Thursday, June 28, 2007

Follow my nose

Yesterday me, my husband and a friend of us, went to an orchid farm. It's an orchid farm but also a tropical garden that you can visit it has waterfalls, little houses, bridges etc, and of course lots of orchids. I was curious to find fragrant orchids. So the first thing I did when we came into the tropical garden, was sticking my nose into an orchid. A bit of a disappointment because I couldn't smell a thing. I wanted to smell all the flowers, so I followed my nose. I saw people looking in a funny way at me, but they started all to smell the flowers as well. The first orchid I found that had a scent had a faint odor. A bit sweet, soft not real spectacular. The photo I made of this orchid failed. It had a lot of real tiny yellow/orange flowers on the same branch, hanging down from a tree.

But the most fragrant I could find was an orchid that had the appearance of a big violet, and that was the common name of it as well, it's called 'Violet orchid'. The official name is Miltonia named after Lord Milton. I smelled the white version of this orchid first, because they were the first I found. The smell was fresh floral a bit lemony and a bit spicy, not at all like the smell of violet. When we walked a bit further I found more Miltonia's the white version but also Miltonia's in other colors. This time the white version didn't smell so strong as the flowers that I found before. I think it depends on where they stand.

Next to these white flowers there were also Miltonia's with a deep dark purple color, these had a faint scent like chocolate. Maybe if they were standing in another spot or when I smelled them at another time of the day they would smell stronger, I don't know. I know that many orchids are fragrant in the night. It was great to see and smell so many different orchids, there are so many of them, also many hybrids. When you like to see how a 'new born' orchid would look like if two different species would 'mate' click here

Monday, June 25, 2007

A palette of scents

A mistake I made when I first wanted to create perfume, that was in 1998 or 1999 I think, was that I used too many materials, all in small and about the same amount. So too much of everything basically. None of the materials were standing out, it was more like 1 to 3 drops of all the materials and than maybe 10 materials at once. When you think about how many compounds essential oils or absolutes have; for example a rose absolute, has at least about 350 aromatic molecules, you will understand that when you use all kinds of essential oils or absolutes you will end up with something like 1000 or more aromatic molecules in your creation. Of course some of them will share some of the same aromatic molecules, but all together it's too much of all these smelly molecules at once, it doesn't make sense to your nose anymore. I compare it with painting, when you use too many colors on one little spot you get a brown dull color. Let me visualise it:

I used a small frame and painted with a big brush a big spot of red paint that almost fill the whole frame. Not bad.

Than I added a yellow spot on top of the red spot I painted before. Hmm still not bad.

Now I used the color blue on top of the red and yellow spot. And the color changed into something purple. Not bad either. But this is not what I had in mind, where is the red and yellow color?

But I don't stop here and add a green color on top of all the other colors. The color turns brown and dull. Imagine what kind of color it will turn out to be when I use more colors, all at the same amount and all at the same spot. You don't see any of the other colors anymore.

In perfumery you have to avoid to add too many things in the same amounts. You have to create the basic scent, the skeleton so to say, you could also say the background maybe, the scent that will go trough the whole fragrance. You will smell different notes as well but still will recognize the basic smell. It's something that will guide you trough the whole fragrance experiment of the perfume.

So this time I will use a bigger frame to start with:

Than I add the basic colors, the basic scents I want to use for my creation, something like a background that always can be seen (smelled) through the whole fragrance picture of my creation. Like I did here with the basics green for the grass, blue for the sky and a little less, but still present yellow for the sun:

So far the basic of the painting, uhm I mean fragrance. Now I'm adding some smaller amounts of other colors, I mean notes:

You can still see the basic or the background of the painting, like you still will smell the basic notes in your creation. Finally I add some other colors, not big spots but enough to be noticed.

So some colors, notes, will act as the basic and some colors, notes will act as little spots to give the painting, perfume, more contrast or accents. Sorry, but I can't paint, I wish! I hope that this visual made it more clear on how to 'paint' a perfume.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rêverie au jardin by Andy Tauer

Andy Tauer wanted to capture the scent of lavender in all its facets and complexity and created a fragrance based on this smell. He created "Rêverie au jardin" what means "Daydream in the garden". Now when you aspect to smell an ordinary lavender cologne, you are wrong. This lavender fragrance is more than just a fragrance that smells like lavender, it starts fresh green like you imagine yourself in a green meadow, slowly the lavender notes comes through. I know how difficult it is to create a perfume with a lot of lavender, it easy becomes smelling like an air freshener and smells cheap. But here in this fragrance the lavender has all kinds of aspects, it starts sparkling fresh green, something that surprised me to smell, later the lavender comes forward, a herbal fresh lavender softened by Bulgarian rose absolute. The base notes are sweet tonka vanilla with woody notes of cedar and sandalwood.

The notes:

The head notes are very green and fresh- lavender(high altitude mountain lavender from France, galbanum and fir balm with bergamot and rose absolute from Bulgaria softening the herbaceous lavender.

They lead over to a musky, fresh heart note (frankincense from India and ambrette seeds) with a woody and flowery orris line.

The body note is the most complex part of the scent, being a soft, and airy wood accord (vetiver, tonka beans, oakmoss). Hints of vanilla and ambergris, sandalwood and cedar wood play into a balsamic tone that seems to last for ever.
World wide:

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mint, apple and lemon

Here in the Netherlands we had some rainy days lately, but gladly it's dry in between as well. Last night we had a birthday party of my girlfriend and the whole night it was dry so we could sit outside in the garden. We sat outside until half past 4 in the night, no need to tell it was a great party! This morning I walked in my garden and was not only smelling the flowers that are blooming but smelled the leaves of some plants as well, I crush them between my fingers so the essential oils will be released. We have peppermint plants in the garden, the Latin name of this peppermint is Mentha suaveolens, we use the leaves in our tea. The smell is soft minty with a green apple note. It's amazing how many different species of mint plants there are, there are mints that smells like grapefruit, chocolate, pineapple and many more variates. Here you can read about some species and their smells. On real warm days I like to make a refreshing lemon drink. I use water. sugar, Lemon or Lime and peppermint leaves, which I leave in the drink for decoration and taste, with a lot of ice, this drink is wonderful on hot days. I have essential oils of the peppermint as well, one oil is from the normal peppermint and the other is an essential oil from the Nana peppermint, Mentha Spicata, a mint that Arabic people use in their tea.

Another plant in my garden with aromatic leaves is Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) when you crush the leaves of this plant between your fingers it smells like Lime, I've heard once that when you drink a tea of this plant everyday, you will have a long healthy life. There are many more plants with aromatic leaves in my garden, like the Agastache Foeniculum (Anise Hyssop) these leaves smells like licorice with a hint of mint as well. The leaves of the geranium smells heavenly green rosy. I like to sniff everything I even dig up the violet flowers to smell their roots which smell a bit like Orris root.

Well have to go, it's Father's Day and I made a fragrance for my father to give to him as a present, I hope he likes it.

Have a nice Father's Day!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


The flowers around me are so inspiring these days. I can't get enough of smelling all these lovely fragrances. A lot of flowers are blooming in my garden and I can't resist to smell them every time I pass by them. When I smell them I wonder in my head what it is that makes these flowers smell so great. Last week my mother gave me beautiful flowers of Peony out of her garden they are white with little purple red spots on them. The funny thing is that the petals, that are soft like velvet, have a heart shape. The smell of these flowers are incredible it's soft, clean and fresh at the same time. It doesn't smell like roses, although it has some similarities, the smell of a rose is deeper. I took the vase with the flowers with me outside and went to my garden sitting at the table. I took also some of my aroma chemicals with me outside, and smelled the material that I thought would be in it and compared the smell of it with the flowers, to be sure if it is really in it or not.

I can smell Citronellol a component that also occurs in rose, Citronellol has a rosy but also a bit of a citrus kind of odor. I also detect a Linalool note, Linalool occurs naturally in Lavender, Rose wood and many other plants and flowers. Linalool has a soft floral and a bit of a woody odor. Peony also has a little bit of a green note, what I think can be coming from Aldehyde Lauric C12, which has a clean fresh green smell. There is no doubt that it also contains some Geraniol which also occurs in rose and so many other flowers and even fruits. The smell of this flower also does remind me a bit of Honeysuckle somehow, so I guess that it also contains some Geranyl Acetate. I created my own Peony base based on this experiment and the similarity with the the smell of the real Peony flowers is striking. As far as I know there is no essential oil or absolute made from the flowers of Peony. I create a lot of my own bases this way, like I did with the flowers of Snowball Viburnum for example. These bases are not perfumes, but I use them as building blocks in my creations. I can't wait for the other flowers to bloom.