Introducing Arabesque’s Summer 2015 Scent~ The Thousand and One Nights!

1001 nights

When I was researching One Thousand and One Nights I learned that the earliest version was written in Persia in the 10th century — I had had no idea it was that old! Many versions and translations now exist today, some emphasizing the fantastical and adventure aspects of the stories, other emphasizing the more erotic and romantic aspects. Here are two audio clips from the latter camp. Both verses come from Book Three and this specific translation is by E. Powys Mathers, published privately in London, 1923. The first is Musk Kisses, though I quite liked There is Myrrh too. (I suspect that there are many exotic perfume ‘recipes’ hidden within the pages of this vast story!)

I chose to avoid using the more predictable ‘Eastern’ perfumery ingredients such as Jasmine, Neroli, Oud, and Sandalwood when creating this perfume. Instead, “The Thousand and One Nights” botanical perfume smells like inhaling the fragrance of a wonderful, dark, beautifully-carved wooden spice chest — it is a sultry, spicy, unisex botanical perfume made with Patchouli, Clove, Cinnamon, Sweet Orange, Madagascar Ginger and Ambrette Seed essential oils in an Organic Jojoba oil base.

And speaking of musk kisses, the scent of Ambrette Seed, which comes from India, is often described as ‘musky’ and personally, I can’t get enough of it these days! I distilled some Ambrette Seed this summer and the hydrosol, when used as a body spray, makes a very nice compliment to the botanical perfume. Note that the Summer 2015 Ambrette Seed hydrosol is quite a limited edition batch, available only while supplies last!

1 ml samples, 3 ml bottles, and 1/2 oz. minaret bottles of “The Thousand and One Nights” botanical perfume are available in my Etsy shop.

And in honor of the clever storyteller Sheherazade from One Thousand and Nights, I’ll close with a wonderful Brainpickings link to a talk that author Neil Gaiman did on the organic, living and evolving nature of stories called “How Stories Last.” It is just wonderful.
I think Sheherazade would agree.

Arabesque’s Handmade Botanical Incense

rose petal incense

As summer blooms and the Northern California flowers unfurl their fragrant petals all around me, I just could not resist the urge to create something! So — I’ve made two delicious batches of my annual handmade incense! Now available:

Kyphi – Most well-known as an ancient Egyptian incense though there are also ancient Greek and Syrian variations. The ingredients remain fundamentally the same in all of the recipes. My incense is my own adaptation of the 2nd century Syrian recipe and features honey, red wine, sultanas, galangal, organic cinnamon bark, frankincense, myrrh, benzoin, rose petals, orris, lemongrass, sandalwood powder. The precious resins and botanicals are powdered and then, bound together with the wine and the honey, form a fragrant brick that is left to dry slowly in the sun.

Rose Petal – made in the Elizabethan fashion. (A recipe that, I suspect, came straight from the goddess Venus, herself!) Powdered Rose Petals with a pinch of powdered lavender blossoms and fragrant Iris, melded together with rosewater, formed into earthy lozenges and left to dry in the sun.

Do note – this is not incense that is well-suited for use on traditional charcoal tablets. To truly appreciate the delicacy of the flower petals and aromatics, the nuance of the melting honey, resins, spices, herbs, roots and the floral waters, this incense requires a more delicate and refined source of heat…

But I will say that they are worth the trouble. As one very old, loyal client and dear friend says “They are infused with ancient magic!”

perfume sampler

The incense is also available in a small Incense Sampler for the curious! The Rose Petal incense, save for the samplers, is already sold out but is available for pre-order in my Etsy shop with a two-week shipping window. (Usually my annual incense goes quickly so best to get it while you can!) To enjoy this incense, and the Kyphi, crumble and burn on a censer, or in your electric incense burner… warm on low in a cast iron pan, or enjoy in the Elizabethan way – warm in a very hot pan and walk through your home, perfuming the rooms as you go.

Also don’t miss my unisex botanical perfume, Kyphi, inspired by the incense…

In closing, I was accepted to graduate school and will begin a MA degree in Humanities this Fall 2015. I’m extremely excited to begin my focus on women and plant folklore in mythology and I just know my academic explorations will cycle back into my creative work in wonderful new ways. My sincere thanks to all who have participated in the ongoing “Pay What You Will Sale” to support Arabesque’s exciting and ongoing expansion!

Well, I think this catches me up on all of the Arabesque news for now so – until my late-Summer perfume inspired by One Thousand and One Nights launches, take care and have a wonderful summer! And if you want to keep further tabs on my work, or merely enjoy my gratuitous horse and kitten pictures from the ranch, like my facebook page, here.


Arabesque’s 2015 Fragrant Distillations


Every Summer I distill aromatics with my small copper tabletop still, The Alambiccus Gaggia. The result – fragrant, steam-distilled hydrosols – are aromatic, medicinal, cosmetic, and culinary treasures!

On offer this year are the fresh-distilled hydrosols of Witch Hazel, made from organic Witch Hazel Bark, Vetiver Root Hydrosol from Vetiver I imported from Madagascar, Spearmint harvested fresh from my garden, and wildcrafted Melissa or Lemon Balm.

They are available in my Etsy shop June-September and also by special request. An excellent resource for learning how to integrate the use of hydrosols into your daily life is Suzanne Catty’s Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy available on Amazon in a hard copy or via Kindle.

My first distillation of 2015 happened on May Day Eve, as pictured in sequential steps below, courtesy of my botanist friend, Ty Wheeler. The result was a fresh and — we thought, quite surprisingly floral –Spearmint hydrosol.

Pictured left to right, below, are my beautiful plant materials, gathered in preparation for several distillations: Fresh Spearmint from my garden, soaking in the round bowl is Organic Witch Hazel bark, and soaking on the right in the rectangular bowl is Vetiver root from Madagascar.

distillation day 1

For a single distillation, fresh, clean water must first be added to the copper still. In my case, I used fresh, Northern California well water!


Then the fragrant plant material is added. It rests in a metal and mesh basket on top of the fresh water inside the copper container. When it reaches the proper temperature the hot water then passes upwards and through the plant material, producing a fragrant steam which results in our end product – a hydrosol.


Here I am preparing the still for the distillation…  it is important all screws are tightened and seals are properly closed to enable the hot water and steam to travel through their required channels.


Time to hit that glowing red button and begin the distillation, which typically takes about an hour and a half. (And, yes, enjoy a beer or, in my case a Dark and Stormy, while we wait… )


Pure, Steam-distilled Essential Oils from ‘the Milkmaid of Fragrance’

ess oils

Now offering two exotic, high-quality, steam-distilled essential oils

I was fortunate to manage a wholesale essential oil company called Natural Extracts for seven years in the Hollywood Hills. Not only did I learn a lot, and get to smell and collect many exotic ingredients, but now I also have a lot of interesting inventory as a result!

I used to love pumping the kilo and gallon-sized orders, as pictured below, December 2011. While filling the containers with the giant and uber-powerful pumps, I always felt like the ‘milkmaid of fragrance!’

milkmaid of fragrance

To see more photos from my days at the essential oil company, Natural Extracts, visit my business Facebook Page.

I am offering Ylang Ylang Complete from Madagascar and Australian Sandalwood (extra-strength) while supplies last. 1 ml samples of the steam-distilled extra-strength Australian Sandalwood essential oil and the Ylang Ylang Complete, Madagascar, are available for purchase at my Etsy shop.

Buying steam-distilled essential oils, when possible, is important to me as it indicates a purity, and an absence of chemical solvents. In my humble opinion, steam-distilled essential oils are well worth the few pennies extra in terms of quality. And Australian Sandalwood is a sustainable alternative to Indian Sandalwood essential oil, the supplies of which have been over-harvested and all but exhausted.

pumping ess oils

Essential Oil samples ship via First Class Mail.
Essential Oils ship Priority Mail, insured, within the US and First Class Mail, without.


harvesting pomegranates

Arabesque is expanding!

Help my business to blossom
by participating in my

I am excited to say that Arabesque Aromas is growing in myriad ways this year. I am working on a second book, going to school, creating a small, scholarly tour of Ireland for 6-8 people, planning a new web site, and shopping for new botanical ingredients. (Not to mention all of the new perfumes that are whirling around in my head, asking to be born… including a scent inspired by One Thousand and One Nights!)

To help fund the expansion of Arabesque, I am offering a Pay-What-You-Will Sale on digital copies of my aromatic cookbook The Fragrant Kitchen: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer.

To participate, simply Paypal your contribution of $6.00 or more to kirstentulipani@gmail and I will email you a full-color PDF of my cookbook.

(Happy to also email the PDF as a gift with a note to third parties.)

Thanks in advance for helping me to fund the growth of my business!
I am very excited to share all of this newness, richness, and beauty with you as the year unfolds!

Between the floral and the exotic… Arabesque Aroma’s Spring 2015 “The Temple of Flora”


My newest scent was inspired by the title of Robert Thornton’s The Temple of Flora, a book from 1807 which first caught my attention last year via the Public Domain Review. (I am an enthusiastic subscriber of their newsletters!)

Their current newsletter makes for a very interesting Spring read, exploring the late 18th to early 19th century Romantic era attitudes concerning sex, gender, and science within the world of botany. (The illustrations in The Temple of Flora, created by a variety of Thornton’s contemporaries, and as seen above, are lush sensuous, otherworldly treasures — not to be missed!)

My botanical perfume, The Temple of Flora, is also lush, sensuous and otherworldly. It reflects the 19th century Romantic penchant for earlier times and exotic places and is made with Neroli, Jasmine, and Bergamot essential oils blended into a heavenly base of Agarwood, Peru Balsam, and Sandalwood. I hope that you will love it!

Patrons of my 2015-2016 Scent Subscription will automatically receive samples of The Temple of Flora in their mailbox next week.

1 ml samples and 1/3 oz size bottles of The Temple of Flora are also available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Finally, introducing my new sampler, The Ancient Worlds. Includes my 5 Arabesque Aromas botanical scents that were inspired by ancient worlds… makes a beautiful gift and is best enjoyed listening to the album Towards the Within by Dead Can Dance! ha ha!

Happy Spring.

(Illustrated Plate: Egyptian Water Lily from The Temple of Flora, 1807, Robert Thornton.)

Getting to Know Your Botanical Perfumer…


Recently, at The Phoenix Rose boutique in Nevada City, CA, a young customer asked me about my collection of botanical perfumes that are displayed at the counter. As she smelled each perfume, she looked up the ingredients in the little burgundy book that accompanies my collection, written out very lovingly and carefully, in my own hand. She wasn’t at all ashamed to say, out loud, that she she had no need to buy my perfumes. She felt she could just recreate the scents she liked for herself. And probably, she said, thinking aloud, she would start selling her own perfumes, too. She slipped one of my business cards in her purse. “How hard can it be?” she said. She looked at the price tag on my 1/2 oz minaret bottle of The Green Mantle. “Seventy Dollars?!?!” she said. “Oh my god. That’s a fortune. I am definitely going to start selling my own perfumes.”

She proceeded to describe a blend of her own that she also had in mind. I pointed out that, should she proceed in making this perfume, she would probably give herself or her clients a severe case of sunburn due to the high level of photosensitive oils in the recipe. I wasn’t surprised to hear that she had absolutely no idea what I was talking about… But I was, indeed, alarmed!

Our encounter, as irritating and insulting as it was, brought up several key points for me. First and foremost, it served as a potent reminder to know who you are buying your natural products from. Essential oils are beautiful, precious and romantic things. They are sensuous, exotic, seductive and extremely tantalizing! But they are also extremely powerful, and need to be used wisely. Safely. And respectfully.

This young, green girl also inspired me to muse upon the value and substance of my own background and experience. And what lies behind my $70.00-80.00 price tag. (A sum which I feel to be quite modest, as I intentionally price my creations for accessibility.) I found myself musing over what, exactly, made me the botanical perfumer I am today.

Behind a carefully-cultivated nose, and my arabesque aesthetic, is quite a practical education. And about fifteen years of hard won experience! For those of you not familiar with my background, here is a brief recap…


In a nutshell, I’ve studied with Mandy Aftel, Jeanne Rose and Kurt Schnaubelt. And I’ve mentored with Suzanne Catty for many years. (If you do not know these people by name, you can search for the considerable list of books they have published, between them!) I managed a wholesale essential oil company for seven years. I’ve been a botanical volunteer in the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena, for three years, mentoring with the Head Gardeners there, while also studying herbalism via Rosemary Gladstar’s excellent program The Art & Science of Herbalism. I have an academic background in art history and plant folklore, am well-traveled and have studied the contents, the history, the recipes, and even viewed original pages of medieval herbals. Then there is my very own tabletop still, The Alambiccus Gaggia. And my intensive year of study in the art of making spagyric tinctures under the tutelage of a master teacher (This was one of the most rigorous and demanding things I have ever done!)

I have also taught seasonal classes on plant folklore, been invited to lecture to large groups of people, and have appeared on two nationwide television shows. And all of these experiences have become, magically, intellectually, and alchemically, a part of my work today…

(Yes, how hard can it be, really!? Hmm.)

You can visit my web site for a brief clip from my 2007 television appearance on Noelle Katai’s aromatherapy-inspired show “Everybody Nose” where I discuss candle making with beeswax, herbs, spices and essential oils. The full episode still airs on Veria tv, as well. Email me for details.
(But – no laughing at my funny green apron, please!:)

And if you are searching for some other skilled botanical artisans, I am happy to make some recommendations. I know many talented, qualified artists who create beautiful, professional, plant-based products that are works of purity, integrity and value.

My aromatic cookbook The Fragrant Kitchen: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer also has a substantial Resources section at the back. It includes: a book list, helpful organizations, reputable sources for purchasing tools and ingredients, and a list of skilled artisans who I know, trust and love.

My thank-you coupon, 10% off of orders for Arabesque customers and subscribers, continues in my Etsy shop. Coupon code is *arabesquearomas* upon checkout.

With love, and gratitude.

Pictured above:

Me, in the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena CA 2008-9. Photo by Mara West.

My arabesque insignia, hand-colored by me.


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