July 31, 2015
Joseph Colbourne of Cambium Fragrances
Profile: I was born in Boston and raised in Southeastern Massachusetts with four siblings. My mother was a screen printer and homemaker and my father a retired police officer and folk musician. I took interest at an early age in all matters of flora and fauna, from the eastern white pines that lined the front of our modest little home, to the lilies-of-the-valley and bosc pear tree in our backyard.
Joseph at 5 yrs old
There was also a small vineyard beside our house, tended to by the previous owners, left to grow wild and wondrous, with tart green grapes that I’d relish in the summertime. My mother would take me on walks to pick wild blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and point out the many wildflowers that grew in sprawling glades. My Dad would let me splash a little of his Canoé, English Leather, or Old Spice. One of my favorite gifts he gave me to me was a field guide to insects and spiders. I was raised to respect and honor nature; to appreciate music and art; and I was given the space to express myself creatively however I wanted.
As I reached adolescence, home life proved to be more challenging, and this is when I started the journey to find myself as many teenagers do. Punk rock, safety pins, dyed hair, smashing systems, collecting records, creating an identity for myself. Though each veneer would be shed and redone a number of times (mod, indie rocker, studied aesthete, the exact opposite), my punk-rock ideals and desire to preserve my individuality remained. My love for music led to DJing starting in my twenties. For ten years, I invested much energy in this creative expression, while quietly enjoying scent through niche and indie fragrances (after all, my idea at the time was that nothing should be pedestrian about my tastes!). However, I hadn’t given much thought to the idea of getting any more involved with scent beyond a passive appreciation.
It was at toward the end of 2013 that I reached my breaking point. I felt stuck working full-time jobs in corporate environments to pay the bills and after ten years of DJing I reached a point where I reached a place of dissatisfaction and exhaustion. Have I really in fact found myself? Thus started a chapter of introspection and self-exploration, which lead to facing some difficult realities. As winter approached, around Christmastime, I started burning balsam fir incense. As simple and mundane is that might seem to be, it made a profound impact to me. I thought to myself, “this is like aromatherapy,” which brought me to the question, “what is aromatherapy?” I bought a few essential oils, all woodsy: cedar, spruce, fir, juniper berry, even birch tar (was I in for a surprise with that one!). I was immediately hooked, and wanted to know what all these oils were used for, what they smelled like. What is cistus? Tagetes?! Galbanum!?! Davana!?!?! I was so naïve and thirsty for knowledge—for the first time in years, I felt so inspired and eager. I began studying both aromatherapy and perfumery, reading voraciously, sniffing, blending, soaking it all in.
I left my full-time job and found myself with invaluable time to experiment, study, and grow. This rare opportunity has enabled me to tap into a skill I would never imagined as part of my repertoire just a few short years ago. I was brought to scent by looking inward and taking a moment to really be present with my sensory experiences; through sitting with my feelings, meditation, and spiritual growth. I discovered a new love affair and passion as a result. Over eighteen months later, I am now a certified clinical aromatherapist and self-taught perfumer. Still very much a student, I am just beginning to share the fruit of my efforts and develop an identity in my new fields.
Collage of essences and raw materials from Joseph's studio
I consider myself an artist treading a fine line between traditional, structured approaches to perfumery and iconoclastic, intuitive, far-reaching experimentation. I create all-natural fragrances and mixed media (using both naturals and aroma molecules). At the moment, I am learning how the synergistic effects of naturals play with (and against) the more ‘sine wave’ like tones of isolates and synths. However, being the pragmatist, I understand my place and my level of experience, and am still developing my vision. I am not so sure if at the moment I want to sell a philosophy as I want to simply share my art. There is still so much to learn, modify, reinforce, and nurture. I do know that I want to tell stories, evoke different places, different times in one’s life. I want some of my scents to be agents of ‘elsewhereness’ and others to be meditative, putting the wearer very much in the sacred ‘present.’ They can feel handsome or glamorous, playful or austere. I see a lot of exciting adventures and enriching experiences in my future: making larger batches of my creations, growing my own plants, distilling my own materials, developing additional products such as skin care and aromatherapeutic blends. Today, however, I simply and humbly want others to experience the perfumed creations that I have spent the past several months constructing and refining. I also want to encourage a deeper connection with our primal sense of smell through expanding our language in relation to scent, approaching fragrance much the same as one would with architecture, food, painting, music, or poetry.
Joseph sampling different raw materials
On American Perfumery: For better or worse, America is about individualism. With the help of the internet, this has encouraged the (re-emerging trend) of the independent artisan, with unlimited access to research and the means to educate oneself. One’s individualism is a virtue when he or she is connecting with their community in some capacity. American perfumery has the potential to do just this—to connect to a person’s dreams, desires, joys, memories, and to unearth sensations that have been buried from deep within their psyche. There is something profound about the power of scent and the small-scale indie perfumer as a vehicle for delivering these sensory experiences; exceptionally personal and intimate connections are made.
Cleve Grey Silver and Gold 1967
Favorite American Artist: My favorite American artist is painter Cleve Gray, an American Abstract expressionist painter, who was also associated with Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction. The aesthetic of color field painting is how I imagine my Cambium olfactory works to resemble.
–Joseph Colbourne of Cambium Fragrances, website (coming soon): www.cambiumfragrances.com
Silkvine Cambium Fragrances
We have a draw as follows: For a US registered reader Joseph is offering a 10ml bottle of Silkvine, with notes top notes of Pink Pepper, Cabrueva, Cinnamon, heart notes of Chinese Silk Vine, Frangipani, Cascarilla Bark, and Turmeric, and base notes of Labdanum, Patchouli, Sandalwood, and Peru Balsam
Accismus Cambium Fragrances
a 10ml bottle of his 100% Natural perfume Accismus, with top notes of Bergamot, Maritime Pine, Lime, heart notes of Raspberry, Rose, Heliotrope, Cedarwood and base notes of Blonde Tobacco, Patchouli, Cacao, Benzoin and Geranium. To be eligible please leave a comment with what you found fascinating about Joseph and your choice of fragrance. Draw closes August 3, 2014
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