Conceptual artist Cherry Tree has a scent of mystery about her. And the smell of urine. Her urine. And it's intentional.
For the last five years, Tree, who splits time between Missouri and Spain, has been turning her own urine into perfume.
"I am very much into recycling," Tree, born Charity Blansit, told AOL Weird News. "And urine is something I've thought needs to be recycled, since it's something that gets eliminated."
It's a whiz of an idea and one that Tree was inspired to turn into a reality in 2006.
"It was the first morning after a full moon," she said. "And I decided to collect my urine in a perfume bottle."
At first, Tree's concept was only to collect urine after each full moon.
"I was fascinated by how the smell changes depending on what you eat," she said. "For instance, it smells really good after you eat a lot of honey and it smells terrible after eating chicken."
Tree was content simply to collect her urine in perfume bottles -- until one day when she decided to take it to the next step.
"I noticed each bottle had its own scent, so I thought I'd add a little sugar to it and make a real 'eau de toilette,'" she laughed.
To the casual observer, the idea of making perfume from pee may sound gross, but there is a precedent to it, Tree said.
"People like the smell of musk? Well, one type of musk comes from a gland located between the stomach and genitals of a deer," she said.
She took lessons from her brother, Jim Blansit, who runs a boutique distillery near Branson, Mo. After studying how he made vodka and whiskey, she applied his techniques to her urine-scented perfume.
Her first batch didn't work -- but not because it stunk.
"It actually smelled great. It was very chocolatey. I think it was because I was drinking a lot of coffee at the time," she said. "But I didn't put enough sugar in it for it to ferment, so I had to throw it out."
Although urine is a waste product, it is sterile -- unlike feces -- when it leaves the human body unless the individual has a disease. And fermenting it, as Tree does, creates alcohol, which kills any existing germs.
Tree estimates that distilling reduces her urine input by half, but admits she's still in the experimental stage and hasn't committed to one recipe.
Still, she is starting to dream of a day when she can sell her pee-powered perfume to the masses.
"I'd have to sell it in small quantities or make it for people out of their own urine," she said. "Honestly, I don't want to imagine the logistics of that."
It might seem safe to assume that Tree's dream of becoming a pee perfume mogul would piss off her family, but her brother is pleased as punch (provided, of course, that punch doesn't contain Tree's not-so-secret ingredient).
"I've always admired her imagination and creativity," Blansit said. "I think she watched me distill and applied it to perfumes. To be honest, I think what she's doing harkens back to an old tradition, because who knows what was in the original perfumes."
And Tree's hobby may be unusual, but it's more common than one might want to think.
Earlier this year, as part of an art project called "The Sun Is But One Anus," artist Jammie Nicholas distilled "essential oils" from his own excrement and sold several bottles for $80 a poop, er, pop.
Tree isn't ready to sell her urine-scented perfume, but she does see it as another way of explaining recycling to the masses.
"People need to realize it's both consumption and waste and we need to figure out how we can use it," she said.
Tree realizes some people may make a stink about her hobby, but it's natural to her.
"I have a close relationship to urine," she admitted. "I've done it all my life."
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