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.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This week two of my cattleyas have started to bloom and both of them have a huge indolic component to their fragrance, especially when the flowers first open up. A lot of cattleyas seen to be heavy on the indole at first and then mellow into something else after a few days.

One of the plants that’s blooming right now is Cattleya harrisoniana, a species native to South America. The flowers of this particular plant are medium lavender with a big cream-colored lip. The other plant that I have is white to begin with, gradually turning a light lavender as the flowers mature. In the morning the plant that’s blooming now has a strong fragrance that’s like artificial grape, almost like Dior Poison, with a lot of indole mixed in. It will be interesting to see how it develops over the life of the flower.

Another plant that’s blooming now is Blc (Brassolaeliacattleya) Hawaiian Passion. The picture shows the first time it bloomed, with just one flower. This year it has a cluster of six flowers, all closely bunched up next to one another. The first couple of days its scent was almost pure indole! After that it started developing a creosote and citrus fragrance, but the indole is still there. I’m not sure it would make a good perfume unless it mellows a lot, so I’ll probably just enjoy it while it’s blooming.

Indole is usually thought of in connection with white florals such as jasmine and gardenia, but it’s also part of the fragrance repertoire of a great many orchids.

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