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.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


One of the ongoing projects that I’ve mentioned before is to make a fragrance that brings together some of the scents of Salamanca. This is not an easy project, since these are mostly subtle scents - old stone walls, cypress trees basking in the sun, a little whiff of almond nougat, fresh figs and melons, leather, and the scent that epitomizes central Spain for me, dried grasses and weeds in the fields. It’s that dried grass scent that I’m going after first, since I need that before I can do anything else. The dried grass scent is also characteristic of the whole US West Coast in summer, so it’s going to be a useful accord to have in my collection once I perfect it.

I decided in my initial attempt to base the accord on a vetiver-mitti codistillation that I have. Mitti is made in India by distilling the essence of clay into an essential oil like sandalwood or vetiver. If it’s sandalwood, the result is mitti attar, a fantastic scent all by itself, like rain on dry cement or dusty earth. It’s one of those scents that evokes primitive and instinctive emotional reactions, triggering a nostalgic replay of whatever it was that our ancestors felt when the rains finally came to save their crops.

Using vetiver as a carrier conserves sandalwood, reduces the cost, and provides an earthy, rooty base that goes perfectly with the clay, making it smell more like vegetation in a field. To the vetiver-mitti I added a little immortelle absolute, hay absolute, copaiba balsam, tonka, a dash of a couple of other natural oils, and an aromachemical called nerone that intensifies the dry, dusty aspect of the mix. Thanks to Mike Storer for suggesting the nerone! It’s pretty close to what I’m looking for, but I’ll need to let it sit for a while to see how it all comes together.

Note added later: This is very close to what I was aiming for! Now on to create the right leather accord for Salamanca. I hope leather and dusty dry weeds will go well together.

1 comment:

  1. Do you by any chance do commissions or have this scent blend for sale anywhere? I’ve been searching for ages for something that captures the smell of dried grass near the ocean on a foggy morning. It’s such a distinctive smell from the west coast and I always miss it.