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Neriko Collection

Hanami Nerikoh
Nerikoh is a traditional Japanese kneaded incense that is hardly known in the West. Neriko is unique in its aroma and method of burning. The aroma develops because of its intensive and laborious process that is required for its creation: Precious woods, herbs and spices are finely ground and bound together with honey and dried fruit, then rolled into tiny balls. Probably this method was first used to compound edible and less foul-tasting medicines, before capsules were invented. But the most lengthy part of the process is the aging of nerikoh: they are left to ferment underground in a clay vessel for several months or even years.

Nerikoh incense is not meant to be burnt, but rather warmed in traditional Koh-Doh cup, or for more convieneinct and accessible technique - place on top of an electric incense heater or aromatherapy lamp/diffuser. You'll only need a tiny pinch of each ball to scent a room for hours on end, releasing  gentle yet enveloping and exotic aroma.

In Japan, Nerikoh is most typically burnt during the tea ceremony because they are a refined and smoke-free form of incense and beautifully complement this occasion. The scents are generally most suitable for fall, when their warm, spicy and honeyed aroma.

I am thrilled to share with you the following kneaded incense creations. I've been playing with shaping my nerikoh into seasonally-appropriate shapes such as leaves, sakura and seashells, but this process takes f o r e v e r -  so keep in mind most of them are rolled into balls the traditional way.
Autumn Leaves Nerikoh
Autumn Leaves Nerikoh
Precious woods, spices and moss in a base of organic, uncultured apricots and wild honey.
Hanami Nerikoh
Hanami Nerikoh
Delicate woods, iris, botanical musks and precious woods kneaded together with honey and apricots produce a unique floral-almond aroma that evoke the season of sakura and ume (Japanese plum) blossoms.
Ras El Hanout Incense, Three Ways
Oasis Nerikoh
Exotic Ras El Hanout spices and precious resins blneded with dates and wild summer honey to evoke the era of the spice caravans camping in a desert oasis.
Fireflies (Summer Neriko)
Dragonfly (Summer) Nerikoh
Classical Japanese scent evoking the ephemeral moment of a blue dragonfly touching the water in a temple's garden pond on a hot summer day. Borneol camphor creates the feel of shimmering light on the dragonfly's wings and the calm water.

Handful of Nerikoh
Saturn Nerikoh
Sophisticated planetary incense that is deep with dark myrrh resin, cedar, cypress, patchouli, cassia, vetiver, agarwood and a touch of honey to balance its heaviness.
Burn on Saturdays, or when you require grounding, material wealth, support as well as discipline to achieve your goals.

New Incense

Ras El Hanout Incense, Three Ways
After close to twenty years in development and perfection, I'm excited to announce that my alchemical incense blends are finally available for sale! Check out the new section in my shop for Original Kyphi and Kyphi Galilee; Planetary incense pastilles, herbal incense cones and seasonal Nerikoh (traditional Japanese kneaded incense that is meant for warming on a mica plate Koh-Doh style; or more conveniently - on an aromatherapy lamp or incense electric heater).

More details about each incense type in the upcoming posts!

Four Copals Incense

Four Copals Incense Cones Drying
I'm getting deeper into the world of incense again, which is like coming a full circle (for those who don't know me, my perfume path began with incense). I enjoy the earthiness of this occupation, taking into consideration other aspects that are not relevant to the ethereal perfume making, such as shape, colour, texture of all the materials and how they need to be processed by hand. And also I'm a bit of a self-confessed incense addict when it comes to burning good incense. It's a great way to start the day with and clear all the cooking smells after breakfast. It helps me to concentrate when I want to practice Pilates or meditation. And it changes the atmosphere in the room within a few moments, sometimes also making people who are terribly chatty and obnoxious swoon and start to really listen to what's around them. This is especially pertinent to large groups that sometimes visit my studio.

It's much trickier than making perfume, so I am progressing very slowly. And find it a challenge on all fronts - first of all there is the challenge of designing the fragrance to smell good in all stages, including after the burn (aiming for that wonderful afterglow you find in a room long after an incense has been lit in). This is affected by many other factors besides the actual materials, including the shape of the incense. And this is where I'm still struggling majorly.
Four Copals Incense Making (Dough stage)
I've been trying to form incense sticks and almost every time I make a batch specifically for that shape it ends up impossible to make them properly (these fuzzy sticks in the pic below are not what I'm after!).
Untitled
So again, I resorted to making cones. These are lovely looking albeit labour intensive to shape by hand. What I like about them is that they stand on their own and don't scatter ashes all over the place. They can be placed on any heat-proof surface and will hold their shape after combustion. What I like less about them is how fast they burn and how much smoke they make. Because their circumference of ember keeps growing, they only intensify in smoke as they progress down the cone.
Four Copals Incense Testing
The result of these Four Copals incense cones is almost as perfect as I wished them to be. Their base is a combination of sandalwood and trailing arborvitae, the latter was added as a last resort because the mixture was far too soft and moist. I wish I added something more neutral - I have a feeling this creates extra smoke. But I was worried about making it sandalwood-dominant. It has a pinch of Palo Santo, and other than the sandalwood, it is very heavy on the copal: four types were used and ground by hand in a marble mortar and pestle: Mayan Copal, Gold Copal, Black Copal and White Copal. They are now available for purchase (very small amount was made, but I will happily make more if you like!).

Local Kyphi

Local Kyphi Ingredients
In preparation for the Kyphi class I'm teaching February 21st, I've decided to experiment with making Kyphi with as many local ingredients as possible. I tried to use mostly plants and materials that I either grow or wild-harvest, or can be found locally theoretically speaking.
Some were included because they were traditionally part of the materials traded Incense Route and therefore have penetrated the local cuisine and pharmacopeia and are almost inseparable from the culture (such as Frankincense and Myrrh), and also I've included them because although the specimens I have are not grown locally - there is now a farm near the Dead Sea that grows them. The same is true for mastic (which although is from Greece, I can harvest my own - just wasn't patient enough to wait till next summer when I can collect enough resin!). And so on, for most of the resins. So this is not a strictly local product, but it carries the spirit of the landscape I now live in, and reflects its plant aromatic profile.

Local Kyphi in the Mortar
I began by soaking organic uncultured grapes in wine from the local vintner, and then set off to pound all the herbs I picked in the mortar and pestle. If you can recognize any of them in the pictures, and post a comment - you will be entered to win a little jar of my local Kyphi once it is made! It ended up very green and balsamic smelling, and with energy that is very vibrant and sweet, not unlike the Venus incense pastilles I made last year.
Local Kyphi in the Drying Basket
Here it is drying in a basket layered with a gauze fabric (okay, more like an antiquated baby diaper, remember those days? If you do then you're either very old or getting there!).
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