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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

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? 


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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like rosemary and lemon for headaches and fatigue. That's more aromatherapy, I think.
-Jo

12:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Marla said...

Aromatherapy and perfumery are deeply intertwined. I have a very lemony rosemary plant, and I cut a spring and inhale when I've got a headache, it's a sure cure!

1:16 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

I have not acquired a library yet, but I am intrigued at the prospect! I need a dedicated space for it first. I do have a vial of pure oakmoss tincture that I like to take out and smell regularly, just to remind myself how muh I love it.

4:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Marla said...

Flora,
If you get a special storage box or folder/portfolio, it doesn't take up much space. Mine fits in a couple of drawers and the top of the chest, and it's pretty big these days! As my mother said, "Well, it's not like you're collecting antique farm equipment...." ;-)

5:54 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about this. So interesting. I have never seen perfumer's alcohol, but have had great success with brandy. There is no cheap bender smell on the skin and it really seems to preserve and translate the scented naturals you are making a tincture with. Lately, I've tried cottonwood buds...the ends of the new leaves are covered in a sticky fragrant resin.

10:11 AM EDT  
Blogger Marla said...

Anon,
Cottonwood/poplar- one of that family is used for the ancient and famous Balm of Gilead. Nice work, bet it smells wonderful!

8:22 PM EDT  
Anonymous solanace said...

I've been making natural body butter/ois/lip bams for a while, ever since I got pregnant. It just is too easy. I love organic nougat essence with copaiba and grapefruit. And, I must add, buriti oil is a must - for texture, fotoprotection and the woody smell. You know, copaiba was discovered by native brazilians because they saw injured animals (not sure which) would rub themselves against those trees. It is really healing, and it smells great. Now I'll start playing with more sophisticated stuff. Maybe even some roses and jasmine, real carefully. Thanks for the encourageent, Marla!!

1:36 PM EDT  
Anonymous Michael said...

I will definitely be doing this, its great to read about how simply it actually is to start (like most things, taking the first step is key...) and the more I read about perfume the more I want to be able to get some practical skills with my nose! Thanks for the post!

9:22 PM EDT  

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