02 September 2013


I now post all of my new blogs over at WordPress. I was using both of these sites, but have found it easier to stick to just one.

Please visit my blog there: http://alandcalledjohnalee.wordpress.com/

14 May 2013

1863 Perfume Oil

"You know, a heart can be broken, but it still keeps a-beating just the same."
~ Ninny Threadgoode ~

My latest perfume creation is one of my most complicated and intense to date. Not for the faint of heart.
1863 was a tremendously difficult year in the United States. Our country was in the middle of a terrible Civil War and would continue to be for two more years. It was also the year in which our President, Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed a date of national Thanksgiving in the month of November. Those two facts seem so counterintuitive side by side, and yet they are and will remain etched in our history.

Many of the photographs and ephemera that remain from that era tell brutal truths about the ways of life and death in those harsh days. There is absolutely no doubt that 1863 was ripe with hardship and strife, but somewhere in there also lies many simple truths, ordinary days and feasts with family and friends.

My mind often wanders into a land of daydreams that writes stories for people in pictures, borders on synesthetic mania and "sees" scent and/or color in memories. The faces in old photographs are more than just nameless lost souls. They lived, they loved, they laughed and cried, they probably meandered about this planet with more mundane thoughts than they did great ones. In those days, like today, many people in love were ripped apart by war, some were reunited, weddings, births, deaths and togetherness.

1863 perfume oil starts off with delicious cranberry sauce followed by smoked vanilla, deciduous woods, mystery and musk.

Oh My Darlin' & 1863 will be released for purchase on Etsy and my website this week!

06 May 2013

Oh My Darlin' Perfume Oil

I've always had a soft spot for poor Clementine. Like me, she had giant feet and so her demise in the water due to a sliver in her unnaturally large foot has always haunted me. The silly old folk ballad is one that I frequently find repeating in my head for no reason and if you know the melody you know the viral nature of it.
I tend to really think about words and lyrics and because of that I have always had a mental picture of Clementine that is probably greatly different than intended by Percy Montrose (if indeed he was the writer of this parodic melody). The Clementine of my mind has always been beautiful with long wavy copper tresses. She was a woman in a mining camp of 1849 that would've been a little dusty, a little wild, but nevertheless a lady - and dare I say a sexy one at that.
Oh My Darlin' perfume oil has been a long time process and was finally created during a week when I could not budge the song from my mind.
Sweet clementines (what else?) and steamy griddle cakes with notes of fresh cut wood entwined with a base of velvety vanilla and sandalwood with just a touch of smoke. Sensual, rich and complex.

I'll post pictures of the finished product sometime this week or next. In the meantime, the label design is up there.

03 May 2013

Hazel Fern Perfume Oils

Hazel Fern Perfume Oil
9ml Roll On Bottles
We've been working for a long time on creating a line of perfume oils for the Hazel Fern Fragrances line and they are finally here. We currently have five available fragrances in 9ml glass roll on bottles. All of the perfume oils are blended in a base of sweet almond oil which soaks right into your skin.
Four of the fragrances are some of our most popular sellers in soap, wax melts and candles. Lime Berry, Courtesan, Bedchamber and Full Moon are all available for purchase here for $10.00 plus shipping.

She wrings her hands at the iron gate, the silk handkerchief she clutches still sodden with the scent of him. Salty tears plunge into the softened moss and dirt below while the softly falling rain awakens the pungent aroma of white jasmine and dew soaked hyacinths merging with funeral flowers.
There is a fifth fragrance that is making its debut as a perfume oil. We've been working on this blend for quite a while and are happy to announce the birth of Good Mourning.  
Good Mourning is evocative of an Edwardian spring morning at a cemetery. Rain and white flowers dance near lavender and moss, the lingering amber of aftershave. Despite the name and description, Good Mourning is not a heavy cloak of scent, rather it is a delicate balance of notes suitable for day or night.
We will be adding more perfume oils throughout the next few months and will have them at all of our upcoming festivals and shows as well as on our website and in the Etsy shoppe. Please check back for more additions to this new line. Please contact us with any suggestions as well!

28 February 2013

A Grave Affair

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
~ George Santayana ~

In the spring of 2005 I was taking an art history course at BGSU as part of my degree requirement. It was American art before the Civil War and I wasn't exceptionally enthusiastic about it because I was in a phase of obsession with Artemisia Gentileschi and the Italian Baroque. Early America was just going to be a thorn in my side. Or so I thought.

As it turns out I had a wonderful professor, Dr. Jeffrey Schrader, who made the class interesting and enjoyable and my pal E was there to learn with me. Art history, while fascinating to me in general, can be really dry and tedious in a lecture hall. This wasn't the case in Dr. Schrader's class that semester. An interesting non-studio art class with a good friend taking notes next to me was a rare thing in my college experience and it's fair to say that this particular class changed many things for me.
Grave of Timothy Lindall. Burying Point, Salem, MA. Photo copyright Johna Gibson Bowman

One of the slides in a lesson was the gravestone of Timothy Lindall who is interred at Old Burying Point, Salem, Massachusetts. The suspected carver of this particular stone is William Mumford. The carving is breathtakingly detailed, the lettering is pristine and the stone itself is in phenomenal condition for something 300+ years old that endures the weather of the east coast. There is also a fabulous representation of the transition from the Julian to Gregorian calendar. The Lindall gravestone, like so many others belonging to our ancestors, is both a piece of art and a lesson in history.

Lindall graves at Burying Point Cemetery, Salem, MA. Photo copyright Johna Gibson Bowman
There are many places in which you can read about Lindall's grave and the early American stonecutters. I wrote my term paper about them and maybe I'll publish that one of these days, but that was that slide that changed the way I thought about art and history and how they commingle. I've always been drawn to cemeteries and gravestones, but thought they would only be a part of my genealogical interests and not a part of my art and other writing.
One of my other passions is genealogy and my enthusiasm for art, sepulchral sculpture, cemeteries and the death practices of early Americans has become a way for me to bridge those interests. Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to make public an interest in these subjects. I've been called names by people who think my work is disturbing or even sacrilegious. I've also been attacked by a person who sent me scathing and grammatically horrifying emails for using a word figuratively - never mind that my usage of the word is correct. Things like that used to bother me, but I believe that everyone - good & bad - should be remembered. If enduring a little crap from the narrow-minded and ignorant has to come with trying to help do that, I'm cool with that.
I have a lot of photos to go through from trips I've taken to cemeteries. I'll post them on my website as I get to them.
Meanwhile, the Higher Intuitions Oracle Deck that Kristy Robinett and I have created is about a month from release and a there is a very good price on Amazon.com. I also have several new paintings that I'm working on along with all of the Hazel Fern Soap and Candles products. There will be many new fragrances released including Lord of the Manor, Blue Moon (not the beer!), Clarity - Higher Intuitions scent, a line of coffee house scents in sturdy ceramic cups and new handcrafted hot process soaps.

19 February 2013

Website Updates, Mailing Lists and News

I've been working a lot on my website lately and decided to have my site designer, Ethereal Designs, spruce things up a little to make the site better looking and more user friendly. I've got a new header, new buttons and a cleaner layout.

There is also a place for you to sign up for my mailing list. I will be sending out specials, coupon codes, festival and show dates and signing dates and locations for the Higher Intuitions Oracle. All of my holiday specials will go to my mailing list first!

In the coming weeks and months I will be blogging more and more about my artwork, candles, melts and soaps.

Visit my website at www.johnagibsonbowman.com. Thank you!

Snow Day Coffee Mug Design
10 oz. Snow Day Mug

29 January 2013

A Day In An Old Churchyard

If you've followed my work at all you know that I have a selection of cemetery photography & art that I've done. I've gotten a lot of flack for this and to be honest, I didn't really publicise these works until the last couple of years. I think cemeteries are beautiful, peaceful places to remember and reflect. An open minded trip to a cemetery can be a great history lesson.

I wrote my art history term paper about gravestones. It seems to some like a fairly dry and bleak subject but it's truly fascinating. Afterall, we still memorialize our loved ones by choosing a lovely resting place and marking it with engraved stone.

There will be more posts in the future about this topic with my art, photographs and observations.

For now I've posted three of my newest photographs which are available as prints and ceramic tiles.