Monday, July 5, 2010

Mystery of Musk: Kewdra, TallulahB2 and Drifting Sparks

Reminder: for a chance to win a bottle of "Verdigris," leave a comment!


In one of those little synergies that make life more interesting, I had read and written about Tom Robbin’s novel Jitterbug Perfume recently. So I’m pretty familiar with Kudra, the curvaceous Hindu heroine of the book. The perfumer, Anya, ‘fessed up in a comment that she was planning to name her Mystery of Musk perfume creation after the lovely and lush Kudra. Add this to the fact that there are many people from India who live in my area -- yes, it’s Georgia, but the Atlanta part -- and shops full of brightly colored silk saris and spicy exotic foods are everywhere. I thought the only way I could do justice to the perfume was to draw it as Kudra, as hero Alobar might envision her.
Like much of India’s cuisine, the perfume starts with spice and sparkle, soon followed by the grain-like aspect I’m beginning to recognize as either ambrette seed or angelica root. “Kewdra” takes its time revealing the heart and base notes, as the Pandanus flower (the Kewdra flower) is dominant on my skin. Other notes from the heart and base are green gardenia, goldon boronia, angelica root, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, ambrette seed, beeswax and ambergris. Intended to be a skin scent, “Kewdra” stays close, revealing itself only to the wearer and someone very close by.
A bonus: this one lasts awhile.

Perfumer: Anya McCoy of Anya's Garden,
The painting is homemade pastel and commercial Nu-Pastel over Createx liquid pigment on sanded paper. 
Painting by Pat Borow aka Olfacta © 2010, all rights reserved.

This one makes an entrance, as Tallulah Bankhead certainly would. Bankhead, the wild daughter of a Southern political dynasty, is as well known today for her hedonism and outspoken character as for her work. This from Wikipedia
“Bankhead's first film was Tarnished Lady (1931), directed by George Cukor, and the pair became fast friends. Bankhead behaved herself on the set and filming went smoothly, but she found film-making to be very boring and didn't have the patience for it. She didn't like Hollywood either. When she met producer Irving Thalberg, she asked him, "How do you get laid in this dreadful place?"
In addition to supplying bon mots like that, livening up any party she attended and keeping scandal-sheet editors busy, she worked, hard, on Broadway, films and later, television. It’s said that she was the inspiration for the Disney character "Cruella de Ville" from "101 Dalmatians". 
The fragrance “Tallulah B2.” is something I could imagine her wearing. It’s not at all shy. The perfumer writes that she wanted to blend essential oils that would compliment musk and each other. It’s a base of sandalwood, botanical musk and vetiver, with rose, linden, and a jasmine/muguet tincture at the top. It reminds me most of a mixture of honey and dark chocolate musk.
As I thought of Tallulah, I envisioned the Manhattan of the 20’s and 30’s, all stony Art Deco aspiration, hard as nails, full of life, like the lady herself. 
“Tallulah B2” from perfumer Jane Cate, A Wing & A Prayer Perfumes in Menlo Park, California. The website address is
Painting by Pat Borow, © 2010, all rights reserved. Medium is watercolor, with some additions of ink and silver acrylic.

Links for "Tarnished Lady," George Cukor and Irving Thalberg from Wikipedia.
"Drifting Sparks"
Sometimes with a fragrance my nose (well, brain actually) simply shouts identification on first sniff, and with this one it was “Citrus!” 
Well, hmmm. The notes don’t list any. It could be that one of the accords formed by the essences making up the top notes smells like a very fleeting citrus, but, in any event, it’s gone in seconds. It’s replaced by a honey-like smoothness, and a little echo of rose and wood.
For the painting, I used oranges and golds for both top and middle, as they are well-blended, with the tops remaining, never really evaporating -- the beeswax? -- and the bottom notes providing the weight with ambergris and different woods. Hence the stonelike images. And there is some green in there somewhere -- the motia attar? “Drifting Sparks” is a very well-blended scent.

 I changed my technique to wet-in-wet (wet paper, wet brush, wet paint) for this, delightful play in paint because it is unpredictible, as I’m finding this scent to be. Wet-in-wet chooses its own direction, runs off on giddy tangents, makes wholly unexpected colors...with, more often than not, happy results.
The notes for “Drifting Sparks” are mastic absolute, beeswax absolute, rose otto, bois rose and cedarwood (top), rose absolute, orange blossom absolute, jasmine sambac absolute, and essential oil of the blossoms of the nyctanthes aboritistus tree, from India (heart); ambergris, agarwood, angelica root, ambrette seed absolute, black current absolute, motia attar, sandalwood and siam wood (base).
Perfumer: Lisa Fong of Oakland, California. The website for Artemisia Natural Perfume is
Painting by Pat Borow , © 2010, all rights reserved.

"Mystery of Musk" is a group blogging event. The other bloggers participating are:

I Smell Therefore I Am - Abigail Levin
Indie Perfumes - Lucy Raubertas
Bitter Grace Notes - Maria Browning


kjanicki said...

They all sound beautiful and unique. You must be having so much fun!

Ambrosia said...

That Drawing of Kewdra is just luscious! Your one hell of an artist girl!

Anonymous said...

Your art works are beautiful & really add to the "olfactory impression" of each perfume. I am becoming more & more interested in all these creations as I read the various descriptions & reviews of all the lucky testers.

I would love to be entered in the draw for Verdigris - it is one that seems to be speaking to me, however, I live in Australia & understand if draw if for US residents only.


womo531 said...

Interesting for Tallulah B2 your painting had such a strong yet not outrageous character. You'd have never guessed from the notes.. is it because what you imaged was a honey and dark chocolate musk?

Ines said...

Drifting Sparks is such an interesting name. I am really enjoying this blogging event, I am finally realizing musk is not something to be avoided (which is what I tend to do). :)

flittersniffer said...

Was very taken with your paintings, which capture the essence of each scent beautifully. They all sound interesting and quirky - and mysterious as billed!

Bellatrix said...

Entire project is wonderful!!!! Just wonderful.

Monica Skye said...

I love the colors and curvacious bodacousness of your Kudra, I think pan would have quite the time with her! I WANT this scent!!!

mark42 said...

It has been fascinating reading all of the reviews around the blogs for this project.

Datura5750 said...

Please enter me, and thank you for your blog!

Anya said...

Pat, you really captured the dark voluptuousness of Kudra and many of the "hidden" aspects of her life. With some more wearings, you may notice that the pandanus has a sharp top note, sometimes called "radish-y" and then the middle and bottom notes, that last a long time, are rose/honeyish. Very interesting aromatic! Well, it was used to highlight a very interesting character.

chris g said...

A great project as well as a great post!! Please enter me in the draw. Thanks!!

vero said...

it's seems to be a great one

Vincent said...

OMG, the Drawing of Kewdra just makes me weak in the knees. I'm really into musk right now.