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Monthly Archives: February 2014

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  • In need of another card going with shipments

    I did not run out of the fragrance PHI-une rose de Kandahar, but I run out of the printed cards with the PHI-bottle illustration that looked like that:

    I still have some of the No-14 Noontide Petals illustration cards, but it is about time for a new card, in flyer format, 300 gr per m2.

    I might use the air du désert illustration that I did yesterday before packing a bunch of these in the factory. Here's a detail cut out of the illustration that I did on a cotton aquarell paper, in flyer format. I forgot to sign the illustration. Before getting cards printed, I will have to do that.

    Detail cut out of the illustration, showing air du désert, and the moon rising over the desert.

    I think two or three things here are important:
    First, it is the moon rising over the desert, as I imagined the scent of air du désert marocain in the early evening, laying on a bed in a hotel, with the air from the desert coming in and carrying the scents from the streets of a Moroccan city.

    By the way: I love how the colors play there and merge. This detail gives you also an idea about the coarsness, and the structures that you get through the paper, and the way the color is applied.

    Details...

    Second, I use these cards to go with each sample shipment, explorer set shipment and some full bottles shipments. Each card gets signed and gets a "hello" or something.

    Third: The next flyer card after this will probably be a Sotto la Luna illustration of Gardenia. But the flacon labels are not ready yet. I guess I will make a Gardenia flacon illustration, featuring "Sotto la Luna" , in summer. We are still waiting for the test run of the labels for Sotto la Luna. ... we did the test with the most complex label of the three: Hyacinth, which will be launched in 2015.

    So you see: We are getting organized. Sort of.

     

  • looking at air du désert packed

    I got myself a Walimex LED round light. It  is a light source that is like a circle. In the middle there 's a free round area to put your camera through. It is a better way of lightening objects, I think. Here's a link to a picture of this piece of techware.

    You know: I think that I have a great bottle, perfectly packed, but I just have not enough pictures to spread this message. Time to change.

    Today's picture shows you a first picture that I did with this round daylight light source, last Friday. Playing. Testing. You know: lightening the packaging and the flacon is not easy. The resolution here is of course small and details are hard to see. Problematic areas are: The silver logo on the box with the letters embossed. The key there is to get this embossing out, without the box reflecting the light. And when it comes to the flacon: A nightmare. The logo needs to be visible, with the letters reflecting part of the light, but the flacon itself should not appear  too lifely.  You know: All sorts of reflections and patterns in the glass.  And then, I wanted to see the label being reflected on the packaging, with the color of the label being sort of authentic.

    Here's a detail from the shot showing all four aspects.

    detail of the air du désert shot: embossing, logo on flacon, flacon, and the reflected label

    And here's how the world looks from behind the round light.

    Air du désert and packaging seen through a Walimex round LED light

    As you can see: there is another light, coming from the back. A simple static daylight lamp.

    So far I am pleased with the result. And have many more ideas for taking pictures of my fragrant goodies. But I also see what is not optimal, yet. Well, there's another Friday ahead.

     

  • ahead, among other things, eau d'épices

    There we go: Eau d'épices is on its way back, very soon, onto the shelves in tauerville, and a few other scentvilles in the world. In order to celebrate this happy news, I came up last Friday with today's picture, a watercolor painting, done with watercolor pencils that I was given as a gift and that I love, tremendously.

    Eau d'épices is an interesting fragrance. It is pretty one of a kind, in my humble opinion, that is totally biased, of course. It what you would call an archetypical indie scent. Perfume lovers ask for these kind of scents, it seems. On the other hand, when it was still there on the shelves, it got pretty quiet about L'eau d'épices.

    This changed when it was not available anymore. I won't comment some of the discussions about and the rational behind this shortening of supply. I answered in quite some detail these questions in an interview that will go live in a couple of days.

    But what I want to do is republish a sketch of notes that I created a while ago when talking about Eau d'épices. Here a few explanations about this quite interesting image.

    Large letters: Naturals, small letters: Synthetics.

    The scent is built around 4 axes.

    The image does not show all ingredients, but a majority of them.

    The picture allows to understand the fragrance a bit and how notes and ingredients are interconnected and lead over to other notes and bridge themes.

     

    My timeline for Eau d'épices: It will go into bottles in a couple of days.

    It will start shipping in March and hit the shelves.

    I will present it in the rectangular packaging, for that I am waiting for labels, being printed now and hopefully arriving soon.

    Ah well, and then we will see.

     

  • among other things ahead, spring

    Hurray: Another sunny, spring like day seems to be ahead of us. Wonderful. Today, when I got up, the moon was still shining, but it was doing so under an immaculate dark sky. I got up early today, like: really early, driven out of bed by a clear vision of a full email box, and a factory waiting for me. And pieces of paper. But here's the good news, besides printout paper from excel and word and you name it: There is 100%cotton aquarell paper waiting for me, too.

    Today's picture shows you a scan of such a postcard sized cotton paper, a black and white aquarell, done with a water soluble graphite pencil. Love this technique. And yes, I got a set of colorful water soluble pencils the other day that kickstarted me there.

    Yesterday, already, was a beautiful day: Jogging in the sun, painting in the sun, and musing about the future in the sun is definitively a brighter experience than planning the next steps under a grey sky. There is change in the air and it feels great. Change of light, temperatures, colors, smell.

    The next steps: I will talk a bit more this week about taking pictures, fotos, of flacons. A task that is not easy, really.

    I will mention Eau d'épices, for sure. And the rest, we will see.

    I wish you a lovely day, and hope to see you here soon again, under the the sun.

     

     

  • it happens

    Fragrant greetings from Zurich, where I am behind commenting the comments on yesterday's post and some facebook posts. Sorry! But here's the thing: When headind for the factory, I run out of my data package for Switzerland on the ipad, and loading more data by paying for them did not work. It turned out yesterday evening that paying actually worked, but the 2 GB data package vanished within seconds. As I tried and tried and tried, through my credict card (this post could also be called steaming credit card), I got suspicious and ended up getting technical support, on the ground, in the shop.

    Better said: I ended up in the shop, waited an hour for the support and got it, during another hour. Don't get me wrong: I do not complain, was very well served, but it is a very weird thing happening on my ipad and their interface, kind of freightening. But as I got there early and did not wait, there is no doubt that my many credit card payments will be reimbursed.

    But I makes you aware that your money is zero and ones, bits and byets, somewhere. Time to buy farmland...

    Anyhow, as you know: I am not good at waiting. I did this sketch while doing so yesterday.

    £Anyhow: Thank you for following this post and reading all this way down. I am also not good in waiting when it comes to fragrances.  Especially, when creating. Creating -for me- translates often in a lot of trials. With a little bit too much of this, too little of that, nothing of this or overdose of that. Sometimes, on a scale of 10 grams trial size, 10 milligram make the difference. Or 2 gram when overdosing. And, also because I use a lot of naturals, things get very complex, very swiftly, and sort of unpredictable.

    Thus, I am impatient, the very moment when I have mixed a formula, I want to know the result. In order to see whether I end up with a scent that is of the NO! category, or whether I got a chance to make it better.

    The dramatic mistakes: You get them right after mixing. The fine details: You need to wait. At least a week. The mixture needs to mature. Better 2-4 weeks. And then dilute it, and wait again.

    You get the message. A lot of waiting for a NO!

  • straight ahead

    This post is going to have two topics. It may be a bit "anti" and I am sorry if I might disillusion you. The topics are linked, though.

    I do not know if you have ever witnessed a stampede. It is impressive and freightening. I was once in a little stampede by cows. Here's the thing: From the herd's perspective it is straight forward, until they fall down the cliff.

    The people of Europe are running straight forward, with their political leaders in Brussels blazing the trail. The cosmetics regulation and upcoming changes are a detail, but symbolic for what goes wrong there.

    Luc Gabriel, CEO of The Different Company published an open article, through the press and online media. Grain de Musc was so nice to publish it on her blog, too. Here's the link. Please comment there, too. He starts his letter with "The latest European regulatory provisions of February 13th concerning raw materials used in fine fragrance, if they are adopted, will sound the death knell of high perfumery within five years."

    I think "there, in the European Union". We will see how bad things will turn, whether some proposed changes, ban of substances, are going to be implemented. I know, for sure, that I will not change the formula for the fragrance L'air du désert marocain for the world, just because the EU is in stampede mode. According to the latest uncertain certainty, there might come changes what needs to be labelled, too. We are talking about some 80 ingredients that we producers need to label on a perfume product. I have no clue how I could, for instance, print the labels for Une rose chyprée, with its rose, and jasmine, and geranium oil, its citrus oils, and vanilla and patchouli, and and and. But then, there is oakmoss in there anyhow. Thus, byebye rose chypree for the EU.

    Me thinks: High perfumery will continue to exist, in one way or another. But maybe not there, in Europe. Not in the way it grew and thrived there during the last 200 years.

    Yes, there is no reason why France must continue to be the epicenter of high perfumery. Actually, the question is, whether it still is.  Dear EU perfume lovers: Maybe it is time to wake up and stop dreaming of jasmine and rose fields undulating in Europe? 

    There is no law dictating that creativity and new ideas have to sprout in Europe,  the world is large. Innovation does not always happens in the offices of big company. Will innovation continue to happens there, in the EU, outside of big business? It is in SME, Small and Medium sized Enterprises where jobs are created and where new ideas find their way to markets. As entrepreneur, of a micro enterprise, I think twice about establishing a perfume company there, in the EU. No, I do not think I will ever establish my company there. The world is large. 

    I think that Europe deprives itself of opportunities.

    I think that Europe's fragrant cultural heritage is not taken care of by the leaders of Europe.

    I think that this heritage is important for Europe's prosperity and creativity.

    I think that both are endangered.

     

    Today's picture: My breakfast yesterday , a smoothie, prepared with a mixer, made for Moulinex, made in China.

  • Il minimo culturale, que vuole

    On Friday, I did a photo of the 02-l'air du désert marocain flacon with its outer packaging. I kind of like it a lot, as there is a certain unpretentiousness going with it. ... you know: No pseudo vintage arrangements of objects, no human beings, no body fluids, saliva or alike, a presentation stripped down, to the essentials. A bottle, a label and a packaging.

    OK, I admit it, there is some bling here, too. "Il minimo culturale, que vuole...!"

    That's the way I like it. The last few days saw me working a bit on scent, too. Although, to be honest, not really in a very focused fashion. I am still in exploratory territory there, and have not isolated the path that needs to be followed. Love it! I love it when there is no pressure to come up with anything serious, short term, and I love it to explorer ideas, in a somewhat wild fashion, like "ok, we might want a leather note there" and then see what happens.

    To be honest, again, usually, what happens, is no miracle, but often a dense cloying sticky thing gets worse. Of course, you can cheat yourself and start with what has worked in the past, copy paste building blocks and just adjust here and there. Et voilà, it will sure work, but it will be comparable and not really innovative. Starting from scratch often means -in my case- total overload within formulas, dense beasts that feel like a wooly fabric after cooking it for an hour.

    And then, minimalism as savior of a lazy perfumer, does not really work, either, not always.

    But here's the funny thing, and that's how creative things work: With every detour , be it crazy, be it fun, be it by being lazy, be it baroque or be it stupid, with every detour, the target comes more into focus.

    Overall, this weekend felt like early spring and was a busy one. I needed to write another interview, and was answering emails a gogo. Ah, yes, a side note: If you think that it helps writing me an email about PHI: it does not. There is no stock and I cannot ship. Even to you. Mi dispiace. But I am working on it, hoping to bring it back towards the end of this year. Other highlights:

    I managed to squeeze in some time to paint.

    We got the design for the Sotto la luna flacons labels, and sent off a test print of one of these.

    We go into print with the last missing explorer set size labels, including Eau d'épices, edp, which will be back in a few weeks, too.

    And finally, I read a great article with interview, about myself and the way I do things here, in the St. Petersburg Times (in English). I hope that you will find the time having reading this piece, too. Here's the link. Enjoy!

     

     

  • factory and light

    The other day, Gilbert tweeted on Twitter about the work of filling bottles. I am not a good twitterer really, usually, I am just overwhelmed by the flow of messages there. But, yesterday, when working there in the factory, filling Carillon pour un ange into bottles, in brightest sunlight, it came to my mind that besides the work there is pulchritude involved.

    Sort of. In a certain sense.

    And be it just a moment of beauty when the sun sends off sparkles of light. Or when leaving the place in the evening, with all the steaming bottles, metallic chilliness of the pumps and the mechanic monotony of a crimping assembly, feeling that at least something was accomplished that goes beyond moving bits and bytes.

    So there we go again, in an instance, filling more bottles. Here are a few impressions from the factory.

    flacons, filled, and crimped in sunlight

    pumps

    a detail picture of the 10 liter dispensing flask

    putting lot labels onto the bottom of the flacons

     

  • it started with stock in cliplock bottles

    Today's picture shows you a clear bottle with a cliplock, sketched this morning during a coffee break. I saw the bottle when opening the cupboard in order to get explorer sets ready, in one of the upper shelves, a vestige from a past that is not so far away. There we go: Today's post deals with cliplock bottles, at least on the side. ...

    When I started my venture, together with Pascal from Medieval art & vie, the bookstore in Zurich, I first made the Le Maroc pour elle, and later, in 2005, composed the L'air du désert marocain. The first batch of both was mixed in a 1 liter cliplock bottle, about 1 kg of concentrate, enough for a the "launch", which wasn't really a launch, if I remember properly. The diluted fragrance was sitting later in aluminum containers, but I still have some diluted fragrance of earlier batches sitting in the cellar in these cliplock bottles. I mentioned it before, in earlier posts, I am not super super organized, and hence it happens from time to time that I have some perfume left and it sits somewhere and I forget about it.

    Until it is too old and continues sitting there as long term stability experiment.

    These days, of course, I use no glass for storage anymore. And the batches are a bit larger. While sitting on the computer and sketching the cliplock bottle, I was remembering how many did not believe in what I was doing together with Pascal, and -worse!- how many came, mostly men, close or after their retirement, telling me what to do now and what not. Believe me: Had I listened to them, about how to address the market and how to expand, and the women telling me how to pack my fragrances and how to expand, I would have failed a long time ago.

    In the mean time, I learned that advice is often nourished by enviousness of self-declared mentors who never achieved what they talk about. I mentioned it here earlier: I do not give any advice anymore, even when asked for. One reason is time, my resources,  and some experiences made. The other reason is: I feel that it is important to learn walking by walking forward, stumbling and falling and getting up again, by choosing the right track for yourself and , if you are lucky, having somebody next to you who walks with you, but does not talk.

    But now I lost track a bit. Actually, what came to my mind, too: Back then, I had a stock of maybe 2 kg concentrate, two fragrances. Imagine. Two bottles were sufficient to keep all my stock. With every step forward (seemingly forward) I added more storage bottles and cans and drums and labels and you name it. When talking to our insurance guy the other day about Tauer GmbH, the company, and all that belongs to the company, I was amazed again, how much money sits there. And, to be honest, how much money went down the drain, when stumbling and getting up again.

    Finally, when looking at the bottle, sketching, I realized that 2015 will bring the 10 years anniversary of air du désert marocain. Wow.

    2015 will be a air du désert party year! Lucky me, there is still some time.

  • spectacular on many levels

    The regular readers of this blog know about my Sunday rituals. Human beings need structures and I am no exception there. Most Sundays you see me jogging my half marathon in the hills leading out of Zurich's west. Yesterday was an absolutely spectacular jog: Starting in bright sunlight and temperatures that are still unusual for the season I ended up facing a huge pile of super grey clouds right in the middle of the tour, after 55 minutes, flying in from my left. It started pouring like hell, 500 meters next to me, like a water veil to the left, but I was running in bright sunlight, dry. And I continued doing so for the rest of the tour, with gusty winds keeping the clouds at a distance, whereby it rained behind me and next to me.  It felt spectacular; it felt like someboy cut through the dark woobly clouds, giving me a safe passage.

    So that was nice.

    Also nice is the fact that my nose that was useless for a while, is coming back. I used it to smell and inspect the concentrate of the Gardenia fragrance. Mentioned here before: This concentrate is mixed by my supplier of fragrant raw materials,  Essencia. When going into production scale for the first time, there is always a  moment of anxiety and anticipation: There are always small differences between test and trial mixes, and the larger 6 kg batch. I do not really know why this is: It might have to do with little differencies in the quality of the raw materials used. Maybe maturation is a bit different. Who knows.  The bottom line: The concentrate is perfect. Gardenia heaven for Andy, in concentrated form, spectacular.

    So that's nice, too.

    Not having smelt it for a while and not thinking about the formula, the scent and its composition comes as a wonderbox.  A bit. I smelled the concentrate with a dear friend over the weekend, and we discussed the mushroom note. And the flowers, and I have to admit: I was checking the formula again, yesterday, after jogging, rediscovering the scent. I forgot that I put three flower absolutes in there: Rose, Jasmine and Orange blossom. Together with other naturals and synthetics, these bring a naturalness and white flowers into the scent:  A bit of a challenge, as other ingredients such as methyl benzoate smell a bit synthetic, and harsh. (Besides an enfleurage super expensive extract of Gardenia, there is no natural gardenia essential oil or absolute. ) But still, these molecules such as methyl benzoate are part of the headspace of the flower. To some extend it is quite amazing how the flower manages to smell so nice in light of the high concentration of these molecules in its head space.... In the fragrance, the flower absolutes like rose absolute or Jasmineabsolute balance tje scent and add softness and deepness. And the orange blossom adds a bright tone, too.

    These absolutes also add most of the  color to the scent: In concentrated form it is a nice gentle orange.

    And talking about roses: I found time to paint a bit. Yesterday's object of inspection: An old rose that I will dry in the coming days. The gleamy texture of the flower petals  is gone, all petals are shrivelling, but the color got intensified. What was a bright pink became concentrated mauve - violet -dark grey. A perfect object to play with water colors again. Today's picture shows you a little detail: I love how the colors and layers merge.

    And here's the full picture. sized down to 300 pixels width. Have a great start into your week!

    Old rose an old rose, hanging in there

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