Monday, July 27, 2009

Perfuming the Edge of the World, Part 7

(This is part seven of an ongoing article about the Rumsen Carmel Ohlone Native Californians.)

In this part we will begin to determine what family of fragrance to build. Here I will begin with the base.

Per the previous post, the following Notes de Base were determined:

*Artemisia douglasiana – mugwort
*Cupressus macrocarpa - Monterey cypress
Navarretia squarrosa - skunkweed
*Pinus radiata - Monterey pine
*Salix lasiolepis - arroyo willow
*Salix scouleriana - Scouler willow
*Salvia mellifera - black sage
Salvia microphylla - smalled-leaved sage
Sequoia sempervirens - coast redwood
Additional environmental fragrances:
Hot rocks and seashells
Tree moss
Loam, earth
Rain on earth
Willow branches, bark and foliage

These notes point to the beginnings of a green, woody leather chypre.

Summary: Green, natural and outdoors scents of pine, sage, redwood, artemesia and cypress are supported and deepened with fragrances earth and woody leather, mushroom and tree moss.

I will be returning to my blending studio on Friday to experiment with mixing these materials, and will record and evaluate the outcome as an update to this post.

Shelley Waddington
Carmel-By-the-Sea, California


  1. I'm very interested in skunk weed -- how does one obtain the essence? Is it a botanical that can be tinctured with success? Distilled? Has it ever been done?

    The curious one wants to know :)

  2. Navarretia squarrosa can be raised in the garden, there are seeds available online. I am debating whether to scavenge or plant for tincturing/macerating purposes, (unwilling to experiment with distillation at this time), or to use skunk tincture gifted from Sarah to supplant the odor. For this project I am leaning toward the latter, simply because it’s unclear if the RCO’s had any food or medicinal use for the squarrosa and I have thus including it primarily for skunk fragrance. OTOH, the RCO pulverized the seeds of the Navarretia atractyloides (another species of the same family) for pinole, and toasted the powdered plant to apply to burns. So in the end I may hunt down the squarrosa. I am unaware of any commercial oil.