shiny new tins & some commentary

Illuminated Perfume tinRoxana, of Illuminated Perfume, makes my favourite scents in the entire world ever. She’s experimenting with containers for the solid ones (this is why my love: fabulous solid perfumes!!!), and has come up with this beauty.

Yes, sorry, forgot to mention Roxana’s talents in design, illustration, and mastery of that other antique fine art, the letterpress. A Renaissance woman in many ways.

Consider me a happy camper / bunny.

For more on the why and wherefore of the tin, see: Round and round

And the tin is available on Roxana’s Etsy site, filled with mini samples of solid perfume: maybe a nice idea for a gift?

It’s a beautiful object; but I have to admit to being one of those Philistines who treasure the contents more. I would wear my favourite scents if their labels fell off, or if I’d decanted them into (structurally sound, non-odour-changing) any other random containers. I have Muji travel containers in plastics which I know are very unfashionable and “non-you” un-eco these days, but they’re very well-made, old now, and I’ve reused them bazillions of times. Same for kitchen ones and reusing old L’Occitane shea butter tins, lovely minis they are. And old containers that other things came in, for kitchen and home and DIY use. Heck, I even have a fine collection of old cardboard-boxes and bubble-wrap that came with obsessively well-packaged parcels. And who doesn’t love bubble-wrap and playing with it? 

Waste not want not; I grew up with this, like anyone else who grew up or whose parents grew up in the UK under wartime and postwar rationing. There are parallels elsewhere; but it’s a peculiar mentality, not at all the same as growing up in poverty and deprivation, or them but with a black market. This was a national sacrifice for the greater good, including a greater international good, and had attached to it added vitamin supplements and a free public health system. What made this kind of deprivation different was its voluntary side, with ethical, political, and social “good.” (Well, yes, you didn’t have much choice in the matter if you were a small kid, but still: part of the free world and not in a totalitarian arbitrary-arrest-and-detention sort of place with Kafkaesque bureaucracy, secret police, concentration camps, disappearances, and so on.) And that, as a footnote, is why the UK has a national health service and why it is very important, and not as some Irish friends thing yet another way the Brits screw over the Irish and keep them down (I have this unfortunate predicament of being a mixed mongrel person, with friends in various places…), nor as some of my American friends would have it, socialist lunacy. That historical timing is also why the NHS is going to be in ideological crisis once the generations who lived under rationing are no longer: and the youngest of these, who would just about have had the cognitive capacity to remember the end of rationing, would have been say around 3 or 4 in 1954. They’re now in their 60s. Even with increased life expectancy, that means we’re looking at crisis looming within the next two decades…

But back to “waste not want not.” Solid perfume is a good way of doing this. You can get every teeny bit out from a circular container. And then reuse the container. Marvellous. I don’t hoard, I’m not weird or anything; and sometimes I do have to throw things out, as I don’t buy very much and only try to buy what I need (and that’s a very deliberate and considered “need” not “want”). So there’s going to be some limits on reusing containers, though making up batches of the DIY Multi-Purpose Balm and giving it to people as presents helps. And I haven’t yet started doing a version of my grandfather’s trick: using old containers for storing different sizes of nuts, bolts, screws, nails, bits of string, and other useful objects bought, found, or “rescued” from skips.

It’s nice to see recycling and reusing being back “in.” And a return to being sensible.

That’s where this sort of discussion on Roxana’s blog gets my proverbial goat:

OK, one should be nice, if in doubt, being fair and so on, so here’s my official $0.02:

Totally with you on this. Foolish person, and as with all such, it’s always diplomatic to give them the benefit of the doubt and try to educate them. They might genuinely not know, be ignorant and innocent.

Have to admit I’m not that charitable a soul, and am upset that someone might have the power to buy something expensive but lack the wisdom to value it properly.

But: explanation’s always a good idea, just in case.

But there’s ignorance and innocence, and then there’s irresponsibility, and then again there’s being arsy. I’m sorry, but that complainy person is, in my humble opinion, being arsy. (They may or not actually be an arse, that’s beyond my competence to determine). Some points, in no particular order:

  • There’s a world of difference between a creative artist (in any field: here, the medium / mode of expression is scent) and the rest. Which includes high-end reproductions, some of which may be quality stuff; and mass market; and other forms. There is a place in the world for all of these things, and it’s good for everyone to have access to beauty in their lives, but they’re not the same and should not be confused.
  • Think furniture:
    —IKEA makes a lot of furniture, worldwide, and sells it worldwide. Believes in bringing beautiful (and ethically-sourced) interiors to everyone. With a union of form and function. Very William Morris Arts & Crafts, Bauhaus, etc.
    —IKEA also employs some pretty hot designers. Some of their designs become classics, and have earned places in design museums.
    —And then think people who make reproductions of Le Corbusier chairs and suchlike, often for crazy money, and often churned out in low-labour-cost countries.
    —And then there’s craftsmen who make furniture by hand. From whom you might have to place an order six months ahead.
    —And, somewhere up Parnassus in a fragrant cloud, makers of custom-pieces by special appointment, given a large sum of money and carte blanche.
    Roxana and her Illuminated Perfumes fit into the latter two categories: but with parts of her range accessible to a fairly broad economic range.
  • Economics, guys. Yes, I’m still allergic to the Viagra paradigm; but I mean strict sense old-sense economics, of household management and the version of it that is writ large, for groups of humans and their habitat going up to planetary level. Silk purses and sows’ ears. A world of difference between one individual créateur making everything from the ground up, and a large number of people assembled into a large company.
  • Economics (2): difference between the hand-made crafted artisanal, and mechanized Taylorian manufacture. Not even really “manufacture” as there’s no hands involved, just maybe fingers on the on/off button at the beginning and end of the day…
  • Economics (3): costs of materials and labour. And saving for insurance, health-care, pension. Using sustainable materials and fair labour. With a transparent process throughout (OK, made easier because the production chain is so straight and simple in Roxana’s case!)

The bottom line: I would rather pay honest money (from my own honest labour) to another honest woman to do an honest job.

And I like to think (I may be flattering myself) that I value what I get. I’m not a rich person, so I’m not going to douse myself in scent and run up massive personal-unguent bills (and not notice and take it all for granted). I don’t think of myself as having some sort of universal right to owning stuff. I perform work, I get paid. Some of that goes into food, everyday maintenance, a household, and communal stuff (taxes, charity donations, family); some gets saved; and some surplus gets spent on surplus-to-requirements things. I enjoy a nice scent, I think, the more because I can’t splash it around lavishly (or smear it, in the case of solid scent). I have to treasure it.

Because I have to focus on it each time I use and enjoy it, I enjoy it more (not, note, because I spent more on it; or because it’s my money I spent; though these are elements).

See, when overworking, I was told all the usual things: sleep, eat, rest, exercise. But also: take pleasure in life. Enjoy yourself. And enjoy things that are around you every day and free. Make free time during the day by just going outside and looking at a tree for five minutes. Not even going into deep meditation and suchlike: just regular everyday contemplation. It’s raining? Look at the raindrops. Look at how they fall, how they change the colours.

These things can be treasured too; as are my nice doctors (who didn’t even need to prescribe meds, so thank you Vancouver for being such a nice place!). Who emphasized that you have (if you haven’t done so already) to learn to distinguish between pleasure obtained from x and monetary cost of x. Sure, the “cost” of time, effort, concentration, patience are all there; and sometimes that adds up to “work.” But what’s being enjoyed, and the moment treasured the better to add it to the treasure-house of memory later: it’s not “x-as-monetary-cost-of-x“, because that’s just “an amount of money.” What should be being enjoyed, if you’re getting it right, is “x” itself. 

My goat is got by spoiled entitled people, who to add insult to injury are also stupid and selfish, and unthinking and inconsiderate in the basic sense of not having thought or considered. And have no consideration for other people (well, that’s also a creative failure: failure of sympathy and imagination). Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. Deserving just desserts, which would probably be something by the nice people behind “because you’re worth it.”

See further:


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