083011

30 Aug

 Shaping incense continues to vex me. Rolling it out by hand won’t work for mass production. I have these little sticks that I got from Essence of the Ages (which sells all sorts of natural incense, including some big American names like Fred Soll, Juniper Ridge, Ancient Forest, etc. (they also have a variety of east-Asian, Indian, Nepali, Japanese, etc.); these little sticks, maybe 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick/wide/in-diameter, must have been made in a machine. The thing is I have no idea what sort of machine the company uses (these are from Ancient Forest). I found an electric pasta maker from a company called Lello; they have one disc for grissini, which are bread sticks. There are other discs too; I’d have to experiment with which disc produces an appropriate shape. Then Tami and I would have to cut the incense into correct lengths.
 These would be perfect, or I have to go back to where I started: making molds for cones. I couldn’t get that to work when I tried it about five years ago. I need to try a few more times. I’d have Pop make the molds for me. I really think the electric pasta extruder from Lello is the way to go. That’s guaranteed to produce uniform incense shapes and sizes. The only drawback is that it costs a couple of hundred dollars; if it works, it will be well worth that price. One other problem we ran into was that the joss sticks we made started developing mold! That was unheard of in the Pacific Northwest. I learned to line sticks touching each other, the idea being they wouldn’t warp, which I’d found, in the PNW anyway, they tended to do. I guess not only is that no longer necessary, it also can cause problems with mold and other unwanted effects. Nevertheless, I still need to discover the perfect way to dry any “finished” incense.
 Holly DeCarlo, who was my perfume assistant here in Florida for a short time, invited me to have a booth at Tampa Bay Fashion Week, an event she helps organize. For only $200, I can have my own booth with an eight-foot table–the possibilities of what I can do with that booth are limitless. Holly went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Manhattan, which is better respected than you might think. I’m having her help me with a bunch of PR stuff; if there’s one thing she knows about, it’s definitely PR, like how to get in touch with boutiques, magazines, and blogs, etc. The first thing we’ll do is come up with a wholesale price list based on my costs; we’ll also make a suggested-price list for retailers, which we have to be very careful with. I think we’ll have send a different suggested-retail list to each retailer, or maybe one for each kind. For example, Henri Bendel (Holly tells they’re to open a branch of Henri Bendel in Tampa) is a pricey department store, so they would get a list on the higher end; whereas, Whole Foods, should they have any interest at all in carrying my products, would get a list on the lower end.
 I recently bought an authentic Norman-Rockwell Jester from my brother-in-law, Brandon Kroll (married to my sister Leila). I had it reframed. It looks better than ever.

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2 Responses to “083011”

  1. Michael September 21, 2011 at 2:38 am #

    Its been really fun following your incense adventures! I can’t wait to check them out, given how wonderful your perfumes are.

    Any really good resources that you go to for ideas when working with the incenses? A lot of what I have seen out there seems to favor synthetics or really heavily emphasize magical properties over scent profiles.

    Thanks!
    Michael

    • Adam Gottschalk September 21, 2011 at 3:30 am #

      The best resource I have is a book called Incense: Crafting and Use of Magickal Scents by Carl F. Neal. It does have a new agey title, but he describes in great deal how to make incense with herb, flower, wood, and binder powders; I like to use scented distillate water (lavender or sandalwood) to tie it all together. This for rolled joss sticks or incense cones; he describes in detail how to make a mold for a single cone. I have a couple of other incense books, but this book is by far the best I’ve ever come across. There’s also an emailing list, started by Mr Neal, I think. It’s open for everyone. It’s called “incense_exchange” on yahoo, maybe that makes it more of an interactive group. I find it very useful; 500 members, and all (I think) are about natural incense. You won’t find any talk of saltpeter or incense blanks dipped in fragrance chemicals. Very informative group, even if you have what you think is a stupid question, no member of the group could think it was stupid (well, maybe that’s overstating the facts).

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