Ask the Perfumer March 17, 2013 A Creative and Informative Perfumery Graphic Image + Giveaway

by | Mar 17, 2013 | Giveaway, Natural Perfumery Institute, raw materials of perfumery, study perfumery | 24 comments

I am always surprised by my perfumery students.  Their insights, thoughtful and passionate, jump off the pages of their submittals for the modules.  Aba Williams, a food chemist from Ghana, is always a joy to interact with.  I’ve corresponded with her for years and now that she is a student in my Natural Perfumery Institute, I have to say she definitely surprised – and delighted – me with her Module 1 submittal on becoming a contextual perfumer.  In my course, there are three levels of accomplishment that the students strive for: contextual understanding of the aromatics is first, signifying they have completed the Organoleptic Evaluation Forms (OEFs) for the base, middle and top notes.

Aba stepped outside the usual essay that with her graphic image, using it as part of the assignment.  Yes, her submitted OEFs showed she correctly worked through the first professional process in the course, and she refers to it in the graphic (below) but the graphic is eye candy for a perfumer, and I love it.

Module 1 NPI Assignment Submittal by Aba Williams

Module 1 NPI Assignment Submittal by Aba Williams

For those of you wondering what an OEF is, I’ll be posting one later this week when I complete my OE of the luscious Meyer Lemon oil I received from Arlys Naturals.  Susan, the owner of Arlys, wrote me that she and her husband enjoyed Meyer Lemon martinis the other night. Yum!

Since Aba is a food chemist, and since I just referenced an essential oil that is used in food or drinks, let’s have a giveaway.  Leave a comment about your path on studying perfumery (whether you’re on it or not, let’s hear from everybody, even those who aren’t studying!), or, of course, any question on perfumery because this is Ask the Perfumer Sunday – before midnight tonight, and you can pick three of my Food & Drink oils!  I’m a little low on some of them, as I’m preparing to ship them to a Colorado company that will be selling the retail.  I’m concentrating on the wholesale side of the Food & Drink oils, so I won’t have many of the 5ml bottles on hand soon.  I’ll bet you’d love to play with the saffron absolute (they’re filled to 2.5mls due to cost) holy basil — well, we’ll talk after I select a winner at random.  Good luck!

24 Comments

  1. Darlene

    Love your Facebook page!

    Reply
  2. Eileen

    Good morning!
    It is good to hear that students are enjoying the course and being creative about it. I congrat Aba for her creativity. It is a special blend of personality to be scientific, fun and creative and at the same time to be giving. I am glad that she is with us learning and from a special far place Ghana!

    Reply
    • Anya

      Hi Eileen:

      Actually, Aba is living in the States now, but for years she was my Ghana connection 😉 When she purchased raw materials and perfumes, I had to send them to a relative of hers in the USA, and they’d get the items to her, now she’s here! You were born overseas, too, and now you’re here, so the two of you have something in common, several things, in fact.

      xoxo,
      Anya

      Reply
      • Eileen

        My astrologer said it is Uranus in the 12 th house. The house of healing and foreign countries. Must people that comes to USA are fleeing form some type of pain, it is Gods will stored for us. It is interesting to know that she makes a connection with Rose de Mai and Plantains. I even placed a banana skin yesterday to dry and tinture it. They are really sweet and in Santo Domingo people make candy out of it. When the big banana ot Plantain is cook for candy the color is pink. Her knowledge in other plant materials will be an asset for NPI.

        Reply
  3. Anita

    Aba’s chart is just precious and I can relate to her learning experience. For me, perfumes always draw you deeper into your own world of learning. Right now I am learning to discern just how, when and at what level to make ‘minor’ adjustments in formulas. Which notes really are the ‘bridge’ notes to integrating the layers as they evolve. The research at this point (unless the correction is a top note), requires letting the scent strips dry out for days sometimes – and then approaching them with my eyes closed, so my brain doesn’t try to solve the problem that my nose has the answer to. Good Luck Aba!! No matter what – perfuming is first and foremost a personal artistic expression! ps. I LOVE vetivert – and over time I have learned to work with the ones I really didn’t like, which believe it or not was ylang ylang. xo A

    Reply
    • Anya

      Hi Anita:
      I think the scent strips that are dried out are oxidized, even if they are long-lasting base notes. Fresh sniffs are best!

      Anya

      Reply
  4. Rebecca Brooks

    I know very little about making fragrance but if I were to mix essential oils with grape seed oil what would be the best smelling combination I like the smell of honey and I like to smell clean citrusy fragrances. Is it possible to create something that smells both warm slightly sweet buttery bottom note but clean and fresh top note without a heavy vanilla. Thank you for posting the chart and any advice in advance .

    Reply
    • Anya

      Hi Rebecca:
      Did you know there is a butter CO2? It is used in tiny, tiny amounts. You may also find honey absolute, but it is hard to find and very faint in odor intensity.

      HTH,
      Anya

      Reply
  5. Suzy

    Aba, how creative and thoughtful of you! Thanks for that great way to look at things. My path began as an aromatherapist. I hovered around the module on natural perfumery for a long time and I had so much fun making signature scents for friends and family. For this I combined my understanding of astrology and the planet’s rulerships over essential oils and herbs. Many years later after becoming a nutritional consultant I jumped ship again and decided I had to combine natural health with producing a healthy perfume alternative. By taking Anya’s course, I’m going back to basics to learn how to do this wonderful art/science properly. Thanks Anya for the draw today.

    I do have a question too: Many of the base notes studied in your course are considered accessory notes (ie, Vetiver, Oakmoss, Patchouli). If I were making a Chypre perfume with approximately a 30% base, how would I get that lovely combined scent by just using those three if they are to be used sparingly?

    Sincerely,
    Suzy

    Reply
    • Anya

      Ah, Suzy, I don’t know why so many natural perfumers are obsessed with chypres! I read a review of one of the Artisan Salons and the writer (basenotes.net) made a point of how many natural perfumes exhibited smelled alike due to the chypre theme they all chose. I believe it may also have something to do with their teacher and her particular love of heavy fragrance families.

      I actually discourage my students from creating a chypre perfume for their certification – they’re almost always “off”.

      About the percentages. As you advance in perfumery, you’ll learn that the heart notes are the key. Some of my perfumes are 50% heart notes, and of course, the perfume heart lasts at least six hours that way, so you’ll have a winning perfume.

      xoxo,
      Anya

      Reply
  6. Aba

    Dear Anya, Dear All
    Thank you all for your kind comments and well wishes. I had fun creating the graphic and am glad you appreciate it. Indeed perfumery is an art and as some artists create using paint on canvas, we create using aromatic material in alcohol or oil etc. I wish us all the very best as we travel on our fragrant journeys as individuals and also as members on the various student and professional perfumery groups we belong too. So much to share and so much to learn! 🙂

    Reply
  7. Tom

    I love Aba’s chart! The colors are great and really help to make each box unique. So much of what she’s wrote is what I’ve thought about too. Time management is definitely an issue for me (ask my bosses at work, too, hah-hah!) Sometimes I skip hour 15 or 25 because I’m asleep. I worry about having enough time to do them all.

    I am taking Anya’s course because I’ve always loved perfume and it is a fun journey learning how to do it myself. My mother and grandmother used Norell perfume every day so I don’t even think of it as a perfume–it’s the smell of women and love. Walking around NYC and smelling people’s perfume is a fun experience– esp. the upper east side where all the rich women wear their rose or jasmine dominated scents. Some of them are dazzling and extremely beautiful. I also love going to Laduree, a French macaron shop. Two flavors make me think of perfumery — they have orange flower ones and rose ones — both very good.

    I was surprised that some of the oils I thought I’d like, I dislike, and vice-versa. I want to like neroli, for instance. The thought of flowers from orange trees sounds great. I had a small lemon tree (not regular lemon trees, but something else) and the flowers smell great. But there’s a very strong overtone to neroli that I really dislike. I would describe it as chemically, which is exactly what I used on my OEF. There’s a soft, flowery undertone to it that’s lovely, but the chemically part is so dominant. Maybe if it’s diluted enough it will smell like the orange flower macarons from Laduree?

    I bought a bottle of champaka a few years ago, and it is my favorite oil. When I open the bottle I get images of hot, hot pink and a feeling of a great deal of heat. Beautiful spice and flowers and heat. I love the stuff. But, hot weather overwhelms me. Go figure!

    Reply
    • Anya

      Hi Tom:

      Your observations are always so interesting and focused! Let’s talk about neroli. You picked the slightly chemical-y notes and say they’re not pleasing. The highest percentage of natural chems in neroli are Linalyl Acetate, Limonene, Linalol, Nerolidol, and geraniol (aromaweb.com). All of them are rather sharp, I agree. You should try some orange flower absolute, and also some good quality orange flower hydrosol, which can soften and round out that sharpness. With them you may be able to ‘quench’ the chemical-y smell.

      Lovely description of the champaka!

      hth,
      Anya

      Reply
  8. Fallah

    hello Anya,

    I assume that what is meant by being able to ‘recall’ an essence is to be able to recognize it by the scent only, without having the bottle or the name or what have you? Is there some particular technique for this, or is it just practice?

    Thanks,
    F

    Reply
    • Anya

      Hi Fallah:

      I teach my students a rigorous, focused approach to developing their Scent Memory. It involves getting the mind, body (hand) and more body (nose) engaged and it works. I provide a lengthy aromatic lexicon and other resources to train the mind to remember the scents.

      hth,
      Anya

      Reply
  9. LauraN

    Hi Anya. I was just contemplating buying some bayberry wax, and wondered if you’ve ever used it for solid perfumes. Do you know if the scent comes through well enough to be one of the perfume notes?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Anya

      Hi Laura:

      I don’t make solid perfumes, so I can’t comment. I love the smell of bayberry wax candles, so I do know it comes through.

      hth,
      Anya

      Reply
  10. Priya

    I’m really looking forward to your OE of the meyer lemon oil! I don’t really know what an OE properly looks like, and I look forward to learning. And the mention of a meyer lemon martini has me wishing I took part in the buy after all… maybe it’s not too late! Aba’s chart is fantastic – a distillation of hard won insights that many go through and experience without taking the time to describe them to others. Thanks, Aba!

    Reply
  11. Rae Lynn Reffruschinni

    Graphics are always interesting and are a helpful learning tool. I love it! I used a lemon flavoring product (True Lemon) to make truffles this Christmas and Valentine’s Day. They turned out divine! I enjoy reading your blogs. Thanks, Anya!

    Reply
  12. Jessica Ring

    For the first few years of blending natural perfume I made a choice not to immerse myself in other perfumers’ blends. A beautiful perfume has deep influence, and I wanted my initial impressions and blends to be my own. I learned how to “listen” to the aromatics as if they were friends telling secrets, alone, in my apothic den. My greatest challenge as a perfumer lies in learning constraint. It helps to remind myself daily of just how much life focus and energy goes into an aromatic extract. I imagine that should my collection of fragrant ingredients morph back to original form it would unfold as acres of flowers, trees, shrubs and herbs. This helps me to waste less and combine with patience. As I blend I journal in detail. I mark the transitions where a gorgeous note arises unexpectedly or where the mud begins to form and the definitions blurs. I curse and cackle and spill on these pages. I destroy far more than I exalt, but this is how I learn my best lessons which i hope will someday allow me to create perfumes of mind-blowing beauty.

    Reply
    • Anya

      Dear Jessica

      Lovely imagery and so true!

      xoxo,
      Anya

      Reply
  13. Anya

    Hi everyone:

    It’s 11 PM and I got waylaid today on several important projects and didn’t get around to answering anyone’s questions. My eyes are tired now, so I’ll get back here tomorrow, answer questions, and announce the winner of the random draw.

    Anya

    Reply
  14. Rhavda Emison

    My path in natural perfumery & aromatherapy has been long & taken many turns. When I started out in the at/perfumery world little did I know that I would end up still in it deeper than ever over 30 years later. I started experimenting with oils & perfumes before at was even known outside of California & the East Coast here in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. I had to drive 4 hours to Austin to buy oils of any quality. I also learned how to make infused oils that have become my passion. My best oil is my rose oil which took 13 1/2 years to perfect and each year is different due to climate & other growing needs. I still learn something new everyday in working with roses, oak moss, chaste berry, etc. This started out as a way to help my family & ended up becoming my passion & business. I just opened my first shop (away from home) on 2-16-13. We made our first month. This is my dream to offer the best products/classes that can be found. My path has taken me from research to experimenting to growing-manufacturing to having to learn technology (I’m still pretty illerate in this area), to learning about the entire process in perfumery/at to teaching others the art & love for Natural Perfumery & at. My goal is to continue learning something new each day that will be of service to others.

    Reply
  15. Anya

    The winner of three of my Food & Drink oils (also perfumery grade!) is Tom. He was chosen by my very scientific method for randomness – I close my eyes, and hit the scroll up and down keys a number of times, and then point to the screen to a particular place and then open my eyes 😉

    Tom, I’ll email you the list of the oils I have, and you can choose three.

    xoxo,
    Anya

    Reply

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