All's Fair in Love, War, and Perfume
.....or is it in the balance and perception of the creator?
The more I read, study and carefully record across the range of tuition, ratios, knowledge out there the more doubtful I become.
Citrus generally seems to be accepted by all as top note ( except when it can carry through into the heart and with aroma chems emerge again in the base) Floral generally but not always ; heart . Animalic: base ( but don't count on it).
However resins, fruit, wood, green, spice: they're all over the place!
Personally I think I like that but it's been a frustrating ride. I've been moving Rosewood like a chess piece around for days. Now I don't know where it should be I just know it's going in.
Ratio too. 50/30/20 or 40/30/30 or 50/25/25 or 45/35/20.
Also for small timers working with drops and mls the claims as to how many per ml is so wide ranging as to be nonsensical.
As for: prepare accords separately.
Build from the base says one firmly!
Start with the heart says another with authority.
Then others who 'swear' that you start at the top.
I'm beginning to think everyone is just doing their own thing.
Excluding large commercial houses/labs of course.
They 'are' doing their own thing too of course.
Just louder and with white coats on and bigger test tubes with a posh garden with a statue in a sunny courtyard, huge organs and millions of fridges.
Excuse me. I think I'll go and rest quietly now.
All's Fair in Love, War, and Perfume
I've been feeling the perfume chaos of late myself. I've been having a really hard time making anything wearable and it's becoming a source of frustration especially considering how much material I waste in the process. Anyway, I see your point, it seems that the only hard and fast rules are that chemicals (EO's and aroma's) behave in certain ways that we can only control by the amounts we blend together, this is the science part of perfumery. The idea of perfumes historically having smooth and linear transitions seems to be a common thread in terms of traditional aesthetics but just as with any art form the art emerges from the artist and it's up to everyone else to tell you it's what they like, what they want, it's a stroke of "genius" or it's a steaming pile of $%^&. In a capitalist country money and sales validate our creations, it's up to the relativistic powers of the masters of this craft to tell us that we have arrived if you care about such things. As of yet everything I blend is a steaming pile, hehehe. I think it helps to have a teacher for constructive criticism, guidance and instruction, peers/friends to work with for camaraderie and support and focus to come up with "ideas" that have a clearly defined purpose or goal for your creations.
Beasley, this is where studying your materials comes in...
For every material that I get in, in some maner, either make a new label t place upon the bottle, or if bought from TGSC, I write on the label in it's white spaces the following things, as eferenced from the TGSC website:
1. Type (fruity, or floral, or sweet, etc.)
2. Odor description, which can be drawn from the TGSC descriptirs, but als from the decsrictions fron supplier's text or their websites and how it's used, or what it's good for..
3. Substantivity - How long it lasts
You can see from where I pull some of this information:
Take for example this listing forraspberry ketone methyl ether
Odor Type : fruity Odor Strength : medium Odor Description:
at 100.00 %.
sweet dried raspberry rose cherry fruity cassie absolute
Luebke, William tgsc, (1987)
Odor sample from : Elan Inc. Odor Description:
at 5.00 %.
Sweet, fruity, woody, powdery, honey, vanilla, raspberry and ionone-like
Mosciano, Gerard P&F 23, No. 2, 43, (1998)
at 40.00 ppm.
Floral, woody, ionone, raspberry, fruity, spice and berry
Mosciano, Gerard P&F 23, No. 2, 43, (1998)
Substantivity : 324 Hour(s)
And here is a Supplier's descriptors of the same material, different from the TGSC info:
Aroma Aromatics & Flavours Anisyl AcetoneFlavor: Sweet, Fruity, Cherry, Raspberry
It finds use in perfume composition as a modifier for heliotropine, as a sweetener for cyclamen aldehyde and blender in many types of sweet florals, fougeres and oriental fragrances. In flavour composition it is used in raspberry and cherry, two flavours which are used as targets for fantasy fragrances for lipstic perfumes. As Sweetener it modifies anise and anethole in licorice flavour composition and used in smaller amount in many imitation fruit flavours for baked goods or hard candy where heat stability is essential. The normal concentration is about 10 to 30 ppm in finished products.
4. I'll also place some synonyms on the label, to ease my locating it by other names. Case in point is Anisyl Acetone, far different from Raspberry Ketone Methyl Ether...
5. I also place the safety range of use, I use "to 5%: for this information:
6. And I also note what the IFRA restriction is, if there is one, just for reference.
Recommendation for raspberry ketone methyl ether fragrance usage levels up to : 5.0000 % in the fragrance concentrate.
7. I Might also place some price information on the bottle, If I have it for an idea of how expensive it is to use it.
8. And then sometimes there are little hints or tips on the very bottom of the TGSC page for each element that I might place there too, like this one for phenyl-acetaldehyde
Dilute to 10% with benzyl alcohol or phenethyl alcohol for best results.
Sometimes, there are little accords formulas in these notes section too, which are helpful...
That's when you get to know your materials better, in addition to smelling them yourself... and then start to formulate with these variables in mind, sort of keeping substantivity front and center to figure out how long it will be around, and how best to use it in interaction with what else you've got planned...
Keep trying... as I get more experinced, grace and beauty becomes easier, but that still doesn't mean I don't make stink bombs, or make things unexpected...
Case in point is I was working on a recent brief for that movie star man fragrance, and my first go at it ended up smelling just like a guava fruit, instead of the Greenish Man's fragrance I was aiming at. The great part is that now, I've pulled that part out of the top of that first formulation, tweaked it a bit, and have a really nice Guava accord for future use.
Keep tilting at those windmills... and making a go of it... and HAVE FUN!
The Good Scent Company site Paul is referring to is really very helpful. I am camping there these days.
I printed my order of aroma chemicals and wrote below each substance the odor description, an alternative name, storing conditions and the formula.
I also take a look at the safety description and the occurrence.
There is so much to discover! Thanks Paul by the way for recommending this page repeatedly.
Thank you very much, I appreciate the sound advice and words of wisdom I will take them to task. HOW DO YOU FIT ALL OF THAT ON A 15-30ml BOTTLE??? I only obsess this hard on things I enjoy doing, sometimes I think failure is the only thing that forces me to relax and take a break, hahaha.
Beasley, granted the stuff that might go on a bottle can get large, so I resort to condensing it, and I make multiple labels on my Brother Printer tape, with tiny type often.
Also, I might buy in bigger qty than you, so have larger bottles as a canvas to place more information, like the two on the left.
Oh, and also, I place the CAS# on all my bottles too, if it has one. And I label all caps so that I can read them from above as well.
Yes Painstaking. But it also helps me to learn each element from this effort, while I'm doing it, and later when I need to look for something to work out a need or plan...
Last edited by pkiler; 4th November 2013 at 08:10 PM.
More real-estate, that explains how you get so much info on there. I was picturing text of microfiche proportions, lol. I have much smaller bottles, I'll have to work out a color code or something. I have been writing things down though, I'm pretty good at taking notes.
I used to make notes on cards, larger than any bottle label. Included also, my description of odour and how long the material stayed on a smelling strip. It is absolutely vital to Learn the smells. I have written this so many times, but before you start trying to make any perfume, you must have a thorough understanding of the materials you wish to use. What they smell like to you , the "official" description, whether they are Top, Middle or Base (i.e. how long they last on a smelling strip). How you construct a Fragrance, is pretty well up to you. I always worked from Base notes up; others do it differently.
It is frustrating, especially at the beginning, and it does waste a lot of ingredients, but it does get better. The more you do something, the better at it you become. The more you know how things work, and work together, the easier it will become. However, there is never a time when it comes right first time; never. Several trials are always needed.
It's always nice to hear words of encouragement from those who have been there and made it out the other side. As usual, I approach every new thing I do kamakaze style, lol
When I lived in Philadelphia I used to visit the Philly Art Museum often. One of my favorite paintings there was Van Gogh's sunflowers. It wasn't THE sunflower painting you see in all of the history books it was just one of his many iterations and it was poorly executed. THAT was why I liked it so much, not because it was a Van Gogh or because it was famous but because it was clearly an inferior work by a famous artist. We rarely see or hear about the mistakes, bad ideas and poorly executed works of the great masters. In all of the history books and most of the museums we only see the works that are venerated and deified. That crappy sunflower painting helped bring Van Gogh the painter to a human level where people make mistakes but keep trying anyway, it was inspirational.
The note card idea is good. I've been taking notes from my readings and experiments but I have not been taking many notes on material properties, looks like that is an absolute necessity. I think I'll look up open source databases or something like that although I sometimes miss the tactile aspect of thumbing through pages and paper cards.
I keep a binder, with descriptive pages for each aromachem & natural I purchase, then use it with scent training, when I pull out any chem to work with for reminders, etc. Hopefully, in time, long-term memory will kick in & knowledge of each oil will be instinctual, but until then, I look at the pages & my own notes written in each time.
That is the best way to work Scarlet. JEB, if you miss the tactile aspect of thumbing through pages, why not do it rather than setting up a database. I used to use postcard size cards, and filed them in a box in alphabetical order. Others use a binder, with a page for each material. It doesn't really matter, so long as it is easily accessible, and used; often.
JEB I love your story about the Sunflowers. Nothing comes easy to anyone, even a genius like Van Gogh (unless you are Mozart of course, but then, I think he was probably an alien).
I donít put quite as much information on my labels as Paul does, but I do have a very similar practice and I find it very useful.
For me, the act of making the labels is at least as important as having them on the bottles because it helps to fix in my memory the things Iím recording. I often include on my labels some of my own thoughts on a material if they are different from those in the TGSC and manufacturer descriptions (which they fairly often are).
Personally I also build my fragrances from the base up (having done the initial design on a spreadsheet long before it hits the blending bench) and I always do a smell-check when all the base notes are in because if I hate it at that point itís unlikely Iím ever going to be happy with it. I know some people prefer to do it the other way round or by fragrance type or even in alphabetical order: all perfectly valid choices. I also prefer to blend with materials diluted to 10% or less in ethanol - again many people donít and thatís also fine.
When Iím manufacturing (as opposed to blending) I do it quite differently though: first everything is pure or at the highest concentration I have and the order is dictated by the nature of the materials - so solids first, then bulk materials that they are likely to dissolve in (usually base-notes because there may be a need to warm it a bit and you donít want to drive off top-notes). If Iím using things like aldehydes and amines then it may matter which order they go in as they are going to react. Similarly if Iím using relatively polar materials (such as PEA) they will go in last after the solids are all in solution to avoid creating problems getting them dissolved. Where there is a lot of that sort of thing I may need to add some ethanol to keep it all from clouding too.
Finally, I also loved the Sunflowers story - and I relate to it too - I only very occasionally have a success in the first two or three tries. Usually itís a long process of small adjustments to get to where I want to be.
Hope thatís some help.
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Sounds like a good idea.
Not to take this wildly swerving topic off topic again, it looks as though I have helped commandeer it - sorry - but historians are thinking Mozart might have been an autistic savant, go figure.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled program
Van Gogh was one of those artists who did not live to see the fruits of his love or his labor. He broke the rules and payed for it dearly both socially and economically but he continued painting because he was driven to create. Some would say he was driven by his inner turmoil caused by physical or mental disease and the same might be said for Mozart who very well may have been alien in some medical and social sense of the word.
------> In some respects I think perfumery is similar in that if the artist wants wide acceptance then some rules must be followed with respect to material properties and tradition, otherwise, if you don't care about acceptance or tradition then all bets are off. It supposedly worked for Salvador Dali when he made his fish-head and poop brew to garner attention from Gala but then again he was trying to have a specific effect on one particular person so maybe she was into that, hahaha, who knows?...
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I understanding why many people prefer to work from the base up. The base notes often shine through to the top as do the middle notes, to me it makes sense to do it that way since the base is what remains after everything else is gone. I read Mandy Aftel's book and she says she works from the top down... maybe that ability comes with experience but from what I have read so far she is breaking from the norm.
Last edited by JEBeasley; 6th November 2013 at 06:45 PM.
I like to think that working from Base up is a bit like oil painting. The first coat (Base) affects the following, thinner glazes; each one is modified by the one below, and in turn modifies the one above. The difference is that in Perfumery, each layer evaporates leaving those below exposed.
Oil painting in reverse, I like that analogy, it's one I can identify with. It has an impermanent and zen like quality to it.