All About Her Two Scents
My name is Maxine Claudelle and in December 2015 I finished a two-year certificate program to learn the art of perfume making, this blog is about my journey with The Perfumery Art School and beyond . Read the full bio to discover how how this blog is set up to help you learn more about the art or what else we might have in common.
I was born in British Guyana, my family immigrated to Canada when I was four, visited Austria, Germany and Italy by the time I was 16. Yes, I speak German and Italian fluently, along with some French. I studied Spanish in school but can’t remember a thing to save my life. I moved to Italy when I was 18, married an Italian at 23, became a mother at 24, divorced at 29, left Italy to move back to Canada. Two books that I have written have been independently published and also did some personal life coaching. When I re-met the only man to make my heart sing at 43 I decided to move back to Italy at 44, we were married a year later and here I am! Phew!
If you’re still curious and want to know a little more, read my…
I first started this blog back in May 2013 I had no idea that this commitment would end up lending form and flow not only to my days but to how I create perfumes — it was much more than I expected!
I didn’t always desire to be a perfumer, that’s not how things started for me. I began as an author of two books that I’m very proud of The Naked Millionaire and The Organic Entrepreneur. When I moved back to Italy I knew I wanted my life to take a different direction; but I was also very much aware that I could no more cease writing than I could breathing. I love to write — hell, I need to write to feed my Soul. When I first began I started to fill a need within myself. What I mean is there were plenty of open and closed forums on perfume making, some felt more like gated communities than places for open sharing. There were also a ton of perfume blogs where you could find reviews of all kinds of perfumes as well as some really insightful interviews but very, very few, that are dedicated to the art of perfume making, to those wanting to learn more about formulation. So, I began writing these lines as much for me as for you the reader.
The journey of becoming a perfumer – from the beginning of not knowing what a dilution is to when I sell my first bottle of juice and beyond that’s what this blog is about. The life of a perfumer can be very solitary and in-ward looking though, which is what attracts me to the craft, there was an urgency to balance it out with something quite social and at the time I became super interested in photography which has become a secondary passion, and I use it now to explore other creative aspects of my life and character and it gives me the freedom to use my own images.
When I moved to Italy in 2009 to be with Lodovico (known as LV throughout the blog) I was really lucky that my daughter Dalma had also just met and fell in love with another Italian and decided to move to Italy after her undergrad studies. Yeah me! Even though we’re four hours apart it’s great to have her here that we can keep each other company. Italy is a very unique country, alive with so many juxtaposing concepts and customs, so rich with history and so raw that at times it feels like a powder keg, teaming with unbridled energy that seems to want to consume it from within. Living here also gives me the often exasperating experience of having to deal with EU and IFRA perfume regulations, customs clearance and shipping of perfume and perfume related materials. That, is not bliss! But it does teach me how to create in a restrictive environment, how to invent and apply my imagination with greater ability.
To say that I’m passionate about teaching is an understatement, and I have to say modestly, that I’m quite good at. Motivating others to find and live their greatness (yes, we’ve all got our thing) is what gets me really excited. I love living, being, being the change I want to see in the world (did I say it was easy?). I love, love, love personal style, which of course is different than fashion, that doesn’t attract me at all, but seeing someone shine in their personal style, now that’s beautiful to see. Right. Since photography is one of my passions 99% of the photos on this site were either taken by me, or Lodo (yes, I’ve got to eventually get around to adding a signature to all the photos, groan!). On those odd occasions where that is not the case credit is always given in the article.
So, what’s a typical day like for me? Even before I get out of bed in the mornings I try to challenge myself to think of as many things I can that I am profoundly thankful for – most days I thank as many of my body parts as I can for functioning in optimal form every day. Then I imagine my day the way I want it to flow, seeing myself putting love forward in all I do. Before I hit the hay, very early I must admit (Lodo says I go to sleep with the chickens) but I can’t help it I’m a morning person, I write a list of 10 things that I feel super blessed to have experienced during the day and why. Then the next day, at any time I feel I need an energy boost, I re-read the list out loud with feeling. I share this only because you will find impressions of this throughout my writing.
It is my goal each month to post about a quote that really affects the way I see things, an important lesson I’m learning in my perfumery adventures, a detailed evaluation of how my nose perceives a particular perfume ingredient from my growing collection of (currently 300+) raw materials. I profile natural aromatics (essential oils, concretes and absolutes), synthetic aromatics, natural identicals, natural isolates and tinctures. Each of these is grouped in categories with the exception of nature identicals and isolates simply because I haven’t gotten around to them yet.
The chemistry of essential oils and aroma chemicals is one of my passions and I share this in each post on Aromatic Profiles with a little blurb on the chemical composition of that ingredient. You won’t find it heavy on scientific terms as I’m not a chemist nor do I claim to be an expert in that field, but I thought it interesting to open the budding perfumers’ eyes to the fact that there is a chemical side to even the natural ingredients and it’s important to be aware not afraid of them.
You’ll see in Aromatic Profiles that along with natural raw materials I include synthetics as well. This is because I have chosen to use synthetics or aroma chemicals as they are sometimes called, in my perfume making because it allows for greater freedom of olfactive and emotional expression. This is simply my personal choice and belief that I do not wish to limit myself in anyway – try to be as free as I can be in my life and I’m certainly not going to adopt a limiting approach in my art form simply because all natural is trending now. This does not mean that the perfumer out there who chooses to use only naturals is wrong – absolutely not – it’s all a matter of choice, personal philosophy and conviction. There is a need for all types of perfumes and there is room for everyone.
You’ll see me mention the Genus for the natural raw material and I mention it because it can get confusing sometimes if you have an essential oil with one genus name and when you research it you see a host of other names for it. One great resource for understanding the way plants are classified is The Seed Site, and they explain it thus: “Plants are classified in several different ways, and the further away from the garden we get, the more the name indicates a plant’s relationship to other plants, and tells us about its place in the plant world rather than in the garden. Usually, only the Family, Genus and species are of concern to the gardener, but we sometimes include subspecies, variety or cultivar to identify a particular plant.”
The way I choose the quote for the month is I pick it based on how I resonate with it in that moment and then I live with it for a few weeks looking for signs for how it applies to my life, constantly keeping myself open to see examples of the quote in action.
Please keep in mind that I ma not an expert, nor a master perfumer. At the end of the day the pages of this perfumer’s diary are my process, just my opinion, hence the name. Making perfumes is such a private, individualistic art and as an independent perfumer there is enormous freedom to create but it’s also a complex art because the irony is while there are rules to follow to give form to one’s olfactive “vision” there are no rules. I’ll let you figure that one out. These pages are written to inspire you, the aspiring perfumer, and to shed some light along your scented path so you can make perfumes to inspire the world.