The absolute of frangipani comes in a jar; the true fragrance from my side yard in the early morning and early evening. Also known as plumeria, it is an amazing tree with a luscious tropical fragrance that is strongly floral and just slightly fruity. It has just the slightest hint of the decadence that characterizes some tropical flowers. The one above is my favorite and was grown from seed pods scavenged at a local nursery. Another planting yielded a more familiar yellow and white variety that also smells lovely with a slightly stronger hint of peach. The branches seem to be quite fragile and I will sometimes find them broken off and growing leaves as they lay on the ground beneath the tree. Since this is Florida, such things happen.
Contradictions make the world most interesting and perfume is no exception. The glory of jasmine is a combination of ethereal floral with the funk of indol. Salted caramel, masculine and feminine, chocolate and nuts, satin and lace, roses and musk.Need I say more?
In searching for the perfect ingredient for a new perfume and exploring musky ingredients I had the opportunity to tincture two wonderful natural ingredients, frankincense and hyraceum. Both occur in natural form as a solid that may be extracted. Frankincense—a sacred resin—it is usually distilled. Hyraceum—the solidified urine and droppings of small herbivorous mammals—is generally tinctured.
Frankincense grows in inhospitable and rocky areas surrounding the Arabian Sea. Resin from the frankincense tree was historically reserved for divine worship and considered sacred to the gods. It is the product of wounded trees, cut with axes and collected in tears the drip from the cuts. There are various grades of frankincense including Hougary frankincense which is lovely and lemony, rich and resinous. Good frankincense always has a citrus note and may also be floral and lightly balsamic. Light green frankincense has a very typical frankincense note with floral tones and frereana has pronounced lemon and floral aspects but also with a bit of a plastic note. I love them all and review these in an earlier blog at http://tambela.com/blog/tag/frankincense/
More recently I have obtained some Hougary Super White frankincense from Mermade Magickal Arts and absolutely loved it for its sweet and watery frankincense aroma with a bit of piney resin. At the same time I was working on a seaweed/seaside note for a perfume and could see how that watery note of these frankincense tears would enhance the perfume, much more so than any frankincense in my collection. So, artisan perfumer that I am, I decided to tincture the frankincense and see if I could keep this lovely watery note along with the sweet resiny fragrance.
Hyraceum from the rock hyrax (Provacia capensis) or dassie is a cruelty-free musk note. The animals live in rocky outcrops in Africa near the trees and bushes they browse on. They are territorial and diurnal and look like small woodchucks. A patch of long hair on their back surrounds a bare patch contains a gland that secretes pheromones that may be used to mark their territory and help young hyraxes to recognize their mothers.
The art of enfleurage is made possible by the breath of flowers: blooms of jasmine, tuberose, frangipani and others continue to manufacture and emit perfume even after picking. It is an ancient art practiced by the Egyptians (and probably many others) but perfected in Grasse, France in the 18th century.