Create Your Own Incense & Magical Clouds

Incense, you either love it or you hate it. That’s what I’ve found in being a lifelong pusher of it!

“Hey, you don’t mind if I burn incense do you?”

Often met with a casual eye-roll or possibly a sure and then, can I put this out? It seems a person either appreciates the presence of it in their home or they despise it because of the sheer invasiveness of the smokey scent. Many times powerfully strong, incense can leave your environment highly fragrant in a matter of minutes.

The process of making herbal incense without the use of salt peter, or even charcoal is actually quite easy. However, perfecting the art is another matter. Perhaps the easiest way is by using a binder commonly called Makko. Makko not only serves as a water soluble binder, but as a burning agent as well. Makko is a natural tree bark from an evergreen tree and contains no synthetic chemicals, charcoal, or salt peter.

Incense began use as an instrument in spiritual practices. With the killer scent it packed in such a small size, it also became a hit with hippies and homeowners everywhere. If you can appreciate the presence of lemony-sweet sodapop in your home, or more commonly a woody-spicy fragrance, you’re definitely a contender for incense!

Now, you can buy incense for pretty cheap just about anywhere that sells fragrant candles. If you can’t find it in your area you’re in luck because there’s an even bigger selection online! Be sure to gaze at the carnival of delicious, handmade incense scents on etsy and imagine the sheer wonder of your home or studio being transported to a fragrant fantasy land!

… but if you wanted absolute control over the fragrance you could make your own as well.

DIY Incense

Now, it sounds very easy to create your own incense but the trick is mixing the ingredients correctly so that you get a nice, even burn. Your incense might be too smokey, might not burn properly and could keep going out prematurely.

To begin making your incense (this is the Japanese way), mix an incense base with makko (incense powder), and add some warm water. When using a resin your incense will become more difficult to burn. Therefor you should use resins, like Frankensense, at much lower percentages as the burning agents (makko and sandalwood).

“Sandalwood is common to almost every incense formula, and serves as a wonderful base aroma as well as a burning agent of its own right. If you were making an incense of sandalwood alone, the amount of makko required may be a little as 10%.”

Mix the ingredients into a dough-consistency and knead it thoroughly. Form into cones or sticks (form sticks around bamboo reeds) and Knead the incense-dough thoroughly and form into cones or sticks. Allow them to dry slowly, about a week. Check them to see if they’re dry and enjoy your new incense.

In-SCENTS

My favorite part about candles and incense is the *aroma*, like most people I adore a waft of delicious fragrance to pass by me while working at my desk. It’s a shame you can’t have them in cubicles! It definitely would have lightened the atmosphere in the slightest way. Especially when there happens to be a microwave area in your office.

Don’t use cheap oils — they can irritate the skin and the aroma can provide no benefit.

You can combine your favorite oils to create aromatherapy benefits *or* just to delight your nose.

Incen-spiration

Ehehe.. my favorite part of blogging has always been the eye candy.

lisn_to_finland_5
(By Ilkka Suppanen)

After seeing this incense design exhibit I *had* to find rainbow incense, cute holders, and well-designed incense packages~

cafetime

Japanese incense comes in many shapes in sizes, sometimes with especially cute scents and packing like these Cafe Time incense sticks.

Incense Holders

Now that you have some great incense to try you might want to purchase a cute handmade holder *or* make your own.

Bowl / Teacup Nab a cute bowl or teacup from the local antique shop or use your grandmother’s you’ve been saving in the attic. Fill it with sand, stick your incense in the bowl — add some to the middle or add in a circle around the center. Light and enjoy!

Holder These leave the most ashes but hopefully you’ll have this in an area where ashes can be easily cleaned up! Create a clay sculpture, be it a cupcake, mushroom or anything you like. Grab an incense and stick it into the (still wet) clay where you’d like your incense to be.. Move the incense around a bit to make the hole a little wider. Remove the incense and bake your holder (or let dry if it is no-bake clay).

Tray The typical wooden (or clay) tray is usually longer than the length of the incense stick, has a little ash dip in the middle and a hole on one of the ends for holding the incense. These generally leave ashes scattered also.

Plant That’s right, I often stick a lit stick right in a big, potted plant.

Five Staples to a Domestic Artist’s Day

While relaxing after I did a speed clean of the beautiful and character-filled 4-story home I share with my partner (and our kiddies) and being brilliantly blinded by the fairy lights adorning our tree I’m impatiently waiting for my love to arrive home after a long day of work. I’ve been asked many times recently by friends and visitors alike how I manage all of my work, hobbies and activities while still remaining happy and seemingly on-top of everything. I’m not entirely sure I’m managing my time in the best way having just been through hell on earth not so long ago but I know I must be doing something right because the important things get done and I still have plenty of time to spend bonding with my love, myself and, most importantly, my daughter.

I was thinking recently… what what better way to stay motivated and inspired than to blog about what staples help me stay focused and chill throughout my day? What objects, products and regimens do I rely on to make my days a little more delightful? What can’t I seem to live without? What’s funny is I’ve recently realized I can literally live without ANYTHING (besides food, air and water) and there’s nothing like being stripped of everything you love to wake this inner strength in yourself. It’s extremely tough but the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter than you could ever imagine and the positive life that follows is the icing on the cake. What are the sprinkles, carousel candles and strawberries on that same delicious cake? Well some of my daily must-haves are…

1. Lavender

One of my favorite colors of all time is lavender and it just so happens to be one of my favorite herbs as well. Although lavender is not to be ingested it can bring peace and relaxation through aromatherapy and nothing is better than the scent of lavender with a bit of warm sugar. One of my daily staples is a relaxing sitz bath sprinkled with lavender extract while my lavender macaron candle burns a soft glow throughout the bathroom. Lavender incense works well too and be sure to hide some lavender sachets in your lingerie drawer so you can carry a faint relaxing aroma with you throughout your day without overdoing it (which is very easy to do with such a strong scent).

2. Coffee and Tea

Where would I be without coffee and tea? Although my love despises my intake of caffeine I feel without it I would move quite a bit more sluggishly throughout my daily tasks. Not only do the flavors entice me to take another drink but the ritual of brewing coffee and steeping teas are rituals I look forward to. Nothing is better to me than waking up early to black iced coffee and winding down in the evening with a nice, hot cup of tea. We keep a box of assorted teas and numerous tea tins in our kitchen so it’s a real treat picking out which tea to try next.

3. Crystals

The energy and earthen decadence of a crystal is matched by few objects to me. Something about crystals has always attracted me like no other. Since being a young child and carefully selecting my own crystals from traveling new age shops and then proceeding to cleanse and charge them with positive energy I have been a self-proclaimed crystal queen. Crystals hold a natural beauty that is unlike any other stone, they are much more precious than diamonds in my opinion and they create rainbows of light when sunlight hits their prisms just right. If you’re looking for your own special crystal but still haven’t found one that calls to you be sure to check out our shop next year (January 2013) for a limited selection of cleansed and charged kitschy, natural crystal necklaces and spiritually enhancing house wares. Not feeling crystals quite yet? We have lots of other earthen goodness made whimsically colorful coming your way for more positive life-enhancing decadence! Stay tuned and keep the positive energy flowing.

4. Candles & Incense

To explain the benefit in lighting candles and incense is to explain the importance to me of the daily life aesthetic. Setting the scene or mise-en-scene to me is pertinent in living a life as art. The visual aesthetic of everyday life is nearly as important to me as it is in a scene I’ve styled for a specific photograph or shoot. This value of mine that I’ve always held so dear doesn’t always seem to translate well to those I share this world with. Why does everything have to be perfect? Why are you constantly shooting photos of nothing? With the introduction of cell phones having digital cameras this is much more understood but still I receive blank stares when I take photos of what some consider to be mundane settings. The artistic beauty of life is wonderfully misunderstood. The importance to me of living a life as a genius, yet mad, artistic creation is unmatched. Your life is a drama in which you are the actor and your higher power is the director. Enjoy the extensive beauty that can be found throughout it. Adding a soft glow to the room and a relaxing, refreshing or comforting scent is key to utilizing the whole scene of the moment. The smoke of incense brings back memories while calming me. The psychedelic swirls of smoke that flirt with the air are as relaxing as the soft flickr of candlelight softly setting the room aglow. The scent adds volumes to this experience and if you’re interested in learning about aromatherapy you can even utilize some techniques to inspire your mood or productivity. Below I’ve listed a few scents that can be used for aromatherapy. Remember you can also mix scents!

Aromatherapy Guide

  • Aphrodisiac: jasmine, patchouli
  • Energy, Refreshing: peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, tangerine, basil
  • Relax: lavender, cedarwood, chamomile, clary sage, frankincense, myrrh, cardamom

5. Music & Podcasts

Nothing sets your mood quite like the perfect song. When I’m working, whether I’m writing or designing a print or website, music and podcasts are very important to my productivity. I’m even known to listen to ‘brain hacks’ or ‘brain waves’ when working so that I gain more inspiration or stress relief as needed. The podcasts I tend to listen to while working are those of the spiritual or inspirational nature. Any way that I can take in inspiring information while working, relaxing or enjoying a hobby is pleasurable to me. Music sets the scene almost instantly and I enjoy a large selection of music when creating artwork and it’s definitely something I don’t tend to work without.

Making Mondays More Miseducated

Monday jokes rain out of people’s ears at offices.. I don’t know how it is where you work but I’m sure whatever day the work week begins on someone’s complaining.

Instead of thinking of Mondays as a bummer, think of them as a beginning to your inspiration overload sessions every week — begin to plan fun and personal growth activities *as well as* work, errands, tasks, etc.

.. and if scheduling seems like absolute hell to you and you have no issues with procrastination.. simply pass to Step 2.

Want more mood therapy techniques like this?
Key to Living the Law of Attraction
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated
ALL Business is Show Business

Step 1

Schedule your day per hour — Write what you actually do beside it and next to that make 2 columns for you to rate how much pleasure you experienced during the activity and to what percentage you mastered it.

Again, make sure you allow time throughout the day for activities you look forward to.

taste
Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette

Step 2

Incorporate more Miseducated whimsy and special you time into your Mondays.

Instead of taking a shower before you start your work day, take a bubble bath using sensitive Mr. Bubbles or your favorite bubble bath — play some inspiring music that you can hear while in the tub and brew a cup of earl grey tea.

Create your own (lots of recipes here!) or buy a new scented lipgloss to apply throughout the day, not just when lips are chapped! Think of ways to incorporate other new smells into your day such as an aromatherapy candle, nice-smelling lotion, sweet solid perfume, etc.

Master your skills. As you’re working imagine what you might do to keep on task better while still enjoying your day. For me this means the occasional walk-around break, snacks optional and listening to music or inspiring pod casts while I work.

Keep a little notebook in your purse or briefcase especially for inspiring sketches, notes and pieces of inspiring found-items. These little carry-along scrapbooks can be great sources of inspiration and remind you about experiences when you’re sitting down to work and communicate your ideas.

Decide that you’re going to rearrange a room in your home/apartment and surf online for delicious decor in your free time. Find ways to make your environment a little more you, a little more unique and much more inspiring! Sometimes just changing things up is very revitalizing.

My favorite movie since childhood, the delicious 80s glitter rock fest (The Labyrinth) complete with faeries and the rock king himself, always inspired me as everything, even the dirt, was covered in glitter. Sweeping your floor and feeling a little bummed? Sprinkle glitter in with the dust and even dust bunnies become just a little more magical.

It’s off to your local handmade market for you! Purchase some incense that smells great and a little decadent snack. When home, burn the incense as intended and relax near it reading and enjoying the occasional whiff of fragrant smoke. Don’t like incense? Try scented candles!

Write your best friend a good morning letter when you begin your work day. Chances are you’ll brighten her day as she is also at work and it’ll make you smile knowing she’s smiling. You might even get some sweet messages back throughout the day that make you feel wonderful for opening communication.

Grab a pack of post-its in your favorite color and write inspiring and positive messages to everyone signed, Happy Monday. Stick these on electric posts, subway windows, in your lover’s briefcase, on the milk in the fridge, on your coworker’s computer mouse, etc. <3 Don't overdo it, it's more special for those that find the surprises anyway. Kitty Rave! (both my and my best friend’s favorite way to wind down at night!) At night time when you’re relaxing and feeling a little excited that you’ve gotten through another Monday, turn up the dance music and dance around the house in your pajamas with your cat or dog. (my chihuahua gets really excited about this and bounces around the room) You’re getting exercise, they’re getting exercise and it’s really quite fun.. especially if you’re jamming to Kissy Sell Out. Often my husband even plays his electronic music live on kitty rave nights.

Have a great Monday!