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, December 30, 2011


I’ve lived in a lot of exotic places, and one of them was Texas. Part of Texas culture is Willie Nelson, and one of the songs I remember hearing when I lived in Texas was an oldie of his from 1974, “Phases and stages, circles and cycles, scenes that we’ve all seen before…”. For some reason this song that I hadn’t thought of in years popped into my head when I was thinking about New Years. Last year I did a New Years post on this blog, and this year I’ve come full circle and am doing another one. Déjà vu.

This past year has been good. I’m still gainfully employed, my orchids are growing well, and the perfume business is starting to take off. 2011 was mostly spent mixing perfumes that have already been released for a while, packaging them, and sending them all over the world. I’ve made huge improvements in the production and packaging process, and am now set to produce in much greater volume than I could this time last year. In the meantime, development of new perfumes has slowed down a lot. Phases and stages.

I have two new perfumes ready for release next year. The first is the rose chypre, which after much thought I’ve decided to name Ballets Rouges. Many thanks to Queen Cupcake and Gail, whose suggestions were hybridized to come up with the final name. You both win a prize! The second is Salamanca, a leather and dry grass fragrance. However, Salamanca cannot officially be released until I’ve secured a reliable bulk supplier for a couple of the hard-to-find natural materials I used in it. I originally got them from a vendor who has gone out of business and am currently searching for another vendor. I’m optimistic that I’ll find a source and that it will be a go in early 2012. Salamanca is one of my favorites, and I’d like to share it with others. [Celina, whatever happens, there’s a bottle on hold for you!]

My perfume plans for 2012 are to get back to formulating, focusing on an affordable but polished all-natural line and an upscale series showcasing some of the wonderful natural materials that I have obtained in relatively small quantities over the past year. These will probably be limited editions, and a little more expensive than my standard line, but still affordable. I’ll also work on a couple more orchid fragrances and scents of place. I would like to upgrade my website to a custom format instead of the ready-made template that I’m currently using, but realistically, this may take a while and require some help.

On the personal level, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I know I’ll just break them. However, I do make plans. I was inspired by Ines to try to downsize my huge collection of clothes, shoes, and costumes, or at least store the costumes in the communal stash for my theatre group, which is fortunately located at a site other than my house. I’ve already taken the fog machine there, and the clothing and props will follow, freeing up some space for storage of perfume materials.

I’m going to try to start running regularly again, since it’s one of the things that helps keep me sane, along with music and perfume. I’m going to write some new plays. I’m going to try to post on this blog nearly every day even if you, dear readers, get fed up with my ramblings.

I’m going to try to keep juggling, as I have been all along, living at least five lives in parallel, each with its own set of demands. I can’t give up a single one of them.

As I write this, I’m wearing 10 different Arabic perfumes simultaneously to celebrate the new year a day early (I’ve found one of the newly-arrived lot that I really, really like), and have successfully made my second ever batch of amaretto-walnut fudge, consuming several small cocktails made of 2/3 Sailor Jerry’s rum and 1/3 Amaretto in the process. I don’t think it’s an official drink, but it tastes good. It needs a name - any suggestions? People in my neighborhood are already setting off fireworks for New Years, so I guess it’s time to wish you a Happy New Year, and happy perfume sniffing to all in 2012!


  1. Thank you very much for the link!

    Honestly, I feel I'm lazy compared to everything that you manage to do in your life but I'm hoping that running will be able to get me better organized (I usually accomplish a great deal when I have a lot of commitments).

    That amaretto-walnut fudge sounds really good - is it difficult to make?
    I have no suggestions for the cocktail but it sounds yummy.
    (it is a known fact I am a great lover of good alcohol) :)

    I wish you all the best in the year to come!

  2. Glad to read that the perfume business is taking off; the plans for 2012 sound pretty interesting! And, Ballet Rouges! I really like the name--glad I could add to your thought process there. Happy New Year!

  3. Ines, If you're like me, running will make you less organized because it always takes more time than you thought. A half-hour run turns into an hour when you add stopping to talk to neighbors or smell the roses on the cooldown stretch, stretching afterwards, showering, and any record-keeping that you do. Anyway, it's one of the pleasures of life, so just accept that it takes time.

    The amaretto-walnut fudge is actually easy to make. I always thought making traditional-style fudge was tricky and hard, but it's not! I looked up several recipes and improvised a little taking the easiest instructions from each one. I'll provide the recipe in my next post.

    Queen Cupcake, you'll get a complimentary bottle of Ballets Rouges when it's ready to go.

    Happy New Year to all!

  4. It was fun thinking of a name for a scent!
    Best Wishes for continued success and happiness
    in the New Year. Gail

  5. That fudge sounds so good!
    I am so glad your business is growing! Congratulation!
    I love the name you picked for the Chypre. It describes well its elegance with a twist on rouge. Just enough to make it tempting.

    I also read the news about Salamanca. I hope you find a good reliable source as that fragrance deserves to be enjoyed. Knowing that it doesn't matter what I will still have access to a little bit it makes me feel so spoiled and grateful. I just love that fragrance! Thank you for your kindness and generosity.

    Happy New Year and the best of success !


  6. You lived in Texas? Really...when? And where? I lived there from 1947 to 1976 and still visit most years at Christmas.

  7. I lived in Houston for a few years. I was sent there to work at the Italian Trade Commissioner's Office, and ended up going to the U of H as an undergraduate. I think I must have overlapped with you towards the end of your time there. It's a small world.