Themes For Halloween-Color Scheme

button1Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year, always has been. People used to think I was a bit nutty for not love love loving Christmas but Halloween felt as special as a holiday could be. Children were allowed to dress up and become their supernatural alter-egos, it was about night and things which flitted to and fro in the darkness (like ghosts and bats), and there was lots of black and lots of candy. What was there not to like?

Every year at Possets Perfume I go through no end of trouble to try to come up with a theme which you will enjoy, and the perfumes which illustrate it well, and the images which set the right tone. This year I am going to do a black and white color scheme with just a touch of color.

I have chosen a famous etching by Goya as my lead image, it’s called “The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters”. There is so much to this image that I could take out lots of details, which you might not have noticed, and made them into buttons and slides. Wonderful to see the care that Goya put into each of the owls, how he captured the flit of bats, and how he maintained the illusion of shadows even when using a difficult medium like printmaking.

The name of my collection this year is going to be “The Scent of Night”. There is a lot to this one. What do I mean by that? More later.

In the meantime, take a trip over to Possets Perfume which is celebrating the last few days of the Summer of Elegance Collection which boasts glorious florals, light resins, and that surprisingly popular beauty which captured a lot of hearts, Seascapes; one of my best aquatics. www.possets.com is the address, or click this paragraph.

Who Do I Think I Am? Possets-Now We Are Nine-Part 4

cropped-venusmars3.jpgHow about the personality of the company? What “feel” did I want Possets to have? If someone were to describe the company, what would I want them to say?

I admired the perfume company Demeter which had a minimalist personality, like a chic loft in New York City. It was all words, glass, and chrome. The occasional block of color was the backup group for the point of the blend. I saw what they did, but that wasn’t me. I am a different creature entirely. Once a frienemy of mine came mincing up to me at an art opening and cooed,”You are so very good at art history, Fabienne. Too bad you can’t make a living on it! Ha Ha Ha Ha Haaaaa!” Pretty mean of her, I would say. It was true. I was great at something which is utterly useless, unless you are a professor of Art History, or run an art tour company. It was just her way of telling me that I was programmed to be powerless because I was good at something. That thought depressed me and made me somewhat ashamed of being good at art history. I didn’t like to think that I was proving over and over that I was a silly lady every time I opened my mouth about painting.

So, there I sat thinking about what I wanted my company to be like. What would the flavor, feel, schtick, brand of Possets be like? I chose the name Possets because I liked the sound of it and it meant a sweet and attractive smelling thing which made life happier. An archaic word (again, the powerlessness of knowing lots of obsolete words from days gone by, silly lady). There were loads of companies out there with dark badass persona, lots of modern chrome and glass ones, some were themed on knights of old, some were sort of confusing themes loaded with stock photos, some were obviously the girly tangle of the creator’s mind with scant harmony running through. There were some with a constant theme playing through the collections and they were the most attractive to me. They seemed to succeed best when the theme was like the interests of the creator. So, Possets quickly became a place where I could use my knowledge of art history proudly and even fiercely. The images were the most lovely every produced, and they could come from anywhere. My area of expertise is Western European 1300-19th century mostly, but I have a burning curiosity about the art of other cultures, too.

When I was a child, my mother and I saw the painting Venus and Mars by Sandro Botticelli. It had just been cleaned and was on display for the first time. I was amazed by it and no one else seemed to know about it. Everyone knows The Birth Of Venus but not this fabulous horizontal piece. When I thought about what I would want my company spokesman to look like, if I could have anyone the reclining Venus came to mind. And so she is the Possets Girl.

Over the years, the design of my site has changed from the image on the lower left hand side to the Possets Girl hovering above the page and appearing in the slideshow in different guises. She is my lead figure on my business card and the universal figure on my labels. I have known her for decades and never get tired of her.

This year I have decided to celebrate my new website with an exploration of painting. I have loved my jaunts through poetry and music but painting will always be my first love.

This is part of a series of essays about the origins of Possets Perfume. It is written to go with the Retour event which is going on now at Possets where Fabienne, the perfumer, re releases all of the perfumes she has ever made for two weeks. All of the scent which was in past seasonal collections can be re bought and stocked up now. It is being sold in 6, 10, 15, and 30 ml bottles so you can keep yourself in your favorite Posset forever. Go there and see for yourself!

Learning How To Be Possets-Now We Are Nine-Part 3

The Goddess of GeometryOne thing you have to be able to do when you are a perfumer is…to make perfume. Now I had collected lots of things which were needed to make perfume, I had been an aromatherapy lover for years BUT there is a big difference between aromatherapy and perfuming: one is for your wellbeing only and the other is aesthetic only. I have not loved everything I have smelled in aromatheraputic circles, it’s never a turn off but it isn’t meant to be the good smelling stuff.

Perfume is strange, subjective, vague, overwhelming, unscripted, hard to classify, and without a popular vocabulary. It’s almost as if you can’t talk about perfume because it defies words, as if the right side of your brain rules the subject and will not bow to the logical superiority of the left side of brain. Not. Nope. If you can’t really talk about it, you have a far harder time learning it and explaining it. You have to come up with your own ideas of harmony, your personal paths where you walk when you want to create.

I was fascinated with the “foody” perfumes which were so popular in the early 2000s. They seemed magical to me. Thierry Mugler’s Angel broke into mainstream perfuming in such a decisive way that it created a separate category of fragrance! Some people thought it an abomination but nothing takes the heretic into the sanctum sanctorum as swiftly as success and within 10 years Dior was ruining the dry classic Miss Dior by dumping some sweet strawberry concoction into it and trying to ride the gourmandy wave. Angel had changed the landscape, and I loved it.

There were other perfumers who were taking totally non traditional paths, the most successful was Demeter and I adored them. They created simulachra forEverything from cut grass to sugar cookies, clean laundry to dirt out of the potting soil bag. They were so bold and their concepts were damned creative. Their perfumes never seemed to last, though. They were all ethereal top note, full of the punch and buzz of the concept but then *poof* gone. Layering, using oil, soaking a cotton ball in it and putting it in my bra, nothing worked. I was scent free and bewildered within 5 minutes of each application. Oh, the agony of the dedicated scent lover!

So, I went looking for ingredients, mixed my own building blocks, fiddled with things to make perfume last and to amplify it. Most importantly, I learned about the parts of a perfume where one thing has a part which reminds me of another. That was when I really started to “get it”. So, when I was creating Issota and Sigismundo, I found that there was something in sandalwood which reminded me of…banana! I put that unlikely combo together and was immediately gratified. It worked, and worked so well that there were several other components which found their way into the bottle and made that perfume what it is. It is unique, harmonious, mind grabbing, and classy at the same time. I still sell a lot of it and for good reason.

There were times when I “got it” before. The first time was with Silver Violets, one of my still favorite scents, it was when I created the harmony. There was nothing in it which did not belong, and it would not have been good without every single one of the ingredients. That is the formula for a good piece of graphic design, and it holds especially true for perfume, even if the vocabulary is different.

This is the first in a series of essays about the origins of Possets Perfume. It is written to go with the Retour event which is going on now at Possets where Fabienne, the perfumer, re releases all of the perfumes she has ever made for two weeks. All of the scent which was in past seasonal collections can be re bought and stocked up now. It is being sold in 6, 10, 15, and 30 ml bottles so you can keep yourself in your favorite Posset forever. Go there and see for yourself!

Making a Medusa Headdress

Medusa headdressI got it in my head that I had to have this headdress. Who wouldn’t want to be the Medusa? Great for Halloween, fun for a winter hat. Great idea. It was by a woman called Ruth From Ohio. She gives the instructions BUT she has a knitting machine. I knit once every 17 years. This is going to be a slight problem. I think that I need to knit a watch cap and then cover it with the snakes. Yea that’t the ticket. So, I buy the yarn and start knitting snakes. I don’t know how to knit. That does not stop me. There were instructions and a clue, the clue was that this could be an “I Chord” for the snakes. I Chord? I Google, I find it. AKA and Idiot Chord…this is going to be easy.

It’s going to snow. In Cincinnati that means we are all going to die. OK, I go out and buy all the groceries at Fresh Thyme. Then I go to Joanne Fabrics on the way home and buy two skeins of camo yarn, the double ended needles and I am set.

The snow comes
We get about 5″
Are We Dead?

Not dead, but it’s slick out there. I stay home and do computer work. I shovel the snow. I make dinner. Then I start playing with the yarn.

I start on one snake. I am I Chording along. Learning. The snake looks very serpentine due to the camo yarn. I am enchanted. I learn how to make the snake wider in the jaw, and narrow at the snout. I finish the first snake. He looks a bit lumpy, some of the knitting is too loopy. His scale pattern is a bit off BUT HE WORKS! Can’t have everything perfect off the bat. We are in business. I start snake #2. going much better. He is looking Pretty Good.

We watch House of Cards
I work though it snows
The snake grows.

Now I do the cap upon which to attach the snakes. Friends, I get the idea I will need about 50 snakes. I am finished with 1.5.

Snakes might have to have pipecleaners in them to make them writhey.

I have an idea of how I want it to look.

Moar later.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Deep Winter Collection now. Musks, resins, florals (tis the season), foodies and the new category Dry. Peep in on the ever changing offerings at Possets.  So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

What Do I Do With The Retired Possets?

Musks not tusks.One of my clients asked me what I do with the Possets that have to retire and are not chosen to be part of the Permanent Collection. Good question, here is the answer:

Dear XXXX-You asked me what I do with the retired Possets after their Collection comes down. …Here is the answer. About two years ago, I realized I had run out of space in my office for all of the retired Possets. I looked around my neighborhood (which is a place where they do a lot of light manufacturing) and there was a climate controlled storage company fairly close. I boxed up the retired Possets and rented a space and they are kept there in the dark at the same temp until they are brought back at Retour. At Retour, I have to rent a bit more space to set up alphabetically, I bring back all of the retired Possets from storage and start filling orders. Everything gets smelled before it goes to you, and if anything has gone “off” or is past its prime or has weakened, I stop and remake the blend. Most of the time, the oils just get better with age.

At the end of Retour, everything is packed up and re-stored to wait for the next Retour. As you know, Retours happen on a whim and have no schedule. They last for 2 weeks and are a real madhouse during that time. We have not had a Retour for about two years now. The name Retour comes from the French, “to return”. I hope that answers your question. It was a good one. Fondly, Fabienne

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Deep Winter Collection now. Musks, resins, florals (tis the season), foodies and the new category Dry. Peep in on the ever changing offerings at Possets.  So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Spikenard-The Anointment Of The Magdalene

Orientals ImageToday marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. It is Ash Wednesday and with it comes quite a few arcane rituals involving unusual items, many of them scented. One of the most famous of all the Lenten perfumes is spikenard.

Spikenard became famous because Mary Magdalene brings an entire jar of it to Jesus and in front of all, she anoints his FEET with a small fortune of it! Spikenard was hideously expensive because it comes only from the Himalayas (Nepal in particular) so you can imagine how drawn-out and dangerous a trek it was to get it from the foot of Mount Everest to the Levant. It is distilled from the root of a valerian-like plant, much like vetiver.

That is all fine and well, but the question you might be more interested in is: how does it smell? I decided to find out what Spikenard was like, being a perfumer, and bought a small sample from one of my natural suppliers. Sure enough, it was from Nepal; and, as usual, I was in a tearing hurry and dabbed some on the back of my hand to make my snap judgment of it. “UR-BALL” was my disappointed conclusion. After running it under my nose I was utterly unimpressed. “Maybe it was wonderful back in the old days when no one could wash much, your clothes stuck to you, and everyone was pretty poor and could not afford anything but the cheapest perfumes. We are so much more sophisticated now, thank goodness,” I thought disparagingly. I put the little vial of herb smelling goo away.

Today, because it is Ash Wednesday, I thought I would give spikenard another try. I had opened my naturals cabinet and the vial was lying on its side waiting for me. I took off the top, put a small amount on the back of my hand, recorked it and thought,”There HAS to be something alluring about this stuff. It was just too expensive to be ho-hum herbal,” I sat at the keyboard waiting for some magic to happen.

Then I forgot about the spikenard and got busy answering my e-mails and trying to fix the usual little bugs which infest my software. And all of a sudden I got a whiff of something WONDERFUL. It was, well, divine. It was green, surely, but there was a particle of cumarin to it (a greenish vanilla), then there was a definite tinge of men’s very expensive hair pomade. There was something about it very masculine, and a stinky little backlash which some people find fetching, so it could go from: feet–>mint–>green vanilla—>green–>expensive pomade–>dense green boxwood bushes where a handsome man has just walked. To find all this beauty, one had to be quiet, one had to be aware, and the oil had to be rubbed on your skin and heat up to combine with your chemistry and then this fabulous fragrance would erupt, spread, and stay on you. It seems to be a base note, it lingers for hours. It is very mutable, it changes from the moment you breathe in, as the vapors fill your sinuses, as the apex of your breath occurs, on the start of the exhale, and the end of the exhale. This is pretty constant, each breath brought the change-wheel of spikenard.

I must say that now I am in love. I think it would make a wonderful companion with galbanum. I just have to tear myself away from this shimmering green jewel long enough to compose something.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Deep Winter Collection now. Musks, resins, florals (tis the season), foodies and the new category Dry. Peep in on the ever changing offerings at Possets.  So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

New Cambienne Labels!

cambiennebackgroundI just designed a new label for Possets and it looks wonderful! From now on all Cambienne limited fragrance labels will have the beautiful image of the Cambienne gentleman on them. He is surrounded by a mandorla of the zodiac and is part of an exquisite illuminated manuscript called Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc de Berry.

Ooo, regard the goodness at Possets Perfume!

Cityblis

The Kohl Contest

Rolling my eyes at you!In my right eye, Mosha Katani’s Black Surmah. Rolling my eyes at you!In my left eye, Moroccan Selection Kohl. The contest will last all day.

What I noticed right off the bat-Mosha Katani’s Surmah (kohl) was darker. It was also smoother and less grainy and melted into the rim of the lid. Moroccan Selection was a bit lighter, slightly grittier, and didn’t melt right away.

Honestly, if I had not tried them side by side I would never have noted any of these characteristics of Moroccan Selection.

But let’s go for the longevity now. How long will they stay looking pristine? What happens when I take a bath? Will I have to retouch during the day? Let’s find out!

Kohl-What is it?

The eye of Horus is upon you.Kohl is a powdered eyeliner which is applied at the waterline of the eye and coats the top and bottom of the waterline. It is most commonly seen in black but there are other colors available. It has been used since the time of the pharaohs in Egypt to make the eyes appear large and bright, and to keep the sun from causing too much glare, like the first sunglasses.

Kohl is made out of a number of different things, but some will stay on your waterline more successfully than others. In the past, there have been kohls which are made from antimony, and that is a bad thing to put around your eye as it can contain minute amounts of lead. Most kohls nowadays are made from soot or straight pigment. You can even attempt to make kohl yourself, it’s not difficult.

Kohl has enjoyed a tremendous renaissance in the last few years because it’s just a great look and just about anyone can wear it successfully. However, as with most things, it is more attractive on some people than others. What are some of the facial characteristics that make kohl a good alternative for you? If you don’t have those features can you still wear kohl? Where do you buy it? How much is it? What do you need to use to put it on? What are the dangers of using kohl, even if the powder itself isn’t noxious? What safety features do you have to look out for? All those questions, and more will be answered in this series, including The Fix…the trick that lets anybody wear kohl successfully.

Don’t miss an issue of how to wear kohl on Possets’ Kohlfest 2012. Subscribe to our blog so you get all the issues and visit Possets where we have a wonderful Egyptian (“oriental”) perfume collection featuring deep resins and gorgeous fragrances from the Land of the Pyramids. Visit Possets and see for yourself.

The Expensive Medieval Pigments: Purple, Gold, and Silver!

Snails and fernsThe most expensive colors you could use to illuminate a manuscript had to be Purple, Gold, and Silver. What where these colors made from and what caused them to be so costly?

Purple-The Royal Hue could be made in a variety of ways and the most plush of all was using a dye made from the murex shellfish, a mode of manufacture which dated back thousands of years and was very very labor intense. A second way to produce purple was to mix indigo and “minium” or red lead (an intense and pure red) OR ground lapis lazuli and Minium. Using indigo was much less dear but produced a less interesting and strong purple than just about any other way of making it. Woad and smalt could also be used but again with less pleasing results. Since blue was a much more popular color than purple in the first place, when the patron was going to spend money, they generally opted for the blue over any other color, so you don’t see near as much purple dotting the pages of old vellum.

Gold-Gold was usually applied as leaf, that is beaten until it formed tissue thin and flexible sheets. These would be affixed to the page with the use of glue and burnished until it lay flat. There was always the risk that burnishing would ruin the entire page if the flat burnishing tool ran into some of the painted picture which was supposed to be matte and now would bear a shiny trail where the tool strayed onto the image. The other pigments often did outdo gold for their cost, though, and depending on the worth of gold, this disparity could become pretty extreme.

Silver-Silver illumination was never as popular as gold but it was applied in the same manner basically. Thin sheets were adhered with a glue and burnished down into place. One reason that silver wasn’t used as much is the tarnishing factor, you could not polish the tarnishing of silver once it was laid down. The application of a clear sealant over the silver was often applied to help keep silver looking shiny and bright. However, over time just about any sealant they could use would turn yellow or flake off, leaving the silver to be exposed to the elements and slowly turn black.

If you ever get a chance to see the Book of Kells in Ireland or to see the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (in Chantilly France), please do. Just looking at the surface color on them speaks more eloquently than I can about the effect of color, its intensity, and the form it takes when put to the page.

This is the last of the color blogs about illuminated manuscripts from Possets. However, there will be more blogs about a variety of aspects of life in Medieval times so look for them. The one on the Black Death is particularly fascinating.

For more information about the Middle Ages and to see the perfume collection of Medieval Yule, visit Possets Perfume and take a look around. It’s a really lovely site and you are virtually insured to have a great time.