Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Drop Of This, A Drop Of That

In a similar way that many bloggers really want to be Serious Writers, and many actors really want to Direct, what fragrance tragic doesn't want to have a decent shot at being a Nose? Or maybe I mean an Alchemist, because a wonderful fragrance is something that somehow seems so much more than the sum of its parts. Base materials transmuted into gold.

Suburban Sydney is a long way from the Grasse, and as a hobbyist in my late 40s the odds of ever being a white coated student wandering the halls of the Givaudan perfumery school are rather slim. Extremely slim. But, there is absolutely nothing stopping me from having a go. There are books, and various articles on the web. Essential oil wholesalers. Even companies (although sadly not in Australia) selling small volumes of synthetic fragrance molecules.

I'm creative, and most importantly I can smell. (Rather sadly, many people can't.)

And importantly, I also had some spare cash because holy hell this is not a cheap hobby! An initial set of oils, perfumer's alcohol, disposable pipettes and small blending bottles from the Sydney Essential Oil Company and New Directions set me back a few cool hundred.

So a couple of months ago I took my newly acquired materials, and decided I needed to start at the very beginning. Inspired by some articles on the Jean Carles' method of training (available for free on The Perfumer's Apprentice) I decided to make 10% solutions in alcohol of all the oils I had, mostly base notes, to begin with. (10% is a suggested strength because it replicates the approximate strength of most Eau de Toilettes.) Every article I read about using natural oils in perfumery mentioned that once diluted or blended they need to be left for a few months to develop.

Tick, tick, tick.

Tonight I finally started playing with these dilutions, smelling them on paper - and even more importantly on skin - and even creating a few rudimentary blends with a drop of this and a drop of that on the back of my hand. Already I'm in love with a blend of really good vanilla (not the nasty cheap stuff that makes you think "yuck, vanilla" like I always have) and vetiver. The vetiver ups the ante on the surprisingly green, resinous notes present in good natural vanilla, and in turn the sweeter notes and warmth of the vanilla buffs off some of the harsher angles of the green and woody vetiver.

Wow, this is fun.