Schedule Update

I had a great interview today and have a helper starting Wed. I’ll push the shopping cart date out from Wed the 29th to Fri the 1st to give us a couple days to get started together. She has a lot of bookkeeping experience and I’m excited that she can help me keep up with paperwork better. She can also help with sample making and order packing.

On Friday I’ll put up samples and bottles of all scents that do not involve the moss conversion, and then over the next few weeks I’ll complete those conversions and add those scents one by one. The new scents Tabac Aurea and Lieu de Reves do not involve moss, so they’ll go back up Friday (for those who didn’t get a chance to purchase them before the break).


Updated to add: Most of the scents will be available again on Friday. The ones that will be coming later with the new moss are Winter Woods, Fireside intense, Ambre Noir, and Encens Tranquille. The first two of those should be back shortly. Those four scents tend to be more wintery choices so I’m hoping this is a good time of year to have them briefly off the list…

Back to blending

I’m putting this break from orders to good use and am working on Gardenia Musk and also the oakmoss substitutions in four scents. I tried the new moss in Winter Woods and the difference is not noticeable, partly because the moss note is light in that scent and partly because the new moss isn’t much different from the old. I’m also trying the new labdanum in WW and that does make a more noticeable difference; the new one is less sweet than the one I’d been using and may be an improvement. My supplier for the original labdanum says it may not be carried long-term whereas the new labdanum with another supplier will be a long term stable product, so I’d like to switch if the scent is as good or better with the new one. I’m testing to see, but so far I think the new labdanum is a change for the better. Once I finalize the formula I can restock WW and move on to the next scent with moss and labdanum to incorporate the new products.

I worked on Gardenia Musk yesterday. I’ve been discovering over the last year that it is quite common for people not to smell musk very well, and sometimes the musks even seem to block parts of the rest of the scent for some people. I’m trying to formulate Gardenia Musk with as little musk as possible, and instead I’m building a musk-like accord from the soft woods and creamy elements in the base. I don’t want to use much vanilla, but I’m getting a very nice creamy floral sandalwood musk base without much musk or vanilla. I’m testing and tweaking the balance of things but this is promising (I took out most of the musk yesterday just to see it if would work and I think it might).

I also posted an ad for part-time help at the nearby college and I’m going through the incoming resumes to set up some interviews. This is something I’ve needed to do, so it’s great to have this break to give me time to interview candidates.

Short Break

I’m taking the shopping cart buttons down for about a week and taking a little break from orders so I can make new batches of Fireside Intense, Ambre Noir, Encens Tranquille, and Winter Woods with the new oakmoss and so I can work on the new Gardenia Musk. I’m not getting enough time to get those tasks done while doing orders at the same time, but once I work out the new oakmoss dilution rates I’ll be in good shape (it’ll take some trials of each scent to confirm the oakmoss rate before I can make new batches). I’ve not taken any time with the cart down for about a year and a half and don’t like to do it, but this will be a big help to catch up. (I’ll also look for a part-time helper!) If I can finish early I’ll put the shopping cart up sooner, but I’m planning on a week.

The website is still up so you can browse and plot orders; only the buttons are removed. All orders in progress will ship promptly. If you need something to meet a gift deadline in the next week, send me an email.

I’ll put the cart buttons back up after I’ve re-stocked the scents that require the new moss. Thanks for your patience!

Update: see this post for the latest info

Burst of Spring and Gardenia Thoughts

It is over 90 degrees with a little spring hot spell and I’m spoiled with armloads of roses, a few sprigs of pink jasmine, and the first sweet peas. The jasmine scent is taking over all else but it’s a treat. I’m getting a new jasmine sambac absolute that’s really lovely and look forward to using it — I’ve tried it in the new gardenia and like it.

Because natural gardenia oils are not available (except for a new one in very small quantities at very high prices), perfumers use combinations of other floral notes to create gardenia. They usually use jasmine and tuberose as major floral notes, plus some orange blossom and touches of ylang, lily of the valley, lilac, rose, magnolia, and/or violet. To complete the gardenia impression, they add green notes, earthy and mushroom notes, lactonic notes (like methyl laitone, jasmine lactones, aldehyde C-14, and aldehyde C-18), creamy sweet notes (like heliotrope, anise aldehyde, tonka, and vanilla), woods, salicylates, benzoates, spices, and musks.

If you look in books or journals for gardenia formulas, you’ll see various combinations of the types of components I just mentioned, with some leaning more toward jasmine and some more toward tuberose. Some formulas use styralyl acetate as a classic gardenia ingredient, but it’s not a very long lasting note and feels harsh to me so I wanted to build my gardenia floral accord around other things. Many gardenia formulas are also heavier on the heliotrope than I want to go. I’ve never found a pre-made formula that I wanted to follow for anything (many of the formulas in books are a bit dated because newer ingredients are available), but it is instructive to look and see what types of ingredients have been used in classic formulas for basic floral accords, and then the fun part is making your own formula that pleases your own nose.

When I sniff gardenia flowers, the jasmine character is more dominant to me than tuberose, so I’m making mine in the jasmine direction, and I smell an earthiness that sets gardenia flowers apart from jasmine. I love EL Tuberose Gardenia, but it seems stronger on tuberose than the real flower. Chanel Gardenia is very jasmine-rich but a bit sweet for me and doesn’t smell like gardenia to me. I’m not trying to create an exact gardenia scent, but I’d like the floral notes to combine to be gardenia-ish and be set against some soft woods and musk in the base, and I’d like it to be creamy but not too sweet or vanillic. The scent I’m creating is like gardenia but a bit softer and less heady; I like it quite a bit and am just adjusting things to keep improving it. I’ve actually been influenced by my mandevilla vine too, and my scent has some things in common with the fragrant white mandevilla blossoms, which smell somewhat similar to gardenia but less indolic and lighter (I posted about mandevilla previously, including a picture, here).


Some Midweek Thoughts and Review of Ambre Noir

A new issue of Sniffapalooza Magazine is out today, and I like this quote by Andy Tauer about what it means to be a niche perfumer:

“True niche is niche because of the quality of the fragrances, the creative energy that resides in it, the scents’ storylines and because of the love and passion of the folks that are behind the fragrances. Nichest niche is bottled passion and joy, soul and spirits.”

i think about this a lot because I make each bottle myself and know that there is a limit to how many bottles I can produce this way, but I’m not sure how much of that I’d want to change. I really like the nature of handing the ingredients myself, processing and filtering the naturals, and putting together packages for people that I hope they’ll enjoy. I don’t have to worry about that issue for now, though I’d love to have a helper before long for a few things like making samples, bottle labels, and shipping labels, things that could save me some time so I could do more blending, which keeps getting put aside to attend to orders. I think the goal would be to lighten my load a bit but do it in a way that still keeps me doing the perfumes themselves while reducing some of the related tasks.

I also agree with the distinction people have made between indie and niche because many brands considered to be niche are owned by large companies and not by indie artists. I value the idea of hand crafted items made by the artisans themselves because so much of the person goes into the work (in addition to fragrance, I love hand crafted jewelry, botanical drawings, photography, and quilts, though I’ve not collected much because my cottage isn’t big enough, lol). Indie perfumers have much more freedom to use the materials they choose and to create what they want rather than what the mass market wants. I’m very appreciative of this freedom.

There was a lovely review of Ambre Noir today on the blog Perfume da Rosa Negra. That was a nice surprise to see today!

Gardenia Musk Update

I’m getting back to Gardenia Musk and feeling good about the recent tweaks to the formula. I’ve made the base more complex; I’d like it to read as a soft woodsy musk base, but because many people have trouble with musks I’m hoping to incorporate enough other ingredients to make it work even for people who smell the musks more softly (we’ll see!). It has a drydown that is a creamy floral/sandalwood/musk to me right now. It has some soft green notes for freshness, and some light dry spicy notes. The floral accord is mostly jasmine ingredients with touches of orange blossom and tuberose. I’m just trying some ylang absolute in it and think it might be a nice addition. I’ve not been fond of the ylang essential oils I’ve tried, even the “extra” and “complete” fractions that some people favor, but I do like the absolute. The ylang adds another natural floral note with some creamy and spicy nuances that are fitting in well. The scent as a whole does smell gardenia-ish to me, with a soft woodsy musk base. I think I’m getting close on it but will keep testing.

Gardenia Musk is my top priority for blending projects right now and I’m working on it as much as I can between orders. I hope to have it out by early summer, but I’ll just keep working on it until it is done and can’t predict the date yet.

Happy Easter!

Best wishes for a great Easter weekend! My brother and his family are visiting for the weekend. The girls are dying eggs and looking forward to their Easter egg hunt. They just got a new dog, a beagle mix that they rescued; she’d been used in a research lab, which is really sad, but she has a great home now. She’s very sweet and amazingly trusting considering the life she must have had.

Here’s a lovable face. 🙂 Her name is Belle.


A Note on Jasmine and IFRA

The IFRA 43rd amendment restrictions for jasmine grandiflorum are sobering, but I want to clarify a few misconceptions that seem to be circulating. First, jasmine is not banned; the sambac and grandiflorum both have restrictions but can still be used within the limits. The jasmine grandiflorum limit is 0.7% in the finished product but the jasmine sambac limit is considerably higher at 4% in the finished product. Jasmine is limited because it has been found to be a sensitizer, and I assume the sambac has less sensitizing potential and can therefore be used in larger amounts.

I have favored the grandiflorum in most of my formulas up til now, but I love both types and will be using more sambac in the future since the sambac limit is so much more generous. I hope jasmine lovers can take some solace in knowing that sambac can still be used in more reasonable quantities.

Jasmine absolutes are potent and a little goes a long way. When you realize that the fragrance in an edp is just 8-15% of the finished perfume, then you see that jasmine sambac at 4% of the finished perfume gives some leeway. However, a parfum formula is 15-30% fragrance and the 0.7% grandiflorum level in the finished perfume is much more limiting; jasmine grandiflorum is used in many of the old classic formulas and the parfum versions have already suffered and will continue to suffer from these IFRA restrictions.

Over the years many synthetics have been developed for jasmine notes and these are usually blended with the absolutes to create accords with both synth and natural ingredients. Some of the synths are actually beautiful in their own right (the high-cis hediones have been especially important products for adding radiance to perfumes and to jasmine accords in particular), but there’s nothing like the real thing and synths like hedione are not meant to replace natural jasmine. Some people find natural jasmine too indolic for them and actually prefer it combined with synths to create a cleaner jasmine accord. I love jasmine even straight up, so fragrances like Serge Lutens A La Nuit or Jean Patou Joy do not have too much indolic jasmine for me, despite A La Nuit sometimes being called “death by jasmine” in perfume circles. I enjoy a little death by jasmine now and then, lol. I love softer jasmine notes too, like the gorgeous jasmine note in MDCI Enlevement Au Serail, a classic beauty that stole my heart when it first came out.

I’ve been remiss in not marketing the fact that my scents are parfum formulations of 20-30% fragrance. I’ll eventually add this information to the website. Because my scents are concentrated, the IFRA levels are more difficult for me, as they are problematic to parfum formulas in general. All I can do is view the restrictions as a challenge to try to create the most beautiful scents I can within the limits and to keep learning and sourcing new ingredients that meet the new standards.

Samples Now On Separate Page

I made a separate page today for the fragrance samples to make them easier to find; they are not on the Fragrance page anymore but here on their own page instead. Just wanted to give a heads up so it wouldn’t confuse people when they scroll down the Fragrance page and don’t see them.

About a month ago I made some new sample hang cards (pictured above) and those are available by request if you want to send samples as a gift.

I’ll be back tomorrow (Saturday) for an Easter post. Happy weekend!

Website home page is down for a few hours this evening

I just discovered the home page on my website is down because thousands of sites hosted by my webhost were hit by a hacker attack; the home pages were taken down but they are backed up and will be online again shortly. For now, you can still reach the rest of my site, just not the home page. Here’s a link to the Fragrance page if you need it:

That page has links to everything else you may need.

The hacker is in Turkey and apparently thinks this is fun. Sigh.

Update: I went ahead and put my home page back up from my own back-up copy. Seems ok now, but my webhost will be busy fixing many sites for a few days.