My youngest daughter likes to pretend to be a princess. I believe the title is equated in her mind with wearing flamboyant clothes and jewellery but I think it’s greatest appeal is the assumption that it gives her some kind of power.
We’ve tried to explain to her that actually, throughout history, princesses have in reality, wielded very little power and that if she really wants to kick ass, she should maybe seek a different career path.
My eldest on the other hand, is quite troubled by the idea of having to choose a particular path as her interests range far and wide.
I joked with her, that she need not worry and she can choose many careers simultaneously; for instance, I am simultaneously a graphic designer and psychotherapist. I am also an artist and a mother, occasionally a writer, too often a picker-upper-of-children’s-mislaid-clothes, a driver, a drinker, a day dreamer…
And sometimes I am a witch.
Following my last post, where I mentioned some candles and homemade shampoo, I thought it admissible to elaborate on the craft of mixing stuff up.
Perhaps it is something about the tiny little blue bottles that draw me to collect essentials oils? They remind me of potions… Eye of newt, wing of bat, essence of clary sage… Whatever the reason, collect them, I do. I now have quite an array of different little bottles, which I have arranged into categories: citrus, floral, woodsy, herbal, spicy and cleansing.
Creating different blends is a bit like mixing paint to get just the right colour. Like colours, different moods require different scents.
Personally I am a fan of the more subtle nuances, rather than nasal onslaught. I also cannot abide the artificial scent dispensers. Nothing worse than getting into that Uber car and having to sit there inhaling phoney imitation Afghanistani-Vanilla/Chinese rubber mats. The sickly perfume hitting the heights of my sinuses, unleashing god-awful headaches and nausea.
Neither can I wear perfume… Something to do with the intensity and the alcohol carrier.
Clearly, I am sensitive to smells. Thus, the aroma of a room has a significant effect on establishing the atmosphere.
A floral bouquet can evoke a sense of hope as it channels the essence of the oncoming of spring and all its significance. Like the smell of freshly cleaned sheets and yellow light flooding through an open window.
Alternatively, the scent of burning wood, recalls the memory and comfort of warmth in the depths of the coldest winters.
Forget the chocolate and the booze; aromas of cinnamon blended with oranges, clove and frankincense are the true spirits of Christmas.
However, much like colours again, if you mix too many of nature’s balms, you end up with the olfactory equivalent of a grey-brownish mess. It’s best to keep some basic rules in mind…
There are high notes and base notes, and other notes that fall somewhere in between – left over notes.
High notes are the first to hit you, but they evaporate quickly. Like a passionate love affaire, intense and over too fast. Fickle and unruly, the vocalist in the band.
Base notes, like the name suggest are similar to the bass line of a song… They set the overall tone. But they do not deliver the tune.
Left over notes are the most versatile… Slightly unpredictable, you have to get to know each one individually and test them against the baseline to see if they fit, and remember to coyly introduce them to the vocalist to see whether they inspire refined arrangements of classical or more likely – trite pop.
This is why I have categorised my essential oils.
Once you have established a good relationship between certain scents, you can toy with swapping each for one of the same clan.
If lemon mixes well with frankincense and patchouli, it could be worth swapping lemon for either lime (slightly more acidic and higher octane) or orange (friendlier and fruitier), as an alternative.
I like to draw inspiration from natures organic arrangements. Divining authentic recipes from the everyday – Provence is known for its lavender fields, it’s herbs, and it’s citrus fruit. Blending these in combination inevitably results in a distinctly lazy-evening-in-the-south-of-France, fragrance.
There are certainly plenty of smells I would love to bottle, but have yet to find a way…
The smell of freshly cut grass or that of baking bread. I’ve tried to imitate one of nature’s oeuvre – the log fire by combining essential oils of pine, cedar wood and cyprus… But that ash baseline is forever elusive.
I dream one day of having my own garden where jasmine plants creep around an orange orchard. Sitting in the shade in the wake of a summer’s day. The flowers and fruit intertwining, the heat releasing their breath… lulling me heavenward.