on Etsy:

I also remember there was a book based on the story, which is still available on Amazon:

It seems that there were different versions to the legend. In any case, this is an interesting example of how both scent and literature can be used together to document and explore a country's folklore and culture.