Smelly Libraries, Part II: Playtime!
By Marla, the Nerd Girl
OK, so you heeded my Yoda-like advice and set up a scent library, right?? Of course you did! Because I promised you could have fun with it, as well as show it off to mystified relatives and friends. (As one of my sisters muttered after seeing my collection for the first time, “This isn’t a normal hobby….”) Here are some ways you can link your ever-expanding library to your perfumistahood.
1. When a new perfume gets a review that intrigues you, dab a drop of each main note on a small piece of blotter paper, or good quality, uncoated and unbleached plain paper or cotton rag. Sniff. Sniff each note separately. For example, you’re intrigued by the newest rose/patch combo. Put a drop of real rose and real patch on a rag square and sniff. Then try the synth versions on another patch, and sniff that. Then try them together. Of course, the actual perfume lemming won’t smell like your combo, but you’ll have an idea of the inspiration for the perfume, and know what real rose and patch smell like together.
2. Try making some famous bases, like an amber (vanilla, ambergris/Ambroxan, labdanum, benzoin), or a modern “cupcake accord” (ethyl maltol and vanilla), or a classic chypre’ with real oakmoss, bergamot, and labdanum. Try a fougere base (warning: they can linger for days)!
3. Just try combining any 2 random substances in your collection. This can be fun, and you’ll discover a few things that are amazing, and some that are…not.
4. Try combining random threesomes- one basenote, one heart note, one top note. Take notes on what you’ve done (“What have you DONE?” Someone nearby shouts….) and what you think about it.
5. When you read about an exciting new note in a perfume, try to find a small amount, and add it to your library. I discovered Paradisamide and Timberol this way.
Some of my favorite basic twosomes are petigrain/vanilla, frankincense/benzoin, and patchouli/orange essence. Just a simple twosome or threesome can smell so wonderful you might just want to add some perfumer’s alcohol, bottle it up, and use it!
So for those of you who’ve already been doing this, what have some of your favorite discoveries been?