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.


chayaruchama said...

How I love you, Jenny !
A picture IS worth a thousand words...
Nicely put.

Michael Storer said...

Jenny, I love the way you equate perfume making to painting. I always see it that way, too. You made a very good point and very graphically.

Lastly, where did you get that beautiful picture frame? Is it from your father's antique shop?

Jenny said...

Hi my dear Chaya,

A picture is worth a thousand words and so is a perfume.

Dikke kus!

Jenny said...

Hi my dear friend,

Hahaha, no the frame isn't from my father's antique shop, I used a program called Photo Impression to create this.


Arhianrad said...


What a great, informative post. An argument for simplicity and clarity in structure...


BTW: Thanks for adding my blog to your blogroll! I've added you to mine :D

Jenny said...

Thank you Juvy. I love your blog, you are a very talented writer.

UB SoCal said...

Hi Jenny...
I love this post. I am a Fragrance Designer for Urban Botanic and what I do is not not nearly as sophisticated as the perfumery that you describe. I work with people to create their Signature Scent using a variety of 66 fragrances and based on a personality test. I started with this company only a couple of months ago, so I am really new to the world of fragrance and have learned a lot just reading your blog. Many of the clients that I work with in creating scents often want to add too many scents and it really does make a scented mess! I love the simplicity of your pictures. I would love to link your post to my blog page, if you don't mind. If you are ever curious about Urban Botanic, visit my web page: Thanks for the insight.

Jenny said...


It's nice to hear that you can learn a lot from my blog. Of course it's okay to link the post to your blog.

Good luck with your business.

Hero said...

Very good comparison.

Regards from Serbia

Jenny said...

Thank you so much Hero.