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, August 18, 2012


Written Friday afternoon, 8/17: This afternoon when I ran it was the first time in ages that I’ve really sweat. The temperature was over 90F (32C) and the humidity was relatively high (65% - I looked it up), just pushing over the threshold for really getting soaked in sweat when exercising. The sun was shining and there was heat radiating up from the asphalt. As I sit here writing this, the sweat is running down every part of my body like rivers. My shorts and tank top are soaked. I love it! Of course I’m looking forward to a nice shower at some point, but right now I’m just loving the feel of it being summer. We have so little warm weather here that it’s a novelty, just like fog and rain in the desert.

Before I went running I was working on a new floral accord for a fragrance in progress. It’s going to have a very earthy base with a floral heart, but no roses, carnations, or standard “white flowers”. I wanted the new accord to be a hybrid between a generic orchid base and osmanthus, so I’d been poring over chemical analyses of weird orchid species’ headspaces and osmanthus flowers fresh, picked, in concrete, and in absolute, trying to identify the main players common to all of them. I had a basic orchid-ish accord already, the sort of just-at-the-corner-of-your consciousness scent that would belong to one of those legions of non-showy orchids like the one in the photo. This afternoon I added the first osmanthus framework. When I put a dab of the mix on my skin it was way too strong and “unmelded” at first, but as it dried down, I smelled the possibilities. About an hour into the drydown I went for my run. By that point I was thrilled because I could smell the peachy note that’s in osmanthus, with no peachy stuff having been added. It blew my mind to think that there are so many pathways to the same olfactory experience. After sweating enough to wash away just about anything, the scent is still on my skin. So far so good!  

Written today, 8/18: Later on that evening when I went up to my “lab”, the room was full of the flowery, peachy sillage of my experiment. I still have a lot of tweaking to do, but I think I have basically what I want. I applied some more this morning, and it's mellower than it was yesterday. It still starts out way too strong, but it's a concentrate, after all. It's back to the usual cool and cloudy weather, so I'll get to experience it in a very different context. 

[Desert dunes photo from Wikimedia. The Dactylorrhiza fuchsii grows in my garden.]


  1. Osmanthus and orchid? Oooh, I'm interested.

    And I wanted to thank you for something you did in this post. It's a very small thing, but I noticed and appreciated the little gesture - including the Celsius in the description of your story. I don't think in Fahrenheit at all, and it was a welcome surprise to find the conversion listed.

  2. Dionne, I am at a loss to try to understand why the US keeps on using archaic systems of weights and measures when the metric system makes so much more sense and is used worldwide. Last time I checked, the US was one of only 3 countries that don't use the metric system. By now, it may be the only one.

    When buying perfumery materials or bottles from suppliers who do not use the metric system, I always have to do a mental conversion of odd measures like ounces, pints, quarts, pounds, gallons, drams (!), etc. to the metric system in order to really understand what the quantity is.