What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Saturday, October 17, 2020



For the first time in many months I took a look at the blog, deleted a big accumulation of spam comments, and decided that I need to reward those of you who left comments on my last post. I still have a big box of old samples and small bottles that I want to give away, so if you left a comment on my last post, you’re automatically a winner, no drawing needed. 

Just send me an e-mail with your name and shipping address olympicorchids at gmail dot com), or as a Facebook message and I’ll send some perfume-y stuff your way. There will be enough in the box so that I hope you can find some things you want to keep and use, some to give away, and there will probably be some that you have my permission to throw away because they're not usable. I have not checked through all the samples to make sure they’re full, etc, but I think most everything should be in decent condition. 


Being home during quarantine has made me realize that I need to identify things I don’t want to keep any longer, and pass them on to others. I’ll try to post some more giveaways as the weeks go on. Maybe even write some real posts. 

[The photo is of flower buds on one of our pear trees - they look just like candy!]

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


First of all, let me wish good health and financial stability to everyone who is being impacted by the coronavirus, wherever you are. I know that the pandemic has changed all of our lives in numerous ways, and that it is a constant process of adjustment. 

Ever since university classes stopped meeting in person and schools closed at the end of February, we in the Pacific Northwest have been going through increasingly stringent stages of isolation and suspension of public activity. Like everyone else, I’m in the strange situation of suddenly being freed of all outside obligations. I can do what I need to do from home, on my own time. It’s limiting, but it’s also freeing, and gives me some time to do things I would probably not have done otherwise. I’ve set up an online class for spring quarter, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve purged my e-mail of over 100 thousand old messages, so it’s about as lean and mean as it can get. I’ve started running again after a long hiatus, so am going to get some outdoor exercise. I’ve weeded the entire front garden and started back on the battle of the blackberries, which take over everything if not controlled. I’ve been making perfume samples and filling bottles to get stock back up to where it should be. That’s not finished, but it will be before too long. I’m updating my websites and thinking about some new perfume releases. I’ve been cooking with the aim of emptying our pantry of old stuff over the next few weeks. I’ve been taking care of the orchids and shipping out orders to help keep people sane while they are shut in. Plants and perfumes are important for mental health during this time. 

This week I’m taking up blogging again, and this is the first post in a very long time. To kick it off, I am giving away a huge box of fragrance samples that have been in total quarantine for a months or years, so all you have to do is leave a comment about how you’re dealing with the coronavirus situation and you will be entered in the drawing. 

[Coronavirus image is from King County; other photos are mine.]

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


The winner of the latest drawing is CRYSTAL. 

To claim your box of samples, send me at e-mail at olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a comment on the Olympic Orchids Facebook page 

I will be away from the blog, traveling in Europe from September 4-17, so would like to get this drawing finished up and the prize sent off before I leave. 

There will be a new drawing once I’m back in Seattle, once again for a big box of samples and anything else related that will fit in the box. 

Several years ago I wrote about Artemisia, but have become newly fascinated with Artemisia tridentata, also called big sagebrush. You can read a little bit about it here. I have discovered that it grows everywhere east of the Cascades, and last month harvested some, thinking we might want to distill it. Life intervened and we waited too long, but I took the dried-out leaves and tinctured them, thinking it might be interesting. 

Much to my surprise, within a day the alcohol had turned a bright green, and within a week it was dark emerald green, so I removed the plant matter and filtered it. It is so dark now that it is hard to photograph. I think you can see it best when the bottle is turned on its side and the light shines through. The bright green color was surprising given that the plant itself looks grayish. Best of all, the tincture has quite a strong scent that really captures the fragrance of the fresh plant. I think this tincture would make a great perfume!

To enter the next drawing, leave a comment about where you would like to travel in Europe or some association you have with sagebrush.

[All photos are mine] 

Monday, August 12, 2019


The winner of this week’s drawing is EMILY.

To claim your winnings, just send me an e-mail at olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a comment on the Olympic Orchids Facebook page

Years ago I started trying to keep an archive of perfume samples. I carefully tagged and recorded them in a database, put them in baggies with cards, one for each brand, and put the baggies in alphabetical order in shoebox-sized plastic carriers. It’s probably been 8 or ten years since I started collecting samples, and I have recently been dismayed to find that many of the samples are not in good shape. A lot of them have leaked or evaporated, and there’s not a lot of juice left. Some may have experienced other ravages of time – I haven’t checked. 

I discovered this when I took some of the samples out of the archive to send out to winners of my drawings and free up some shelf space. Because of the preservation problems I’m slowly dismantling my archives and sending out the samples “as is”. Some are in perfect condition, some are pretty good, and some are not good. Some are cheap junk perfumes, some are the average stuff, and some are really beautiful, interesting, expensive, or rare. You take what you get because I don’t choose what I send, I just weigh out a couple of handfuls at random. Pick through them, enjoy whatever appeals to you, and use what’s left over to scent your laundry or your bathroom, give away, throw away, use up, do whatever you like with them. Like everything else in this world they won’t last forever, much as we would like them to, so enjoy them while you can. 

To enter this week’s drawing for at least 100g of samples, leave a comment about the transitory nature of perfume or other things. 

[Perishable flower photos are mine]

Monday, August 5, 2019


For the past few months I have been posting on Facebook whenever there was a winner of one of the drawings, and the winner usually responds right away. This last time I got busy with a lot of things and didn’t put anything on Facebook. The winnings are unclaimed, and there were far fewer comments than usual on the post for the new drawing. It seems that a lot of people don’t see the blog unless I put an alert on Facebook. I’ll do it this time and will try to remember to do so in future. 

This week’s winner is TRINITI

Last drawing’s winner was PARROT. Parrot has one week to contact me, otherwise everything will go to Triniti as a jackpot. 

To claim your winnings send an e-mail to olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a message on the Olympic Orchids  Facebook page. I will need your complete shipping address. 

This week’s photo is Phalaenopsis bellina, which is blooming right now. The fragrance is amazing, kind of a citrusy floral, but unique. It diffuses its fragrance all day. 

To enter this week’s drawing for a big box of samples, just leave a comment about how your summer is going, or any other random thoughts that you have. 

[Photo is mine]

Monday, July 15, 2019


The winner of the last drawing is:


To claim your winnings, just send an e-mail with your full name and shipping address to olympicorchids at gmail dot com, or leave a message on our Facebook page

Yesterday I spent almost the entire day packing perfume to ship and supervising the new person who was packing orchid plants. Such a lot of busy work. I’m still trying to sell the orchid business, even as it grows, so that I can spend more time with the perfume and other creative activities. 

In the evening our neighbor invited us over to sit on her back deck and drink a bottle of prosecco. We made a fire in her clay chimenea using wood scraps picked up in the woods. The high point was when we burned parts of an old, decommissioned bird feeder that was so dry that the flames leaped up immediately, crackled, popped, and sent up showers of sparks. The fire eventually settled into a red glow that just took the chill off the night air. We watched the stars come out, and the moon come up. Everything was perfectly quiet. It was like sitting around a campfire, and about as relaxing as it gets. 

There’s something magical about watching a controlled open fire. It invites contemplation, clears the brain, and brings people together in a friendly way. The smell of the wood smoke is part of the magic. 

To enter this week’s drawing, leave any sort of comment about fire. The prize will be at least 100g of perfume samples. 

[Photos of chimenea fire and rising moon are from Wikimedia. We had no devices of any kind with us last night. Moon and campfire painting by Albert Bierstadt, 19th century.] 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019


Finally, I’ve done the drawing, and the winner is 


To collect your goodies, just send your full name and shipping address to olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a message on our Facebook page. Facebook has been having some issues, so e-mail is probably more reliable. 

I was recently reading an article on the US obsession with air conditioning, which pointed out the obvious fact that running all those air conditioners to keep people refrigerated is a significant contributor to global warming, which would ultimately lead to a need for more air conditioning. What should be even more alarming, also pointed out in passing in the article, is that all of the server farms that store our data rely on air conditioning to dissipate the enormous amounts of heat generated by the servers. If the air conditioning should fail, the servers will go down, and who knows what will be lost. Any operations that depend on the server farms will come to a screeching halt. 

I’ve always had my doubts about keeping anything I valued on the “cloud”, so I have jpeg files of all my photos and mp3 files of my music library on my laptop, backed up on an external hard drive. All of my documents are backed up as well. 

It’s only a matter of time until some major server farm fails, either through hacking or through natural causes like a natural disaster and/or power failure. Luddite and jack-of-all-trades that I am, it should not affect me all that much. 

The next drawing will be for a massive haul of samples of all sorts, probably at least 200 g for US shipping, but 100 g international. To enter, just leave a comment about air conditioning, server farms, or how you back up your important data. 

[Fuschia photo is mine, freezing baby and server farm are from an internet search.]