Archive | February, 2011


25 Feb

I failed to mention in the last installment that Persephone is my would-be rose perfume. I’m using araucaria and rose in the heart, and rosewood and palmarosa on top, out of 17 notes. It needs a fair amount more work until I can consider it a success. Also, I was mistaken with Hermes. My formula calls for linden-blossom absolute and green cognac in the base, araucaria and boronia in the heart, and linden-blossom essential oil, orange essence, and lime essence on top, out of 14 notes. The tea-tree/eucalyptus perfume is called Artemis; it’s also got rosemary absolute and mushroom in the base, calamus and jonquil in the heart, and rosemary essential oil and hops on top (hops, I’ve never used before, though I’ve had it for years), out of 17 notes.

The idea of using, say, linden absolute in the base and linden essential oil on top in one perfume, and rosemary absolute in the base along with rosemary essential oil on top, is something I’ve never tried. I imagine it will work nicely. I like the idea of a linden-blossom perfume; rosemary, not so much, but it’s worth a try. How well rosemary absolute and rosemary essential oil will work with tea-tree and eucalyptus remains to be seen. That’ll be my “outlaw perfume,” Artemis. I am truly an outlaw perfumer because I don’t care at all about conventional wisdom. Everything I’ve learned about natural-perfumery has been through experimentation, trial, and error. My knowledge has been hard-won. No one could take it away from me; no one could tell me that my methods are not conventional–I mean, they’re not, but I just don’t care.

One thing I plan to do is one day to make perfumed-leather journal covers. GW Septimus Piesse, in his book from 1857, has a recipe; he calls it “peau d’espange.” The instructions are complex: first you have to soak the leather in aromatics for a day; then you have to make a funky paste with civet and musk (I’d use ambergris), along with gum acacia or gum tragacanth. Spread that over small pieces of leather, sandwich them together, weigh them down with some kind of weight, and you’re on your way to peau d’espagne. Once you scrape off the paste, and, I assume, rinse the leather somehow, you have Piesse’s idea of pea d’espagne. I’d have to change some things about the recipe. I wouldn’t use civet, and I might change a couple of other aromatics. Another thing I want to do someday is sell perfumed letter paper; guys, I don’t think, would go for it; women on the other hand, would probably buy up perfumed letter paper as fast as I could make it. Piesse seems to write that perfuming letter paper can be difficult; perfumed bookmarks, however, he approves of.



16 Feb

Persephone is still not right. There’s a sharp aroma that I can’t seem to get rid of. More work is needed. I think I should move on to one of the many other perfume ideas I have, like Hermes (containing tea-tree and eucalyptus, what I call a truly outlaw perfume), and Triton (a blue perfume containing green cognac and blue cypress); unfortunately, so-called “clear labdanum” is not in fact clear, at least until it’s been diluted, which I haven’t yet tried). Zeus has potential, but I already have an amber cologne, Ares. Maybe I’ll take Ares eau de cologne and turn it into an eau de parfum. I like it full strength. That’s the way I wore it at first. Again, it’s one of my first successes in perfume. A natural perfumer must, I believe, have some sound amber perfume. As far as the tea-tree/eucalyptus idea I have, it’ll have to wait. Instead I’ll work on a Guild “Brave New Perfumes” project; the deal is they’re trying to highlight underused aromatics. A perfumer must choose from a master BNP list of extracts; a person is allowed a single “wild card,” an extract not on the list.

I don’t think too much of fire-tree in the end; what I get is a largely animalic odor that reminds me of a more complex Africa stone. Very stinky. Linden blossom, on the other hand, I absolutely adore. It smells a little bit like “honey sur flowers” (literally, honey on flowers, like petitgrain sur fleur, which is a co-distillation of petitgrain and, as far as I know, neroli, or geranium sur fleur, which is geranium co-distilled with rose), complex but very satisfying. It is, in fact, a top note, as Mandy Aftel advises. White-ginger-lily is pretty amazing stuff. It does smell like lilies, but nowhere near as sweet and overpowering. Great aromatic to add to my library. Another aromatic I’ve never smelled is hyacinth. I have 18ml on order from Australia, which is the only place I could find it. From what I’ve read it’s “floral, complex, and strong.” Could be another great addition. One other aromatic I want to smell is (sweet) cassie absolute (not to be confused with cassia, which, as far as I know, is cinnamon-like).

I’m getting ready to move to Florida, to be near my family. Mary and I are going to drive together; we’re planning to take the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is a gorgeous road at the top of a mountain (I think it’s about 400 miles long) inside a park. (My guidemaps are coming.) I’m a little worried about packing all my perfume stuff. There’s a lot of stuff, including 100s of aromatics, alcohol, finished perfumes, finished perfume bottles (lots), diluted notes for custom perfume, oils/wax, boxes of different kinds, etc. It’s a lot of stuff to worry about.


6 Feb

The new perfume I made for Mary, now called Héra, is a little nondescript. I’ve changed the formula for the next iteration; I want to smell less sandalwood and hay, more honeysuckle and rose in the heart, and more ginger on the top. The first iteration doesn’t quite know what it wants to be; there are various conflicting parts. I love contrast, and apparent opposites can often lead to synergistic results; this iteration is too confused. I need to focus on what I’m trying to accomplish. Mary liked labdanum, osmanthus, vetiver, frangipani, and immortelle; none of those was in the first iteration. I should play around with the formula some more. One thing Mary didn’t smell was honeysuckle; I’m pretty sure she’d like it though. How could a person not like the smell of honeysuckle? I will say the absolute smells very different from the fresh flowers.

Honeysuckle. How could a person not love honeysuckle?

I’m waiting to acquire some new aromatics. Linden blossom for one; I’ve smelled it before but never had enough to make a perfume out of. Another one is rosa bourbonia, which is a slightly different variety of rose, that smells, believe it or not, very different from rosa damascena, the typical rose. Another one is gardenia, which, again, I’ve smelled but never had enough to work with. Another is, believe it or not, lilac CO2; I’m joining other Professional Perfumers in a group buy from Ecomaat by way of Larry Marsala, but other places sell lilac. Another is white ginger lily; I have no idea whether or not it smells like regular lilies, which smell is intoxicating. Another is red-raspberry; I assume it smells like, well, red raspberries, but whether or not it will be useful is a question.

Rosa bourbonia. Different from rosa damascena.

And yet another one I want try is fire tree; it’s expensive but it sounds really nice, starting with the smell of lilac, then moving into an animalic, smoky, woody base. Just my sort of thing. Mandy Aftel sells it; it might be hard to find other suppliers–a web search turned up no company or individual. I’m not sure I want to try it; what if I love it? I’d be really disappointed if I couldn’t get any more. I may have to ask my friends at White Lotus Aromatics if they can get some. I have seven ounces of orris-root/violet-leaf co-distillation on its way to me from White Lotus. The only other place I know to get orris-violet is Floracopeia, and they’re out of stock right now; they only sell it in one dram vials anyway (one dram is .125 ounce), which is not very helpful for me. It’s much more expensive from Floracopeia than the bulk purchase from White Lotus.

Orris-violet. A delightful smell.