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, March 23, 2015


Finally I’m back from San Francisco, caught up with putting away all of the stuff that I had shipped to the Artisan Fragrance Salon and back again, grading students’ winter quarter papers, shipping orders from weeks past, spring-cleaning my e-mail message archives, performing remedial care on orchids and other plants that have been severely neglected, and generally recovering from an unusually hectic quarter. For the first time I can remember, I don’t have to be anywhere at a specific time today.

It’s officially spring, the trees are putting out their flowers and baby leaves, the spring garden flowers are all blooming, the bamboo is shooting, and the deciduous outdoor orchids are sprouting from the ground. I mailed out the spring “Scents of the Season” packs today.  Now to start thinking about summer ...

Last weekend I held my first perfume-making class, for a bridal party, in a format that I have decided to call “perfume in an hour”. I had everything pre-diluted (and pre-filtered if it needed it), in dropper bottles. The participants smelled a variety of materials that I’d chosen as being at least somewhat compatible, tested them together on paper, made adjustments as needed and, once they found a combination that they liked, put everything together and filled a spray bottle with their creation. It was great fun to watch the participants work, and I was impressed by the fact that everyone ended up making a really good fragrance. They came up with some creative names for their perfumes, too! I now have a portable kit of materials and supplies ready to go and will be adding these classes to my website soon.

I have a whole week before spring quarter starts at the university, and am looking forward to relaxing a little, playing catch up on everything, and maybe even making a little progress.

[All photos are mine. Perfume class photo used with participants' permission] 


  1. Dear Ellen,
    I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing week! We are off tomorrow with the kiddie orchestra traveling show to SF. The instruments and baggage left today on a truck. Five days with middle schoolers and the Beethoven Triple...Hopefully I will have a chance to break away and visit Tigerlily for a calming sniff.

    1. OH YES! Our bamboos are shooting too but the squirrels are eating them as fast as they come up from the ground. I have tried to repel them with garlic, hair and hot pepper flakes all to no avail. I don't want to place chicken wire cages around the shoots if I don't have to. Do you have any suggestions? Both the native squirrels and the grey squirrels are having a bamboo feast!

    2. Gail, I'm not sure how to keep squirrels from eating anything, including bamboo shoots. Hot pepper doesn't work, I know that because we tried it in our bird feeder before we got tired of buying bird seed for the squirrels and abandoned the feeder. Knowing squirrels, I imagine they'd find a way to get around the chicken wire. I think we just have so much bamboo that some of it escapes the squirrels.

      Maybe the best strategy would be to provide squirrel food that's more attractive than bamboo shoots. Not the best plan, I know, but at least you would just have to do it in the spring.