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.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


This week I have a hybrid orchid blooming that has Phalaenopsis gigantea in its ancestry, and for some reason it reminds me of Phalaenopsis javanica, the species that inspired the scent Javanica. The photo on the left shows this hybrid, Phal Perfection Is ‘Chen’. The flowers of both gigantea and javanica are maroon spotted and fragrant. Phal gigantea and its hybrids have large flowers with a light citrus scent, while javanica has tiny flowers with a sweeter and more complex fragrance, although they do have a hint of citrus, too.

When I got my first Phal javanica plant it was growing in a pot of sphagnum moss, and its first flower spike surprised me by burrowing down into the moss as if it were a root. I extricated it and propped it up so that it could bloom, and eventually it produced a small flower like the one in the photo on the right. It didn’t occur to me that it might be fragrant, but one day I noticed a sweet, spicy, almost incense-like fragrance that was exactly like a fine perfume. Eventually I traced it to the little flower hiding under the big shiny leaf. For days I kept sniffing the flower, wishing that I could capture it in a perfume. The plant has bloomed many times since, with new flowers appearing one after another from the same stalks, and the fragrance varies a little from one flowering to another, sometimes more spicy, sometimes more citrus-like. I think it depends on season and weather conditions.

When I started making perfume, one of my first goals was to create a fragrance that epitomized my memory of that first blooming of Phal javanica. I started out with a sweet base of vanilla, resins, balsams and woody notes, added some floral notes including jasmine and rose geranium, put in a good shot of frankincense and nutmeg, and topped it off with the citrus that’s characteristic of fragrant phalaenopsis. Javanica has turned out to be one of my favorite orchid fragrances.


  1. How can I order this perfume ? I am a big fan of orchids. If you are interested to trade, please contact me on : fitriani.suharto@hotmail.com


  2. You can order this perfume on the Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes website: orchidscents.com.