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Making Violet Water, Part One (The Things We Do For Historical Fiction)

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March 25, 2015 by kristin

I’m fond of violet-scented things, so in my manuscript set in the Civil War, I used violet water as my main character’s signature scent. I wanted to make some violet water myself, so that I’d be able to properly describe it, and did all the requisite googling. But then I got sidetracked by one thing or another, and the violet water never happened.

Now I’m working on a novel set in 1931 New Orleans and have no particular use for detailed knowledge of violet water. But violets are popping up all over my back yard, and yesterday evening, I found myself out there with my two little girls in the beautiful early spring (aka, not sweltering) Alabama weather. Flower-picking for a purpose seemed a perfect way to entertain them, and stop them from dumping sand out of the sand box.

Ruby & Ro gathering violets

Ruby picked a bunch of flowers; Rosemary picked two.

After a little while of frenzied picking, we had a pretty bouquet of violets.

violet bouquet

Okay, it was bigger than this. But not much bigger.

I’m merging two or three different recipes for violet water, so we probably didn’t gather enough violets, and we might need a different kind of violets, and maybe we should’ve poured alcohol on them instead of boiling water, or maybe not. Thanks, Internet, for being so confusing.

I will not be at all surprised if this turns out to be a failed attempt at violet water. So far, the solution (which is supposed to steep another two days in the fridge) is only vaguely violet-y in color and smells mostly like decaying plant matter at the bottom of a vase, so I’m not feeling too hopeful.

violet water steeping

After a couple of days, I’m supposed to strain out the violets, pour in some gin or brandy or vodka, depending on which recipe I follow, and voila! Violet water! Or Bog of Eternal Stench. We shall see. Fingers crossed two days in the fridge works a miracle!


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About Kristin

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Historical fiction writer and reader. Procrastinator. Sewist. Ally. Fan of red lipstick, rock 'n' roll, and everything vintage.

Current Work-in-Progress

The Boy in the Red Dress

A 1930s Veronica Mars must save her drag queen BFF and her aunt's speakeasy from pesky cops and a petulant mobster in seedy Prohibition-era New Orleans.

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