Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Visual Perfume

I love fragrances.  They are intoxicating at times and sublime at other times.  I'm not talking about the synthetic fragrances - you know, the scent that immediately bombards you when you walk into Macy's or some other big department store.  Yuk.  That stuff gives me a headache.  I'm talking about natural perfumes made from essential oils.

Christopher McMahon has a great site about fragrances.  He is very knowledgeable and extremely generous in sharing recipes.  In his newsletter today, he shared a recipe for potpourri - or visual perfumes, as he calls them.  The recipe sounds heavenly and I'm posting it here, along with a portion from the newsletter.

One of the simple pleasures, bringing warmth and sweetness to the home environment in which one lives, can be achieved through the creation of visual perfumes. There are many aromatic botanicals which have been used and are used now in the form of incense and perfumes to sharpen ones focus on inner life. Frankincense and myrrh are in Western culture renowned for there role in sacred tradition. Other botanicals were used in preparing festive meals or because they were special treats that one might only enjoy at that season of the year. Many spices with their aromatic aromas and citrus fruits, which were once rare holiday treats for many people fall in this category. People in many countries have also enjoyed bringing into their homes scented green coniferous foliage to decorate with the homes in various ways. There is a vast fragrant wealth to draw upon if one wishes to pursue this lovely creative work.

Another dimension of creating a visual perfume for the holiday season is that one may start collecting and drying various botanicals for it during any season of the year when they are available. In almost every environment there are some types of mosses berries, cones, flowers, etc that can be harvested for making ones aromatic creation later on in the year. It can be a family affair and a great nature education for ones children and oneself as well. There are many elegant shapes, forms and colors as well as scents of plants to be found in mountains, meadows, forests etc, many of which can be dried. It can become a wonderful exercise in observation of the world around one and children, with their natural sense of wonder alive and active, can often discover things which one might never have considered from the angle of visual perfume creation. In fact one may include beautiful stones, shells, and other precious gifts from nature in their creations. In that way the visual perfume can also tell a story of personal discovery.

For the holiday season we have created Winter Radiance Visual Perfume using various botanicals to create a gold, brown, red and green theme and blending into essential oils and spices with a resinous, spicy, citrus scent.

 Natural Botanicals:

1 lb frankincense tears
1 lb star anise
1 lb dried orange peel
2 lbs corn cob grains(for the fixative)
8 ounces green cedar tips
1 lb red lichii berries
8 ounces birch pine cones
4 ounce grey oak moss

Essence blend:

2 ounces Sweet Orange eo
1 1/2 ounces Frankincense Cedarwood Absolute
1/2 ounce Fir Balsam Absolute
1/4 ounce Star Anise eo
1/8 ounce Cinnamon bark eo
1 ounce Pine Needle Absolute
1/2 ounce Templin(Fir Cone) eo


Tammie Lee said...

ummm this sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing! I like you enjoy the natural scents and the others have me spinning.

Jasmine said...

Thank you for this post. I'm going to have a look at the link later and have a good old rummage trough the posts. I love this sort of thing xx

Delphyne said...

Hi, Tammie Lee and Jasmine - so good to see you again!

I feel more like blogging now and am glad you both liked this recipe. Christopher's site is great - he's traveled to India and has some pictures of the processes of making perfumes, attars, etc. He's also a very gentle soul.

rebecca said...

the power of lingering fragrances can so easily transport us through time to a cherished memory.
when i was a small girl i remember a presence, a fragrance that would wrap around me when i was sleeping. always the feeling of great love and abundance accompanied this presence. i called it my christmas smell. because as a young young girl it reminded me of the wonder of christmas, sitting under sparkly tree lights,listening to the voices of my family and feeling love.

Anonymous said...

The photo and the recipe are so divine! Scent holds the essence of every memory. White Lotus is my fave supplier. Thanks for reminding me of this part of my own essence.

Delphyne said...

Rena, do you mean to tell me that you haven't been playing with scent? If so, I hope you get back into it in 2010! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I haven't for quite awhile now. I really miss it. I hope to immerse myself in scent later on this year. Are you making fabulous concoctions?