my fragrance journey

It had been pretty close to forever since I had worn perfume.  Junior high was Yardley.  In high school, it was probably Charlie and back in my disco days I was a huge fan of Opium.  But for the better part of 30 years, I was pretty much fragrance free.  Then, while living in Port Townsend, I met LD and began to see fragrance in a whole new light.  LD is primarily a visual artist, but for a while she was making some of the craziest and most interesting jewelry I'd ever seen ... and she made perfumes ... ahhhh, her perfumes were a revelation!

ld's perfume kathy van kleeck

This is all that's left of my favorite LD fragrance.  It was perfect for where I was at the time, emotionally but also for the Pacific NW ... a rich blend of vetiver, peru balsam, lavender, lime and vanilla ... but not so much for where I am now in Florida. 

Of course, these days, artisan perfume is everywhere ...  makers distilling their own essences and creating crazy blends of things you'd never believe could end up in a fragrance.  I must admit, a male friend was wearing one with tobacco and it was heavenly.

And I could spend hours (actually I do) perusing the websites of modern perfumers.  There is such a high level of creativity ... from the blends to the packaging to the marketing ... an absolute rabbit hole of divine inspiration.

Fortified with all this inspiration, I've been reading and plotting and dreaming about creating my own fragrance.  I have no intention (well, not right now) of diving in full throttle to this world, the logistics of getting set up are daunting, not to mention the expense ... and there lies the problem.  I've wanted to create a "signature" scent, hopefully something that I could make in small batches and sell on my website ... but where do you start?  I really don't think the essential oils at the health food stores are particularly fresh or well crafted.  Now I have bought a few here and there, but that's not how I wanted to begin my fragrance.  It's like wanting to paint in color, but you've only seen black and white, knowing full well there's a whole world of colors out there ...  but where do you start? 

After years of thinking about developing my fragrance, not too long ago I realized I might just have the perfect solution only a short drive away.  Enter my friend Marilyn Edwards of Awaken to Grace ... a gifted healer, incredibly intuitive with an insanely diverse background, including aromatherapy.  So I asked and she said she'd love to help.  We finally got our schedules to merge and yesterday I headed over to St Augustine to begin my fragrance journey.

When I got to Marilyn's idyllic home, 6 acres on the outskirts of town, she was in the process of culling a big selection of oils for us to work with ... not a random sampling or "beginners greatest hits" ... rather, knowing me and knowing what sort of scent I was hoping to create, she had begun to tap into her intuition and deep connection with spirit to select our essential oil palette.

Marilyn in her aromatherapy room ...

Marilyn in her aromatherapy room ...

She pulled out about 3 dozen oils ... top, middle and base notes.

my palette ...

my palette ...

And this is where we begin to diverge from your average perfume making workshop ...

We began with a mediation, asking for the earth spirits to join us and guide us, expressing our deep gratitude for the bounty and beauty of their gifts.  

Now, feeling more grounded and with a small container of coffee beans at my elbow (to breathe in for when my nose gets overloaded), I began sniffing each oil.  Initially, I caught myself reading labels and then sniffing, thinking my way to choices.  But after a while, I began to let go, trying hard to get my head out of the equation.  I got down to maybe 12 or 15 different oils and then I was stuck ... now what?  My head was still trying to rule the day.

So we decided to take a different track and ask for help.  Marilyn had me stand up and close my eyes.  We asked my body to show us what would look like a "yes" - my body leaned forward and what would be a "no", leaning back.  She held each oil I had selected up to my solar plexus and asked for a "yes" or "no" ... we got it down to 4. 

Then she asked if this was everything and I leaned back ... "no."  "How many more do we need?"  "Do we need top, middle or base notes?"  Oh lord, we've got 30 different oils on the table ... how do we want to sort through them?  This is where Marilyn's intuition and communication with spirit came in again.  It ended up we needed two more oils and, since I was in kind of an altered state, I can't remember what we added.  Well, that's not quite right, I definitely remember we added eucalyptus globulus ... Marilyn was not so sure.  But spirit had been lobbying heavily for eucalyptus since before I got there.  

Then we did the same thing for proportions, holding up each of the selected oils and asking how many drops of each.  Also, while we realized with spirit's guidance, there could be great benefit in some blends for specific purposes,  we asked spirit to keep in mind that this blend is for humans and for everyday!     

the final selection (with the remnants of lunch in the background) ...

the final selection (with the remnants of lunch in the background) ...

The six oils in my blend:  Base - oakmoss, 3 drops; base to middle - myrhh, 2 drops; middle - clary sage, 2 drops; middle to top - bergamot, 5 drops; top - lime, 5 drops ... and finally the eucalyptus globulus ... spirit said FIVE. Spirit really wanted a lot of eucalyptus.  That was the final oil we added to the blend and we chose to override the suggestion, opting for just 1 drop.  After all, we weren't after a sinus clearing blend!

Then we added some jojoba oil and bottled it up.  Here's my little container of liquid treasure ...

liquid treasure kathy van kleeck.jpg

It's unlike anything I've ever smelled and I can't really begin to describe it ... at least, not yet.  Marilyn kept shaking her head in wonder.  No way she would ever have assembled this blend.  And me, well I know for a fact I could never have done this without Marilyn and the wonderful guidance from spirit.

Now I know from reading you're supposed to leave a blend be for a month to six weeks.  Marilyn's not so strict.  Since we got to this point in a decidedly alternative way, I figure I'll keep going.  I pretty much slathered up before leaving Marilyn's, couldn't let a drop in our little mixing glass go to waste.  And I'm not sure if it was the blend or a whole day spent not using my overworked brain, or having been up since 5:30 and been on the road for 3 hours, probably all of the above, but last night was the best night's sleep I've had in months, if not longer.

For now, I'm excited to see how my blend evolves ... will it need any tweaking or will it be fine as is, or do we really need to add another drop of eucalyptus?  Time will tell.  And hopefully, down the road, you'll be able to try it out as well.

with deep deep gratitude - kvk