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.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Thanksgiving is over and the light is suddenly visible at the end of the dark fall quarter tunnel. There’s only one more week of teaching, a few more exams, grading tasks, committee meetings, reports, and presentations, and then it’s all over for a couple of weeks as I recover from the insanity that was fall and prepare for the slightly less hectic winter quarter. In less than a month, days will start getting longer again. For the short break between classes and the increasing light that will come after the winter solstice, I’m thankful.

The other day I was talking to a colleague who, like me, was feeling really depressed and overwhelmed by the fact that we’re always so behind in everything. In academia with its chronically high demands mixed with elastic deadlines, being behind is a way of life that we all accept. Long ago I reconciled myself to never catching up, and realized during that conversation that there’s no way any of us can ever catch up because if we did, it would mean that we had no plans. I said to my colleague, “if you’re not behind, you’re not looking forward”, and that has become my new motto. Maybe it doesn’t help get things done, but at least it makes me feel better. For my inexhaustible ability to rationalize, I’m thankful.

As if in celebration of the season, Cattleya labiata is in full bloom, with its big, frilly, exquisitely delicate, lavender flowers, the prototypical old-fashioned corsage orchid. Its fragrance is powerful, with the plant pumping it out 24 hours a day, a sweet-spicy marzipan-fruity-floral during the day and a spicy ylang-ylang type scent at night. This orchid obviously wants the attention of both pollinator groups, the bees by day and the moths by night. I’m thankful that even in the darkest time of winter there are fragrant orchids blooming.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the Thanksgiving holiday filling orders and making stock bottles of perfume. My problem has always been that I can never catch up on making stock and often have to fill bottles at the time I get an order. This is not an efficient way to operate, so over this long weekend I have been making large batches and filling and boxing a lot of bottles all at once. Yesterday we cleared off two more shelves to store stock bottles. Once the process is complete, this should help cut down on the time that elapses from when an order is placed until the time it’s shipped. It will also make my life much easier. For my cozy studio and the fact that parts of it are finally getting organized so that I can spend time creating new fragrances, I’m extremely thankful.

So that’s the way it is - Thanksgiving in Seattle, dark and gloomy as another winter storm moves in. 

[Top two photos are mine, bottom photo of Mount Rainier and crows adapted from a random news photo that I downloaded several years ago.] 

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