Just to give an example.
First of all, I'm no role model for the profession of perfuming or anything. Some others here are more accomplished. But I have learned more and more gradually over the years, and I enjoy writing about the process.
But I have been working on a perfume for over a year, every day. Over a year. (nothing unusual, for those who know) Guess what? I've never sat down with a bottle and mixed the ingredients together. All I've done is work with little bits and pieces of my formula. But guess what? I'm fairly near completion, and I don't even own most of the ingredients.
By the time I actually sit down with a bottle and put the ingredients in, most of the work will be behind me. It will be the easy part (at least that is the plan and hope ;))
Right now I own fewer supplies than the person who authored this thread.
That is because I (mostly, not in every case) know the ingredients and basically what they're going to smell like mixed. I know where the problem spots are, and so I just pick out a couple ingredients here and there where I'm unsure, and work with those.
There are any number of problem spots in the formula, and I already know where those are going to be, mostly. That is the main place I have to work.
My experience with each individual ingredient allows me to work from my head much of the time, which actually saves me a lot of money. Eventually you have to smell everything, of course, but not for quite a while.
Right now with the current perfume I'm working most on, I've figured out that the vetiver/patchouli relationship is going to have a huge impact on how this works out -- the vetiver-patchouli accord, which happens to be very basic.
These are two of the primary base notes, and they are difficult to work with.
So what am I doing? Am I looking for formulas with vetiver and patchouli? Heck no. I am sitting down with two bottles of essential oils, the same two bottles that a beginner would start out with. I am doing the same thing I am advising beginners to do, which is just hang out with those two oils. Eventually those two oils are going to start teaching me secrets.
And what do you know? They already are. I already feel more confident mixing these two oils than I would copying ANY professional formula for blending them. I know my own approach is better (for me, with this blend). Why? Because I smelled it! I know what qualities I want to bring out, and I can smell exactly when those qualities emerge. That is the confidence you gain starting simple, and staying simple..
You may think this is simplistic, but actually the first step was even simpler; just to work with vetiver and patchouli alone, with a few of the other primary ingredients. Just now have I put them together.
I've been doing this for a couple decades, and am using the same approach as the day I bought my first couple oils. You just take a couple things, play with them, and get to know them.
My perfume probably has 110 ingredients at this point. But truly, there are thirteen base notes that define the perfume, and the rest is trinkets, trivia, and ornaments.
Because I know from experience those thirteen things will eventually relate well to each other when I finalize it in the bottle, I don't worry about the rest of the formula. Because I know the foundation will be there, and you can always tweak things on the fringes.
But if I don't figure out vetiver as it relates to patchouli, the whole thing is screwed!
So in my opinion, perfuming is never about mixing things in a bottle, fundamentally.
Edited by DrSmellThis - 6/11/13 at 2:00pm