Archive | June, 2011


21 Jun

Recently, I got my hands on both linden-blossom absolute (a base note) and linden-blossom essential oil [EO] (a top note). The linden absolute is diluted at 30% and comes from White Lotus Aromatics; the linden essential oil comes from Mandy Aftel, and is delightful from beginning to end. Whereas the absolute has a little funk to its smell, the essential oil is utterly delightful in every way, soft, somewhat flowery, ever-so slightly sweet. I made a perfume that had both the absolute and the essential oil in it (out of 14 notes altogether), and I expected it to smell more like the essential oil than the absolute; it did in fact (my #1 fan adores the brew). Now I just need to discover more of its proper compatriots. The thing is, there’s a big difference between the absolute and the EO.
 I also got samples of petitgrain combava EO and white-ginger-lily absolute some time ago. The petitgrain combava is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the kaffir-lime tree, as such, it can be used to add citrus scents without actually adding citrus aromatics. The white-ginger-lily smells lily-like, but it’s not as overpowering as actual lilies; I think I can use it to good effect, and not necessarily in a lily-type perfume. More recently, I got samples of poplar-bud absolute and wheat absolute. These are intriguing aromatics. Both are thick and rich and complex; it will take no small number of attempts to figure out the right context for them, the correct or appropriate angles, the keys to making them synergistic and sublime.
 I ran into a big problem recently: I misplaced the lids to at least 50 1oz/2oz bottles (they use the same size lids). As I realized when I was first starting out in natural perfume, the most important thing in the bottle/lid combination is definitely the lid. For example, right now more than 50 bottles are useless because I lost the lids. The first thing I do when I get new bottles and lids is _put the lids in a safe place_. This is in addition to the loss of power supply for my big scale (1000g x .01g). Altogether, that’s not too bad, considering how far from New York I came. The thing is, I saw the big bag of lids after we got here; someone mistakenly threw them out. No big loss, as I can simply purchase more lids from Sunburst Bottle (I asked for them, and I think they’re sending them to me free of charge! They must understand that a bottle with no cap is utterly useless.).



12 Jun

I must say the car-door magnet with Lord’s-Jester-Inc. info looks great, and quite professional. I will plan to sell Lord’s-Jester-Inc. mugs, t-shirts (S, M, L), and simple window decals, with bare-bones info on it, web site, phone/fax numbers, email address, etc. One idea I’ve had since becoming a professional is this: get embroidered pocket squares with the words “Lord’s Jester” on them. Not only is this the fashion in which they applied perfume in the old days, this allows for more precise application–not like atomizers which get perfume _everywhere_ else when sprayed, except exactly where you want it; the only thing I like better is roll-ons. This, like the other schwag I’m thinking about offering, would entail a fair amount of money up front, especially if I want nice fabric. This is not to mention one day offering other products, like air freshener, deodorant, creams, etc.
 Somehow, during the move, I managed to misplace the power cable for one of my scales; Old Will Knott, from where I originally bought the scale, tells me I can’t buy the adaptor by itself. Both scales are from a company called MyWeigh. I lost the power cord for the larger one, capable of weighing 1000 grams (1kg), an iM01; I use it for weighing alcohol. The smaller one only weighs up to 100 grams (i101), but it does so with an accuracy to 0.005 of a gram–if you blow on it, it literally measures your breath. I know from this scale that a single drop of “your average” essence weighs about 0.02 gram (that’s two one-hundredths of a gram); I use this for measuring aromatics. One needs an extremely sensitive scale for weighing aromatics.
 To make a full batch of perfume you have to multiply each aromatic by at least 10. In general this means a total aromatic content of between 25 and 30 grams; the amount of alcohol depends on what concentration of perfume you’re making. For example, to make a 3% cologne from 25 grams aromatics, you would need 833 grams of alcohol (a little more than a quart). I use alcohol to blend into, usually 10 grams; so you’ve got 10 grams of alcohol, roughly 28 grams for a 25ml beaker, and roughly 30 grams of aromatics. You can see, you’re already at 68 grams; dangerously close to the 100 grams max weight for my smaller scale. I generally blend aromatics together in that 10 grams of alcohol; then I weigh out the (appropriate amount of) alcohol on the larger scale. Then I pour the aromatics/alcohol in with the larger amount of alcohol, in a mason jar. I let it sit for at least a month.


1 Jun

This is part of Uncorked, an anniversary celebration of five years of the Natural Perfumers Guild, with the following other bloggers/companies blogging today:

Alec Lawless, Being Led by the Nose
Anu Prestonia, Anu Essentials
Anya McCoy, Anya’s Garden Perfumes
Charna Ethier, Providence Perfume
Christine Ziegler, A Little Ol’Factory
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, DSH Notebook
Denise Smith, gtt by gtt
Elise Pearlstine, Bellyflowers
Emily Pienaar, The Western Cape Perfumery
Ida Meister, Ca Fleure Bon
Isabelle Gelle, Les Parfums d’Isabelle
JoAnne Bassett, Natural Perfumes
Karen Williams, Aromatics International
Laura Natusch, Olive and Oud
Lisa Abdul-Quddus, Blossoming Tree Bodycare
Noelle Smith, Ellenoire
Robert Tisserand, I’m Just Saying
Ross Urrere, Olfactory Rescue Service
Susan Stype, Aromatherapy Contessa
Trygve Harris, Absolutely Trygve

About 2004 or ’05, I was frantically addicted to mainstream perfume. I knew not one thing about it, how it was made; I never once stopped to wonder about whether or not it was natural. This was very unlike me: for nearly 20 years, I’d been dedicated to organic foods (even when I was 17, earning minimum wage, I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to organic farms and gardens–I’d always been an environmentalist at heart), to health food, to recycling, etc. I did end up doing a fair amount of “mini-farming” using Biointensive techniques (which are 100% organic). Then out of the blue (I was diagnosed with MS around 2000, so I’d been somewhat distracted :-(, I came across two books which changed my life forever: Perfume by Patrick Suskind, from which I learned how perfume _used to be made_, and Essence & Alchemy by Mandy Aftel, from which I learned I could actually become a natural perfumer myself.
 Natural perfume? I never knew there was such a thing; if there was perfume that had the word “natural” in front of it, I realized I should become a natural perfumer. Actually, at first I felt wronged. Here I’d been going along thinking all the discussion of notes in different perfumes was actually discussion of real natural, botanical essences and other natural aromatics. I had no idea all the perfume I’d grown to think of as precious was all synthetic! There was no one to blame but me: I never bothered to ask. So I decided that if the perfume industry was lying, not only would I become a natural perfumer, I’d become one of the best the modern world has yet known.
 When I first started Mandy Aftel’s workbook, I still didn’t know how I could ever become a professional; to be honest, at first I wasn’t even sure professional natural perfumery was something I wanted in my life. But I was definitely meant to be a perfumer. Once I got past the first stage of learning, formulae started coming to me as complete “thought forms,” a phrase the best therapist I’ve ever had was fond of saying. Sometimes poems come to me as complete thought-forms; I just need to write them out. Same thing with perfume formulae; the formulae come to me as complete, but sometimes I do need to change some things around with a given thought-form perfume, less costus, more jasmine sambac, remove neroli, etc.
 I’m a synesthete, so something like perfume brings me more joy than I can express. It satisfies me on many levels: I see smells, hear them, can imagine exactly what a combination of essences will smell like, etc. I have great perfume imagination. I make complete perfumes from scratch. I don’t make a base accord, and then try to imagine what else I could add. I make complete perfumes; if a given formula doesn’t work, it’s right back to the drawing board to imagine my way to another complete (successful) perfume. I rarely make mistakes, but it does happen. I just can’t see any way I like better than making complete perfumes all in one go. Hit or miss, all or nothing, success or no success–that’s the way I run my life.