Scent & Synesthesia: Grin

Scent & Synesthesia: Grin

There are 295 kinds of green, making it the most diverse colour in nature. Green is also the colour of the heart chakra, and is associated with life and vitality, the element of earth and a healthy planet. 

Tomorrow, my friend Hasi and I will co-host an event dedicated to the intersection of colour and scent. We will demonstrate some of the techniques for extracting colour and fragrance from plants,,explore the concept of synesthesia, and how our personal history is intertwined with vines, and strewn with the healing beauty of leaves and flowers. In the photo is Grin perfume and a stunning rainbow of greens - flower- dyed fabrics by Hasia Naveh.

While green is a colour that is almost synonymous with nature, it is not as straightforward to achieve using natural dyes. Often what we'll get is either an olive green (i.e.: with plants that also contain tannins, such as pomegranate), or myriad uninspiring yellow-greens (from carrot, for instance). They tend to have a muted quality. Grassy green is usually achieved using weld (a very valuable type of yellow) layered over indigo.

The particular stunning, vivid range of green shades you see in the photo was achieved from a dyepot of scabiosa flowers, grown by Hagar Zachar, a natural dyer and flower horticulturalist from Alon HaGalil. The variety of shades is due to using different types of fabrics (i.e.: linen, cotton, silk) and also experimenting with either fresh or dried flowers. Another factor in natural dying, is when is the fabric dipped in the dyepot. Generally speaking the earlier dippings will absorb the brightest colours. The last additions to the pot, when the dye is much weaker, may achieve pastels. And of course the length of dipping time is also a factor. 

Bonus: Hagar's presence and participation in our event is a pleasant surprise (an idea Hasi came up with last minute, and we were so fortunate that Hagar was able to say yes!). She will be showing us more flowers that are suitable for colour production, on either paper or fabric. 

Grin perfume of course plays on the sound of "Green" and "Grin" - and who wouldn't smile if they're surrounded by luscious green plants, or more specifically, observing the first sprouts of green grass come autumn and the first rainshowers (if you're living in the dry parts of the world); or shoots of green from bulb plants in the spring (if you live in the parts of the world where the dead season is winter). Green as a symbol of new beginnings, and pretty optimistic at that.

The scent is made of various green-smelling and green-coloured fragrant botanicals: Galbanum, with it sharp, cut-grass and parsley personality; boronia, a delicate flower with beta ionone at its helm; violet leaf, with it green cucumber-like scent, watery and mysterious; green pepper (because it has a green colour, of course), green oakmoss, and vetiver root, which brings another shade of green that is both cool and earthy. 

Drifting in Yellow Clouds of Happiness

Acacia baileyana, originally uploaded by jam343.

Drifting in yellow clouds of happiness. My new mimosa perfume. A soliflore.
Mimosa – such a fleeting scent. The absolute smells like cucumber and water and wood more than a flower. A bare dusting of pollen shaken from a broken branch. Les Nuages de Joie Jaune.

Who would have imagined that such an innocent scent would be so difficult to crack? Mimosa is a fleeting mystery…

Mimosa opens along with the watery-wood of caberuve and the pale greenness of frangipani. A heart of violet and jasmine is like a leaf between airy blue sky and fuzzy yellow blossoms. A base of cassie flowers and vanilla creates a delicate and lasting impression of this ethereal desert flower.

Les Nuages de Joie Jaune launches today and is a salute to all mimosa lovers to whom the scent of mimosa brings happiness and joy!

Moroccan Mimosa Memories

colori, originally uploaded by mafaldablue.

Mimosas were my step-grandmother’s favourite flowers. We always stopped on the way to Tel Aviv to pick the long stems, bubbling with yellow pompons, and make a wild bouquet just to make her happy. By the time we arrived at her doorstep for a Friday night dinner, we have left behind us a trail of mimosa pollen, from the station-wagon, all the way up the stairs, and honestly – I don’t know if there was much left of the flowers at all. But I think it still made her happy to hold real mimosa stems in her arms.

This photo reminded me of her, and of “habana” - a heavy Moroccan blanket, made of thick wool in vibrant colours. These must be perfect for an icy Moroccan desert night, but for my little girl’s body, cuddling underneath it felt just as restraining as taking a nap in a coffin. I still can’t understand the admiration it got from my parents…

My step-grandmother made the best Moroccan food, only from scratch, of course: couscous (but really from scratch, you just can’t compare it to store-bought couscus in a million years), mufletta, galette biscuits to dip in the sweetest spearmint-black-tea, coconut cookies adorned with a tiny silver ball, almond cookies with a clove bud stubbed at their heart, and my favourite of all - beet salad, and candied miniature eggplants, spiced with cloves. It’s unbelievable what you can turn into jam if you follow a good Moroccan recipe, you can practically turn rocks into candy! Because she spent so much time in the kitchen her face and skin was always soft and a little bit glossy from the oil. The food was always very colourful and flavourful, but now that I look back it seems as if she lived a very grey life. She was always working hard and serving her family, raising 6 kids in the depression of the 50’s in Israel when everyday commodities were sparse; and so she had to be improvised - shoes were cut-to-fit the growing feet, and stale bread was made into fancy patties soaked in tomato sauce. These were just some of the legends I heard of her life as a young mother.

The only thing I remember of her that would hint that she actually did something to indulge herself was her collection of perfumes. She had quite a few, but they were all in her bedroom, which I only remember as very dark, and so I don’t have any vivid visual memory that would support my theories about which scents these could be.

As a great admirer of the French culture, I am sure she had No. 5. And so she should have. But also, whenever I smell Cinnabar and Youth Dew EDP, I immediately get a glistening glimpse of a hidden retro bottle with dark juice and gold cap winking at me from a dark room. It took me a while to connect it to her. So I think she must have had at least something similar to either of these American scents. Bal A Versailles is another possibility… These will all remain mystery, as my step-grandmother took her perfume secrets to the grave. She died of a heart attack after receiving the news of the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Izthak Rabin.

What was it in mimosa flowers that made my step-grandma so happy, I would never know. Maybe it was their vivid yellow colour. Maybe their delicate scent reminded her of Morocco, where she was born and raised.

I hope that my mimosa perfume, when it is ready to emerge from its genie incubating tube, and meet the skins and noses of living people, will form yellow clouds of happiness around them.

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