A Vineyard Lies Fallow

A vineyard lies fallow

 

Fallow: adjective

The definition of fallow is inactive.

A piece of land that is normally used for farming but that is left with no crops on it for a season in order to let it recover its fertility is an example of land that would be described as fallow.

from yourdictionary.com

Back in the fall I passed by a family owned vineyard that had been left unattended all year. During our walks both my husband and I wondered what was going on. Then one day I saw them cutting the vines waaaay back! Of course I asked them why, and with deep sadness they shared that circumstances were making it impossible for them to take care of everything in their lives and the vineyard too so they had to let it go fallow not knowing when, if ever, they would have the opportunity to cultivate it again. And so there it remains, waiting. Not dead, or wounded, just waiting for the right time, the right mix of circumstances or people to bring it back to life. Such has been my personal journey in 2016 which of course included the blog.

It was a mistake for me to stop writing the blog for a year, man was I wrong about that. But life is full of mistakes. The question remained: now that I had the courage to admit I screwed up, what next?

It was the thinking of the doing that kept tripping me up!

There was endless hand-wringing, soul-struggling and fighing with myself in these past twelve months trying to decide first whether to kill the blog, then when I finally did, whether to start it up again, and once deciding, the agony was what to write, and what would my readers think of me, how would I be judged. That was probably the biggest obstacle I had to overcome before writing even one word on paper. This endless dialogue of course kept up the procrastination game. It felt necessary at first to offer a thousand apologies but in the end all I have to offer is myself and this me needed the time away to reflect on many things. In hindsight, sure it would have been better (read: less humiliating, fearful, embarasing, humbling) not to have declared I was ending the blog but there are never any clearly defined pathways to becoming our best self and so it seems I needed this “mistake” to kick me into a year of fallow which has allowed my vision to become clearer and new projects to become more fertile and the old ones I no longer needed to weaken and fall away.

So here I am. Back. Again. Perhaps even a bit wiser and kinder, especially to myself. I’ve discovered I’m allowed.

You’ll notice that the new image format is simpler. This affords me more time to focus on writing than spending untold hours in Photoshop and Illustrator. It was important to streamline the process if I was to keep the blog going. Beyond that I’ve kept things the same with the target of three posts a week, mostly focused on olfactive evaluations of my growing scent library of aroma chemicals, naturals and tinctures.

There are some exciting, new projects on the horizon to help you and me on our journey to becoming a perfumer, but I’ll share those in the right time. How could I not have new things to share as we are all in an ever expanding journey of self-discovery.

Not everything is perfect with the blog, I’m at odds with this last paragraph, for instance; the main images aren’t exactly on point but I kinda like them, this image for instance is not what I would have wanted, but at the end of the day these aren’t the important things. What is important is that I got this post out and have started back again. Yeah to that!

Thank you for sticking around it means a lot 🙂

MC

Vetiver essential oil

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Musings on making scents with …vetiver essential oil is the kind of note that makes you want to lean in to get a better smell of someone. Vetiver encapsulates in its being all of what I aspire my perfume creations to be.

Common name(s): Vetiver essential oil, vetivert, khus, ruh-khus

Botanical name: vetiveria zizanioides

Supplier/Source: White Lotus Aromatics ?

Note: Base

Family: Wood/Green

Diffusion: 8/9

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: cassie, cedarwood, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, cocao absolute, cofee bean, frankincense, galbanum, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, oakmoss, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, tobacco absolute violet leaf, ylang ylang. (Eden Botanicals)

Both vetiverols and acetates have softer odours and fixative qualities, and are used as blender with high-class perfumery products. They blend well with ionone, linalool, cinnamic alcohol, oakmoss, vanila, sandalwood, patchouli and rose bases, and are frequently used in western type of fragrances having chypre, fougere, rose, violet and amber aldehyde base, and oriental fragrances and floral compounds. (Fragantica)

Chemical components: the chemical composition of vetiver oil is extremely complex, mainly comprising of sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpene derivatives, of which vetiverols, their carbonyl compounds and esters, are the main constituents, and their relative abundance normally establishes the oil quality. Three carbonyl compounds, _-vetivone, _-vetivone and khusimone, are considered the primary odor-influencing components; _-vetivone has the better odor, and is considered the most important, while its major isomer nordihydro _-vetivone has a strong, rich, woody-peppery note. (vetiver.com)

Interesting bits: Vetiver is deep and slightly sweet, with light smoky undertones. Its pronounced earth and root notes are well-balanced with its somewhat resinous character. It is an excellent base note with very good fixative qualities. Vetiver essential oil varies dramatically in aroma depending on where it is grown (soil type, country of origin, etc.). Also known as vetivert, khus, or khus khus, Vetiver has a long history of use and is very well known as the Oil of Tranquility.1 It is obtained from the roots of a tropical grass originally from India and Sri Lanka, but the plant is now grown in many tropical countries. From time immemorial, one of the oldest aromatic uses of vetiver roots is to weave them into mats which, when dampened with water and hung in windows like curtains, cool and scent the air with a pleasant aroma.2

Vetiver oil is thick and, like Patchouli and Sandalwood, improves with age; it is a premium base note and makes an excellent fixative in essential oil formulas. (Eden Botanicals)

Essence from the Eastern Asian weed grass Vetiveria zizanoid that falls under the woods category thanks to its musty, dry, woody scent with bitter chocolate and smoke facets. Very popular in niche perfumery and masculine fragrances. The reference vetivers are Carven’s, Givenchy’s and Guerlain’s classic renditions.

Vetiver is native to South India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. It is also cultivated in Reunion, the Philippines, the Comoro Islands, Japan, West Africa and South America. The oil is mainly produced in Java, Haiti and Reunion. In World market the demand for vetiver oil is increasing day by day due to its unique odour, for which it is used in both flavour and fragrance industries. Moreover, this oil cannot be substituted with reconstituted oil and cannot be made through synthetically. Vetiver perfumes give pleasing aroma and has slow evaporation rate. Pure vetiver (Khus) root oil known in trade as “Ruh – Khus” and its use in scents since ancient time. Vetiver oil is the basis of the Indian perfume ‘Majmua’ and is the major ingredient in some 36% of all western perfumes (e.g. Caleche, Chanel No. 5, Dioressence, Parure, Opium ) and 20% of all men’s fragrances. In addition to its direct perfumery applications, vetiver oil in its diluted form is extensively used in after-shave lotions, air freshners and bathing purposes, as well as flavoring syrups, ice cream, cosmetic and food preservation. Khus essence is used in cool drinks, and for reducing pungency of chewing tobacco preparations, providing sweet note to other masticatories and incense sticks.(Fragrantica)

Their nose: Deep, slightly sweet and resinous, with pronounced earth and root notes and light smoky undertones; an excellent fixative and base note (Eden Botanicals)

My nose: the best way for me to describe the opening note of vetiver essential oil is sublime! Gorgeous, full, thick, voluptuous, enveloping, warm. To me this is the real cashmere! 15min and it’s deeply earhy, very diffusive, satisfying, dusty, weathered, and loaded with energy and life – it’s like a forest explosion! After 30min it moves into nutty, thick, plump smell that reminds me of suede and cashmere. 45min leads to a fuller expression of vetiver, it fills the nostrills eve with two full sniffs. This note is easily underestimated so easy does it. It’s thought-provoking, deep, deep, deep. Solid, foundational, contemplative. The 1hr later and vetiver essential oil is thick with character, creamy, damp, mossy, wooden forest, mysterious and alive with nature and lays heavily on the smelling strip. This note isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 2hrs now and it’s beginning to seriously fan out! Very diffusive with a layer of extravagance and luxury that just remains clinging to the atmosphere, pungent, lush and very intriguing. As vetiver essential oil progresses through to the 3hr mark I am knocked over. Wow! This is a power note! Punchy, rousing, more raw and rugged now, it possesses a more textual quality than ever before. Entering the deeper parts of the drydown 7hrs later I wonder how is it that this note just keeps getting stronger and stronger? Sodden, thick, yet serene, stable and sensible, it is the essence of the Earth. I end the evaluation at 12hrs and vetiver is now like a warm, snuggly blanket, still very well-grounded, lulling to the point of being hypnotic. It’s a gentler, softer, much more refined reincarnation of its earlier self. This is the point where I would love it to come out and reveal itself everything previous seems over the top, too much almost. In comparison I judge this to be the finest hour of vetiver essential oil.

Today’s my 50th birthday (yeah!) so I’m going to celebrate by takeìing it easy and doing everything that I can to make myself happy! There’s already so much in my life that I’m grateful for that the impulse is not to do but to just to be. To sit quietly, take it all in and allow myself to be moved by the goodness of this life.

 Wishing you a wonder-filled weekend!

 MC


Aroma Profile: Nerolidol

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Musings on making scents with Nerolidol…I think this is quite a versatile ingredient and its performance impressed me both alone on the strip and together in pairs with Sandalwood absolute.

Common name(s): Nerolidol

Chemical name: 3,7,11-Trimethyl-1,6,10-dodecatrien-3-ol

CAS #: 7212-44-4

Supplier: Hermitage Oils UK

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 2

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: ambroxan, iso amyl salicilate, amyris, benzyl benzoate, benzyl salicylate, carraway seed oil, carrot seed, clove bud, black currant bud, fir balsam abs., guaiacwood, hay abs., geraniol, geranium bourbon, indole, nerol, patchouli, tonka bean, veramoss, etc. (TGSC)

Interesting bits: Nerolidol, also known as peruviol, is a naturally occurring sesquiterpene found in the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers.[1] There are two isomers of nerolidol, cis and trans, which differ in the geometry about the central double bond. Nerolidol is present in neroli, ginger, jasmine, lavender, tea tree, Cannabis sativa, and lemon grass. The aroma of nerolidol is woody and reminiscent of fresh bark. It is used as a flavoring agent and in perfumery. It is also currently under testing as a skin penetration enhancer for the transdermal delivery of therapeutic drugs. (Wikipedia)

A highly unusual material, rarely offered in small quantities, Nerolidol was used in the 1950s in only the most expensive floral and fine woody fragrances. Today it is in more widespread use but still less used than it could be in fragrance and only really popular in constructing certain fruity flavours. Nerolidol is a beautiful, but subtle material in it’s own right, but it also has excellent fixative properties that make it doubly useful. Occurs naturally in a vast range of fruit, herb and spice essential oils usually in very low quantities but occasionally forming a significant proportion of the oil. (Hermitage Oils UK)

Used in fragrances for woody, tea-like notes (Bedoukian)

“Mild and delicately woody-floral, slightly green odor with remote resemblance to Apple and Lily…an extremely useful chemical, not only because of its delicate and very versatile notes, but also, because of its fixative value and blending properties. The title alcohol is an excellent “fond” in Sweet Pea, Muguet, Honeysuckle, Peony, etc,, and a fine companion to Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Perubalsam, Tolubalsam, Clary Sage products, Ylang-Ylang, etc.” (Steffen Arctander)

Nerolidol, a natural isolate from France, is extracted from cabreuva essential oil. This base note has its greatest use as a fixative, prolonging a natural perfume without contributing much to the overall aroma. Nerolidol, with its weak apple and rose aroma, is a great blender orchestrating and rounding out other essences in a blend. (Aftelier)

Their nose: Floral, green and citrus like, with woody waxy nuances. (Hermitage Oils UK)

A woody, floral, green odor (Bedoukian)

nerolidol-and-sandalwood-absolute

My nose: Nerolidol opens with a floral twinkle, this is even harder to discern than HydroxycitronellOL! It’s just a whisper. After 15min it finally begins to wake up a bit more! Floral, bright, light and nimble. 30min and it’s a fresh sort of floralness although a bit on the sharp side. 45min here the floral, sweet, delicate natural feels almost child-like, my impression is infant, baby, fragility. At 1hr this is now sweet, delightful, tawny and dewy fresh. For the 2hr mark I get a sense that Nerolidol could act like the underpinning, like the veins of a leaf, support for a soft, delicate effect that has bones. After 3hrs this is sweet, soft, floral and the impression remains that of being well-grounded. 7hrs on Nerolidol is floral with a hint of coolness, this note meanders and is quite clear even now. At 12hrs WOW, this seems to have exploded even strenghthened! In a soft way though, it retains it’s femininity by remaining floral and fresh. The final evaluation after 24hrs and it is still alive on the strip. Alive and fresh and still floral with a wonderful grip!

Nerolidol & Sandalwood Absolute: the opening of this pairing makes the sandalwood pristine! I get an image of a road that previously was overgrown with weeds that has been recently cleared. The Sandalwood appears more beautiful and pure, more precious. The floral of the Nerolidol seems to enhance the Sandalwood giving it a very interesting nuance. Around 1hr something warm and round comes out from this pairing, it’s multi-faceted, soaked in context and texture! After 2hrs the Sandalwood is much more direct, like being pierced by it intravenously. It is much more luminous than on its own, more gutsy and bold. 5hrs now and Sandalwood is creamy, fleshy, warm. I think Nerolidol isolates the main profiles of Sandalwood helping to show it’s “best side”. The effect is a Sandalwood that is more measured, timed and tempered. 10hrs, the final evaluation, and it’s like Sandalwood has been one long musical note that can just go on indefinitely! Soft, constant, pure, woody. This is simply captivating right now. Love it!

Above, my colour interpretation of this pair using Rose Madder and Gamboge watercolours.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first pairings as much as I’ve loved doing them.  See you Monday and enjoy your weekend!

MC


Aroma Profile: HydroxycitronellOL

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Musings on making scents with HydroxycitronellOL… this is one of those synthetics that you just have to do a lot of your own research to discover what it’s all about. I could barely find anything at all on the net about HydroxycitronellOL. The product description on the Hermitage Oils UK site made me curious enough to purchase a small amount because I would really like to create a rose accord that thrills me so I was on the hunt. But that’s not enough with the synthetics, it’s important to throw the net a lot wider when experimenting with these tools.

Common name(s): HydroxycitronellOL

Chemical name: 3,7-dimethyloctane-1,7-diol

CAS #: 107-74-4

Supplier: Hermitage Oils UK

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 3

Dilution:10%

Blends well with: bergamot mint, bois de rose, ethyl linalool, farnesol, ho wood, leerall, mughet ethanol, petitgrain, ylang ylang, linalool, etc.

Interesting bits: Very mild (weak) clean-sweet, floral odour of considerable tenacity. The floral type is Rose-Peony, typically less green, less Lily or Muguet than the aldehyde. This alcohol, now often manufactured as an intermediate in the production of Hydroxycitronellal, is used in perfume compositions originally with the intention of stabilizing Hydroxycitronellal and prolonging the odour life of that aldehyde in composition. However, there are other uses for this alcohol, not always obvious from a brief glimpse at the odour, which is, truly, not immediately impressive. It has an excellent fixative effect upon many types of delicate floral fragrance, and as a blender/modifier for other types. (Steffen Arctander)

Their nose: Odour type is floral with a low odour strength has a mild, clean, floral note and is very long lasting and closer to rose than muguet, with aspects of lily and peony. (Hermitage Oils)

mild clean floral lily green peony (TGSC)

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My nose: HydroxycitronellOL opens barely noticeable, quiet, slightly floral with a faint berry quality to it. At 15min it’s still floral, there seems to be hardly any movement, soft. 30min on this is plummy, jammy and juicy and oh, there’s the rosiness! Sort of sweet, too. 45min brings on a definite soft, floral note like linen sheets, becoming more present now and a bit metallic in quality tucked away somewhere. 1hr now and it’s clean, floral and fresh. 2hrs later there’s a much softer, more yielding, feminine, and pliable side to HydroxycitronellOL that reminds me of a mother. 3hrs now and it seems to be fading ever so quickly, I can barely get a good sniff. But there’s definitely still some of the floral soft quality hanging around. 7hrs, it’s base notes time, and our subject is a clean, clear and wispy floral note; wonderfully comforting now, inviting and intimate. The 12hr mark sees this one finally fading, getting quite thin , but I still have a good grasp, a good sense of the quality. Finally at 24hrs HydroxycitronellOL is gone. I can’t discern a thing other than a faint metallic smell that is thin.

HydroxycitronellOL & Rose Absolute, from Marocco: in the beginning the rose note is clean, the rough edges are all smoothed out, whimsical, titillating, I find it makes the rose much more “readable”, you’re clear about what you’re smelling – like it’s giving the rose a sense and structure. After 1hr the rose is much more subtle and compelling, it feels more grounded, more refined. At 2hrs the combination seems to have made the rose a lot more transparent, simplified it a bit and therefore making it much more approachable. It’s still quite present on the strip. After 5hrs there’s a wonderful crumpled, worn effect that reminds me of our roses when they are dying on the branches, there is still life held in their soft folds, they still want to give you something. It’s now soft and warm and yes, HydroxycitronellOL I think helps rose be more generous toward the end, very satisfying and earthy. After 10hrs the rose is there still on the strip, integral and totally identifiable.

Above, my colour interpretation of HydroxycitronellOL and Rose absolute. I used Prussian Blue together with Carmine.

Have a great Wednesday!

MC


Aroma Profile: Angelica Root CO2

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It always surprises me when I perform a profile, then days or weeks later sit to write about it only to find loads of references to an aspect in the material that I thought was wild, way out there and next to impossible to link it to. So it was with Angelica root CO2 and the lime aspect I picked up while profiling this beauty. I thought I was going crazy! How could that be? Lime in Angelica root, nah! But low and behold I found at least three online sources that referred to a lime note in there descriptions. Whenever this happens I find it strengthens my own personal olfactory confidence and that’s cool.

Common name(s): Angelica root, Root of the Holy Ghost, Angel Root

Botanical name: Angelica archangelica

Supplier: Eden Botanicals

Note: Heart/Base

Family: Green

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Angelica blends well with patchouli, clary sage, vetiver and citrus oils, especially lime. (Aura Cacia)

Bergamot, petitgrain, clary sage, vetiver, orange, juniper, cedarwood, galbanum, ambroxan, ambrette seed oil, amyris, mimosa absolute, orris absolute, nerolidol, iso-amyl salicylate etc.

Chemical components: terpenes, pinene, limonene and phellandrene, serveral coumarins including bergaptene, phellandrene, linalool,borneoli, lactones, etc. 

Interesting bits: The whole Angelica plant is aromatic, but only the root and seeds are used to make angelica root essential oil. (Gritman)

Angelica archangelica is a large, aromatic plant related to parsley and carrots. The essential oil is steam distilled from the rhizome. A rhizome is an underground stem-like structure from which above ground stems arise and roots descend. Angelica rhizomes contain up to 1% essential oil with a rich, peppery-sweet, musk-like aroma. Angelica root oil is highly synergistic so it’s valued in perfumery for its ability to impart distinctive nuances to a wide variety of perfume types from spicy florals to deep, woody masculine scents. (Aura Cacia)

Angelica archangelica grows wild in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, mostly in the northern parts of the countries. It is cultivated in France, mainly in the Marais Poitevin, a marsh region close to Niort in the départment Deux-Sèvres. It also grows in certain regions in Germany like the Harz mountains, and in certain regions of Romania, like the Rodna Mountains, and some South East Asian countries like Thailand. (Wikipedia)

Their nose: Our Angelica Root CO2 select extract has a very fine, delicate aroma, yet it is extremely tenacious – a little goes a long way (Eden Botanicals)

Musky, earthy, peppery, woody, herbaceous, spicy (Floracopeia)

My nose: The first 15min of Angelica root CO2opens soft, green, light, whimsical, pungent, dry and the projection is low. It’s a bit hard for me to describe at first; I really had to dig into my olfactory bank to find a match with those first few words. After 30min it smells akin to very dry paint, old paint when it’s dried like either on a wall or a paint brush. Do I smell lime? Could it be I get that impression or is it really that green lime aspect? 45min and it still smells like dry paint, but now more earthy, clean, clear, sharp, dry wood and somehow tenuous and feeble at the same time. How can naturals do that?! Be one thing and the other all at the same instant? 1hr now and the note remains green – not a wet, mossy, green but a dry, dusty green. It’s oddly rugged and jagged in texture. After 2hrs this Angelica root is still dry with a hint of sweetness, smooth, serene, always this hint of lime that is underscoring the whole. 3hrs later the green aspect is now sharp, dry and brittle even brisk, with a hint of something citrusy. Pleasant and still alive on the strip. The 7hr layer, which for me marks the heart of the base notes, is still dry, but sweetish, soft and pleasant with just a touch of a delicate, powdery quality. 12hrs later what was once a jagged, rugged texture is now grainy and weather-beaten, but the whole thing is a mere whisper now. 24hrs and what remains is a sweet, powdery, dry, lovely presence. It’s a bit warmer now but not by much. Angelica. I understand why it’s called this now.

12/24 comparison: The 12/24 comparison reveals a stronger, sharper, quality with bite in the 12hr strip. It has a lot of rough edges. The dry quality is much more apparent here than in the 24hr strip where the rough edge qualities have all been smoothed out, filed down, leaving only a cool, sweet, hush.

Angelica root is one of those materials that I never would have considered before profiling it but, now that I have, I can’t wait for a chance to use it in a few of my accords. I hope you liked exploring it with me.

Wishing you a wonder-filled rest of the week!

MC


Aroma Profile: Ambrette Seed tincture

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The Ambrette seed tincture I made about 18 months ago, is lighter in nature than the CO2, and presents itself as something I see myself using more in and Eau Fraiche, a cologne or an EdT. Light, summery and not as invasive as the CO2. But somehow I think my sample has gone bad, so I’ll have to re-tincture this one in the late summer when all the family hoopla dies down. In the meanwhile though, here’s an overview of my impression of this tincture:

Common name: Ambrette Seed (tincture)

Botanical name: Abelmoschus moschatus (tincture)

Supplier: got the seeds from Hekserij and tinctured them myself.

Note: Base

Family: Musky

Diffusion: 10%

Dilution: 3

Blends well with: Bergamot, black spruce, carrot seed, cedarwood, champaca, cistus, clary sage, coriander, cypress, frankincense, geranium, labdanum, lavandin, lavender, neroli, oakmoss, orange blossom, patchouli, rose, orris root, rosemary, sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver… (TGSC)

Chemical components: (EE)-farnesyl acetate(oily/waxy), nerolidol (floral/green/waxy/citrus/woody), farnesol, ambrettolide, dodecanol, among others.

Interesting bits: see my previous post on Ambrette Seed CO2

Their nose: see my previous post on Ambrette Seed CO2

My nose: The opening of the Ambrette seed tincture is soft, coolish in temperature and the projection is very low. Do I smell coconut oil? After 15min I’m thinking maybe the tincture has gone “off”, is past it’s best-before-date, because it smells a bit rancid; it’s fading fast and it’s very dry. 30min later and it’s almost gone. What is going on?! It’s a sharp note, also the coconut is once again present, rancidity is gone though. After 45min I can barely smell it, or detect it, it’s dry. 1hr and it’s soft, hushed, yes, still get that rancid effect (so apparently it does random disappearing and appearing acts), still on the strip but now more feeble impression; parched. 2hrs now and hmmm, yes, the effect remains on the strip which I find incredible for a tincture, very weak, yes, but there it’s there in a very natural way. At 3hrs it’s still alive on the strip and I can get a dry, greenish impression from it. 7hrs on and my Ambrette seed tincture is almost gone, just a memory almost, dry, but only a hint remains on paper. 12hrs now I’m able to get one sniff then the whole thing crumbles like a house of cards. I let it go. I don’t even attempt to struggle. After a whole 24hrs passes the strip is strangely still haunted by the tincture. There is an odd sweetness to the note that wasn’t there in the first 15 minutes. The dry impression is now secondary, oddly enough.

12/24 comparison: In a direct comparison the 12hr strip has a distinct rancid, coconut smell thing going. It’s dry and less pleasant smelling. While the 24hr strip’s olfactive impression almost disappears completely.

P.S. School will be out from Thursday for a whole week for Easter holidays and I can’t wait for a week off! Planning on doing some serious studying, more aromatic profiles and there will be some time (three days to be exact) for a very quick escape to see the beautiful town of Siena, Tuscany, yeah! Smooshed in there sandwich style will be some time with my daughter and her fiancé and finally some house cleaning, ’cause that never ends!

For this Wednesday I plan to get out a profile of a lovely Angelica Root CO2 that I purchased in December from Eden Botanicals, so stay tuned.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week!

MC

Lessons In Perfumery 8

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The focus for this month’s Lessons In Perfumery 8 is — plan for inventory BEFORE you start accumulating hundreds of materials.  I learned this lesson the hard way.

If you plan to take this hobby at all seriously and develop it into something close to a profession then it’s important to take inventory now. Doing this saves you time and money and creates a process that can also help your creative process because it’s one less thing you have to think about. The organisation becomes automatic and this gives you more time and energy to create.

Some perfumers start out accumulating materials based on a specific formula they have in mind or that they want to follow so they know the aroma chemicals or naturals they need and that formula forms the basis of their purchase. I chose the other way. I dove in with a beginner’s set of naturals and synthetics that I wanted to learn and become familiar with as my core. But one thing that is common to all perfumers is that our arsenal of raw materials can quickly mushroom to gigantic proportions leaving us with limited space in an unplanned work area and no process for finding what we want instantly among hundreds of materials. Not a very good way to start our education.  Finding what we want in our own lab should be the least of our worries in the creative process.

I started the process of taking inventory, as you remember, in the beginning of January and only just finished now, so that took me about 3 weeks with everything else I had on my plate. It started out as a simple necessity to just get organised but quickly grew into inventory because I thought, okay, I need x amount of caps for my vials, which led to the question, how many, which led to the answer: I don’t know. Well, if I’m serious about what I’m doing at all, that’s not an acceptable answer. And so the commitment became a quest to know everything I had on hand and ultimately this helps me distinguish between a need and a want.

There are many mini questions that I pondered while doing inventory that were important that I wish I had asked myself from the beginning:

  • How do you want to group them in your lab? By family, by genus type, by top, middle or base note?
  • What dilution do you want them to be? There are some perfumers that do not dilute to 10% but have all their dilutions at 20% or 30%. Decide on this ahead of time.
  • Group all original materials together either in trays if you have the space or with an elastic band if you don’t.
  • Label all bottles with dilution percent, supplier, date of dilution. This last, date of dilution, is really important because then you can have a good idea of how long your dilutions have been maturing. Let’s say you start out with 2 or 3 Patchoulis and in a few years you end up with 7 or 8 and can begin to pick up on subtle nuances in olfactory profiles you’ll wonder why one Patchouli smells markedly different than another and realise that the one you had diluted two years earlier is rounder, smoother, with many layers because, hey, it’s more mature and has character.  But how will you know that if you don’t know when you diluted it???

At any rate, those are just some of the things that popped into my head as I was doing inventory. Here’s how I actually went about it:

  1. In an Excel spreadsheet labelled Inventory 2015 I created the following columns: N°, CAS, NAME, GENUS NAME/CHEMICAL NAME, MATERIAL, TYPE, ORGANIC (Y/N), ORIGIN, DATE PURCHASED, EXPIRY DATE, SIZE, SUPPLIER, PERFUME FAMILY, DILUTED, DILUTION, DILUTION DATE, TOTAL NUMBER.
  2. Click on the row just beneath the one with the column headings and in the Excel menu marked Window select, FREEZE PANES so that when you scroll through all your material the main column headings will always be visible.
  3. Once entered into Excel the undiluted, original bottle got a red tag on the bottom.
  4. Everything got inventoried, including lab equipment, perfume bottles, and base oils and alcohol.
  5. Then I grouped all similar undiluted oils together, eg: all Lavender and Lavandin oils I wrapped together with an elastic band.
  6. Then I grouped all the diluted materials, my working oils, into similar groups. Therefore, Labdanum, Cistus are all together in a little group, one step above are my Myrrhs: tinctures, absolute and oils. Just above that are my Sandalwoods: tinctures, absolutes and oils and then next to that Frankincense: oils, tinctures, concretes and absolutes. And so on.  I began grouping things together on the shelves as they made sense to me in my head naturally.  All citrus oils together in one big group. Next to them the Lavenders and next to those the Bergamots, and next to those the Petitgrains, simply because that’s how I group them together in my head.
  7. During inventory I moved all empty bottles into boxes and then into storage downstairs so now the shelving is: 1st shelf-tinctures, 2nd and 3rd shelf-naturals, 4th shelf-synthetics, 5th shelf-all undiluted materials.

Ahhhh! There is nothing on my desk other than a few loose notes that I plan to get into Evernote in the next few days, my pipettes, smelling strips and one mixing bar with two vials in it that I got an inspiration to try in the spur of the moment.  And all because things are organised in my perfumer’s organ, in my immediate workspace and in my head! But that’s just me, I need that kind of order to be able to create. It’ll probably be a mess again in six months but who cares! For now I can find sh*#! And that makes me very happy :).

Have a groovy day!

MC


 

making perfumes with labdanum absolute

labdanum-absolute


If you’re thinking about making perfumes with a warm, dark, woody animalic base note or you want to add a note of moss or leather to your composition then have a look at Labdanum absolute.

Common name: Labdanum absolute

Genus name: Cistus ladaniferus

Supplier: Hermitage

Note: Base

Family: Amber, Leather (originally I had this down as part of the Wood family because I was smelling with my “assumptions” and not in the present moment; assuming that since it was obtained from a bush that effect should be that of a more woody note, but the more I research and profile this the more it’s clear that it’s part of the Amber, Leather family so I had to change it).

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: amber, bay laurel, calamus, cardamom, chamomile, copal-black, iris root, lavender, musk seed, nutmeg, oakmoss, opoponax, patchouli, rosemary, rose, saffron, sandalwood, spikenard, storax, tolu balsam, turmeric, frankincense, opoponox, bergamot, clary sage, cypress, juniper berry, lavender, olibanum, vetiver…

Chemical components: spring harvest has more terpenes, carbonyls. Fall has more alcohols. All have little pinene. (Gritman Essential Oils)  The main chemical components are: camphene, myrcene, sabinene, phellandrene, cymene, limonene, cineole, nerol, borneol, geraniol and fenchone (OnlyNaturalEssentialOil)

Interesting bits: It is used primarily as a perfume oil to ground and balance competing scents…There is also cistus (C. ladanifer) coming from the same plant, but it is processed differently than labdanum. Cistus is a rare or precious oil distilled from the flowers and leaves, while labdanum is made from the crude gum of the plant. (Gritman Esssential Oils)

“It is well known to our readers by now that chypre perfumes are dependent on a strict formula that juxtaposes bergamot and oakmoss, interlaying labdanum and other earthy elements such as vetiver or patchouli…It (labdanum) comes as a sticky dark brown resin exudate from two sources: from the shrubs Cistus ladaniferus (western Mediterranean) and Cistus creticus(eastern Mediterranean), both species of rockrose. Rockrose forms the Cistaceae (or rock-rose family), a rather small family of plants reknowned for their beautiful shrubs, covered by flowers at the time of blossom. It consists of about 170-200 species in eight genera and those are distributed primarily in the temperate areas of Europe and the Mediterranean basin, although they can be found in North and South America too in some instances. The flowers themselves have a faint odour and are not used in perfumery.

Labdanum is a natural oleoresin but it differs slightly from other oleoresins in that it contains more waxes and less volatile oil than most of the other natural oleoresins.

“The method of extracting it is unusual and highly entertaing at that. Herodotus and Pliny report that labdanum was collected by combing the beards of goats, which were impregnated with the substance. The goats graze from the branches and the sticky resin gets stuck on their beards. Upon their return, their owners comb the resin our of their beards and extract the resin. Also a rakelike instrument with long strips of leather attached to it, which they drag across the bushes to collect the resin, is used, called ladanesterion.  To this day labdanum is still gathered in Crete by driving goats into the thick forests overgrown with labdanum bushes. It is difficult work as it is best done in hot weather, under bright sunlight in the summer months. Sises is a Cretan village near Rethymnon, where such work is done to this day.

Today modern production is mainly concetrated in Spain and is done through easier means. However there is something to be said about the small, manual labour of cretan production that is of top quality. The modern method involves boiling the leaves and twigs of this plant in water and the gum being skimmed off the surface and mixed with other resinous matter, which sinks to the bottom of the boiling water, as the resinoid is unsoluble in water. The extraction of the crude or cleaned labdanum gets done with a hydrocarbon solvent, whereas petroleum ether is being used increasingly because it yields a light amber resinoid which contains the most wanted odour principles in high concentration: cinnamon base – (isoeugenol) and labdanum resinoid. An absolute is obtained by solvent extraction whereas an essential oil is produced by steam distillation.” (Perfume Shrine)

“Labdanum can be found all over the Mediterranean coast. This particular species of cistus is remarkable for the gum it produces in the summer which has been used in perfumery for over 3000 years. The gum Labdanum has an exceptionally strong balsamic and ambery odour which made it highly considered amongst the « incense » of Antiquity when it was known as Ladanum Resin.

Up until the 20’s the gum was collected directly from the plant and made into balls or bars. Originally it was collected by the shepherds from Crete or Cyprus from the fleece of goats covered in gum by wandering in the cistus fields. Later on the gum was collected by whipping the twigs with a large rake called a Ladanisterion, which was made of strips of leather from which the gum was scrapped with a knife.  From 1920, companies in Grasse began to produce the essential oil by distillation of the cistus from the Estérel region. At the same time in the Salamanca province of Spain harvesters began to collect the gum by boiling the twigs.” (Biolandes)

Their nose: “The fragrance of Labdanum is very complex. This waxy resin produces a balsamlike, woody, earthy, marshy, smoky, ambergrislike, leathery, flowery…” (Scents of Earth)

“It is balsamlike, with woody, earthy, smoky, and even marshy undertones. Some even desrcibe it as ambergris-like, or leathery and honeylike with hints of plum or oakmoss after a rain. Usually it is referred to as ambery, but it is mostly used to render leather or ambergris notes, the latter especially after its ban on using the real animal-derived material, as there were concerns about the ethical production of it from sperm whales from which it originates (Ambergris is therefore very rare and costly if ethically harvested and is mostly synthesized in the lab.)” (Perfume Shrine)

My nose: the top note opens up with a green note that is a bit more ‘refreshing’ than the cistus absolute; animalic, musky, discrete, with a hint of vanilla, thick and deliberate.  After 15min it’s warm, dark and dense with a hint of woodiness; it lingers, and isn’t as imposing as cistus. I get a vision of cathedrals, huge vaulted ceilings and incense wafting in the air. 30min into the top notes and it’s exuding a sleek, feline, feminine quality, where cistus has a more masculine vibe. It’s rich with a sense of timelessness, and the impression is more of the action of a flutter and puff of smoke. After 45min I find myself having to slow down, to be more present with this one, it’s so soft, now a whisper, it’s almost religious, like a constant note in a piece of music that you can consciously, continuously follow from begin to end. 1hr – (Dalma called so I decided to skip this evaluation and move on. Priorities.) 2hrs later and it dries down to a dry, library, churchy, understated impression; there’s a hint of radiance still there and it’s holding up quite well.  After 3hrs this is more sharp and has now acquired an edge to it that cistus doesn’t have, it’s also drier, more woody, more still; where cistus absolute is ’round’ labdanum absolute is ‘angular’. It’s now 7hrs later and labdanum absolute is like a warm summer breeze, solitary, aloof, yet very present, still noticeable. It settles into something more aged and mature quicker than cistus. 12hrs now it’s still holding onto the musky, animalic layer tightly, I can pick up amber here too and it develops into delicate tawny ribbons of comfort.  Some random associations that come to mind are: a trail, the desert, a lion.  This still has a wonderful grip. 24hrs later labdanum is light as a feather, warm, comforting, lasting and supportive, tranquil too. It still has a solid effect. And I still get incense and a church atmosphere making an impression.

12/24 comparison: in the side-by-side comparison the 12hr strip is very much the church scent that is a constant. I can pick up the vanilla a lot more and this strip conjures adventures in the desert much more rapidly. This layer seems to penetrate the Soul, touching every part of me, relaxing the spaces and corners within to remind me to be at peace. So very warm. The layer that is revealed in the 24hr strip is a whisper of these adventures, like an old man telling tales of his youth to children gathered at his feet in awe. I find this layer warm, loving and very protective.

I hope you enjoyed the profile on labdanum absolute as much as I have sniffing and researching it. It’s a totally inspiring material and one that I reach for often.

Have a wonderful Wednesday and I’ll be back Friday with a profile on the sister scent, Cistus absolute.

In-joy!

MC


lessons in perfumery 7

lessons-in-perfumery7


Of the many lessons in perfumery that are part of our never ending training I think this one is one of the most important, especially when one is self-taught: our life is our classroom – if we allow it, and we continue to learn about perfumery even after we finish evaluating or composing for the day, the boundaries are set much, much wider.

I get the sense that my formal perfume training is making me a better cook, (yes, I can almost here you saying, ‘no, duh!'”).  But honestly, it was not something I expected, not at all.

The other day I made an appetizer for dinner of octopus and potatoes (and no, LV is not undernourished), some tuna on the side, yummy bread from our favourite local baker and a luscious green salad.

What I began to notice was a growing confidence as I threw in a bay leaf (LV’s suggestion – I thought he was comatose in front of the tele but then he chimes in with that!), some lemon juice, a bit of salt from Cervia, potatoes, parsley of course and voilà! But the real surprise was this was all done with nary a taste of the spoon! I made a dish with my nose and instinct alone, something I would never had had the belief in myself to do before. A few days agoI had also managed a ravioli filling (brasato, lonza and mortadella) all without tasting it that even my mother and sister-in-law and LV (the official family taster) said was near perfection – oh, the goosebumps.

Wowwww. I stood there in wonder like a child on Christmas day, inwardly ogling my gift. This gift was nothing I could actually touch but it was precious just the same:  my success in the kitchen had brought me to a new level of awareness and application, confidence really, with my nose. One tiny step at a time I am becoming a perfumer, it was an awareness that descended upon me like a gentle spring rain, that I was beginning to trust and make use of the connection between my nose and my brain.

Let yourself be taught by everything around and within you. As a perfumer in training the only walls we encounter are those created in our mind when we fail to find words that adequately describe our olfactive experience in the moment. Therefore, to move beyond those restrictions it’s important to let life teach us all that we need to know about the olfactive arts.

With this I pose a Christmas challenge: over the holidays, try to see how many smells you can train your nose to remember that are specific to this particular holiday season then, in January let’s see how many we can actually remember!  Leave a comment if you want to join in.

With one more post coming before the new year, have a wonderful weekend!

MC


 

making perfumes with orriniff

orriniff2


Making a perfume and need a floral volumizer? Does your perfume composition need something to give it a hint of Orris root and not sure what your options are? Think about Orriniff when making perfumes with a floral, ambery facet.

Scientific name: methyl norbornenylpyridine (mixture of isomers) 25% in isopropyl myristate

a.k.a.: Orriniff 25%

CAS#: 110-2-0

Supplier: Perfumer’s Apprentice

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Dilution: 10%

Diffusion: 9

Their nose: “orris, floral, violet, leather, fresh, wood” (TGSC) “Orris, mimosa, violet leaf, amber complex with a leather, woody nuance. Imparts warm orris amber tones to fragrances.” (IFF)

My nose: Orriniff opens sharp and shiny, a bit pungent, twinkling and abstract. Almost immediately it becomes warm, definitely something sweet about it.  15min and it’s sweeter still, opening up boldly in a round way. It’s harmonious, warm yet there is a hint of coolness at the fringes; cloudy, fluffy and evocative. 30min now and there’s a piercing quality about it, icy almost, a musky membrane seems to surround it but it’s a very light impression, pristine, it nuzzles you like a kitten frisky and energetic, yes, this note has energy! 45min now it’s a happy note! Joyful, celebration, it’s radiant, a tinge of floral sweetness, there is a sense of promise with Orriniff, it’s rousing and moves you to take notice, to wake up. After 1hr it’s still powerfully sweet, still plume-like and billowy, tendrils that flow forever; the colour I get is copper, I hear bells, the trill of an old tower bell in a town square.  That’s never happened before that I heard a sound while sniffing!  2hrs on and sweet, always sweet, still stretched out in prideful glory, a blanket of time held suspended, linked with late spring early summer, soothing.  After 3hrs sweet still remains the first impression, blossoms floral, slight creaminess, it is a sweet caress, I smell laundry. Into the base at 7hrs and the extension of Orriniff is incredible! Dominant and powerful it’s pitch hasn’t waned one bit, no impression of this settling down at all; it’s embracing and yes, exciting, something about it makes my heart beat faster. 12hrs later and it’s just now becoming a more gentler, subdued version of itself, balmy and very comforting. I still get fragrant blossoms even a bit of something succulent. Now a full 24hrs this is the first scent I smell when entering the studio! But, now the expression is more thin, and yes, I can smell commonalities with Safraleine. A side of aggressiveness still lurks in the shadows but it is still soft and inviting and pleasurable!

Blends well with: ambroxan, amyris, bergamot, wild carrot seed, rosewood, alpha ionone, labdanum, vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli, raspberry keytone, etc. (TGSC)

Considerations: Orriniff will last up to 48hours on a scent strip and it gives a composition a floral lift and adds volume, sort of like hairspray in the 70s.

All the best for a wonderful Wednesday!

MC


 

blending perfumes with clove bud eo

clove-bud-eo


Common name: Clove

Genus name: Myrtaceae (Family) Syzygium (Genus) S. aromaticum (Species).  It’s also synonymous with: Caryophyllus aromaticus L., Eugenia aromatica, Eygenia caryophyllata, Eugenia caryophyllus.  I mention the synonyms only because it’s important to know that in the botanical world one plant can have many names.

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 6.5

Blends well with: spice accords, incense perfumes, sweet florals (White Lotus Aromatics).  “In rose, honeysuckle and certain deep-sweet florals, clove bud oil lends a unique note of natural richness and body. The classic ‘rondeletia’ perfume type is based upon the combination of clove and lavender oils. Modern variations include the use of lavindin, sage clary, bergamot, bay leaf oil, pimenta berry oil, etc.” Steffen Arctander.  If you have a snoop around the TGSC site and check clove bud oil you’ll see a vast list of possible blenders.  These are just a few: amyris, iso-amyl salicilate, beeswax abs., peony alcohol, phenethyl acetate, boronia, cardamom, guacwood oil, ho wood, Labdanum, immortelle abs., and linalool, just to name a few!

Chemical components: eugenol makes up 72-90% of the essential oil and is responsible for that distinct ‘clove’ aroma. “the aroma of cloves is influenced by the presence of eugenol, but also by the presence of some minor compounds in the composition. One of these is methyl salicylate, an ester commonly referred to as oil of wintergreen; another is 2-heptanone, which has a fruity, spicy odour. 2-heptanone is particularly interesting; much like eugenol, it can act as an anaesthetic, and research has shown that it is also contained in the mandibles of honeybees. The compound is secreted when the honeybee bites intruders in its hive, paralysing the intruder and allowing it to be removed by the bee. This is a comparatively recent discovery, and the compound has been patented for potential use as an anaesthetic in humans in the future.” (CompoundChem) Have I said how much I love their site lately? Well I do!

Interesting bits: clove bud also comes as an absolute.  “Cloves grown on the evergreen clove tree and they are picked unopened, while the flower buds are stil pinkish” (Fragrantica).  “Archeologists have found cloves in a ceramic vessel in Syria, with evidence that dates the find to within a few years of 1721 BC” (Wikipedia)

Their nose: “warm clove sweet fruity woody, spicy, eugenol, aromatic, clove, woody and medicinal with a nice depth” (TGSC).

My nose:  my first whiff at 09:30 met with a warm quality somewhat hidden, and to me this is a thoughtful note, sensual and soft.  15min later and I still get soft, but this time woody, even a hint of incense.  Feather light and downy.  After 30min it’s open , warm, like a hug! Gentle and kind, also sweet in a way that reminds me of cinnamon, reassuring. 45min now and I get happy memories of celebrations, joyful note, wood note too, open and embracing.  It’s 1hr and the impression is still of openness, warm, strong but not over-powering strong.  2hrs later and sweet, warm plumes float up to soothe me like a warm blanket of spice, golden in colour. Ahhhh!  3hrs into the dry-down and it’s quite delectable, distinguished, light, hushed now and just beginning to trail off noticeably. After 7hrs it’s only now making a distinct exit, still warm and balmy, evocative. After 12hrs it’s still like a cognac warmed up by your hands. Dim and smooth.  24hrs later and when I blow on it it’s still pungent, very much integral just much more subdued, still with a beautiful presence, warm and spicy.

Musings on composition: I can totally smell this together with Labdanum!  But also Frankincense and Sandalwood.  I can get this working it’s way lovingly into a smoky base.

In-joy!

MC


 

blending perfumes with nutmeg eo

nutmeg-eo


Blending perfumes with nutmeg essential oil?  If you’re learning to make your own perfumes then here’s an overview of a wonderful and versatile perfume ingredient.

Common name: Nutmeg essential oil

Genus name: Myristica fragrans

Supplier: Perfumery Art School (part of our kit)

Note: Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 5

Blends well with: woods and florals especially Ylang Ylang, ginger,

Chemical components: The chemistry of nutmeg is full of inspiration – either sabinene or camphene (pungent)account for 50% of the essential oil. Yikes!  Then you have d-pinene 20%, dipenthene 8%, d-linalool 6%, d-borneol 6%, i-terpineol 6%, geraniol 6%, myristicin 4%, eugenol 2%, iso-eugenol 2% and safrole 0.6%.

Interesting bits: did you know another name for nutmeg is Mace? Apparently, nutmeg from Grenada is the one that sets the standards for all others.  The nutmeg we are familiar with is the shelled kernel (who knew?!). Native to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas, Indonesia; but also cultivated on Penang Island in Malaysia, in the Caribbean and especially in Grenada and Kerala. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation from the ground nutmeg. (Wikipedia)

Their nose: “the fruit of Myristica fragrans, it has a spicy sweet facet with earthy and more pungent base notes, and is used to provide an oriental spiciness that is subtler than the usual cinnamon-clove-vanilla bouquet of orientals, thus perfect for masculines and lighter woodies.” (Fragrantica)

“…warm, sweet spicy-aromatic bouquet with balsamic woody undertone.”-from Indonesia and “terpenic top-note…with fresh, warm, sweet, aromatic spicy body note and a woody undertone.”-from Sri Lanka (White Lotus Aromatics)

My nose: I started sniffing at 09:30 and I was met with a warm, pungent but soft aroma, slightly woody, hint of something light and green just around the edges. 15min and whoa! this is way more pungent! Like it’s leaping off the paper but I’m getting a slight medicinal note as well. After 30min this is a spice that sits firmly in place. Now more woody with much more character, a bit on the dark side, but grounded. 45min into it and there is a harshness, it’s like it doesn’t want to come out, just wants to rest in the background. Now it’s 1hr later and I smell something I can only describe as bitter lurking in the background, a tinge of acidity and it’s begun to fade rather dramatically. 2hrs later and a smell of rust?! Dry, totally hidden in the shadows, dusty, faded and antique. After 3hrs I get more fading, very dry, understated now, I like it because now it’s very discreet and indiscernible.  Now 7hrs into the dry-down and it’s almost gone, a sort of metallic effect remains, cool metal or cool wood comes to mind. After 12hrs the smell is warmer even though it’s just about gone! Nice perk! it’s more interesting now, less rugged, more tame.  And 24hrs later this note is still alive. Soft, still sweet, much more woody in the dry-down though it’s lost a lot of it’s pungency, but still definitely alive on the strip.

Musings on composition: mostly used to modify the spicy notes; my thoughts are that this note could hide out very well, tucked away neatly in a composition.

Now of course I have to source the Grenada version.  Good grief, does it ever end?!  Thankfully the answer is, no :).

In-joy,

MC