Thursday, January 31, 2008


I was reading a post by another perfumer/perfume blogger (Liz Zorn) about decluttering, culling the supplies, basically getting organized, and I was compelled to write a short note about my own decluttering process.

I'm done -- mostly.

It took three days and a few trash bags, but I got it done. There's still one more cabinet I need to go through (a very large cabinet), but it's full of floral waxes, beeswax, tincturing materials -- stuff I don't really need to mess with at the moment.

The blending area is clear, though. All my dilutions are organized, categorized and within reach. My reference books are right there -- all I have to do is reach over and grab them, flip 'em open and do a quick search, which is a big change, and a relief, from how it was done before when I was digging around on the over-the-desk shelf, the beside-the-desk shelf and the behind-the-desk shelf. Disorganized, really. All in one place now and so much easier to deal with.

The most important change, really, was perception. Now that everything is in its place, my mind races with ideas. When I think of something, usually while standing over the sink with my hands in soapy water, I know I can pull my hands from the water, dry them off, rush into the studio and begin blending whatever formula my brain just conceived. When the studio was a cluttered mess, I didn't allow myself those ideas. When I felt them coming, I'd just jot down notes and try to forget about them because I knew what a pain in the butt it would be to dig through the bottles, vials and jars for the aromatics, not to mention the further digging for the blending containers. So fergit it! Now -- now I go for it. Yesterday I made a Raid scented accord. Not on purpose. But that WAS the result. It's not a total loss because I still see the potential. Just requires further experimentation.

Decluttering is the best thing for opening the flood gates toward creativity.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cupid's Bow at Le Parfumeur Rebelle

Le Parfumeur Rebelle is happy to announce February's giveaway prizes ~ 10 mls of 'Love' fragrance, and 'For Lovers' massage oil presented by perfume designer, Diana Rajchel, of Magickal Realism.

Enter here.

Good luck!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Green With Envy

Reading this blog makes me ecstatically happy and envious. Good stuff.

Friday, January 18, 2008

American Science Surplus

I just love this company. They're a treasure trove.

After a slightly longer wait than normal, I finally received my latest order - a few flasks, some dropper bottles, nothing major - and what a surprise I found when I opened the huge box my little order came in.

Bag after bag of dropper bottles came out first, then wads of plastic packing, then the flasks came out, then -- something else.

A 2.5 foot tall wooden handled whisk. That I didn't order. A giftie.

So now I can make giant souffles or whisk the neighbors' pool until it's nice and frothy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vetyver Bourbon, Reunion

I have in my possession a small vial of vetyver bourbon that I've coveted and dispensed frugrally throughout the years. As part of a trial in putting together a bodacious bottom, I rediscovered my pretty bottle of bourbon v. and fell in lust again.

It has a strong dark woody-smoky scent, heavy, cloying, non-earthy. Like a campfire that's burnt out . It's also sweet with a titch of oudhy rankness. Lovely. Still one of my favorites. Not favorite enough to make it into the bodacious bottom.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


'No one should smell your scent before they can see the colour of your eyes.'
'The Perfume Guide' by Susan Irvine

This is at the heart of natural botanical perfumery. There isn't a lot of throw with NBP's, and really, this is how all perfumes, and other scented body care, should behave.

Sillage is the scent trail. The cloud or mist of scent that hovers around the perfume wearer. Sometimes, when perfume is used as jewelry instead of clothing, the sillage is minimal and can only be detected in close proximity to the wearer. Other times it's like a nuclear mushroom cloud, filling the room with its noxious fumes, making people sick, making people run for the doors.

A trip to the grocery store is fraught with encounters of the Brittney Spears 'Curious' kind, or of the 'Poison' kind, or Avon, or a knock-off.

I was at a hockey game Friday night and was assaulted by the scent of sickeningly sweet fake vanilla blech. I discreetly checked around to see who the assailant was and saw a woman about fifteen seats away with a huge tube of hand lotion. She was holding her greased hands up to her friends shouting, "Smell this! Smell this!" as if there weren't a thick beige cloud hovering all around her.

No one else near me seemed bothered by it, so I ignored it and concentrated on the game -- er -- uh -- fight? About ten minutes later, my daughter-in-law stands up and says, "What is that sweet smell?" By then, the vanilla lotion girl had already put the tube of gloob back into her bag. The smell of that lotion had spread at least 20 or 30 feet from its place of origin. Now that's some serious sillage. (I lied and told the dil it was cotton candy, which, of course, made her hungry.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Working the Bones of a Perfume

Before I begin making a perfume, I usually have a pretty good idea where I'm going with it. Who, or what, imaginary or real, am I making this about? Not for. About. Is it a man or a woman whose story I'm going to tell? The story of a lover? A father? An intriguing fire-haired woman? Or is it a place? A rustic cabin in the mountains of Northern California? Or is it about the fierce summer winds that blow down through the coolies and ravines at the base of the Bear Tooth Mountains in Montana?

Whoever, or whatever, the perfume is about begins the fantasy.

Sometimes I get so tangled up in the blending that I lose sight, momentarily, of that fantasy, and I find that I'm lost somewhere else in the scent -- not the mountains, but the sea; not the forest, but the desert. The perfume can turn in another direction and go from he to she or water to earth at a drop. It has to be worked out, redone, but the lesson is learned. Blending this with that and that gives me water. Okay. File it away and save it for the next fantasy that is in want of water.

This is the work, which is also a fantasy. The alchemist turning raw materials into something golden.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Library Pieces

All natural botanical perfumers worth their salt should have, or start, a scent 'library'; a closet or drawer or shelf specifically for oddities and antiques, elements with huge 'no-no' factors like civet or musk deer pod, or elements of such rarity that to use them would be beyond foolishness.

Antique rose oils, 65-year-old sandalwood oil, 100-year-old vetyver and cedar oils. Remnants from a bottle of 50-year-old ambergris tincture.

If you find them, scoop them up.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Vetyver, Sri Lanka

Deeply green and woody, resinous, earthy, fresh and cool. Arctander compares the scent to 'potato peels' -- yeah, I get that. This vetyver is also smoky with tobacco tones, but surprisingly, it also has a floral layer that becomes stronger as the scent evaporates.

Vetyver, Sri Lanka, sourced from White Lotus Aromatics ~ floral vetyver.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Natural Perfume Review ~ La Via del Profumo

Gringo ~ Opens with a dry, loud citrusy-fruit note that fades to lindeny flatness; moves on and is enlivened with a smattering of spices which come and go, as if someone were opening a lid on a pot of potpourri, then quickly closing it again as the scent puffs out.

On the skin it remains loudly fruity, then becomes sweet with those murky linden notes weaving throughout, turns slightly floral and segues into a shadowy animal note. Here, too, the perfume displays slightly salty notes with hints of pepper.

An accurate impression of the perfume would not be possible directly from the bottle. It is sharply citrusy and fruity from the bottle with none of the salty, peppery, musky, floral, linden-like notes appearing at all.

The drydown is spectacular. All the fruit notes disappear completely and leave just the musky sweet and floral tones.

Profumo's aesthetic is different from the American made natural and botanical perfumes I've tried. It is artful and precise, as if attempting to suppress the tendency to create something overtly decadent. In the process, however, the perfume does become decadent, but in an elegant and refined way.

My personal preference is what's left ~ the drydown intrigues me. If the perfume smelled that way from beginning to end, I'd buy a vat.

*This perfume contains castoreum.


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