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.

Monday, December 31, 2012


I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I will try to make sure I post here on a more regular basis next year. My last post of 2012 will probably be the first one that most of you read in 2013, so I’ll wish you all a very happy, healthy, prosperous, and successful new year!  

[Seattle fireworks photo from my usual trusty source, Wikimedia] 

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Over the winter break I’ve been making some big changes in my workspace. I’m moving most of my operations into a larger room, with newly painted walls. The decision to move came about slowly due to my ever-growing frustration with the amount of time I spent searching for things in the old, tiny space, where everything I used regularly was crammed into drawers, cabinets, and boxes, with a lot of other items stored in odd places ranging from closets to the garage.

I recently bought a large stainless steel work table, the kind used in restaurants, and have set it up on the east wall. Michael has put up a lot of shelves on both the east and west walls, and I also have two big bookcase-type sets of shelves for storage. I’m gradually getting stuff arranged on the shelves, but a lot of my “organ” is sitting in open boxes on the table right now, waiting for tiered shelves to go up above the table surface. All of those empty shelves in the photos will soon be augmented with more, and filled. In the meantime, it’s still a lot easier to work here than it was in the old space.

It’s amazing to actually have enough room to work comfortably, and I’m looking forward in the new year to having all of my materials organized so that I can find them easily. 

Friday, December 28, 2012


Every time I read the news I see some new and ever-more egregious attempt to micromanage people’s use of perfume. Apparently there’s talk of IFRA banning just about every natural and synthetic fragrant substance known to man, as reported here (and elsewhere).

According to this article and other sources, the city of Portland Oregon wants to severely restrict or ban all of their employees from wearing any sort of fragrance. The argument by both IFRA on a large scale and Portland city government on a small scale is that “someone might be allergic to it”. Very true. Someone might be allergic to just about anything that exists in the world.

Think about the scope for allergies - the Portland mayor’s microscopic skin flakes that float around city hall, the trees and flowers (shudder!) that grow in city parks, formaldehyde and other fumes from carpet and building materials, seagull feathers, the soap and sanitizer in all of the bathrooms throughout the city, the peanuts in a candy bar, the honey in the neighborhood granola shop, the milk in a latte (I know that milk-latte is redundant, but it’s the local terminology), prescription drugs, the plastic components in a smart phone, the nickel in a piece of cheap jewelry, the wool in a suit at the most expensive men’s store, the stuff in a kid’s “flame-retardant” pajamas, pet cats and dogs ….

(lets ban dogs! Yeah!!!), the wheat flour in a cookie, the corn meal in a tamale, the pink slime in a hot dog, the grass in everyone’s lawns. Yeah! !!! Let’s ban lawns – how about that, city of Portland? And why don’t you ban roses and the Portland Rose Festival while you’re at it? Then your nickname could be The City of No Roses and you could have a bare earth festival – oh, sorry -someone might be allergic to bare earth. It will have to be the Portland No Festival. The list could go on forever.

At least one person might be allergic to just about anything on this earth if you were to look long and hard enough. Maybe IFRA and the EU should come up with a modest proposal to just ban people – then there wouldn’t be a problem with potential allergies. Come to think of it, there wouldn’t be a problem with the economy, either.

If I have one perfume-related wish for the New Year, it is that IFRA and all other regulatory bodies stop trying to micromanage the manufacture and use of fragrances by severely restricting or banning materials that have been used safely for millenia and turn their energy to something important in the overall scheme of things. The earth is going to hell in a handbasket and all people can worry about is whether someone might be allergic to miniscule amounts of a material that doesn’t have a rich, powerful lobby promoting its use. 

[Sneeze and Portland golf course photos adapted from Wikimedia. No dogs sign adapted from one that's commercially available and used on many lawns] 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


First off, here are the winners of the Holiday Giveaway:

50 ml atomizer bottle of Red Cattleya: TAFFY
Coming to My Senses by Alyssa Harad: LINDALOO

The names were chosen by my usual method of balled-up scraps of paper mixed thoroughly and drawn from a hat. No one really seemed to want the fragrance oils, so I’ll hang onto them for the time being. If you are a winner, please e-mail me with your full shipping information. You can just click on the e-mail link on my profile page. 

It’s been a busy December. As a consequence, it’s been about a month since I set foot in the greenhouse, so I was dreading what I’d find when I finally went in there. I half expected everything to be dehydrated, with a lot of dead plants, but I should have known better. Not only had nothing died, everything seemed to have grown, and some plants were even in bloom. There was a young Neofinetia plant that had decided to become beautifully variegated on its new growth, so that made me happy! What I have come to love about epiphytic orchids is their phenomenal survival skills. They can live happily without water for months, tolerate extremes of temperature as long as they don’t freeze much, go for years without fertilizer of any kind, and still stand up and bow and say “thank you” to their grower. The best thing of all is that the orchids survive even when the little ferns and oxalis that insist on appearing as weeds in their pots have shriveled and died, making it unnecessary for me to weed.

With the December holidays come all of the musings on the past year, including “best of the year” lists. I’m ecstatic to report that Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges made Cafleurebon’s “Best of 2012” list, where it was awarded “Best Bang for the Buck”! I’m particularly happy about this award, because superb value for the money is one of the things I strive for in my business, and it couldn’t have been more fitting. Having spent a good bit of my life as a “starving academic/starving artist”, I have a lot of sympathy for those who want to enjoy nice things on a budget. Huge thanks to Michelyn Camen for her strong support of so many indie perfumers throughout the year!

Ballets Rouges was named one of the year’s top rose perfumes on The Alembicated Genie, where all of the perfumers who contributed to the Devilscent Project also received a lot of love. Much love goes right back to Sheila Eggenberger, the only blogger (as far as I know) who regularly writes mini-novels about perfumes that manage to be both entertaining and informative.

The year 2012 has been good, and more musings from my side will come in a new year’s post next week. For now, I’ll just say that I’m looking forward to being part of the amazing local and international perfume community in a very fragrant 2013!