kids workshop - Painting with the Nose - Babelut Festival 2008

a workshop by Kristina Andersen and Maki Ueda
Babelut Festival 2008, Neerpelt Belgium

It's a 30 minutes workshop for the kids age 1.5 to 3. The workshop consists of two parts: first half is about making the smelly paint with the spices and herbs, and the kids make the smelly paintings in the second half.

First we grind the spices and herbs like cardamon, lavender, and star anise into powder with a mortal. As they are ground, the room is filled with the delicious scents.

"Wow, look! There's the black seeds in the green peel... doesn't it smell great?"
"What does it smell of? Don't you think of the sweets?"

Then we add the custom-made paint base. It's made with the milk, cornstarch, and citric acid etc. (detailed recipe)

We are now ready to paint.

We had already prepared 16 different scented paints beforehand, and they are now to be used too.

* lavender (lavendel)
* green cardamon (kardemon)
* green tea Sencha (groene thee Sencha)
* coriander seed (korianderzaad)
* vanilla (vanille)
* juniper berry (jeneverbes)
* cinnamon (kaneel)
* star anise (steranijs)
* kentjoer
* kaffir lime leaves
* violets 3 colors (viooltjes 3 kleuren)
* aniseed (anijszaad)
* fennel seed (venkelzaad)
* clove buds (kruidnagel)
* nutmeg (nootmuskaat)
* ginger (gember)
* calendula flower (goudsbloem)

After finishing painting, the kids take the paintings back home together with the memories of the scents smelled in the workshop.

Most of the kids were interested in mixing the different scents on the paper, but this boy was totally obsessed by ginger. Perhaps he particularly liked the scent.

"Wow it looks like a poop!"
The parents also seem to have enjoyed the workshop very much.

If you close your eyes, you can actually trace the intensity of the scent with your nose. So it's like a map for your nose.


recipe of the scented paint

original recipe specially developed for the Nose Painting workshop by Kristina Andersen and Maki Ueda

[How to make the base components]

for 12 x 100ml paint

(1) 1200ml milk (volle melk)
(2) corn starch (maizena) 20g, solution in 40ml cold milk
(3) 4 tea spoons citric acid (citroenzuur) - often available at tropical supermarket, lemon juice can possibly replace this

Heat (1) slowly on low heat.
Prepare (2), and pour (1) into (2) before reaching its boiling temperature, and mix them well.
Pour it back to the pan and put it on low heat.
Keep stirring until it gets soup-like texture. (It will get vla-like texture when it becomes cold.)
Stop heating, and add (3) little by little.
Separate it to 12 x 100 ml

[Adding the spice]

Add 1 to 2 table spoons ground herb/spice.
Adjust the texture - if it's too stiff add some more milk.

[Good tips]

* The spice smells stronger when it's freshly ground.

* Roasting the spices briefly on the low heat just before grounding gives even the better results.

* For grinding spices, you can use the coffee mill in stead of the mortal.

* By some of the herbs like lavender / green tea / calendula, a pinch of burnt alum (aluin in Dutch) is good to add. It's used often for dyeing, and it functions as a color amplifier. For example, the lavender paint would become pink with the alum, but it is gray without it. I've used the potassium alum that's commonly used in the Japanese kitchen for pickling.

(Left: with alm Right: without alm)

(The package on the left is the alum that has been used.)

* Because of adding (3) citric acid, the pH becomes about 2 which is a kind of enough to prevent the color changing by the oxidization. In other words, the color wouldn't stay stable without (3). Think about the basil pesto - if you leave it for 1 night, the green color becomes totally brown on the surface.

(The citric acid is added in the center. The lavender color changes to pink because of the reaction.)

[spices used in the workshop]

The composition is being based on the speculaas herbs (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, cardamon, aniseed). Then the balance and the variety in scents are respected; flowers to leaves, spices to herbs, Western and Eastern, top notes to base notes etc etc. Also the color was one of the factor.

  • lavender (lavendel)
  • green cardamon (kardemon)
  • green tea Sencha (groene thee Sencha)
  • coriander seed (korianderzaad)
  • vanilla (vanille)
  • juniper berry (jeneverbes)
  • cinnamon (kaneel)
  • star anise (steranijs)
  • kentjoer
  • kaffir lime leaves
  • violets 3 colors (viooltjes 3 kleuren)
  • aniseed (anijszaad)
  • fennel seed (venkelzaad)
  • clove buds (kruidnagel)
  • nutmeg (nootmuskaat)
  • ginger (gember)
  • calendula flower (goudsbloem)

(This is all the lavender paints... what to add is quite essential for its color clearly.)


The Stasi Smell Jar

For the exhibition If There Ever Was taking place at Reg Vardy Gallery in Sunderland, U.K., I've been composing the scent of a woman whose scent has been captured in The Stasi Smell Jar because she was a possible spy suspected by the Eastern German secret police. This exhibition consists only of the scents.

When I think about the human odor, there are two approaches. One is the realistic expressionism, and the other is the abstract expressionism, comparable to those of paintings.

The East German authority Stasi captured and stored thousands of their citizens' scents in glass jars. I consider this as the realistic expressionism, because they wanted to capture the original scent as precise as possible.

Good example of the abstract expressionism could be the perfume
"David Beckham Instinct - For Him". The fragrance does not smell at all of Beckham's sweat or whatever that could be, but of bergamot and spices just like the consumer fragrances. By wearing this, one feels like the superstar Beckham in his imagination.

My ambition for the exhibition "If There Ever Was" is to create something in between them: real, but fiction.

The most of the components are self-made.

The composed scent will be put in the scent cartridge, and it'll function as an atomizer during the exhibition. Also the scent will be printed "scratch & sniff" as a catalogue of the exhibition.

painting with the scents

So we go on preparing the workshop "Nose Painting". It'll take place in Neerpelt, Belgium on 8th and 9th of March, as a part of Babelut festival.

We made the paint with the fennel seeds.

He already knows how to make the paint, so he is doing all this without the help of Maki.

The brown paint is made with star anis.
The yellow-brown paint is made with fennel seeds.

He didn't want to paint further with the fennel.
"I don't like the scent."

The bottles for the paints.


the scent of Stasi smell jar

For the scents exhibition "If there ever was" taking place at Reg Vardy Gallery in Sunderland, U.K., I've developed the scent of Stasi smell jar.

The eastern Germany state secret police Stasi was collecting the scents of the citizens for ttracing the scent of the spy.

I'm developing my own 'palette' from the scratch.

Extracting from the smelly materials.

Making the test composition.

Like at the perfumery school in Grasse, I've developed the formula using the computer.
At the 4th try the scent was getting pretty close to what I've wanted to achieve.
My reference was the book written by the perfumer Takashi Suzuki (Takasago International), but mainly I've trusted my intuition, inspiration, and my experiences. My strong belief was in the fact "You smell of what you eat".

This part of the fragrance was made for the exhibition catalogue. The scents will be printed into the form "scratch & sniff". From now on I'm going to develop the scent to be exhibited.

an apron made of the kitchen clothes