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.

Monday, April 15, 2013


It was spring for a few days, and we all got spoiled. Then the cold and the rain came back again with a vengeance as bands of storms came through, darkening the sky and dropping the temperatures. It could be worse, mind you. When I say cold, I mean night and early morning temperatures in the low 40s F (5-10 C), not the snow that they’ve been having in places like Wisconsin, where I’m still waiting for the weather to warm up enough so that I can ship orchid plants safely. Some customers in the frozen north have been waiting patiently for their plants since December!

Last Saturday, after a short burst of rain and thunder, I headed to the April event in the Blackbird Northwest Perfumers Circuit. Featured perfumer Suzinn Weiss of Portland, Oregon, is a garden designer turned perfumer, so the transition from working with plants to working with fragrances seemed very familiar to me, and I was excited to smell what she had created. As I drove through the Seattle University District, I discovered that all the power was out, including the traffic lights, so the excessively polite Seattle drivers were all waiting at every corner of every intersection with no one moving. But Seattle driving habits are a topic for another day. 

[In the photo, from left to right, Suzinn Weiss, Christi Meshell, Eliam Puente, Ellen Covey, Mesha Munyan]

The lights were out all the way through Wallingford and into Fremont. As the lights came on again, I started noticing what looked like snow on the roofs and then on the grass. By the time I neared Ballard, there was deep slush on the road as well as everywhere else. I was not expecting snow in April! It turns out that what I saw was not snow, but an accumulation of hail from what people described as the longest, hardest hailstorm they had ever seen. It’s not unusual to get hail in Seattle in spring and fall, and it’s always the small variety, just a little bigger than sleet, usually quite localized. When it accumulates, it looks like snow.

Despite the horrible weather, there was a good turnout at Blackbird, where we munched on chips and dips and enjoyed a variety of wines provided by Wine World & Spirits. Suzinn ‘s fragrances are all-natural and really are reminiscent of the subtle gardening smells of cut fresh branches, leaves, flower petals, and herbs. I think my favorite was Pink Rose, a scent that features three types of rose, fir, vetiver, and oud but doesn’t smell at all like floral rose. I also liked Drunken Flower, which features notes of rose and cognac. Her creation for Blackbird, Blackbird Vert, was a citrusy green scent to honor the newly unfurled tender green leaves of spring.

Suzinn's fragrances will be on sale at the Blackbird Apothecary in Ballard through May 11, and she will also be at the Seattle Artisan Fragrance Salon on May 5, so if you’re in Seattle and missed the Blackbird launch of her fragrance line, you can smell her perfumes at Blackbird during the coming month, or meet her in person and experience her creations first-hand at the salon.

[Photos by Kathleen Brennan, Christi Meshell, and Suzinn Weiss, grabbed from various Facebook pages. As usual, I got involved in talking and forgot to take photos.]  


  1. Brad and I are really looking forward to the Fragrance Salon, to sampling your new fragrances and those of the other talented perfumers. Regarding Seattle traffic: I have my theory (theories) which I will save for whenever you decide to do a Seattle traffic rant!

    1. I want to hear your theories, so will have to do a Seattle traffic rant soon. There's a Seattle traffic new phenomenon that I've noticed recently and want to write about.

  2. Hi Ellen,
    I am new to Seattle (just over a month now) from Ohio and am really looking forward to the Salon. I had my 30th birthday dinner Saturday so couldn't attend the Blackbird event. But I am excited to get to know the perfume community here! We didn't have much to speak of back in Columbus. Also, I live in Eastlake and couldn't believe the hailstorm. It really did go on for a while.

    Anyway, just wanted to say hello and that I'm excited to try your scents. :)

    1. Hi Stacey, here's wishing you a belated happy birthday, and welcome to Seattle! I look forward to meeting you in person at one of the upcoming events - the Fragrance Salon, one of the Blackbird circuit events, and/or one of the Facebook Seattle Sniff Perfume Lovers' events. Are you part of that group? The URL is https://www.facebook.com/groups/176820552450496/

    2. Thank you, Ellen! I appreciate the birthday wishes, welcome, and the link. I will be at the Salon for sure, and my nose had better be in full working order before then. I had a bad cold that is still lingering. I'm joining the FB group now. :)

  3. That was a fun event. I miss Blackbird and those gatherings. Actually, with this pandemic, any gatherings at all!