Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘dawn spencer hurwitz aroma artist’

onycha_extrait_111

It took over twenty years to finally get Onycha into ‘clear enough’ focus to start work on a formula.  One of the things that made it clearer was the arrival of traditional ‘Choyas’ on the aromatics market.  I am sure that in India and many parts of the ‘olde world’ these fragrant beauties were nothing new but to western artists, they were something exciting and new coming our way.  Choyas, like traditional ‘attars’ or ‘ittars’, are co-distilled essential oils.  Whereas, attars are generally co-distills with Indian sandalwood (Santalum Album) as the partner to flowers, herbs, and the like, choyas have charred Himalayan cedarwood (Cedrus Deodora) partnered with incense / resin materials, and in the case of Choya Nahk, seashells.  Yes, that’s right: roasted seashells.   🙂  The first time I saw this oil offered I immediately began considering it for Onycha.  Perfect, right?  Well, part yes, part no.  Choya Nahk has it’s beauty, but it is dry…really, DRY.  Intensely so.  I don’t generally like sugary perfumes, but this was a bit beyond the pale.  It was going to need some help.

dsh_shell_art_totem

partial: shells in a clay sculpture c.1992 – DSH

As I worked in some resins that I thought would balance the intensity of the charred nuances, and of course high doses of benzoin and labdanum as the other two notes in the “onycha” triad, I wondered if there were any aromatics sellers that had the actual seashells that were used, before they were roasted.  A quick internet search found some incense purveyors with something they were offering as ‘onycha seashells’.  SOLD.  I ordered them and began tincturing.  At this point in the formulating, I decided to make this perfume an ‘all naturals’ project instead of mixed media.  Not just because it’s depicting an ancient concept (the Secrets of Egypt collection is all mixed media, with the intent on creating updated interpretations of the ancient designs) but using an all botanical palette seemed to give the ‘antiquity’ feeling I wanted to convey and I wanted some of that murky, slightly inky quality that many all natural perfumes have.  (It’s not a bad thing to be murky / inky, at times).

After introducing the seashell tincture, I vacillated between a densely smoky incense perfume like being in a temple filled with burning censors…but this just didn’t work (nope, too much in the vein of Axis Mundi, which I also released last year) plus, it is way too easy to just make ‘smoky smoke and more smoke’.  And a sweeter, purely resin-based kind of incense scent seemed kind of bland.  Then the whim to just push it toward woods and amber came and I followed the impulse.  Choya Loban (cedarwood and frankincense) and Choya Ral (cedarwood and sal tree resin) both made their way into the design in subtle proportion as well as precious woods (eagleswood, Siam wood, more Himalayan cedarwood, and amyris) and ambery resins ( more benzoin, labdanum, and oppopanax).  Yes, this push of the ambery aspect brought out even more of the salty / umami and subtly briney aspects of Onycha that I was hoping for.  As well, I love what the woods did to build the space to allow the resins, smoke, and oceanic pieces to move around and ‘swirl’ in the way I later envisioned it.

“family” egg tempera on panel 1992, DSH

In creating Onycha, I had to dig deep into my past and remember all that had inspired me about the concept when I was first falling in love with fragrance and seeing it as the art form that it is now, generally, recognized to be.  It’s also allowed me to examine some of my early work, universally, and bring it full circle.  ❤

This post gives me the opportunity to give thanks for some of the lovely reviews of Onycha:
Thank you Trish at Scenthive for her wonderful words for Seve de Pin and Onycha;  and the immensely poetic review from Lauryn Beer at CaFleureBon.  I am blessed by your beauty.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Read Full Post »

famil_shell_study1

Something interesting is happening…  it’s not the first time that I’ve experienced this phenomenon of having some fascination or inspiration from my past circle around and make its way into relevant, “in the now” creative endeavors and projects.  Last Summer, when I started the design and development of Onycha, it was the coming to fruition of a perfume that I began contemplating way back in 1993 when I first read about it in some esoteric book on Kabbalah and aromatics.  (I was crazy interested in Kabbalah back then, before it became trendy, but that’s a story for another day).   I had just graduated from Art School and had begun my first perfumery with Sarah Horowitz-Tran (Gaia Perfumers – since we were both earth signs – known to everyone else as Essense on Newbury Street), and I was into reading anything that I could get my hands on about aromatics, essential oils, wacky New Age whatnot, Aromatherapy, Perfumery, Incense… I mean ANYTHING that had any info to be had about fragrance, I was into it.  So, this Kabbalah ‘perfume’ book was (and is) dog-eared all over the place.  The only thing that has stayed with me and commanded my imagination long-term was Onycha.

First off, I was just blown away at how the word LOOKED and how do you say it anyway?  In the days before the internet you’d either have to screw it up, make it up, or find a scholar who could tell you for sure.  Now, you can just go online to see (and hear) it.   Amazing.   I also loved how the book spoke about some rare mollusc from the Sea of Galilee being used as an aromatic in…perfume?  WHAT???? Hold on, I love the ocean and sea air and Calvin Klein’s now infamous Escape had just launched to great success, but seashells?  Um, that sounded fishy to me (bad pun intended).  I really had to push the boundaries of what I thought perfume must have been in the ancient world, and what it could be, to imagine it.  ( I still couldn’t … which is part of why it stuck with me.  I really wanted to create a fantasy that fit how I was trying to imagine it ).

 

axis_mundi_watercolorstudy_web

 

Yet another piece to this story is that during 1992 – 1994 I was painting lots of still life images with seashells.  Kind of like ‘family’ units.  I was into Sacred Geometry and the spiral was a big influence.  Ammonites, and seashells from the beaches of Cape Cod, found their way into my visual art and was moving, oddly, into my perfumery art.  At that time, there were WAY fewer materials to work with; especially as an indie perfumer.  The artisan / indie perfumery movement hadn’t really begun yet (that was later in the nineties) and there were essential oils, some absolutes, and perfume compounds to work with, if you were small-scale.  Now, there are more wonderful boutique distillers, distributors, and specialty molecule purveyors than you can imagine and it’s an INCREDIBLE GALAXY of nuanced ‘colors’ and textures to create olfactory art with.  It took over twenty years of ruminating around the idea (and waiting for the right materials to arrive) for “Onycha” to come.

Ok, I’m going to end there…with more to come of course.  Soooooon.  Have a great rest of your weekend ❤

Save

Save

Save

Save

Read Full Post »

filter_flower_2-20-17

{filters that look like flowers. i love those.}

Mondays are supposed to be one of my ‘days off’.  😀  LOL.  I’m not only like most business owners who never have enough time to do EVERYTHING that 1) needs to be done 2) you want to get done 3) you think should get done, but I’m like most artists I know who are always ‘working’.  This isn’t bad or unwanted; I like to work.  In fact, I love my work.  (Well, all of it except accounting and filing reports.  B.O.R.I.N.G.).

Mondays are instead my ‘creative day’ in the (aroma) studio; I relish them.  I think about and write down ideas all week just to get a day when no one can come in and I don’t answer the phone.  It’s bliss.  I make a mess.  I spread out…wide…all over the place.  Then I come home smelling like a million things and scare my family.  (AWESOME).

dawn_winter_studio

I guess I’m getting excited about what’s coming out next and it’s too soon to start talking about it in detail but I’m nevertheless wanting to share.  So, for now I’ll just add some pics from the day and keep jotting down ideas.

dsh_notebook_2017

(You can also see my working notebook so far for 2017.  I’ve had one of these every year since 1994.  I think I’m gonna need a library soon ❤ )

Hope you all had a great start to your week ~ oxox

 

Read Full Post »

chinchilla_mini_hires4

By now I’m sure that most of you have heard about the “new animalics” trend that’s been gaining speed for the last few years.  In case you don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about, fragrances “of ” and inspired by animals are kinda hot right now.  I’m not at all surprised since the strong interest in vintage / vintage style perfumes has been gaining traction for quite some time and many (most) of those older fragrances are laden with animalic aromatics.  It gives them that luscious body, and sensuous warmth that we’re hard wired to crave.  Certainly some densely animalic perfumes can scare the bejeezes out of the wearer while others seem to purr and softly seduce bringing you ever closer… like moths to a flame, when they smell that olfactory ‘siren song’.  I am definitely one of those vintage perfume lovers who couldn’t be more delighted with this renewed interest in what some might call ‘poopy’ or ‘cat pee’ fragrances.   (I’m sure that warmed you up, right?).

 

al-haramain-oil_oud

It occurs to me that another avenue into animalic fragrances, especially of the ‘retro-nouveau’ variety, might be the prolonged fervor for oud / oude / oudh perfumes which depending on the quality and the amount of natural aquillaria wood oil used, can be mighty fecal.  Yes, some are down right ‘poopy’.  Not a bad…well, that’s in the nose of the beholder.  Anyway, it seems that if these particular aspects that can be found in botanicals are to your liking then true animal notes (real or synthetic) are not that far away as you journey through fragrance. It’s only a hop, skip, and a furry jump from the more intense oud perfumes to that of the cultivated critter.

 

furriers_de_weil_vintad

There are a number of fabulous vintage fragrances and houses that specialized in more animalic scents but I’m only going to delve into one right now: the House of Weil.  Their main affair was furs.  The fragrances that they are known for came later but most were inspired by, and meant to be worn with, their furs.  Their most famous and longest selling perfume was Antilope and I believe their most sought after fragrance is Secret de Venus (sometimes fetching well over $1000 per bottle on ebay).  Secret de Venus actually started as a bath oil and came in a number of ‘fragrances’ such as Antilope and Zibeleine, but there was later a Secret de Venus perfume developed that to me, feels like the House of Weil’s “Guerlainade’; their fragrant signature base.  It’s warm, ripe, sensuously animalic, and lushly floral in that early – mid – twentieth century kind of way.  Aldehydes are present but not very loud at all which allows the base to rub itself around you like a cat hoping that you’ll scratch it’s ears and belly.  A lesser known Weil fragrance that has long intrigued me is Chinchilla.  Of course, I *LOVE* the name.  And the beautiful silken creatures, so soft and sweet.   I had had this name and some scribbles in my notebooks for some time before the real impetus came to push me toward creation.  Last summer, a lovely young woman came to work part time at my studio whose family name is also Chinchilla.  That was it!  A sign… that the time was right to get to work.

secretdevenus_bathoil_weil

weil_chinchilla_sample_asmuseum

shocking_figural_1

Especially when making retro-nouveau style perfumes, I love to leave little trails to historical perfumes in my designs.  It’s fun.  And I hope that those that know vintage fragrances will pick up the trail and find my clues.  So, too, with my Chinchilla, I thought about the House of Weil as well as the original ‘Shocking de Schiaparelli’, with it’s dominating CIVET note and honey heart.  Most importantly, though, I wanted to really evoke the texture of fur.  That would be something new that these beauties from the past didn’t do.  The furriness and the kind of ‘dusty honey’ quality that came together really sang to me… and I have to admit that I fell in love.   And to my amazement and delight, many others did, too.

So, that was last Summer into Fall… and now I’m working on a couple more to fill ‘my little petting zoo’.    They’ll still be the more contemporary retro-nouveau designs with the vintage calling cards.  I’m having a ball creating these… some a bit more whimsical, some more sophisticated.  All with a little growl, and a purr.

**********************************************************************************************

I’m really happy to share some links to reviews for Chinchilla (with many thanks) to Lauryn at CaFleurbon, Samantha at IScentYouADayCynthia at The Fragrant Journey, Victoria at EAUMG, and Steven at the Scented Hound,

credits: aquillaria aromatic link to wikipedia.org; image for arabian oud perfume found here; house of weil links at fragrantica.com, shocking de shiaparelli link at fragrantica.com; image for weil furs found on pinterest; chinchilla de weil extrait image found on our instagram. (please feel free to follow! 🙂 )

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Read Full Post »

japanese_crane_creen_image

Although it’s thoroughly Spring outside complete with the showers we should have had in April, my mind has been moving forward and contemplating deeper, woodier hues, darker spaces, and scents.  Particularly, I have been meditating on dry, incense, subtly smoke-tinted resins and woods.  It may be that I have been working on a series of designs for Dawn Perfume in Japan; a collection that I design for and reflects a kind of west meets east collaboration between myself and my cohorts (the link takes you to ‘cohort’ Anzu’s instagram).  Which isn’t to say that everything I create for Dawn Perfume is of this woody, meditative vibe.  In fact, most is not.

 

ryoan-ji-temple

No, there’s something coming out of the ether that wants to manifest.  I find myself dreamily contemplating soft, powdered wood shavings and the accompanying burnt sugar and smoke lingering to give an added dryness to the sensation.  And frankincense.  I’ve just received a new batch of the most wonderful frankincense from Oman (boswellia sacra) with a potent sweet gummy-ness and dry spice complex that makes me swoon every time I open the bottle.  I’ve also been going, again and again, to a new batch of frankincense absolute (boswellia serrata) from India.  It’s got a touch more of the typical terpene bite of many Olibanum essential oils, but it also has some of that spicy, gummy quality that the ‘sacra’ has only less sweet.  And delicious cedar; the drier, the better.  I’m daydreaming in Texas cedar with all of that tar and smoke, hiba (even with that band-aid thing you do), and dusty, soft Virginia cedar.  (How could I forget you?)   I’m really feeling compelled to sit down and get some sketching done.  But what is the premise, exactly?   This is not my usual way.  Generally, I get a very clear picture or series of images with a new inspiration for a perfume.  It all comes at once and I have to take time to put the pieces together and design in my head until it’s distilled but this one is coming on hazy clouds and shadowy half images as seen through gauze.  Maybe my psyche is just telling me I need more time to sit in meditation; or maybe I just have to keep looking through the smoke.

What are your thoughts on this subject ?  I’d love to hear…

————————————————

 

image credits: I found these images on the web: japanese crane screen image here; japanese temple image here.

Read Full Post »

mercury_planet_image_2

Mercury has just gone direct.  (woo hoo!)  I’m sure that a bunch of you have heard of the astrological term “Mercury Retrograde” which basically means that the appearance of Mercury, as it moves in its orbit when seen from earth, looks like its moving backwards.  Symbolically, it means that everything you are trying to do to get ahead on projects, move through traffic, deal with communication of any kind, etc, will also be moving (or feel like it’s moving) backwards, too.  Travel goes haywire, electronics get goofy, and the basic gist is to stop working on moving forward as it’s time to do a re-wind so you can reexamine old ideas, old projects, and or older works to see if they can or should be updated, made more perfect, or reworked in some way or just tossed on the heap.  It’s great for clearing out and making room for the new as well.  So while now is the time for getting back to the *new* stuff, as this phase passes I’m still working on something I’m calling the “retrograde files”.  Its actually kind of exciting.

 

movingbackward

 

I’ve been slowly compiling a list of materials, oils, single notes, and older designs that I used to sell on my website that people still write in and ask for.  Usually clients can get these items by special order or what have you but I’ve been attempting to create some “Archives” pages for the site so as to make the process easier.  And instead of getting annoyed at the apparent cosmic slowdown, it’s been a wonderful journey, like taking some extra quiet time to look at a scrap book or an old photo album.  It’s the scented equivalent of “This is your Life”.

 

oldphotoalbum_image1

 

As I’ve looked around in my notebooks and dug out some old bottles I’ve rediscovered some very interesting ideas and lovely perfume names (you know I love that) that I had sort of forgotten about.  Some of these designs are from very early in my body of work and I see now that had I had some of the materials available now, the concepts might have been realized very differently.  So, my big idea is this: when Mercury goes retrograde I’m going to set myself down to re-imagine some of these older works.  It’s a go with the flow and artistically grow kind of thing.  I don’t know if I will release the new visions or not but I know that I will enjoy the process.  I like this looking back / looking forward notion.  We’ll see how it goes and I’ll keep you posted. ❤

ps: here’s the next retrograde phases for 2016: August 30 – September 22; and Dec 19 2016 – Jan 8, 2017.

_____

image credits: I found these images on the web: beautiful mercury planet image found here; moving backward image here; berlin 1994 photo album here.

 

Read Full Post »

This is just a quick drop in to mention that the promised DIY versions of La Reine des Fleurs have been published at Denver Art Museum’s tumblr page.  Here is the link to it so you can check out the recipes and have some fun making perfume.

I also wanted to mention that the draw is still open (until February 25) so if you want to comment here or on the ‘part 2’ post to enter, feel free. La Reine des Fleurs is also up on the DSH Perfumes site (woo hoo!) as our first new launch of 2014.  I think that it’s going to be a very creative and exciting year.  I really hope so.

mata_hari_web

Have a wonderful weekend and happy smelling~~~ oxox

ps: One of my students reminded me that the official first day of Spring is only 4 weeks away. 🙂  I’m REALLY excited for that and even if it’s still snowing in Colorado, my heart will be in the first blooms of the season.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: