Meet the Maker: Rose Cefalu of JT Desert Rose

Meet the Maker: Rose Cefalu of JT Desert Rose

 A while back, my friend Rose, who is also one of the vendors I carries at Rancho Relaxo, suggested I do a custom candle. She was reading my mind with this suggestion!

So I took Enzo & Lola up to the high desert to visit Rose in her studio. This was October 2023 and happened to be the weekend of the HWY 62 Open Studio Art Tours. If you have never been to this open studio event, mark your calendars! It is fascinating to see creators in their natural habitat!

Rose has a soothing, scholarly demeanor and she immediately put my wild children to work creating cyanotype bookmarks. She had a box full of findings including letters, dried flowers and twigs. She instructed the kids to pick out the leters of their name and whatever else got them jazzed. She then took them outside and had them put their findings on top of the paper in the direct sun. The kids were mesmerized!

While we waited for the sun to work its magic, Enzo started exploring. He made a beeline for a little fellow that greeted us as we entered the studio. This fellow was Fred and he was somehow even cuter than ET.

Rose shared the story of how Fred was her 2020 companion. During a time and place where doors were shutting, Rose dove deep into her imagination and took Fred on the road.

The cyanotype process is surprisingly quick and we were now ready to finish our bookmarks. Rose expalined that the paper we were using was iron salts that react to UV light. To finish the process, the paper is rinse with water to stop the reaction. The final step is drying.

Rose shared that the chemicals used in a cyanotpye are the same chemicals that were used to create blueprints back in the day before the introduction of CAD.

When Rose creates her cyanotypes, she first creates a negative that is the size of the print she intends to create. Joshua Tree and her amazing flora and fauna are Rose's muse. 

It is intersting that Rose chose a literal alien as her 2020 muse and her subsequent work has such an extraterrestrial feel. The sharp contrast created with the cyanotype process captures images like they are memories, the type of memories that come back to you crystal clear in the most random moments.

It would take a couple more solo visits to flush out all the details for the soon to be Ritual Candle. Rose invited me up for a sniffing party. We went through hundreds of scents, recharged our olfactories with sniffs of coffee beans. The very last fragrance we tested was absolute heaven: bergamot, black pepper, cinnamon leaf, jasmine, tonka bean, cypress, cedarwood, and musk. Rose used a base of coconut milk and soy which gave even more warmth and depth to this intoxicating blend.

Every time I see Rose she has another idea for what we can create together. I will grab any chance to take a day trip to Jt to work with my friend. So get ready for our holiday candle! 


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