Archive for perfume

To Perfume or Not to Perfume

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by hartblends

When you live in a world as “odorless” as ours, you might wonder why perfume and fragrance really matter. I call our world odorless not because it is without smell, but because compared to what the common places in the world smelled like throughout history, we have a very pleasant smelling, or non-smelling, society. The history of perfume is very interesting. It is interesting to me in a variety of ways, including how perfume has evolved over the ages, but also just about why it was so revered and why it is such a stigmatic-ally *rich* activity.

The word perfume comes from the Latin words, “per” meaning “through” and “fumus” meaning smoke.” The French later named the pleasant drifting smells in the air parfum. Over 4000 years ago the Mesopotamians began creating incense. Egyptians were right up there with them in fragrant creations. The Egyptians are famous for their perfume balms which they would shape into cones and wear on their heads so that it would melt over their bodies throughout the day. They often carried perfume with them from birth and right into the grave, or tomb. Many Egyptians put perfumes in their tombs for the afterlife.


Common Egyptian art scene with perfume balm "cones" atop their heads

The historical accounts of most ancient civilizations account perfumes, incense, perfume balms and the sacred rituals associated with these products.

Early distillation setup

Until Persian chemist Ibn Sina came along, the common method of making perfumes was crushing herbs and flowers in oil. However, this chemist (aka Avicenna) changed everything when he came up with the method of distillation. This process extracts the fragrant oil from herbs and flowers. This process is still heavily used today in natural perfumery and is how we get essential oils.

It was in the 14th century that France began producing crops for the sole purpose of perfumery. With the advancements of civilization also came different stinks. The streets were common places for garbage, rotting foods and other….unmentionable smelly things.

Field in Grasse, France

In the 16th and 17th centuries it became a common thing for the wealthy to mask their body odors with perfume and also to carry around perfume sachets to hold over their noses as they passed through the stinky streets.  This time period was a great influence on our current world of perfume. So much advancement was made in perfuming and a lot of money was being spent on these esteemed perfumes.

Perfume is a common thing now-a-days. Not only is it common because the average consumer can purchase it, but it is common because the vast majority of perfumes on the market today aren’t even made out of flowers and plants…they are just mixed up in a lab with aroma-chemicals and other synthetically derived scents.  As seems to happen with all industries, it became about profit and not about quality or depth. Our society has become accustomed to the linear and inorganic fragrances that not only have no therapeutic or emotional benefit, but also have no tie to the rich history of perfume and to top it off, the bottles that house these synthetic perfumes cost more than the perfume itself. We have also become accustomed to the harassment of overbearing perfume. All of us have experienced a situation where we couldn’t get away from someone’s perfume, whether in a bus, elevator, restaurant, or movie theater, it doesn’t matter if we like the fragrance or not, we are forced to experience another persons perfume.

That’s what I love about natural perfume. It is personal, intimate, sensual, distinguished and courteous; with all the fabulously rich history that real perfume should have.

HartBlends 100% Natural Solid Perfumes

My Art History

Posted in About with tags , , , , , on January 21, 2011 by hartblends

When it comes to artistry, I’ve been involved in a variety of art media for about 25 years. Sure, 25 years ago it was probably crayons, finger-paints and mud sculptures, but you just try to tell me that’s not art! Sketch art is probably where I’ve spent most of my years. I grew up on a 15 acre farm and I loved to take one of my sketch books out and sit for hours sketching the animals or the scenery. I learned my basics in shape, perspective, precision and shadowing through trial and error. My parents supported my love of art by purchasing different art books and such, but I can’t say that I am very patient at learning through books…I’d much rather hands on experiences.

My next major art medium was oil pastels. The vibrant colors and ability to scrape away the substance and try again was very appealing. I spent a good couple of years studying this medium, but it lacked the fulfillment that I was searching for. I tried watercolor paints off and on over the years but I just wasn’t any good at it. Looking back I understand that I didn’t understand the proper technique of watercolors. Had I actually read through some of the books my parents bought me, I probably would have figured out that watercolors are not like acrylic or oil paints….they are meant to have beauty in the almost haphazard spreading of color as it soaks and moves through the paper. Someone who really has masted this medium knows how to control this spread of watery color and make something precise and beautiful. Needless to say, I never mastered watercolor but instead got frustrated and decided that painting just wasn’t my gifting.

Charcoal was a fun medium. It had the same feel as sketch, though much less forgiving, with very different looking results. It forced me to learn how to make each stroke count and if it wasn’t what I intended, to find a way to make it work for my picture. I don’t know if it was lack of patience or what, but I didn’t stick with this one for long either. It has always held an appeal in my mind though and occasionally I’ll play with my charcoal pencils and sticks just for kicks.

I always sucked at coloring. At least I was never satisfied with my results. Even as a kid I remember looking at other kids coloring book pages and thinking theirs was so much better than mine. I tried coloring with colored pencils and crayons, markers and watercolors….but alas, my coloring skills seemed to pale in comparison to mere amateurs.  That might be an overly dramatic statement, but as a child I sure felt that way.

During my college years I took a major break from art in general. I didn’t take any artsy classes (mainly because I’m too snobbish and didn’t want someone to tell me how to do art). It wasn’t until early 2009 when I started researching perfumery that the artsy side of my brain started getting regular exercise again. I’d forgotten the excitement of a new art medium. This time engaging my nose in the art was very challenging and interesting. The colors of the natural substances were fascinating and learning about how the different fragrances combined to make something completely new and unique caused me to think about art in a different light. I was engrossed in this new art exclusively for about a year before I started thinking about other media again. Below is a picture of my liquid perfumes sampler card that I created.

Early 2010 I came across a few tubes of oil paints in my art closet (yes I have a whole closet in my garage of arts and craft supplies – don’t act like you’re not impressed). These tubes of paints reminded me of my years of desire to effectively use color. But oil paints weren’t good for my current situation with all the fumes and the long drying times…so I decided to purchase a few tubes of acrylic paints. This time I was going to do it right though, I purchased good artist quality paints to be sure I knew that if it didn’t turn out…it was just me. I had been wanting to purchase some art to put on the wall behind my couch, so my goal in painting was to make something I could put on my wall. I am obsessed with Asian style decor, so that was my focus. As previously mentioned, I’m not terribly patient, so I got out my watercolor paints  and decided to practice. The picture below is one of my first attempts after many many years of not painting.

After doing a few watercolor paintings I decided that I was better than when I was a kid….but I was definitely still not happy with the results. Finally, my acrylic paints came in the mail and I set out to do a painting on canvas paper. Below is my first actual acrylic painting.

I knew instantly that I’d found what I had been looking for all my artistic life. The ability to have a similar level of precision as sketch, but the vibrancy and fulfillment of color. At this point I’ve been painting with acrylics for almost a year. After about 10 months I decided I had practiced enough to paint *MY* painting for my wall. Below is a picture of what I had been envisioning and I was very pleased with my results.

After I hung it on my wall, something just wasn’t quite right. After a week or so I realized, I had really come to enjoy painting and reaching my goal wasn’t what I wanted anymore. So I sold that painting to some dear friends of mine and now I hang whatever my current painting is on my wall. It’s terribly fun to see my artwork rotate on my wall and my goal has now become for my hobby to someday become a profitable endeavor.

My next blog will be about the painting that I am in the middle of – by far the most disturbing thing I’ve ever painted, and so a challenge fun to share!

Thanks for reading and please feel welcome to leave a comment!

Fragrant Blessings,