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 30, 2014


I know I said I would post the results of the drawing on Friday, but my fall teaching started this past week and I didn’t have time to do much of anything except “day job” work. This weekend I have a little respite, so the paper scraps have been thoroughly mixed and shaken up, and one grand prize winner has been drawn.

The winner of the full bottle of LIL is NAOMI SCOTT

The runners-up, who win samples of their choice are:



To claim your winnings, all you need to do is send me a PM with your full shipping info. You can e-mail me at olympicorchids at gmail dot com, or leave a PM on Facebook.

Everyone who has entered the last tow drawings in automatically entered in the quarter million pageviews grand prize drawing. If you have not yet entered, there will be a post with an opportunity to enter that one.

[photo of Pandanus odoratissimus, aka kewda, is from Wikimedia. Kewda is one of the notes n Lil.] 

Friday, August 22, 2014


The penultimate drawing of the old brown cardboard boxes is going to be a 30 ml bottle of Lil. The grand finale will be a special drawing to celebrate a quarter million pageviews of the blog, coming up soon.

You can enter by leaving a comment here or on Facebook. All you have to do is say which of the Devil Scents is your favorite or, if you haven’t tried any of them, which one you’d most like to sample.

The winner will be announced on Friday, 29 August. 


But before I announce the winner, let me tell you how the drawing was done. Instead of going all high-tech and using random.org, I always randomize the old-fashioned way by putting everyone’s name on a little piece of paper, folding them up into equal-size wads, shaking thoroughly, and pulling one out of the bag. It doesn’t get much more random than that.

However, this morning Jasper the cat decided that he wanted to get in on the fun. One of his favorite things to do is get up on the table where I’m working, lie down on the stack of orders that I need to fill, and get them all dirty with his big, muddy paws. Today he was fascinated by all of those little wads of paper, so he batted and scrambled them around, doing as good a job as I could have at randomizing them. Then, lo and behold, he picked one up in his mouth and started chewing on it! I figured that was as good a way to draw a name as any, so I opened it up to reveal the winner of the 30 ml bottle of Little Stars ….. 

Who entered on Facebook and had the unexpected honor of being chosen by a cat.

Not to be outdone by a cat, I then drew names of four more people who will get their samples of choice if they contact me with shipping info….

SUZANNE Cb (entered on Facebook)
CHLOE HUBER (entered here on the blog)
LAUREN GONZALEZ (entered on Facebook)
FREDDIE ALBRIGHTON (entered on Facebook)

If you are a winner, please send a PM to olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a PM on Facebook. If you're not a winner this time, there's another drawing coming right up. 

[Photo is mine, taken this morning while I was still putting names in the pile. I thought it was cute that he was sitting there quietly supervising, but little did I know that he would be the one doing the drawing.] 

Monday, August 18, 2014


This post was prompted by a new material that I discovered at Liberty Naturals called “round cypress” or “Cupressus rotundus”. I started out with a small amount to sample, but quickly became fascinated by it because it was the closest thing to real oud that I’ve smelled. Clearly it’s not oud, but it has a lot of the same woody-barnyard notes initially and the sharp “varnish” drydown that I smell in some varieties of oud. In short, it would make an excellent base for an oud-based scent, and raises the question of whether it’s actually used in India and elsewhere to adulterate “real” oud oils.

I was curious about what this ”round cypress tree” might look like, so searched online for it, imagining that it looked like the Monterrey cyprus in the photo above. The only thing that came up was the certificate of analysis sheet from Liberty. According to this source, Cupressus rotundus comes from India, is 100% natural, wildcrafted, steam distilled from the root, and – get this – comes from Cyperus scariosus [photo at above left], not “Cupressus rotundus”, or even Cyperus rotundus. There is actually a Cyperus rotundus, aka “nut grass” or “purple nutsedge” [photo in oval frame, below], whereas Cyperus scariosus is a larger plant, also known as “nagarmotha”, and is the source of cypriol. Both have tubers on the roots that can be distilled to yield oil. Are you confused yet?

There are about 600 different species of Cyperus distributed throughout the world, all sedge-like grasses that include ornamentals like umbrella papyrus, so it’s anyone’s guess as to which Cyperus species (or mix of species) this is.

I am extremely grateful to Liberty for publishing the certificate of analysis because it confirms what I suspected – that this material is not what it says it is (an imaginary species), and there is no way of really knowing what it is. It also confirms my skepticism about the accuracy of labeling on anything coming from India. Having said that, it brings up an interesting dilemma that every perfumer is sure to face at some point or another. What to do about attractive materials of dubious origin and composition?

On the one hand, I’d like to clear up the mystery of what “Cupressus rotundus” really is and not touch it until I do, but on the other hand, I want to use the material in a composition, even if it’s a single-batch fragrance that can’t be replicated later. It’s not standard nagarmotha or cypriol, so I ordered a big bottle of it for the purpose of making my own relatively inexpensive fine oud accord. 

In the end, I suppose this is no different from using pre-mixed accords from Givaudan, Firmenich, or other big companies. Like the “Cupressus/Cyperus rotundus/scariosus” oil, there is no indication of what is in those, and they could become unavailable at any time, as could any oil or single aroma chemical. I suppose the bottom line is that if it smells good and is harmless, then we should feel free to use it while it’s available. Not an ideal solution, but a pragmatic one.

[All photos are from Wikimedia] 

Friday, August 15, 2014


I have been selling off all 30 ml bottles in the old packaging, and gave myself a deadline of 15 August to move them all out. There are a couple left, which I promised to give away in a combined drawing (here and on Facebook), so here goes with the first bottle. It's 30 ml of Little Stars EdP, the very last one.

It's a pretty big prize, so I'm going to make you work just a little for it. All you have to do is leave a comment saying which Olympic Orchids sample you would like to try (or share with a friend) along with the full bottle of Little Stars. The winner will be announced on Friday, 22 August.

[Photo is mine, of my plant] 

Monday, August 11, 2014


If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll probably have figured out that my store of ideas is far bigger than the time I have to realize them. However, a few of them are actually coming to fruition, and will make their debut on my website this fall.

I already wrote about the Peace-Love-Perfume project. Samples of those went out to my US beta-testers today, and the finished versions will be ready by September. My intention is to offer them in 5-ml sprays and 30-ml sprays, with special prices on the full set of 3 in either size.

The “new wood fence” fragrance is also nearing completion, and will go out to the beta-testers along with the PLP trio. A woody fragrance is perfect for a fall launch, and will be part of the Scents of the Season Autumn 2014 edition. You are invited to suggest a good name for it, and if I end up using it you will win a 30-ml spray bottle of  … whatever it ends up being called.  Just comment here or on my Facebook page with as many potential names as you like.

The other new item is going to be a “Scents of the Season” discovery pack, consisting of five 3-ml spray samples of fragrances that seem especially well-suited to the season and/or any new releases that season. They will be sold individually or as a one-year subscription. I plan to get that up on the website next week because people have seen it in the newsletter and are asking about it. Shipping of the Late Summer/Autumn 2014 set won’t take place until September, but it will be possible to pre-order very soon.

The other thing that I’m putting together is a “Spa Soaps” set with the old familiar Olympic Rainforest, which is wonderful in the shower, along with two others. One is a new western red cedar scent that is reminiscent of a cedar sauna, and the third is a lavender-based scent. That set will probably also appear some time in September.

Starting on August 15, I will be holding a few really nice drawings, so keep your eyes out for them. 

[Wood fence construction photo from Wikimedia, the others are mine from Lopez Island]