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, June 14, 2015


If everything had gone according to plan, we would have been on vacation in Ireland this week – our first real vacation since our honeymoon 15 years ago, and I would probably be hiking somewhere, not writing anything for the blog. I did a marathon grading and end-of-academic-year cleanup session, submitted all of my grades early, cleared my calendar of all commitments, and was set to leave the day after classes ended.

Then husband Michael broke his ankle. The highly orchestrated whirlwind trip has been postponed until August and I feel like I’m floating free in a dreamlike state most of the time, living the lifestyle of our cat, who has no responsibilities, comes and goes as he pleases, and enjoys the long days of summer to the fullest. Other than driving Michael to medical appointments, I’m free of commitments, and have not made an effort to reschedule any of the ones that I canceled for the trip.

I’ve almost caught up on filling and shipping orders, have been working on replenishing perfume concentrates and stock, and should actually have time to update my websites and send out newsletters next week. I might even have time to update my perfume bottle photos, something that’s been at the back of my mind for years, but never manages to rise to the top of the “urgent” list.

The sensation of jumping from a packed, hectic schedule one day to no schedule the next day has been a fascinating experience. It felt like going from being constantly knocked around like a soccer ball in full play to floating freely in a void where time stands still. For the past week I’ve been able to get enough sleep, go running every day, go grocery shopping and cook, and just enjoy being outdoors in the perfect warm, sunny, summer weather that we’ve had all through the month of June.

The experience of floating through a week of summer with nothing on my calendar and almost no one knowing I wasn’t out of town made me think about what sort of perfume would epitomize that state. My favorite experience whenever I’m in LA is walking down the street and smelling jasmine. It’s everywhere, and to me it epitomizes being in a carefree, sunny place. When I travel, I usually try to take an extra day just to float free, out of touch with everyday life, wandering around the city, foraging my way through parks, museums, eating places, markets, shops, or whatever seems interesting. Sometimes it’s just sitting quietly in a coffee shop enjoying being alone. There’s something magical about the anonymity of being in an unknown place, with no one I know being aware of where I am. This is the free-floating experience that I’d like to capture in a perfume. Maybe magic can't be captured in a bottle, but I’m willing to try. 

[All photos from Wikimedia except the second one, of the madrone tree on a cliff. That one is mine.]

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