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.

Friday, January 25, 2013


I do almost all of my writing and other sorts of non-lab-non-farm work on a laptop computer that travels with me from home to my office at the university, and back again. I’ve never taken to using the track pad that’s built in, probably because I do a lot of work with graphics, where precise positioning of the cursor is important. For me, a mouse works a lot better than the track pad. To protect the wood table that I work on at home and facilitate movement of the mouse, I have an old-fashioned mouse pad, made of some sort of non-skid rubbery material covered with fabric. Maybe you can see where this is going already.

I like to test perfumes and perfume materials by dabbing or spraying them on my wrist, so when I manipulate the mouse, my wrist touches the pad. Over the years that I’ve had this particular pad, it’s become impregnated with a huge variety of odorous substances, so that it emits a perfume of its own. The fragrance, affectionately referred to as “Mouse Pad”, is, of course, a sliding olfactory integrator of everything I’ve worn over the past days, weeks, months, or years, with a scent that changes progressively as new things are added and old ones fade away. Sometimes my wrist picks up the scent of the mouse pad and I smell it as if it were a perfume that I’d applied intentionally. That’s what happened this morning. I smelled my wrist and thought, “Oh, that’s funny. I thought that perfume had faded away last night.” Then I realized that it had indeed faded away, and what I was smelling was Mouse Pad in all its glory.

I first became consciously aware of the mouse pad phenomenon quite a while ago when I was testing some new accords that I’d mixed up and some new materials that I’d received. I kept smelling something that I really liked, and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I eventually traced its origin and realized that it was a combination of a rose accord, lemongrass, Habanolide, Helvetolide, vanilla, and neroli. Maybe there were some other things in there, but those were the main ones that I wrote down because they meshed together so well. Maybe one of these days I’ll make a perfume based on the Mouse Pad experience. It could be like a subscription, with an initial formula, and periodic updates with additives that can be combined with the initial formula, changing it according to the season, but with some sort of underlying continuity. Actually, I think I might just do that, starting this spring because it would be an interesting experience. I don't think Mouse Pad is an attractive name for a perfume, so it would have to be something else. I thought of Metamorphosis and Evolution, but those appear to be taken. The next thought was Proteus, which doesn't seem to be taken. 

If anyone else comes up with such a gimmick, you read it here first! 


  1. Lol! That´s something I have never experienced, but then again, I don´t own a mouse pad... Cool though! And I definitely think it eould be a great concept for a perfume project!

    1. Nadja, I'm glad you think this would be a good concept for a perfume project. I'll probably try it.

  2. I remember reading a few years back, on Andy Tauer's blog, how some of his favorite creations were his "Milles Fleurs"- accidental perfumes from the little vat where he emptied all the extra aromachemicals and absolutes and so on. I know perfume companies used to make scented soaps with their Milles Fleurs- how about Mouse Pad: The Scented Soap?? ;-)

    1. Marla, Andy Tauer's millefleurs vat must have better stuff in it than mine does. I tried making soap from mine, but it wasn't anything I'd want to take public, or even give away. We did use it at home, though, and it wasn't too bad. I think the problem was that I'd dumped in a bunch of fragrance oil samples that I couldn't even give away. Maybe eventually it'll improve once those work their way through.

      I'm thinking of pouring some millefleurs on the bamboo that keeps coming up through the asphalt driveway in the hope that it will kill its roots. At least it will smell nice!