Sunday, April 22, 2012

still-sound 61. Pepper

Here's a black vase I recently made.  It's the size of a cantaloupe.  You can see me in the reflection taking the picture. I made it to match another vase of a similar shape, one that I received for my 30th birthday.  The birthday vase came from Poole Studio in England and is glazed very dark teal (almost black).  Very glossy on top and more speckled against a matte surface towards the bottom.   If I had been able to replicate the Poole glazing technique I would have.  Instead I settled on a nice, pepper black.

For my 34th birthday my friend Fiona gave me a fragrance from Hermès called Poivre Samarcande.  It's a scent I instantly liked.  Although the notes of black pepper are undeniably present as the name would imply, the spiciness is tempered with a suggestion of leather.  It wears very lightly - its statement is almost subliminal.  It does what few other fragrances manage to do - it makes me feel enhanced.  My friend Amely once told me that when she wears her signature fragrance (Chergui by Serge Lutens) she feels like "the best version of herself."  I love that she said that.  I love that she loves perfume so much.*

Poivre Samarcande was designed by the perfumer Jean Claude Ellena.  He is considered the master of the minimal / transparent style of perfumery.  He makes fragrance like a highly skilled craftsman - in control of every, barely-perceptible detail and fully aware of the fine balance of the finished piece.  His nose and hands must operate on their own, outside of the brain.  Something that only years of practice can afford.  

When I first moved to LA I worked at a book store.  A French woman would often come by and I discovered that she worked at the Hermès boutique up the street.  She was a craftswoman and repaired bags, shoes and other leather goods at a bench placed in the very center of the store.**  I was impressed and told her, "Wow, you're an artist".  "Artisan" she corrected me.

* This is the same Amely I mentioned in the blogpost titled TM.  After living most of her life in big cities she moved out to rural Wyoming last year to experience life differently.  I like to think about her against a backdrop of the Teton mountains, smelling of Chergui.
**I recently revisited this boutique on a search for a fragrance to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday.  The shop had been completely renovated - the layout was different.  The craftsman's bench was no longer there.  


  1. Oh, I really love that vase, Steve! Your next celebration scent will have to be another Hermes: Santal Massoïa, methinks!

  2. Thanks Katie! And you may be right, Santal Massoïa may just be the scent to ring in 40. It's so light though. It reminds me of an episode of Cheers where Woody Harrelson's character was dating this posh girl. She mentioned some coffee that wasn't coffee. It was water infused with the essence of coffee. It was clear like water. I worry that Santal Massoïa may be the scent equivalent. But it does smell truly amazing.

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  4. It was Taschen on Beverly Drive. There were so many interesting characters wandering into that shop.