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  1. More Poem Than Perfume: Green Wood Body Incense Oil by Mermade Magickal Arts

    Lately, as I’ve been sampling more lines by indie American perfumers, I’ve been discovering what might be an actual genre- for now I’ll call them Perfumes of Place. They are not perfumes per se, they are not “pretty”, but they evoke, very clearly, a particular place. In this sense they are truly soulful scents, and have a strong effect on my emotions and the imagery that runs through my brain while I’m wearing them. Olympic Orchids’ Olympic Rainforest is in this category. And now I’ve discovered ...
  2. Smelly Libraries

    I’ve been perfume blogging for 5 years now. I think that makes me either first or at least second generation. I’ve been through all the stages of perfumistahood, and the Jaded Stage was the worst. Would I finally give up my great love, perfume? Did IFRA kill it? Did Sephora? Nah, I went DIY. I went Nerd.

    I started a scent library and grew smelly plants, and after that went on for a couple of years, I started to make my own tinctures and perfumes. ACK! I heard that at some sort of ...
  3. Interview With Indie Perfumer Jane Cate

    This summer, I was delighted to take part in the Mystery of Musk project, which featured natural, musky perfumes created by radically individualist, indie noses. My most-worn of the group was Jane Cate’s “Tallulah B2”, a luxurious, yet cheerful floral with a sensual, musky base. Intrigued, I contacted Jane. Her perfumery is called “A Wing and A Prayer Perfumes”, and she runs it with her daughter, Sarah, in Northern California. Here’s our conversation:

    Marla: For many centuries, ...
  4. Taking Time To Rant, Whassup with New Perfumes?

    It's now been over a year since I'v'e smelled anything I wanted to own (new perfumes, that is) in any of my local perfume shops here in Central Europe. A few have been wearable and inoffensive, most have been harsh and cheap. Yesterday I tried Escale Portofino and Escale Pondicherry. Yeesh! What's with these cheap laundry musks and super-harsh synthetic citrus chemicals? The Portofino smelled identical (but cheaper) to the lemon cologne used on Anatolian buses to help refresh the passengers. It's ...
  5. Elf's Compendium of Notes 10- Vanilla vs. Vanillin

    I finally decided to splurge and buy a small bottle of real vanilla absolute from India (via Liberty Naturals). I grew up with vanillin, the synthetic version of a compound that exists in actual vanilla, and its cousins, ethyl vanillin and methyl vanillin. I didn't realize that actual vanilla pods have hundreds of aromatic compounds in addition to vanillin!
    The waxy absolute surprised me with it's complicated, rich, and woody scent. It isn't particularly sweet, though vanillin is a dominant ...
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