Monday, February 20, 2012

Pirate of Spring - A Novelette in Three Short Chapters

Chapter I

     “Honestly, Ashley?  A spring bouquet?”
     “That is what I said.”
     “You want me to go and make a spring bouquet perfume.”
I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o’er vales and hills, when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils…
      “My dear Shelley, someone your age should not be having trouble with her hearing.”   A client solicitous is a client sarcastic.
      “My dear Ashley, someone your age should not be overlooking incipient dementia.  Why do you
wish me to go and work on a spring bouquet perfume?”
     “Think of it as an adventure, Shelley.”
     “May I point out that this past year has been nothing but adventures?  Five back-to-back new perfumes in the past seven months, stretched over what, four themes?  Five, if one acknowledges the Elizabethan England of  Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Followed  by the writing and publishing of a new book?  What I need is a few weeks with nothing more demanding than my garden.”
     “You should, of course, feel welcome to say ‘no’”.
     The words carry a weight beyond their surface meaning. A complicated and inauspicious weight.  The weight of those damned roses of Heliogabalus.
     I reared back, far more alarmed by the thought of the time this would involve than by the thought of the expensive oils.  There are very good reasons that the joys of the spring floral bouquet perfume have been pirated away from the adoring public.  It is fraught with the complications of making the equivalent of twenty perfumes and then joining them together in such a way that doesn't turn into a muddy-smelling mess.  It is also fraught with very expensive oils, much of which gets sacrificed to terrible mistakes.
     “It shouldn't take you more than two weeks, three at the most.  You’d probably figure it out even before you launch your book.”
     “Ashley:  no.  I have an entire year’s worth of briefs to catch up on.  I have no interest whatsoever in entertaining this idea.  The entire thing sounds like a headache.  I am not going to make a spring bouquet, or even a spring soliflore.  I’m not taking on any new projects.  No.”

Chapter 2

My blending bench was covered with bottles, scent strips, beakers, and scattered notes.  Having spent most of the past three cold, raining three weeks in my studio, I had built a warm fire to keep my fingers from stiffening.  My mood was as bloody as my eyeballs.

Chapter 3

I stagger from my studio with three variations on the spring bouquet theme in hand, take a mouthful of cognac and relish the sensation of it searing down my very empty gullet.  Passing by the mirror, I glance at my haggard face and frowzy hair before settling on my comfy couch.  I smell my variations,while looking out the window and I am happy, very happy.

Loosely transcribed from Pirate King by Laurie R. King
Art Credit 

Sunday, February 12, 2012


by David Lincoln Brooks

Many of those interested in perfumery will get their start perhaps by blending together natural essential oils they found at a health food store--   sandalwood,  patchouli,  bergamot,  lavender--    or perhaps experiment with the synthetic oils they found at a head shop--    you know the ones:  musk,   cherry,   strawberry,   etc.     It's a good, rough introduction to blending perhaps,    although the results are often liable to be muddy, goopy or cloying if we do not as yet understand traditional olfactive families,   or do not adhere to time-tested cologne or potpourri combinations.

Why don't our head shop blends smell nuanced...   sophisticated...   like the store-bought perfumes we've loved?    It's time for the aspiring perfumer to discover the next step:   blending chemicals which have been isolated from various natural scent sources.    This is where Shelley Waddington's new book PERFUMING WITH NATURAL ISOLATES:  THE COMPLETE REFERENCE MANUAL becomes so valuable.   

Ms. Waddington,     who has been teaching perfumery in her beautiful Northern California studios for years now has offered a course giving students a hands-on introduction to natural isolates...    natural aromachemicals derived from natural sources.    Her new book is the very handbook her own students are issued.

PERFUMING WITH NATURAL ISOLATES is a rich yet concise introduction to 24 key isolates widely used in fine perfumery.   Each isolate is presented individually,    with a glyph of its chemical construction,   a work of art lovingly chosen to illustrate that isolate,    smell notes associated with that isolate,   its evaporative lasting power on a mouillette,    its derivation, strength and shelf life.    Each isolate is further illuminated by Waddington's expert notes about the discovery of each isolate,      its traditional role in various successful perfumes of the past.    Often provided also are simple perfumer's recipes which feature that isolate in a complex perfume with other notes.   Waddington also provides us with fascinating historical and scientific trivia about each isolate.  

A generous, informed and straight-talking Q&A section is featured in the back,    answering many questions novice perfumers ask,    and a generous glossary of perfumer's terms is offered as well.     Ms. Waddington also provides quite a few mail sources where aspiring perfumers can purchase these natural isolates (along with other aromachemicals popular in perfumery).

PERFUMING WITH NATURAL ISOLATES is a valuable, attractive, succinct,   lovingly and thoughtfully written baedeker which will guide anyone towards the goal of composing sophisticated and fascinating perfumes and scented cosmetics of their own.    Its clarity, understandability and lack of pretense will make it a refreshing,   accessible read for anyone.   Highly recommended.    143 pages,   softcover.    Available at the following sources:  EnVoyage Perfumes 

David Lincoln Brooks, Author
Image:  Fragrantica