Royal College of Art graduate Lauren Davies has designed a range of copper, maple and glass tools to make scented oils, creams and cosmetics at home (+ slideshow).
The Alchemist's Dressing Table project by Lauren Davies features a three-tier distiller for making scented oils, a scent infuser for creating creams and balms, and a double-sided copper bat for mixing eyeliner.
"The tools I've designed will enable women to forge a stronger connection to their personal beauty rituals and a more magical relationship with nature's intricate mysteries," said Davies.
The three-tier distiller features a glass globe and a stainless steel stand with a cork rim. Water can be boiled in the spun-copper bowl on the base, which is heated by an oil burner positioned underneath.
Steam passes up through scented plants that are placed on the first copper sieve and again through a second sieve. The top compartment is filled with ice and the spun copper funnel acts as a condenser, turning the rising steam underneath into a scented liquid that trickles into a glass, positioned in the centre.
Davies has also created a pan for melting oils and waxes, and for mixing scents and pigments. The pan is made from borosilicate glass and has a maple wood handle. It sits on copper hot plate that is positioned on a stainless steel stand.
For creating creams and balms from scented plants, Davies has designed a scent infuser. "The scent is built up over time as unscented fat traps the airborne scent molecules from the plant material above," she explained.
The final tool is a copper plate with a wooden handle for making kohl eyeliner. A single disc of copper is place over an oil burner. Carbon collects on the underside and then the disk is flipped over for making the eye makeup.
"The black carbon deposit can then be mixed with almond oil for a smudged finish or aloe vera and witch hazel to allow a brush drawn line and used as eyeliner," Davies explained.
Davies' collection also includes a pair of copper tongs for picking up plant material, a maple wood stirrer, a mixing tool and four copper measuring spoons.
All the products are made from five materials. "The palette of copper and maple wood are chosen for their traditional and folkloric symbolism respectively," said Davies. "Cork is used for its insulating properties, borosilicate glass for its heat resistance and stainless steel for strength," she added.
Here's a short movie featuring the alchemist's table:
Other Royal College of Art projects we've featured recently include a field that was digitally printed with patterns and a collapsible paper dress that expands and changes shape with body movements. See all our stories from Show RCA 2013 »
Here's further information from Lauren Davies:
The Alchemist's Dressing Table
The Alchemist's Dressing Table is a collection of analog tools for the production of natural cosmetics at home, inspired by beautiful ancient rituals and the transformative powers of alchemy.
The palette of copper and maple wood are chosen for their traditional and folkloric symbolism respectively. Cork is used for its insulating properties, borosilicate glass for its heat resistance and stainless steel for strength. All components are fabricated in collaboration with London-based craftsmen.
Together, the tools form a statement piece; reigniting a dialogue about our relationship with nature and the materials we use. I believe this could be the future of cosmetics for the modern woman who has a desire to be more in control of what she uses on her skin and the impact they have on the environment.
The tools I’ve designed will enable women to forge a stronger connection to their personal beauty rituals and a more magical relationship with nature’s intricate mysteries.
The distiller can be used to make hydrosols and essential oils. Water is boiled in the spun copper bowl using an oil burner. Steam then passes up through the scented plant material sitting on the handcrafted sieve above. The top compartment is filled with ice allowing its spun copper base to act as a condenser. The steam carries the scent particles up through the second sieve and hits the condenser where it cools, turns into liquid and drips down into the collection glass below.
Oils and waxes can be melted in the pan over the hot plate and mixed with scents and pigments. The scent infuser is for the cold maceration of volatile scented plants to make creams and balms. The scent is built us over time as unscented fat traps the airborne scent molecules from the plant material above.
The kohl plate is for the preparation of black kohl eyeliner. Carbon collects on the underside of the copper plate from the almond oil burning in the oil burner below for a period of time. This black carbon deposit can then be mixed with almond oil for a smudged finish or aloe vera and witch hazel to allow a brush drawn line and used as eyeliner.
The hand held tools comprise of a pair of copper tongs to be used with plant material in the distiller or scent infuser, a stirrer for the pan, a mixing tool for use with the kohl plate and a set of measuring spoons (TBSP, TSP, 1⁄2 TSP, 1⁄4 TSP) to be used where accuracy is needed.