Spring is in the air and everywhere I look in the Perfumer’s Garden, I see hope and beauty in the new life that is sprouting from the earth and from the trees. It’s a perfect time to open your arms to change, growth and reverence of Mother Earth. With this in mind, I have invited Justine Crane from the Scented Djinn to teach a workshop on Kyphi, a very special and ancient incense.
Creating the Breath of the Gods – a Kyphi Scent Event Workshop Who: Hosted by The Scented Djinn and the Purrfumery When: April 18 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Where: Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery, 727 Sea View Drive, El Cerrito Food: Vegetarian lunch, tea and aromatic treats will be served in the Perfumer’s Garden, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge
About the class On April 18, Justine Crane will be teaching a course on Kyphi, a compound incense that harkens back to ancient Egypt. We will have a full day learning the story that precipitated the creation of Kyphi, the materials and their purposes, hands-on creation of Kyphi, and an after Kyphi incense session free-style. In this later session, we will create loose powder, rolled cones, sticks or incense on splits -- it all depends on the vibe. There will be a discussion on rare and unusual incense raw materials and ethics in sourcing. Each participant will receive an equal share of the completed Kyphi incense, a vegetarian lunch, an equal share of the late session incense free-style results, and after the magic, tea and scones baked fresh at the Purrfumery.
It will be a day of incense magic, art, resurrection, love, grief and joy.
Justine is a developer and instructor at the Natural Perfume Academy, International Perfume Foundation Certified Natural Perfumer, and expert incenseur.
I first met Justine more than 15 years ago through her natural perfumery website and blog – it was called “Le Parfumer Rebelle,” or The Rebel Perfumers. Justine created it when natural perfumery as we know it now was in its infancy. During this time in the perfume community, there were some very large personalities vying for power and trying to own natural perfumery. Justine was a quiet presence and a godsend in the chaos of that time. The Rebel Perfumers were a ragtag bunch of perfumers, soap makers and wild, creative perfuming individuals. We were doing our own thing and supporting each other in this amazing moment of aromatic discovery. It was a magical time for all of us, and we were linked by our art and our devotion to creating businesses that made natural aromatic products.
Justine held our community together with grace and love, and she made a beautiful website that was a rich source of information to anyone working in natural perfumery. She championed all of us and was magnanimous in sharing information and promoting us all. During this time, she was also running The Scented Djinn, her natural perfume and soap company. Justine makes gorgeous perfumes, yummy soaps and exquisite incense. I am thrilled to have her teaching this course, and look forward to a lovely, magical, scent-filled day with you all!
I sat down with Justine recently and learned about her roots in incense-making. She’s also running a 25% off sale until February 29, 2020. An unofficial leap sale!
It all started with a camp fire…
When did you become interested in incense? When I was young, my family and I lived in a logging camp in the Sierra Nevada mountains where I learned some basic survival and homesteader skills, one of those being how to mix together tree resins with pine needles and crunchy leaves to toss into the fire to fuel a better burn that inadvertently provided a side benefit in that it also scented the air. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was making a very crude incense. It would be years before I intentionally made incense, starting with a pine wood base and adding herbs and resins and essential oils to create ‘celestial’ incenses. I really wasn’t satisfied with these wood-based incenses and gave up incense for a few years until I discovered Kyphi sometime in late 2011, early 2012. Kyphi lit a fire of creativity, spiritual awareness, and a more refined understanding of the raw materials used in incense and perfumery that I had never experienced before.
How does incense making relate to perfumery? Incense is perfume. It isn’t a related art; it is the same.
Can you tell me a bit about the history of incense? Incense predates liquid perfumery, perhaps by millennia. It may have begun as simply as gathering resins to fuel a fire that slowly turned into burning botanicals for their smoke and aroma. Incense and self-awareness may have developed hand-in-hand.
How are you bringing that ancient art into the modern world? Are you using any new resins or extractions, and what is the sustainability of these materials? Mindfulness. When creating incense, an incenseur must be mindful of the source and energy of the plants being used, the proportions, the desired result. I’ve collected several types of resins that I use in incense making that perhaps were never historically used. It’s interesting and exciting to me to explore new raw materials, but I keep in mind that these things are limited and transient and shouldn’t be used for the sake of making a sale but should always be used to bring something to life that has never been before. One vitally important lesson that Kyphi has taught me is that every incense should be created in reverence, as an act of resurrection, of bringing something from the darkness into the light. If we revere these materials in the way they deserve, their sustainability is no longer a question. It does worry me that people are buying up vast quantities of frankincense resins for medicinal purposes, stressing the trees where the resins are collected. According to some sources, the finite commodity of frankincense trees could be extinct within the next century. I don’t have an answer for that except to say use less. Be mindful of the remaining resources. What we create with these beautiful raw materials isn’t disposable or without value, it is the most valuable, the most important, incense is the body of a god that demands respect.
What will you be teaching in this class? How to evaluate the materials, a little about the history of the materials and the art of incense making, the materials’ sustainability and future, ways in which substitutions can work, and what Kyphi represents; its spiritual importance. I hope to offer an experience rather than a lesson.
If you’ve been looking for a spring scent, now is the time!
From now until Friday, February 28th, I’m offering free shipping all Purrfumery products. Just type SPRING in the discount box. It’s my way of saying thank you for your support all these years, my dear Purrfumery friends! If you would like to make an appointment for a cup of tea and a spree at the Purrfumery, call 510-334-8824 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.