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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


The winner of the last giveaway is:


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

As usual, when one giveaway ends another one begins. Right now I’m just trying to get through the last three weeks of spring quarter at the university, all the while keeping up with shipping out plants and perfumes.

This week the cottonwood trees are doing their thing, releasing flakes of white material that look just like snowflakes. The cottonwood snowstorm always reminds me of Fellini’s movie Amarcord, where the old man looks at the floating white particles from the trees and says, “vagano, vagano, vagano …” (they drift… and drift … and drift). Around where I live, there are so many cottonwood trees that the white fluff accumulates on the ground, just like snow. 

Do you have any similar phenomenon where you live? Leave a comment about it, or just leave a random comment to be entered in the next drawing for 100 g of perfume samples and anything else that I decide to throw in. 

[Photos of accumulated cottonwood "snow" in a local parking lot are mine]

Monday, May 6, 2019


What with two orchid shows in April, it’s been crazy and I’ve let the blog go for a while. However, now that they’re over, I did get back on long enough to do the drawing for the last giveaway. 

The winner is ROBIN BRENNAN. 

To claim your goodies, please send your full shipping info to olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a PM on our Facebook page

I have so much stuff left to give away that this series of drawings will be going on for some time. I am just going to do the easy thing and say that anyone who leaves a comment and says they’re interested in getting some samples will be entered in the next drawing for 100 g of assorted fragrance samples and other stuff. No need to think!

[African violet photo is mine. The flowers sparkle like fine glitter in the sun]

Monday, March 25, 2019


The winner of the winter flowers drawing has been randomly chosen, and the winner is:

To claim your 100 g sample bag, please send an e-mail to olympicorchids at gmail dot com (quickest way) or leave a PM on Facebook

Well before the spring equinox, Big Brother dictated that we would once again switch time zones, from Pacific Standard Time to Mountain Time (one zone to the east). This arbitrary change is euphemistically known as “Daylight Saving Time”. Logically, nothing is saved by cutting a segment off on one end and adding it to the other. The amount of daylight is the same no matter what you call it. 

What the legislated time switch accomplishes is unclear, but to me it’s depressing to go from finally having it nice and light when I wake up to go to my “day job” to having it still dark. This is not quite accurate in my case because the cat usually wakes me up at dawn no matter what, but now that feline wake-up call comes an hour later in the official scheme of things, I’ve lost an hour of what could have otherwise been productive time in the morning before I have to be somewhere, and/or I’ve lost an hour of sleep. Do people really want to get up an hour earlier so that they can finish work an hour earlier? If so, then why don’t the morning people just do it without calling it something else? Why force everyone to do it?

Time zones were designed to coordinate with the daily cycle of the sun and, with a few exceptions, generally provide the best approximation to it. I know there are movements afoot to do away with changing the time twice a year, but please, let’s not have a permanent move into the wrong time zone!

This week I’m offering the usual 100 g of samples and whatever else I decide to throw in as extras. To enter the drawing, just leave a comment giving your thoughts on “daylight saving” time. 

[All photos are mine. The colors of the crocuses were especially bright this year, maybe because they bloomed a month late.]

Monday, March 4, 2019


The drawing has been done, and the winner of the winter flowers drawing is: 


If you’re the winner, please contact me by e-mail at olympicorchids at gmail dot com or PM on Facebook with your full name and shipping address. 

This past week we’ve had nothing but beautiful blue skies and sunshine during the day, but the down side is that it’s been horribly cold at night, in the 20s F (below 0 C), well below freezing. We still have snow on the ground in shaded areas, and the typical ugly piles of snow and sand on the sides of the roads and in the parking lots. This is completely abnormal for March, and all the plants are about a month behind schedule. We are still cleaning up broken branches and beaten-down bamboo canes from the heavy snow. I hope things will warm up as we get into what should be spring. 

As should be obvious from the giveaways, I always have a huge number of perfume samples on hand. I view sampling other companies’ perfumes as part of my continuing education as a perfumer, partly to learn what is possible, and partly to avoid duplicating what’s already available. I don’t know about you, but the more I sample, the more everything seems the same. These days it is rare that I experience that beautiful flash of discovery when something really new and surprising comes along. It’s all déjà vu (or rather déjà senti) I think part of the problem is that a huge number of new perfumes are released every year in a futile attempt to keep brands in the public eye, and this number seems to increase almost exponentially every year. It’s easier just to recycle the standard scents and try to push them on the public through advertising and gimmicks than it is to be innovative in terms of the perfumes themselves. It’s actually depressing to think of how superficial all of the marketing is and what a glut of products are sloshing around.  

This week there’s another giveaway of 100 g of samples plus whatever goodies I have sitting around that will fit in the box. Just leave a comment about your experiences with perfume sampling. Do they all start to smell the same after you’ve sampled a lot? 

[Pics are mine, all types of flowers that are blooming now, but should have bloomed a month ago.] 

Friday, February 22, 2019


The winner of the snowstorm drawing is MIM.

Because the last prize was not claimed, you will win double the samples (200 g) plus some extra bonuses that depend on your shipping address. Please contact me with your full name and shipping address. You can e-mail olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a message on the Olympic Orchids Facebook page

After two weeks the snow is finally melting, and there are now patches of bare ground. They look so pretty after the solid white! I’m continually seeing new surprises from under the snow. Who would have thought that cyclamen flowers could stand having the weight of two feet of snow on top of them, let alone the cold temperatures? Yesterday, for the first time, I saw the cyclamen flowers that had been blooming before the snow started, slowly uncovered, apparently with no ill effects. Similarly, the crocuses, daffodils, and tulips that have been uncovered seem not to have minded the snow too much. The hellebores, which were in full bloom, got beaten down a little, but the bent stems make nice cut flowers for inside the house.

A week before the show we planted a sarcococca bush, seduced by the strong fragrance of the little flowers. It was completely buried in snow, with not a leaf showing, and I was worried about it. However, now that its covering has melted away, it looks perfectly healthy. The jasmine we planted last year didn't fare so well. It was completely covered, too, and now the leaves look brown. However, the leaves near the base are still green, so maybe there’s hope. Spring will reveal what’s left of it, if anything. 

We’ll have a new drawing for 100 g of samples, so leave a comment saying what surprises you have found when snow melted, or when other natural events changed the landscape. The winner of the new drawing will be announced in about a week.

[Photos are mine from this week]

Monday, February 11, 2019


Today, after a short break, the snow continues coming down hard. New snow falls on top of old in a cycle that has reached the point of absurdity. As the snow event has progressed, I’ve found myself going through stages of relating to it. When the first snow came, I was happy and excited like a little kid because we don’t get to experience much snow, so it’s a novelty. I love to watch it falling even when it doesn’t stick (usually), and it’s even more exciting when it does stick and everything slowly turns white. What I didn’t like was the cold temperature, but I went out and ran a little in it twice anyway. The next snow was bigger, and by then I was kind of blasé about it, to say nothing of being concerned about the state of my orchid greenhouse, which, by the way, is still in lockdown mode. 

The third snow came yesterday, and by then it was mostly just annoying, although there was a little of the morbid curiosity that one feels looking at an accident or a natural disaster (How much more can it snow?). I think the third snowfall raised the total depth to about 14-16 inches (25-30 cm). Today’s snow will pile on top of that. By now I’ve become fatalistic about it and given up on even going outside, let alone going anywhere. Given that we stocked up on groceries last Saturday and our power hasn’t gone off, I can just sit and laugh at it. 

The bright side is that I am getting a lot of perfume-making done, putting together a big wholesale order. Who knows when it can be shipped, but at least it will be ready.

It’s time for another drawing of 100 g of perfume samples, so just leave a comment saying whether you have ever experienced mass quantities of snow, if so, how you relate to mass quantities of snow, and if not, whether you would like to have the experience. 

[Both photos are mine. The top one shows the condition of our street, which has just been getting worse for at least a week. ]

Sunday, February 10, 2019


The snowstorms continue to roll in one after the other. After a break yesterday it is again snowing like mad tonight and accumulating on top of the old snow. At least it keeps things looking pretty. 

The most important thing is to announce the winner of the first drawing of 2019. 

The winner is LISHYPANTS. 

To claim your big bag of samples, just send an e-mail to olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a message on the Olympic Orchids Facebook page. I am more likely to see an e-mail because things sometimes disappear from Facebook, or are hidden. 

Tomorrow I will be just as snowed in as I am tonight, so will start another drawing. Watch for it!

[Photo is mine, just a few days ago, showing the path down into our ravine after the first snow]