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.