2 Spots Left in Perfume Workshop June 6 @ Alex Sandor (San Francisco)

Alex Sandor Studio - perfume class setup

Tomorrow is the day!!!

Perfume Making Workshop at Alex Sandor Art Studio
Learn how to design and create your own personal perfume from precious botanical essences, in pure grain alcohol. By the end of the workshop, you will have made a perfume to take home with you. We will provide you with a spray bottle, and your own professional-looking label!

Only 2 left!

This workshop is offered at $150 just to cover the basic materials and supplies costs There are (pre-registration is over, so you will have to pay at the door, or online here.
Please text me to confirm your spot as I'm unable to take calls while out of Canada (778) 863-0806.

Ayala Moriel is the founder of pioneering natural perfume and bespoke company Ayala Moriel Parfums (est. 2001).
She designed countless custom perfumes for discerning customers, celebrities and perfumistas from around the world; as well as for other brands such as - Bodhana's line of 5 solid perfumes; and eco-friendly house cleaning products Sapadilla.
Ms. Moriel has been teaching for 5 years a long term professional natural perfumery training course, as well as many perfume making classes and workshops for amateurs and fragrance lovers of all ages. She was invited to teach and speak in other schools and organizations, including St. George and the BC Association of Practicing Aromatherapists.

Alex Sandor's Art Studio is a unique hair salon that takes aesthetics and sustainability to the next level. The beautiful studio is furnished with toxin-free, salvaged and recycled materials and is a serene spot where you can enjoy a serene atmosphere and elite services.

The Lady Oyolaela

Fruit & Flowers

When Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery has invited me to stay at her cottage in El Cerrito - little did I know that I signed up for an aromatic retreat among her bees, cats, fruit and flowers. And most importantly - made a new perfumer friend!

Rose Canopy
Laurie and I passed each other's paths virtually at Persephenie's shop (then called Blunda). Laurie was there in March 2009, and I arrived a month later for my Hanami exhibit. I fell in love with her whipped body frostings, and we exchanged emails, samples and beautiful greeting cards.

Laurie's Honey
It wasn't till last year when we drove to Yosh's party that I finally had the pleasure of experiencing her genuine warmth in person. She's literally as sweet as the honey made by the bees in her garden, which is redolent of the many aromatic plants growing within: jasmine, honeysuckle, lavender, geraniums and mints (the beehives are in the photo below).

Laurie's Bees

Rose Petals Bath
Nothing beats a morning stroll, getting my feet wet with fragrant dew from the mint and geranium; counting the petals of yellow roses shed in the bowl of water just outside my cottage...
Laurie's Herb Garden
The garden is so full of life, and the aromas weave from all directions. Laurie had a flower business in her past life, and her husband is a landscape architect. Together they make a wonderful team, and their home is just beautiful and full of little treasures to feast the eyes and the nose on. The sealing of the living room and kitchen is decorated with dried bouquets of hydrangae, and even the kitchen window is a beauty.

Kitchen Window

Angel's Trumpets
At nightfall, the garden and my room filled with the sweet, citrus and heliotropin confectionary maddness of Angel's Trumpet. I put a flower right by my bedside, and it never failed to bring a restful sleep.

4 Post Bed

Melon and helicrysum sweetened the last evening of my trip; including the company of a few perfumer friends who stopped to say hello (and goodbye).

Of all the things in the world, Laurie Stern reminds me of the Lady Oyolaela in the Neverending Story (excuse my spelling: I cannot find any reference to this wonderful character's name). She's a lady of the garden, and is the garden - and it is always in full bloom and brimming with luscious ripe fruit that put her guests under a spell: time stops at her garden and one would forget they need to leave and go about their business... Which was like a gift from heaven on such an action-packed trip.


And indeed, I didn't want to leave this place of serenity and friendship, and if it wasn't for my daughter I probably would never have... My only consolation was that I'll be back in San Francisco in less than a month, for the Artisan Fragrance Salon, and will be able to see all my perfumer friends again!

Peaking Through Leaves

Honeysuckle & Curry Leaf

Testing my Honeysuckle & Curry Leaf perfume this morning, and filtering the remainder of the previous batch of Fetish (getting it ready for Adhesif - a new boutique on Main street! My perfumes will be there beginning Tuesday!!!) got me thinking of more leaves that need to be included in this perfume.

Kaffir lime leaves and rhododendron buds, to be exact. Hmm... perhaps even some hemp!
I returned to the trial vat a few moments ago, adding a little bit of this and that, while being very cautious about not putting too much kaffir lime - I added very tiny bit of my hand crafted tincture of the leaves. It adds a bit of a clean, fresh bite to the perfume that is similar to what a fresh curry leaf will do if you were to bite into it - which I did when I had that amazing dessert at Dosa! The curry leaf was a freshly crystallized one, and was pretty and crisp and odd biting into, crunching the leaf and releasing the aroma in my mouth, along with slightly gritty sugar... Really quite the culinary experience!

The rhododendron leaf adds a bit of sweetness I hope. I've decided to steer clear of the hemp oil (it's actually from the seed, but smells utterly green and fresh) even though I'm sure many people in San Francisco will enjoy that reference ;-)

At this point, the perfume is still a tad too heavy and dense because of the honeysuckle absolute, and not quite as brisk and fresh as the fresh flower is. There might not be escaping the use of jasmine in there after all to lighten things up a bit... But how do you make honeysuckle smell more sweet? And honeyed? This will have to wait for the next post.

Bright & Early

Honeysuckle & Curry Leaf by Ayala Moriel
Honeysuckle & Curry Leaf, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

With the summer holidays coming to an end, it's ironic we're getting such hot summery days at long last... Today was probably the hottest day of the year, actually... But it does start to feel like fall is approaching. And there is no more sleeping in with the new school bus schedule, so I was glad that I've began to wake up at my normal bright and early time without alarm, and bought myself some time before the rest of the household is up to get something creative going on one of the last days off (school does not begin till Wednesday for my daughter).

I've finally got to the blending phase of the perfume idea I got from my trip to San Francisco back in July. The result of which you see in the picture - Honeysuckle & Curry Leaf. It's too early to come into any conclusions here as to where it is heading. It's not necessarily a combination that's going to work out at all. Juxtaposing two elements that weren't even present at the same time and place (proximity and my own experience are the only thing that really tie them together). And those two essences are terribly complex each on its own. Unfortunately, neither really brings up the character of the original raw material all that well either... Which is what's going to be the primary challenge.

Honeysuckle absolute is very dense, rich, complex, and while sweet and honeyed in some ways, it has some dirty and not at all as pretty or uplifting as the fresh flowers. It's a little overpowering, with hints of green and dirty and animalic indole.
Curry leaf oil is almost revolting. The tincture I made (it was created especially for a custom scent, before I could find the essential oil anywhere) was not all that great either in terms of bringing out the exotic, tingling, green yet spicy and floralcy and bite of fresh curry leaves. Both smell mostly just downright weird but the tincture is more true to the original than the oil, in my humble opinion.

Nevertheless, I came back to the little trial-vial I blended this morning and tried it this evening, with the one conclusion - that there is definitely a honeysuckle presence, and not enough curry. So I added a tad more curry leaf tincture.

Honeysuckle & Curry Leaves

San Francisco
Oh, wait! The account of my olfactory adventures in California is not quite over... Thank goodness for photographs to be my silent reminders!

Mango & Goat Cheese Salad @ Dosa
To make a long story short, if you're ever in San Francisco, do yourself a favour and have dinner at Dosa, a Southern Indian restaurant that makes heavenly food that is ever so slightly on the fusion side (for example, the mango and goat cheese salad with orchid flowers in the picture above is definitely not what you'd normally find in ethnic Indian restaurants and as far as I know not exactly part of homemade Indian cuisine either).

Curry Leaf Infused Coconut Custard Cake @ Dosa
And this dessert - a coconut custard cake, was decorated with crispy coconut cookie, and - brace yourselves - a crystallized fresh curry leaf!!!
Absolutely divine combination of flavours that not only bursts in your mouth, but also inspired the imagination.

Honeysuckle in San Francisco
And walking up one of the many hills of this up-and-down city, we spotted gigantic honeysuckle (the flowers were seriously HUGE) that smelled beautifully, not surprisingly... Afterwards all I could think of is merging coconut, honeysuckle and curry leaf in a perfume... Mmm...
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