Defending the Gate was my first event to display an A&S project. I reproduced the clove infused almond oil from the recipe “To Make Smooth Hands” as found in Markham’s 1615 publication of The English Housewife.
The documentation can be found here: Clove Infused Almond Oil, DtG, March 2015
I was incredibly nervous going into the A&S area, even with a ‘display only’ project, having heard such A&S horror stories. That is what inspired me to request a seasoned A&S-er run interference for me. It was such a relief to have some hand-holding entering into the A&S realm, and the process become a truly enjoyable experience with worthwhile feedback that translates to real, follow-up and action items!
I was asked in my feedback if I had tried the almond oil myself, and now I feel I have used it regularly enough to be able to attest to the effectiveness of this oil.
Almond oil itself is a wonderful skin oil. I had used almond oil in the past with ok results, but I usually found it to be a bit heavy compared to coconut oil or pressed shea. The texture reminds me more of olive oil than the skin oils I prefer. It seems to me that the infusion of the cloves added desirable traits. Firstly, my infusion (thankfully) achieved the spicy fragrance expected with a clove infusion. Secondly, it felt to me like the infusion may have thinned out the oil a bit. I have no science to support this! It could be completely psychosomatic, but hey, there’s validity to the placebo effect and maybe the early 17th century readers of Markham experienced the same thing.
A few things you might not know about clove… Whole cloves are actually flower buds. They also contain cyanide. This is why I tease my husband about putting too much clove in his cider if he gets lippy, but I don’t think he understands the reference. Lol.
Medicinal uses for cloves span Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine. In traditional herbalism, the most common use for clove oil is as a topical painkiller, often utilized for oral/dental pain. A known carminative, the spice is used to aid digestion and during abdominal distress. Similarly, the essential oil can be used in aromatherapy and/or in a topical application on the abdomen for stimulation and warming during episodes of digestive distress. Cloves are also used to treat intestinal parasites.
While the use of topical clove oil (usually referring to the more concentrated essential oil, but also applicable to an oil infusion) is common and documented, I haven’t seen anything indicating why it would help heal dry hands. I might look for indications promoting tissue growth, humectant properties, or protection against the elements. Absent any such properties, I am operating under the assumption that the clove infusion makes the oil smell better 🙂
I would like to continue my work on Markham’s oils and move into waters. I find the domestic manuals to be really interesting, and they offer a lot of variety for a range of projects. The main hurdle I have seen is the availability of many of the plant species mentioned in his recipes.