Sunday, October 28, 2007


Not everything we see, hear, or smell is what it seems like. Sometimes we need more information to get to the bottom of something to understand what it is that we see, hear or smell. The information provided to us is not always accurate and can even be misleading. Think of a situation whereby someone purposely wants you to believe something and therefor provides you false information to create a misconception of the truth. We are easy being fooled, and it's hard to get this misconception out of our head once it has settled there. Some people use this tool to create for example a war, they use the tool fear for this purpose. Fear is a very powerful tool to create a misconception in our mind about the truth. The idea that there are people who are purposely creating a misconception of the truth among the people to get what they want, is too much to believe for some people. And yes, it's something that is going beyond our mind, that's why it such a powerful tool, no one will doubt the information provided, why should they, right?

Well, things have changed since there is Internet and information from around the world which is easy to access. But at the same time, not everyone uses this chance to get to the bottom of the provided information to check if it's true. That's scary, people are even being killed because of this. This is something that is playing in my mind a lot of times. It's scary that some people are being fooled this easy and not even trying to find out what is really going on in the world, but make up their mind by information only provided by the same people who wants to have power and money, and not looking any further, but yet making important decisions based on the provided information. Of course it's not realistic that everyone will search for all information, a lot of people are not interested in doing that. But sometimes I wish more people would try before they judge, because even though they don't have the time or feeling to search for more information, they do judge anyway, or even give their own lives or the lives of others.

Bring this subject back to perfumery, right now we are giving feedback about some perfumes made by members of my group. We call this a 'Perfume Swap', I talked about this before. Some of our members including me 'swapped' their own perfumes. We even share our formulas with the participants of the swap. We start the discussion about a perfume with a 'guessing round', that means that before we had the chance to see the formula, we have to guess which notes or accords the perfume contains. This is real fun to do. Sometimes we smell things that aren't even there, and we get crazy because of this, because we really smell these notes. This can be caused because of the fact that some combinations of notes create a whole other new note, or just because of a misconception of what we smell. We learn a lot by guessing the notes of a perfume, we also learn how to recognize combinations of notes. Next week my perfume will be discussed, I'm curious what will be said about it, maybe I can learn something from it and adjust the formula of my perfume.

Not everything you see at first sight is what it is, sometimes you have to take a closer look at things to understand things better.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New packaging for fragrances by Michael Storer

My friend Michael Storer has recently changed all of his fragrances to eau de parfum strength and put them in brand new beautiful packaging. Monk is now darker, more incense-y and richer, while Djin and Il Giardino have been adjusted to meet the requests of his customers. I urge you to visit his website and see his great new lineup.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How I create perfume

Sometimes people ask me, what it is that I do, how I make perfume. If I tell them that perfume is alcohol with aromatic materials, a lot of times I hear the same story. They tell me that when they were little they put roses in water trying to create perfume. They tried to create rose water, something I did when I was little as well. Although the product that is sold by the name 'rose water' is not made by soaking roses in water, but a side product of the distillation of roses. The picture that some people have of what I do is that I work with plants like roses, lavender, clove etc and soak them in oil or alcohol to create perfume. Of course sometimes I did things like that, but this is not the same as creating a perfume, this is making tinctures or macerates. I sometimes used a tincture, but mostly they are not stable enough. When I tell them I use essential oils and absolutes, I see that it's sometimes confused by some people with plants macerated in an oil like almond oil. An essential oil is a concentrated oil which is distilled from the plant, many kilos are necessary to obtain a little bit of this concentrated oil, these oils are volatile, not the same as almond oil, jojoba or coconut oil etc. I've seen many times when I show a bottle of an essential oil that they want to put the oil straight on their skin, as it was a perfume based on an oil like almond oil. While many essential oils can't be worn pure on the skin, they are so concentrated that it can irritate the skin. I also explain that these oils and absolutes have all kinds of different molecules all having different smells. That a rose doesn't contain one molecule that smells like rose, but has a combination of hundreds of different molecules, all having their own specific odor, which all combined create the scent of rose. I explain that I not only work with these combined molecules like an essential oil or absolute, but with single molecules as well. These are from natural sources or man made. Which I for example can use to build my own rose, jasmine or other scents.

Of course there are a lot of people who do know a lot about perfume, especially the perfumistas on the Internet. I'm amazed how much they know about it. For example I love to read the blog Bois de Jasmin by Victoria she writes wonderful interesting posts about perfume materials. She loves perfumes, but she is also interested in how it's made, and wants to know more about the materials that is used in perfume. But a lot more people only buy perfumes and never thought about how it's actually made, it's fun to hear from them how they think perfume is made. Mostly they are surprised when they hear how it's made.

On the left you can see my 'perfume organ'. I created a special room to create my perfumes and to store my materials. On the photo you see cabinets that I hang on the wall containing bottles with droppers which are filled with diluted materials. I keep the bigger bottles of the pure materials in a closet protected from the sun. For me it's always a bit hard to describe in only a few words what it is that I do. It's not the same as blending some oils together and the perfume is ready. I don't line up a rose, jasmine, sandal, lemon oil and mix them, and my perfume is finished. It's more complicated than that. Rose, Jasmine or lemon oil all have their own mix of molecules, basically they are a complete perfume on their own, where molecules are combined in a certain way. Some of the molecules of the rose could be found in the lemon as well and some of the molecules of the lemon can be found in the jasmine as well etc. I work with these oils which are combinations of molecules, but I also work with single molecules which I can use to bring out a certain element of a scent. With these single molecules I can create bridges between some stages of the perfume, I can hide some unwanted harsh or other unpleasant molecules. I can use these single molecules to add a similar smelling molecule that normally only occurs in the base notes to bring out to the top notes as well and of course the other way around. I can create a rose that smells more fresh, dewy or more honey like etc, by adding one or more materials made of one single molecule. Basically I work on the different single pieces of the perfume, the molecules, I put some single molecules apart and work on those to bring them out more, to smooth them, to hide some of them or to modify them. I'm not only working with molecules that are grouped/combined in a certain scent, like rose, jasmine etc but I also divide or break down these groups of molecules into single molecules. That means I have to concentrate on hundreds of single molecules. All having their own character. Below is an example of a perfume, I wrote the notes down in a pyramid. In the top of the pyramid you can see which top notes are used, in the middle the heart notes and at the bottom you can see the base notes.

This perfume above seems only based on some oils, which all are compositions of different molecules, which are combined to create a perfume. This phase of creating is the most fun and easy part, but it's only a rough basic of the perfume, it's not finished yet. I still have to work on the different materials to create a perfume that is well structured. The perfume below is an example on how these notes are combined with single molecules to create a nice structure.

I know it looks a bit messy and I didn't have enough space to add more notes. But this is a rough idea of what I do. I try to blend notes in a way that they all combine well together, I 'glue' some notes together, create more silage, bring out some elements that I like by adding more of these single molecules etc. This phase of creating perfumes is the hardest but the most interesting phase, it's interesting and feels satisfying to finish the perfume and try to make it perfect. I have to find out the evaporation rates of the molecules and combine them with elements that has similar evaporation rates to create a logical way of evaporation. I have to study the perfume to find out if there is not an element that is too dominant, which I maybe have to smooth or hide with other molecules. Or maybe I like to bring out an element and will add more of this molecule etc.

The most fun part is to find out what kind of effect some materials have upon each other. It's amazing how one material can change if I add other materials. It's not so that I'm always sitting behind my desk and blend, mostly I'm studying the materials on scent strips or on my skin, I combine these strips and try to find out how they combine with each other. The ideas of my perfumes are starting in my head, I'm always dreaming about perfumes, I think about it most part of the day, it's something I do automatically and mostly I'm unaware of the fact that I'm analyzing everything that I smell. I imagine how I can translate some feelings or wonderful experiences into a perfume. I'm always paying attention on things that I smell around me, I store all these information in my head and compare these with the materials and combinations that I've studied. It's a dreamy fantasy world, I try to recreate a fantasy and translate it into a perfume.

I have a deep respect for perfumers that really studied their profession, perfumers that work for popular perfume houses studied perfumery for 10 years!!! Now that I've learned so much about perfumery I understand that these perfumers had to study a lot of things before they became a perfumer. Things I didn't think of before, simply because I didn't know or realized what perfumery really meant. I always say, 'the more you know, the more you realize that you basically know nothing at all'. If you don't know enough about something, you can underestimate the whole thing, and compare yourself to someone who really knows everything about it. You put yourself on the same level of someone who studied this, I would call that arrogant and ignorant. I would like the people who put themselves on the same level as professional perfumers to take a real perfumery exam and see if they will pass. I know I will never reach that level, I can't compare myself to these perfumers. I create perfumes for 8 years or so now, I've learned from books, the Internet, by communicating with the members of my Perfume making group at Yahoo and by experimenting and again more experimenting, that's not the same as to study the profession at a high level. There was no teacher that forced me to learn things that I didn't feel like, but had to know to become a perfumer. I'm sure I skipped some parts of perfumery that I still have to learn, but I do my best and try to learn.