Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 55 ~ One Year, One Nose


Orange Blossom Absolute/Tunisia ~ White Lotus Aromatics


White Lotus Aromatics is one of my favorite places to purchase perfumery raw materials. The product quality is top-drawer, consistent, and the customer service is the best. Often when I place an order for restock, I will order samples of exotics to round out the palette. WLA allows up to ten samples per order, which is more than enough. One word of caution, though. If your sample turns out to be something that totally blows your mind, you'd better get back on the site and order a full size because those kinds of things are known to go quickly.

At the end of last summer or beginning of last fall WLA received in stock a shipment of Tunisian orange blossom absolute. I was encouraged on several fronts to order some but due to the circumstances of my life at that time, I was unable to do so. Imagine how surprised I was when winter began and I received a parcel from a friend which included a sample of that orange blossom absolute I coveted so. Let's just say I was blown away. It was perhaps the most intensely floral orange blossom I had ever encountered, but there was something else about it, something that deepened the scent, something that the blossoms' scent seemed to pull from the earth itself, a vital piece of what it needed to make it this special. So after hours of sniffing scent strips drenched in the oil, hours of opening the bottle for a sniff, I "found" the piece of the puzzle that made this orange blossom absolute so much different (and better) than others I had experienced. In the bottom of the scent, way down deep where the dregs lie, that bit of something the blossoms dug from the earth shimmers ever so brightly, it is an earthy-rooty shade, a piece of Gaia broken off, and its scent is reminiscent of angelica.

My Street ~ Where I Live






Day 54 ~ One Year, One Nose


Mentholatum



I have a cold. Second one this year so far. I've done well with illnesses since moving to the old mansion, suffering only a day or so before the symptoms begin to wane. I think I know who the offending viral infected happy to share it culprit is but I am certain he didn't intend to make me sick. In fact, he probably hasn't a clue that he has. So anyway, it's chicken soup, Mentholatum, Ricola, and mild decongestants on the menu today. What I smell when I can smell is menthol and not much else, which is funny because the part of my brain that describes smells, puts the words to the mental images created by smelling, is working a little better than when I actually can smell. According to Gabrielle Glaser's book, The Nose, A Profile of Sex, Beauty, and Survival, smelling and describing what you smell at the same time is much like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time, or writing with your wrong hand -- your mind knows what it wants but it misfires in the operation. I'm finding words to describe scent that I was unable to while in the midst of smelling what I'm trying to describe, or something like that -- or there is the remote chance I've gone over my 24 hour limit of cold medicine and I'm high and hallucinating all of this. I am not using my improved skills here, though. No, I'm saving my truly brilliant scent writing/thinking for writing guest posts on other blogs. (And that statement reminds me that as a child I would tell my school mates I had a pet lion in my backyard but they couldn't come to see it because my parents would beat me bloody if I allowed anyone in the yard -- not a word of which was true.) Yes, I do have ADD.

Last night before bed (at 2:00 am) I took the oral decongestant and rubbed the Mentholatum on my upper chest and dabbed just a bit under my nose, then tucked in to sleep. However, as I was rubbing in the Mentholatum, my mind wandered back to my childhood, back to when my maternal grandmother was alive, 1970-something, to blood red camellias and waxy white gardenias, earthy and spicy geranium, lipless dogs and baby goats. My grandmother had ten healthy children who all lived into adulthood, despite grandma being told after each and every birth that it had to be her last, that the child wouldn't survive, that she was on the verge of death herself -- but granny kept going like the good Catholic girl she was. She survived, the babies survived, and the irony in this, if that's even the correct word, is that she passed in her late 70s as the result of a stroke brought on by the news that her firstborn child, a man in his late 50s, had passed from a heart attack. But, oh, yes, the Mentholatum . . . Grandma was a gypsy or sorts in her later years, moving from the house of one child to the next. I was always happy when grandma stayed with us. She was funny and reverent and magical. The family teased her that she didn't have a green thumb, but an entire green body as every plant she touched seemed to thrive under her hands. Grandma would snip off a small twig from a plant she'd pass while on walks or while visiting friends, take the twig home and plant it in a pot and before you knew what was happening, that twig was a bush! As a devout Catholic, grandma's nightly rituals were a sight to behold. Once she'd cleaned up and put on a cotton nightgown and slipped into her perfectly made bed, the ritual would begin. The nightly rosary, the whispering lips, the closed eyes, the soft ticking of the rosary beads, an occasional sigh, sometimes a tear, then almost brusquely the rosary would be put away in a pouch and grandma would reach for the biggest jar of Vick's Vapo-Rub on the planet. It had to be at least a quart-size (these are 10-year-old eyes that see this). Grandma would dip in two fingers, pull out a gob of rub the size of a golf ball, and then she would shove it down her throat! No matter how many times I'd watch, I was horrified every time this part came up. I mean, I gag thinking about it! At any rate, the next part of the ritual were the goodnights, a hug from grandma, then a kiss on the cheek, and the smell of menthol on her warm breath.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 53 ~ One Year, One Nose





Wisteria



They're blooming all over the Tower. Being one of the older parts of Fresno, The Tower is host to a couple of old gardens boasting ancient wisteria, and particularly down Van Ness Avenue, which 'in the day' used to be the main street off of downtown on which the more wealthy citizens of Fresno built their mansions and award-winning gardens. There is a particular wisteria I pass every day, twice a day, to and from work, that grows so closely to the old manse it lives by that I cannot discern where its trunk sprouts from the ground, but the flowers drip and drape over the entire front and side of the building's south facing wall -- it's magical. I did not first see the wisteria -- I smelled it. I at first did not recognize the scent because there was something different about it, it seemed -- bigger, effusive, and so familiar though I knew I'd never smelled that particular scent before, then as I pedaled closer to the wisteria, I passed very closely to an old house with a small sweet orange orchard in the back (I could see their deep green leafy heads over the fence) and then it struck me -- I was smelling the newly blossomed sweet orange flowers AND wisteria at once! Once I passed the orange grove, it was all wisteria -- deeply sweet and shadowing the scents of vanilla and marshmallow fluff and crystalline sugar. Wisteria is what purple smells like.

As I am in constant experimentation mode with transferring the scent and feel of perfumery raw materials to food, I went on a search to find something foody created using wisteria, and here is what I found. Oh, and do not try using wisteria blossoms in food or in a tisane (pronounced tee zahn) as it is poisonous.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 52 ~ One Year, One Nose

Stick matches.


Here's the thing with stick matches -- when I smell one, no matter where I am, the notion that someone has just made a boom-boom and doesn't want anyone to know about it pops into my head. I work in an old building downtown that suffers the curse of poor ventilation and badly placed toilets. They are literally in the main lobby of a very small reception area. Basically, the receptionists up front know who is in the toilet, for how long, and, once the door's opened, what they've been up to in there. Since they are so close to the loo*, and the determination has been made via the wafting scent of burning match sticks that someone did the deed, they go into immediate anti-doody smell patrol -- strongly scented candles are lit and placed upon their desks, Lysol is sprayed into the air, someone gives the offending room a squirt of orange deodorizer, and the fan is turned on high and pointed down the hall to push the odors toward the back door, where I sit.

I can honestly say that while I've rarely detected the scent of excrement at work, I have often been bombarded with the scents of burnt match stick, orange oil odor eliminator, Lysol, and gardenia Yankee Candle, usually in that order.

Though the match stick has its own scent, kind of bitter-acidic and moldy, and burnt it smells woody and acrid, it is still, for me, a heralding scent of things worse to come.




*You really should go to Wiki and look up toilets -- very informative.

Day 51 ~ One Year, One Nose


Refresh by Yuko Fukami



Refresh is a perfume Ms. Fukami created while studying perfumery some years ago, and has since tweaked and tweaked the formulation to its current incarnation. Ms. Fukami and I have discussed on an occasion or two that while the perfume is refreshing, a new name must be applied as it is so much more than that name implies.

Refresh is silky cool citrus/floral with warm woody notes. The opening is immediately uplifting, notes of lemon and orange emerge, followed by a tingling, tantalizing minty buzz, which is then followed by a beautiful soft floral heart (roses 'n' such) that is made slightly warm with woody notes of santal. On the whole, the perfume presents as citrusy green, smooth and fluid, silky and shimmery and bold, buttery, creamy, dreamy. Think pale green silk on love-flushed skin. There is an understated sensuality to this perfume, like a funny, quirky, so-not-your-type of guy who turns out to be a fabulous lover.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 50 ~ One Year, One Nose



This is beginning to be exhausting -- for two reasons. One, I'm behind in posting, and two, I'm always the kid who couldn't wait for recess so I could go out and make daisy chains and hide the other kids' soccer ball (mostly because they found it such fun to bounce it off the back of my head on the way out to the playground).

Last fall I received a 1.7 oz bottle of perfume from a niche company called Crow Water + Perfume, named after Aesop's Fable "The Crow and The Pitcher". Crow Water's philosophy is that its perfumes are made without alcohol (water-based), without parabens, and without phthalates. The scent I received was #3 Enchanted + Lily. It was a bad, bad day for me when I opened the package and sprayed the perfume. I was kind of grumpy and irritated, so I didn't give the perfume a fair shake at first. I liked it, but I was preoccupied and busy and just really out of it so I shelved it. When I began this project, however, I literally went to the walls here in the studio -- the entire room is paneled about halfway up to the top of the nine-foot walls, and a shelf sits atop the top end of the paneling, and that's where all my perfume collection and perfume bottles and rusticos and antique and vintage finds are sitting. And there it was, that big bottle of Enchanted + Lily, just waiting.

One thing is for certain, for the price, you cannot go wrong with this company's offerings ~ $38 USD for 1.7 ounces of handmade, hand bottled, artisan niche perfume. Enchanted + Lily is a beautiful fantasy scent redolent of white flowers in the moonlight ~ jasmine and lily-of-the-valley. Fairly linear, the scent maintains the white flower theme for several hours before fading very, very slowly into soft white flowers with a hint of sweet leafy greens. Something you must know is that while the scent is strong, it isn't harshly so. Quite a lot of scents that follow the lily/jasmine theme tend toward an odd sharpness that screams discount-drug-store-cheap, but definitely not this brand. And the reason for the smooth, seamless, silkiness of the scent may come from the fact that no alcohol of any kind is used in the production of this perfume. When sprayed, this perfume doesn't mist off into the air around your skin, it shoots straight on and sticks. You will find a shallow puddle of scent cleaving to your skin once you've sprayed it on, enough to pass around to other parts of the body. The skin feel is definitely different from alcohol-based perfumes. Crow Water + Perfumes are only slightly tacky at first, then dry off completely within 5 seconds or so, leaving your skin a little softer than before. The scent lasts for hours (12+)

I recommend Crow Water + Perfume if you're not entirely into all-natural scents, want a bargain for your hard-earned dough, and are searching for an alternative to alcohol-based perfumes.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 49 ~ One Year, One Nose

I know. I am so far behind in these posts -- as I keep reminding myself while I sit in my comfy recliner watching movie after movie after movie on a long, boring, do-nothing, rainy Sunday afternoon. Some days are just made for veging out and this seems to be one of them, but that niggling little voice in my head keeps reminding me I should be here, on the blog, y'know, blogging.

So here's hoping I don't sink into myself one of these Sundays and create a black hole in the recliner from which I never, ever return . . .

I made jelly -- well, I tried to make jelly. I didn't get the acid content right and the jelly never gelled, so I guess the correct word for what I made would be syrup. Jasmine Green Tea syrup. Can you just imagine how fabulous a jelly that would have been? Y'know, had it turned out? Maybe next time. But about that syrup -- it is so good. I cracked open a jar last night to add to heavy cream for dipping strawberries into -- one heaping tablespoon to a cup of heavy cream then whipped to a fluffy, airy mess -- it was divinity. I mean so, so, so very good. I was tempted to toss the berries and simply eat the whip with a spoon -- that good. It smells and tastes dead on like jasmine green tea with honey from Teazers Tea House up the street. I always make it a point to get it with half the honey because they use a heaping gob in the regular recipe, it's almost like candy. But the syrup, ahhh, the syrup is lush. There is that heady jasminey-ness (grandiflorum) and the smoky bitterness of a flagrantly green green tea. I'd give you the recipe, but since as a jelly it was a flop, I think it pointless. Once I actually get jelly out of it, I'll share. In the meantime, I'm thinking of drizzling it on my toast tomorrow morning.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 48 ~ One Year, One Nose


I have to tell you this -- the other real reason I'm so behind on posts is because I've been doing a boat load of evaluations of perfume for a single specific perfumery. This chick knocks my socks off. I've already picked out two favorites from the big bundle of samples I've got, and I still have about six more reviews to go. Oh, I can't really say much more than that because I'm writing the reviews for another blog. Not this one. Not my blog. Meh.

I went to listen to music here in the Tower last night -- I'm half deaf today and feel a bit fuzzy-headed because of it. I hate that feeling! Anyway, I wanted to talk about the smell of beer. Yes, it was flowing quite freely last night -- Coors, Bud Light, Red Stripe, Heineken -- imagine, if you will, the looks on the faces of my friends as I asked to smell their beers. Yeah. One would think, since all the ingredients in beer are the same, that they would smell the same, but they don't. Bud Light has a sweet syrupy quality, Coors smells pissy and thin, Heineken has a bitter note to it, while Red Stripe smells bold and grainy. Hops, I suppose. This all translates to flavor. I personally love the smell and flavor of a porter or Guinness -- my especial way of drinking Guinness is with a shot of pear cider -- something about those two flavors mingling is just so delightful. Dark bitterness paired with crisp, sweet freshness -- it's a marvel.

Day 47 ~ One Year, One Nose



I got this really great German chamomile from Nature's Gift. I bought it because I was in need of something blue a while back -- sometimes the visuals in perfumery are as important as the olfactorials. I haven't had any G. cham for a long, long time. I think I used the last bit up a year or so ago in a hormone balancing soap. I prefer Roman chamomile over German for perfumery -- Roman is so fresh smelling, like the scent off a freshly bitten Pink Lady apple. German chamomile is more rustic and abrasive smelling, there's an edginess to it. It is sweet, spicy, verging on floral, but turns south somewhere in there, getting all abusive and mean. That's probably not an equitable description because I do like G. cham quite a lot despite what I've written here. My little 5% dilution is still mad strong. So, to my nose, G. cham's most redeeming quality scent-wise lies in the dry down. It becomes soft and pillowy and sweet, like the exhaled breath of a healthy baby.

Day 46 ~ One Year, One Nose


What's that smell?

That smell that can only be defined by a single word: garbage. We all know the smell. We've all smelled that smell. I can only assume that my garbage isn't exactly like your garbage, but somehow all garbage smells the same. My garbage might have a dirty diaper in it, or old coffee filters, or burnt macaroni and cheese, or a half-eaten cupcake (as if anyone here would eat only half a cupcake!), or -- gah! -- the contents of an ashtry, while yours may contain entirely different 'things', but through some weird chemistry I don't understand, it manages to smell the same, with, perhaps, differing fragrance 'nuances'.

Now I'm really going to gross you out. When I was a little kid, say three or four, I remember playing in the garbage in the big burn bins behind our farmhouse. Before the weekly burn, I'd rush to the burn bins with a box and go through the garbage, picking out cans that still had labels, empty mayonnaise jars with the remnants of mayo becoming opaque and rank, beer bottles and cake boxes and whatever else I thought was salvageable, so I could clean them up and use them to play 'grocery store'. Mayo jars were the worst. Never a more disagreeable scent has been pulled from the trash that was once considered food than the sweaty, fully sauna-fied, soured innards of a mayonnaise jar. In some respects, all garbage has at least one of these qualities, if they can be classified as such.

Day 45 ~ One Year, One Nose


Fat leaf Italian basil!

Can you say bruschetta? Oh, how I adore the scent of basil. It is the summer's herb -- it loves tomatoes and oregano and zucchini and artichokes and butter -- mmmmm!

My sweet basil died. I had a brief but moving ceremony for it when it was mulched, then went right on out and bought a hardy Italian basil.

Basil is such a lovely scent -- spicy and green and pungent with peppery notes. Crushing its leaves releases such a perfume, so fragrant, so mouth-watering, so -- bruschetta. Forgive me my one-track mind.

Basil has that wow factor, y'know? Eye-popping, up-yer-nose, slap across the cheek spicy green.


R.I.P Sweet Basil

Day 44 ~ One Year, One Nose


I have no idea what these flowers are, but they do have a scent. A lovely scent. There was no marking on the container indicating what they were when I purchased them at the nursery, so I'm going blind here.

The flowers are otherworldly. Stunning. Alien. Delicate. Fragile. The color is the palest of blues. So beautiful. The scent? The scent is cool and sweet and sits very close to the flower. You literally have to put your nose against its petals to smell it, but wow, what a scent! Like violets but not so sweet. A bit like clover as well, yet so very, very demure and quiet.

*Update: They are Columbine! The state flower of Colorado, and they come in many colors.

Day 43 ~ One Year, One Nose


Boy, am I behind in posting. Funny how time flies when you have a life ~ ha!

Stock flowers. My newest 'find'. My mother's been growing stock in her gardens for ages, but I never really gave them a second glance, or a single sniff, until I found a bundle of 'em at the nursery and realized, hey, that stuff smells almost kind of just about exactly like clove pink carnations! I say almost kind of just about exactly because pinks are cool and spicy, whereas stock is warm and spicy -- all honied clove and warm sagey leaf-like. I know, that's kind of a weird description, but that's how I smell it.

So of course, in line with the pact (won't grow it unless I can eat it, heal with it, or scent the room with it), I bought a bundle of stock plants. So worth it. The scent is not overpowering, especially since it is sharing garden space with real killers like jasmine and sweet pea, but the flowers are beautiful. I have yellow, purple, pink and magenta growing, and all of them have that beautiful sweet, spicy, warm, floral-clove scent. If I can get enough of them going, I think an evulsion might be in order.

Day 42 ~ One Year, One Nose


From here on out, at least for the next few weeks, you'll be reading nothing on this blog but things about spring -- it has sprung!

Jasmine vine ~

I am such a flower 'ho. My mother and I recently went plant shopping and we both vowed that we would grow only those plants that can either feed us, heal us, or fill the air with a beautiful scent. I, of course, gravitated immediately to the jasmine polianthus ~ little vining starbursts of pink tinged white blossoms delicately waving in the near hurricane breeze. Mom and I rarely choose good days to shop plants. The wind was whipping and fat cold drops of rain were splatting hard on the ground -- I think we even got hail later in the day.

I digress . . .

I grabbed two -- a pink and a white blossomed jasmine to set on the front porch near the porch pillars, perhaps for incentive to climb. In the early mornings the scent of jasmine fills the air, rushing in when the front door is opened. It is a heavenly greeting, whether coming in or going out. In the evenings the scent becomes more intense, heady, cloying, intoxicating. I leave the front window open just a crack so the breeze blows the scent in.

There is a downside, though. Not everyone loves the scent of narcotic jasmine -- a visitor to the house stood on the porch as he was departing and said, "It smells like an old woman out here."


Hmmph.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 41 ~ One Year, One Nose


Today it is raining and it prevents me rushing off to do my other j o b (four hours of vacuuming, washing, wiping, scrubbing and deodorizing) because bicycles in the rain, and their riders, tend to get a bit soggy. So while I wait for the weather to clear a bit, I'll post what I've got.

Yeah, let's see, I already told you that moldy oranges smell like orange blossoms . . . I already posted the patchouli thing . . . I talked about oudh . . . oh, here it is!

White Rose Attar

I love attars. I just can't help myself. They're perfume in and of themselves and it becomes almost painful to dilute them down and use them in compositions -- they are perfect just the way they are. No improvements necessary. But I rattle on . . .

White rose attar from White Lotus Aromatics is a treasure -- delicate and lush, opening with a typical full bore rose scent that is both boozy and dewy with the warm woody backdrop of sweet, buttery sandalwood. The rose opening, that rush of heady booziness, disappears within a minute or so after application, then settles into a lovely velveteen smooth roseness that projects tendrils of sharp green notes. It is difficult to separate out the rose from the sandalwood as they are *married so perfectly -- it is a blessed union with no distortion; no, oh, there's the sandalwood, and oh, there's the rose in its character, it is a rosy sandalwood or a sandalwoody rose.

I bet it would make a grand butter cookie flavor. That would be one expensive cookie, though.

*In the end, however, it appears that rose divorces sandalwood because all that's left in the end is a sandalwood ( a very nice sandalwood) with traces of rose's perfume on his shoulders.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 40 ~ One Year, One Nose


Yin Hao (a perfume) by Liz Zorn



I have a confession to make. When I first sniffed this perfume, I wasn't crazy about it. In fact, I was pretty well turned off by it. However, because I am a good sport when it comes to testing out perfumes, I gave it another go. But let me first tell you how round one went: The package was waiting for me when I arrived home from work, so I tore into it -- yes, 'tore', because that's how I ride -- and everything within the box burst out, Yin Hao skittering all the way across the room to rest in the foyer near the front door. I thought it was a sign -- good or bad, something was up with this perfume (I know, sometimes even I think I'm weird). I rushed into the kitchen with my prizes (two new bottles of Zorn perfumes to play with) and accosted my daughter, Mini-Perfume-Whore-Me, with bottles in hand ready to shoot. So she shot Yin Hao first, right on the pulse point of her wrist, waved her hand around to dry off the alcohol, then sniffed. Her nose scrunched, she bared her teeth, then exclaimed, "Smell this!" as she thrust her arm out to me, "It smells like -- like -- like pooh!" I smelled her wrist, and to my surprise, right on top of the loveliness of lush white florals was a speck of pooh. I thought it was a chemistry thing, so I tried it, also spraying it on my wrist, and 'lo and behold, the speck of pooh rested on my wrist as well. Then we called in the friend, the unsuspecting victim of our game, and sprayed him -- and again, the pooh. I was perplexed. How did this happen? I know Liz makes absolutely gorgeous perfumes, I'm a big fan of nearly all that I've tried. But this. This was a surprise. I thought perhaps it had surpassed its expiration date, if that's even possible. But again, as I mentioned earlier, I'm a good sport, so I popped the bottle into my backpack to evaluate while at work the next day. Let me tell you, I contemplated whether or not to wear it at work because, also as I've mentioned before, I sit right at the main entrance (see back door) for the other employees, and whatever I'm wearing scent-wise, goes straight up their noses when they step inside. I arrive at work and begin settling in with the daily routine -- start up the dictophone machine, turn on the computer, set out the perfume on my desk, drop the backpack on the floor under the desk, open the blinds, flick on the printer, turn on the fan, grab the mug and head off to the kitchen to make tea; tea is done, settle into my chair, spray perfume on the wrists and decolletage, drop the bottle into the backpack, pop on the headphones, press the peddle and start typing. Within moments I began to smell this wondrously beautiful, deep, lush, white petaled, pink tinged aroma rising from my skin -- I was in a garden dripping with jasmine, so sweet, so intoxicating, so soul wrenching, it was like falling in love. You think I exaggerate (and in most cases, you'd be right ~ ha!), but not in this case. I couldn't believe it was the same perfume. I flipped off the headphones, dug around in the backpack until I found the perfume bottle, and read the label very, very carefully. Yes. It was Yin Hao. The perfume that two days earlier had come off all poopy and sorrowfully indolic, was now offering shades of sweet floral bliss. The dry down was just as spectacular as the opening, turning delicate and feminine and bringing to mind the word 'classic'.

Redemption. It's a good thing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hump Day


Yes, yes, I know, what happened to the One Year, One Nose posts? I've got 'em waiting because I haven't had time (or made time) to flesh them out yet, but they are coming. Today, I just want to go over some thoughts, some memories, some experiences and whatever.

First, the online Academy where I tutor students on Natural Botanical Perfumery is set to begin a new six-month intensive course on March 22. Payment plans are available for interested parties. Contact the course administrator if you think this is something you might like to do. You can talk fees and such with the course administrator at that time. Okay, shameless plug over.

I went out of town this past weekend to visit family who live near the central coast (California), and apparently where they live is a little micro-climate of spring at the moment -- everywhere were jasmine blooming! Great gobs of blooming jasmine, it was intoxicating. All I wanted to do was rush back home and find a few jasmine plants to set up on the front stoop, and then make jasmine green tea jelly. But it looks like those things aren't being set out at the plant places here in town yet. Not warm enough or something, I guess. Anyway, it was a very nice trip. I even had time to do a little shopping at the outlet mall and found, to my delight, a perfume store! I know, I'm strictly a Natural Botanical Perfumer, but I still cannot resist a good synthetic stink every so often. Since I don't often wear commercial perfume, I ended up buying gifts for the people in my life who do. And that was nice, actually being able to afford (see discount perfume store at the outlet mall) the perfumes my people love.

Do you remember that book/movie, 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back'? That's one of my favorites, and I'm kind of feeling like that right now, like things are beginning to come together, like I finally got my groove back. I'm formulating an oil composition for a 'perfumey' soap. I found the ingredients I need for bath fizzies, so I'm considering making a few of those, and I'm working on my project perfume. It just feels right again. I just hope this little scenario doesn't end in a similar manner as it did for the story's author, Terry McMillan.

Gotta run. The j o b beckons and I'm working on something juicy there, so today won't be a snoozer. I'll update those OY/ON posts later today -- I got bundles of 'em. Ta ta.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 39 ~ One Year, One Nose

May rose

Boozy from the bottle, smells of brandy and roses. On a strip it smells more like rose with fully developed round, warm and sweet rose notes. Smells of youth. And butter, and a bit like decay. Old-fashioned, dusty and brittle on the drydown.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Day 38 ~ One Year, One Nose

Horse chestnuts (in isolation)



No, horse chestnuts for perfumery are not nut nuts; they are what horse folk call the hard hoof-like substance that grows on the horse's lower leg. Why use it in perfumery? Because it embodies the scent we associate with leather so well -- it is highly pungent and animalic, oily and waxy, pervasive, sweaty, and oh, so alluring. I first discovered horse chestnuts during the first year of teaching Natural Botanical Perfumery from one of the students, Pauhla, a horse owner. She had always loved the smell of horses and discovered a creative way to capture the scent of her favorite horse -- by tincturing the clippings from the trimming off of horse chestnuts. She was kind enough to share with everyone and since then, we've all pretty much been hooked on the scent of horse. Horse chestnuts are sourced in a non-cruel manner (it's like clipping fingernails) and has a very high animalic/musky scent intensity, so much so that it must be isolated from all other perfume ingredients else it will invade and conquer, infusing everything in its vicinity with the smell of the barn. It adds a lovely smooth animalic musk to leather accords and one cannot help but think of horses when it is detected.

Day 37 ~ One Year, One Nose


Rose Nerico by Parfum Phyto


Roses. You simply cannot go wrong with roses, of course, that's just my opinion. There are old roses planted in the backyard, and one miniature red that refuses to believe that winter has come and that spring has yet to be sprung -- the silly little bugger bloomed from November to now while the other roses in the patch dropped leaves and shriveled in on themselves. The unfortunate aspect of this precious garden of roses is that only one is fragrant while the rest are 'looking roses', or 'vase roses'.

Rose Nerico is Japanese inspired hand-rolled incense. They're meant to be burnt at very low heat (a censor or heater) that slowly releases the intense scent that feels as if it is creeping into the bones as it fills space with a heady rose and musk fragrance. I don't have a censor or an incense heater, so I improvise, as I often do, by lighting an incense charcoal and placing a piece of thick hand blown glass discarded by the glass blower over the charcoal and gently placing a single sphere of Rose Nerico upon the glass. It doesn't smoke. It doesn't burst with scent, no. It creeps. The room slowly fills with scent. It is invasive and encompassing and transportive. Heavenly rose. And it lingers.

Day 36 ~ One Year, One Nose


Neroli Bigarade 40%, South African



Scent intensity settles in around 5 (1-10 scale), it opens with a sharp, tart, piquant, intense floral greenness and 'feels' happy and playful. It reminds me of summertime, Grandma German, cool shade and warm lemonade. It's closest scent associate is petitgrain, and I often combine the two to create a cirtus/floral accord. The scent of neroli can be picked apart so that each part of the tree is represented ~ the leaves, twigs, blossoms and fruit are all there, bumping into one another.

Now onto a point which some people often confuse -- neroli and orange blossom absolute are not the same as far as scent profiles go. Neroli is made from the water distillation of bitter orange blossoms, while orange blossom absolute is made from the solvent extraction of the same bitter orange blossoms. They smell nothing alike. The neroli smells of the entire orange tree, while the orange blossom absolute smells of blooming orange blossoms. Something I recently discovered which I wanted to share is that molding oranges, sweet oranges in this case, smell almost identical to orange blossom absolute. There was a big box of oranges on our back stoop which we had picked over the winter and weren't able to give away enough to empty the box, and it went all green and hairy. As I was carrying it out to the dumpster, I couldn't help but smell how beautifully floral-fragrant the moldy oranges were, and was shocked to realize that those smushy green oranges smelled exactly like freshly bloomed orange flowers! Some sort of strange alchemy was afoot, something I'm sure some enterprising chemist may have already taken advantage.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Day 35 ~ One Year, One Nose


Sticky notes abound. My backpack is overflowing with them -- notes, notes, and even more notes on smells and perceptions and memories and inspiration.

Today's scent is Shocking by Shiaparelli, created in 1937 by perfumer Jean Amic, a Roure Bertrand Dupont employee. Created using notes of raspberry, tarragon, deep indolic florals, mosses and vanilla, Shocking was meant for confident, outrageous, modern women, as illustrated by the original bottle design -- a silhouette of famous femme fatale, Mae West.

My small bottle isn't nearly so brave a front for a so strongly characterized perfume -- mine sits, in all its 1 milliliter glory, within a tiny square bottle with a silly little red paper label. I would love to have a bottle of the original Mae West silhouette . . .

So, Shocking is, and this is directly from my sticky note, 'almost abrasively cloying in the opening, rich, fatty aldehydes and dark florals are richly demonstrated. Thirty minutes in and the scent settles to a loud, powderiness with shades of green and lily-of-the-valley type floralness, along with a deepening animalic muskiness. I smell civet. Or something that wants to be civet. A half hour later (1 hour in) the scent turns much more animalic, and there is a deep ambery muskiness reminiscent of Youth Dew in the drydown. Hours later (5 or 6) everything is still there, the distinctive 'classic' feel of a well made perfume redolent of musky animalics and a thick layering of vanilla powdery florals.'

24 hours later -- there is still a faint whisper of musky, ambery, florals -- I think I like Shocking quite a lot more than I thought I would.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Le Parfumeur Rebelle Yell in Resurrection Mode


Reigniting the rebel spark here, LPR Yell blog is up and running again with a new review by Tonie Silver. Go read it, it's good stuff.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Day 34 ~ One Year, One Nose






I wonder sometimes if anybody's reading these anymore. I realize some of them may be succinct or even boring, but you never know when you might find a piece of information that is helpful to you, even if you do have to read half the dictionary to find it. This applies in my life in many ways. In my j o b, the place that brings in the rent, I work with words all day -- listening to them being spoken back and forth, writing them down and then hearing in the voices the deceptions, the truths, the tragedies, and those bits of information teased out of four hours or more of narrative that are pivotal. In my work here in the perfumery -- hours upon hours of combining this with that and finding disaster after disaster until alas, amongst the rubbish of discarded scent strips and droppers and dirtied lab glass I finally find that one combination with huge potential. It seems we must make our way through the mundane to find the spectacular.

I've been spending a lot of time lately with my new friend, Netflix, watching BBC series' and time period pieces, The Grand Hotel, The Buccaneers, a whole lotta based on Catherine Cookson novels. I was in the middle of the series A Dinner of Herbs when I decided to stop being a weird hermit and go out and do something. So I went to the nursery and bought herbs -- German thyme, sweet basil, common sage, chocolate mint, orange mint, and just because I can't resist a good violet smelling anything, a pack of fragrant violas. Then I went to a discount store and found a lovely faux antique garden stand for a song, brought it home and loaded it up. Most of my gardening will be in pots this year as my backyard is completely shaded by huge trees and nothing on the ground gets steady sun. My tomatoes and lettuce and cukes and pumpkins are going to be living in pots on the front porch where they will get at least a few hours of sun a day.

It's Rogue Festival here in the Tower and all the pubs and restaurants and art galleries are hopping with activity. Saturday night we (the family) went down to have dinner and were held up on the sidewalk by a reality show in progress -- something about mannequin models, live women, who stand in shop windows wearing the store's latest arrivals -- it was in front of Valentino's, a trendy local shop that features Rockabilly, Punk, Rocker, Goth and other non-Walmart type clothing. The shop windows at Valentino's are always dolled up with mannequins wearing stunning 40s and 50s style wiggle dresses and sporting Hello Kitty handbags and clear plexiglass platform stiletto shoes. This night, however, the mannequins were real women, and the crowd in front of the windows were thoroughly entertained as the camera crew inside filmed and the store staff switched bags and accessories on the still-standing models. Everywhere else in the Tower was just mad with people -- I love seeing it come alive like this.

So what's the sniff'a for today? Well, those herbs I mentioned earlier. As I was planting them on the front porch, a few people on the sidewalk paused to comment that they smelled something good -- personally, I think it was the thyme and basil that were giving off rays of scent like starbursts. It smelled foodie, but also smelled of the earth; the garden. The smell of them, those mints, the sage, the thyme and basil, and the potting soil, stuck on me for the rest of the evening until I washed them off. That is the perfume I love most, like the perfume of life.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Day 33 ~ One Year, One Nose




I thought I'd talk a little bit today about my new studio and the smells that are present and changing almost moment to moment. Today it's hyacinth evulsion and Parma EdP because I'm studying the hyacinth again to find out if it will work in a new composition I'm working on, and the Parma because I made a few small bars of soap with it as the scent component. So far so good. Earlier this morning it was clay -- I'm still unpacking boxes from the move and came across the clay, resins and powders box. Also found a big bag of ambrette seeds which smell fabulous. I can't say it smells like any one thing at any given time -- it's a cornucopia of scent -- ooh, and there's two types of oudh on my wrists, a CO2 and another which I can't remember anything about -- a gift, perhaps. Someone also sprayed some Lilacs & Heliotrope (Liz Zorn) on their way out to church a while ago, and that package of horse chestnuts that Y. F. sent me last fall is blazing out scent. What a way to spend a day.

Day 32 ~ One Year, One Nose


Luban



Frankincense Nigerian ~ fruity, carrot-like, sweet, fresh, rooty, open, breathy, resinous, honey-like, mapley.

Frankincense Omani ~ alive, sweet, resinous, peppery, green, animalic, dry.

Day 31 ~ One Year, One Nose


Patchouli Vietnam



Warm, earthy, chocolatey, musky, sweet, fruity -- eat it!

Day 30 ~ One Year, One Nose


Mock Violet


I've made several versions of violet flower over the years -- Parma Eau de Parfum being the most successful -- but the beginning stages of creating violet turned up some pretty interesting results. I think the one I had the most success with prior to Parma EdP was this one wherein I blended violet leaf, cassie, oakmoss, orris, tuberose, ambrette, santal, rose, tonka, davana and boronia -- made a dainty little confection that definitely said 'violet here!'

Sweet and fresh with a lovely delicate greenness to it, deep notes of earthiness and moss, and a distinctive creaminess that only orris butter can achieve.

I keep ALL my trial formulations, even the ones that smell like crap -- it's good to keep these things in the library to read from time to time. All the mock violets are there, poking one another with their purple tinged and greenish elbows.

Day 29 ~ One Year, One Nose


Aloeswood vs. Valerian



I started playing with aloeswood/oud and comparing some of its parts with valerian tincture back in '08 because I was intrigued by how similar PARTS of these two scents were. Oudh can be very -- how can I say this? Visceral. It reaches into you and stirs your insides about -- even though your nose often says, lord have mercy, this stuff stinks! Except it doesn't for long, not after it's been applied -- it goes sweet and dirty, that's when it grabs your guts. Here's where oudh and valerian are similar -- in their opening they both have a rotted quality, like something's gone fungal and sour, however while the oudh turns sweet and dirty and more like warm skin, valerian trips off into bucolic-land. It's all about sun ripened alfalfa gone all dry and brittle. Oh, and valerian at the first sniff is so off putting that one may not want to put it on.

Day 28 ~ One Year, One Nose


Clove Pink Carnation Faux


I've rarely had the opportunity to smell real clove pinks -- they're hard, if not impossible, to find. In fact, I think it's been since my childhood that I smelled a real clove pink -- an aunt who had a florist business grew some in a hothouse (I think, if my memory is correct) and I distinctly remember their spicy warm and cloying scent. Smelling florist's carnations now don't even compare -- much less pervasive and spicy a scent.

So I made my own faux clove pink carnation some years ago, something tucked away in the scent library cabinet to sniff from time to time. I've made several versions, but the one I'm evaluating now is made with cananga, clove, pink peppercorn, peppermint, rosa bourbon and a faux ambergris (veg based), to this I added a mere touch of fennel and ended up with something very close to my memory of those dank, dark, richly scented carnations of yesteryear.

How can something be both cool and warm? I cannot separate the cold air of the florist's refrigerator from the whole scent of carnation, so it was included by using just a bit of peppermint, which at such a low level isn't detectible much as peppermint, just a sensation more or less. This particular composition took months to mature into something cohesive -- during the long maturation process, I was still able to detect single notes -- sometimes it was the cananga, other times it screeched cloves and pepper. But after a while, the scent melted into itself and -- well, as close as I've gotten so far.

Warm with a slight chilliness, creamy smooth floral spice scent that catches in the back of your throat. As lovely as the scent is, as much as I adore it, I cannot help but associate it as a funerary scent. Sublime, sad and still.

Day 27 ~ One Year, One Nose


Davana @ 1%

Outrageously tenacious and up your nose strong. Smells cool, clean, astringently fruity, tart, solventy, green, herbaceous, has background notes that are creamy, very distinctly belonging to davana, not like anything else.

Summary: tart, creamy, fruity, sharp, sweet-balsamic, tenacious, and the best is at high dilution, which brings out a precious kiwi-like note.

Davana isn't something I use often in perfume making, though I have in the past and particularly where a non-specific "fruit note" is required (see something like strawberry, kiwi, melon or grapes). I think it's an underused note considering its potential -- with citrus, like yuzu, it just goes mad -- screaming fruity. With vanilla it goes all strawberries and cream. With cocoa absolute it touches on cherry notes. Really cool material.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Catching Up


I have some catching up to do on the One Year, One Nose project -- as of today, I'm five days behind. The last few days have been somewhat odd. Mentally odd for me. I think the events of the past few months are finally catching up now that the dust has been settled a while and I'm left with the prospect of what to do next. Where does life take me now?

Well, since you asked, I have some plans in the works. Something different from what's been happening, something that will bring the 'word', so to speak, to the general public, rather than preaching to the choir type stuff that seems to have been going on the past ten or so years. I'm sick to death of the competitiveness, the backbiting, the lying, the secrecy, the he said/she said, the whole lot of it. This isn't junior high school. This is about art. I won't go on with beating the dead horse as I've said this a thousand times before, this work is as individual as the hands that create it. The plans I have may not come to fruition for some months, perhaps even a year or so, but I am seriously working on a new direction, something that will open people's eyes and hearts and . . . well, something wonderful and joyful and fun. I realize I will have to start out small and build this up over time, but I'm hopeful the small plans garner enough attention and interest to spur on the growth of the larger plans. Baby steps, m' loves.

Now that I've bored you with unnamed plans, I will apologize for not posting those ON/OY evaluation thingies. I've got 'em (boy, do I got 'em), I just haven't had much time to sit down and put them on the blog. Oh, and apparently my jnkcrane email was hacked (thank you, Hacker Person, whoever you are) and sent emails to all my contacts for botox injections or some such nonsense. I'm sorry about that. As soon as I was alerted to the problem, I made the fix and the emails stopped being sent. Again, I apologize for that hiccup in the system. Stupid hackers. People are always trying to get something for nothing.

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