Near the beginning of this summer, I was approached by a friend about collaborating on an incense blend. A retreat in Utah was to host an event focusing on various aspects of wellness. I wanted to give the incense a traditional yoga theme, inspired by the sandalwood heavy blends of India, but also incorporating elements of the flora of the American West, especially its forested and mountainous regions.
Copal and their relatives are often the building blocks of my incense blends at the moment. Especially the members of Bursera, one of the most important sources of incense in the Americas. Copal blanco from Mexico was blended with numerous coniferous tree resins including two species of pine from Utah, spruce, and possibly a Pinus originating Copal from Tulum. Small amounts of other ingredients where finally added to sweeten the background of the base. While I do have other ingredients which would have been local to the setting, I decided against them as they have such heavy, smokey and wintery characteristics.
Halmaddi is an essential ingredient when working with Indian inspired blends, which was further mixed with other exotic exudates. Various herbs and roots bring their green, earthy, herbal qualities without leaving the "burnt leaf" aroma, as their whole forms would. Finished with top-shelf quality propolis...
Next, various dried woods and fragrant herbs needed to be blended as close to a powder as achievable. Sandalwood, birch, lavender, homegrown sweetgrass and others made up this base. Then the final floral and classic incense notes were mixed into the powder, absorbing the essential oils into the mix.
Finally, it was time to combine all of the ingredients. Using so many conifer resins, the mix was difficult to work with. Thus needing to be frozen and then blended numerous times to finally create the proper consistency.
After weeks of experimenting, planning, testing, blending, and creating the illustration for the label, the incense is now complete. A small space was left for the names of those attending the class focusing on natural aromatics.
The blend itself was a pleasure to work with. Maybe what I liked most about creating this blend specifically is that it allowed me to work with different scenery, one which was far removed from my current seaside themes. There is a high probability that I will take what I have learned here and transform this into a "coastal meditation" blend for our shop.
Now, off to my next incense project for the 15th Annual SWFL Peace Day Festival!
August 26, 2022
Banded Tulip at Blind Pass, Sanibel Island 2022
Banded Tulip shells (Cinctura hunteria) are commonly found along the barrier islands of Southwest Florida. They can also be found in other areas along the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys and throughout the Caribbean Sea.
The organisms responsible for the creation of these shells are a type of mollusk, more commonly known as aquatic snails. These mollusks are epifaunal carnivores, meaning they live most of their lives attached to hard surfaces beneath the ocean waves. They hunt for smaller prey on coral reefs and other rocky surfaces. These beautiful shells can grow as large as 4 inches or more.
Banded Tulip original art by Melissa (water color, pencil, collage) 2022
The Cinctura genus contains 5 known species of Tulip. This genus is a member of the Fasciolariidae family, which also contains what is known as the true tulip shell (Fasciolaria tulipa). The Fasciolariidae family, also known as the tulip and spindle snails family, is thought to have first appeared during the Cretaceous period. Today’s species inhabit warm tropical and temperate waters.
We have found Banded Tulip shells twice on Sanibel Island, once at Gulfside City Beach and the other recently at Blind Pass. Banded Tulips prefer intertidal sand flats, especially in quiet lagoon water. Their diets consist mainly of other mollusks, which they hunt amongst beds of sea grass.
Banded Tulip found at Gulf Side Beach, Sanibel Island 2022
Check out our August events throughout Fort Myers! We are also excited to be starting a new interview series this month, featuring local SWFL artists and makers.
Follow our journey on Patreon! On our page this month, we will be sharing a seashell coloring page, in-progress artwork and incense, and a Halloween art preview.
THE ISLAND OCTOPUS BLOG
Learn more about our products and new releases, join us for events, and see photos of local wildlife!