Thursday, October 24, 2013

Love scents, explore scents, use scents

    Part of perfumery -- an important part -- is a love for scents and being what you might call "a scent detective" as well as a scent collector.

    I'm coming into the final rounds with a fragrance I'm calling "Confusion II." You can read more about the concept here.

    I've made no secret of the fact that I sketch out my fragrances using the 26 "A-Z" bases from the PerfumersWorld K26 kit. But the world is full of many more than 26 scents and, for the perfumer, there are hundreds -- thousands -- of aroma materials available for use.

    But let's keep it simple. The essence of a very complex deal may be sketched out on the back of an envelop. Then lawyers fill in the next 200 pages.

    An architect may show a client a simple drawing of a house. Then 200 sheets of blueprint are prepared for the builder and subcontractors, showing where every board, pipe and wire must go.

    So too as I work with perfume. First its that simple sketch that conveys, to me, the "message" I want to convey to others. Then ... those details.

    This is where love of scents comes in. I have my "sketch." Is it enough? Or can I improve it, NOT by piling more notes into it but by making subtle adjustments to the notes I have already chosen. Should the "C" (citrus) note from the K26 kit be augmented or replaced with Kaffir Lime Leaf Oil? To make this decision I have to be familiar with the scent -- and behavior -- of Kaffir Lime Leaf Oil, which means I have to have some on hand and have to do some testing with it.

    So too it goes with each note in the formula.

    It's NOT a matter of adding more and more aroma materials to the formula. It's more like carpentry where, after putting some wood together to make, say, a bookcase, you then take sand paper and sand the sharp edges and corners until all is smooth and beautiful.

    This is where I go from my "approved" sketch. Sanding down those sharp edges -- those smells that stand out a bit too much, that are still a bit awkward and not quite right.

    So I work at smoothing them out, revising the list of materials, drawing from a larger number, working more and more toward the final beauty I am seeking.

    Building perfume is not just about the materials you need on hand. It's about having quite a few materials on hand that you might not use -- now -- but can store in your mind memory bank for future possibilities.

    And just collecting these "extra" materials and enjoying them for themselves, whether you ever use them or not, can give you much pleasure.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spinning off a second perfume from a primary project

    I've been writing about a perfume I worked on last summer that didn't quite come together. It was close but didn't ring the bell for me although some of the trials were interesting.
    I had written that perhaps one of these trials might become a second perfume and now that has happened.

    I've written a bit about this second project elsewhere. It involves a multi-media presentation -- sculpture, music, perfume -- and, while I was starting up again on this first project which I'll call "Tokyo" for now, one of the trials that was not quite right for "Tokyo" was very on target for the second perfume, "Confusion II," which is also the title of the sculpture which inspired it.

    Three are two lessons in all this. The first lesson is that there are an infinite number of beautiful smells we come across or create and each of them can be called perfume. The magic isn't in getting A beautiful smell; the magic happens where you get THE beautiful smell you've imagined and have struggled to bring to life out of various aroma materials.

    Then, beyond the initial scent, whether it is "A" scent or "THE" scent, there is the need for technical skills that allow you to create a well crafted scent, regardless of whether it is the scent you were looking for or a spin off from your primary project.

    The second lesson is that in working on one perfume your nose and your notes store up a library of ideas which can be put to use for other projects.

    Developing a perfume is a learning process, regardless of how experienced the perfumer may be, and the lessons learned become tools for future work.

    "Confusion II" is almost finished but I'm still a bit short of what I want for "Tokyo" -- so I'll keep working, and I WILL get it, the way I want it!