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  1. #1

    Question How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    I had some beginner's luck with my first perfume blend. I like how it smells now. But, with each new EO or AC I get in the mail, I keep thinking of adding to it.

    How does one avoid the "George Lucas Syndrome" of endlessly (and not always for the better) re-adjusting and adding to a blend?

    How do you decide that it is perfect as it is?
    "This, what is it in itself, and by itself, according to its proper constitution? What is the substance of it? What is the matter, or proper use? What is the form, or efficient cause? What is it for in this world, and how long will it abide? Thus must thou examine all things that present themselves unto thee." Marcus Aurelius

  2. #2

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    To be honest: i never decide it's ready. I did some great reformulations on my perfume formula's over the years. Keep it as it is for months or even years, and deciding to substitute oils or aroma chemicals when newer or better arrive. Not always an improvement, but often it is. On the other hand, i've some formulations which i consider ready. I like them, friends like them, customers like them. So it's finished. I thought. And then comes that really nice aroma chemical on the market that can do wonders to an already perfect blend. ;-) Starting over all againÖ
    But, hey, thats what i really like about perfuming: constantly improving!
    Happy perfuming!

    Your'e welcome to visit my formulation blog, with a dozen of perfume formulations and accords to share!

  3. #3

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    I haven't been fortunate enough to have this problem yet, but one person I know keeps the original and the new formula and gives them numbers. Such as fragrance #1 fragrance #2 etc. Personally i like that idea because iy gives you the best of both.
    Jennie's Handcrafted Fragrances
    www.etsy.com/shop/jenniesfragrances

  4. #4

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    I also have that tendency to try and add just a little bit of something or another to a formula that I feel is already quite nice, but, maybe could be better. But having in the past turned a good many of my decent compositions into a pile of mud with the addition of a single drop of the wrong thing, I am always certain, as is considered normal good practice always, to be sure to keep track of the ingredients and quantity that I add at every step of the way. This has been explained by more than just a few people in these forums.

    In being consistent about keeping track of all ingredient details, everyone is then provided with the freedom to wreck an otherwise decent formula that they had created without having a real sense of loss. Granted, there is a material loss, which will hurt more if the materials used were costly or difficult to obtain, but in the development of a blend, I think it is the figuring out the puzzle of what belongs and what does not, the details of the creation of a work of art that also requires as well use of the scientific method, where something of value was created though started from nothing, that is the part of perfume creation that has any real value. The raw materials are replaceable, if not immediately, then eventually.

    Similar to what Jennie mentions in the way of using a numerical system, I do a similar thing, though rather than numbers only, I use some alphabetical characters that give a clue as to the general theme or general type of the majority of constituents of the blend, without having to return to my formulation notes repeatedly, as would be the case if I used a numerical system only.

    Thanks to much information that I glean from this forum, as well as my recent ordering of more of the correct raw materials for my needs, and less of the wrong ones, my blends are finally coming along to the point that I have been able to wear different ones in public without feeling self conscious about them.

  5. #5

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Interesting thread. I think we all can shoot for David' level of professionalism --- get a brief, write the formula, compound, make several possible edits to the formula based on initial compounding. Then, a week later, DONE!

    For me that is impossible right now, just because I am learning new materials all the time. Even today, I found a new resource of information on aromachemicals (which I will soon share here) that is causing me to reformulate something. If i had a set number of materials I used over and over already, then I could get a lot closer to finishing a lot sooner, of course.

    I can't even post a post here without editing it several times. The next perfume I release to the public will have been edited over a thousand times. I wondered if it was finished a year ago.

    But then I learned so much more, I knew so much less!

    This is not healthy, perhaps. It is certainly not professional in the "David sense", the bar of excellence here we look to. But I am certain it will eventually result in a good can of juice. That has to count for something, no matter how things arrived there. Ha ha.

    One problem is I decided to try accords I had never attempted, to get a couple other interesting notes that I felt would make the whole thing more unique and complete and rich. I have a lot of knowledge built up over the years, but at the same time I am a beginner in some things.

    For my last commercial perfume, I knew who my customers were going to be and issued a trial run of a hundred bottles. I used feedback from that trial run (for which I provided special, unique packaging and unique, vintage bottles to encourage people to buy the trial) to edit my forumula to customer tastes. It did help me improve the product significantly.

    But that's because I'm my own harshest critic. No one is going to be more annoyed by my perfume's faults than I am. Unless they don't get the concept at all, in which case I don't care. But if it has to do with how far I am from meeting my goal for the perfume, I am going to be strident in my self criticism. That fact enables me to eventually be finished, to the extent I can satisfy myself. I'm not quite there yet in my current project.

    England's second favorite band, I suppose, is the Rolling Stones. Did they ever knight Keith Richards?! Anyway, I think it was Keith who said the secret to good studio work was to know when you are finished, to know when to say enough is enough, when done is done. I think he was referring to the sense of raw energy and space in their music. Perhaps there is an equivalent principle for perfuming?
    Last edited by DrSmellThis; 7th June 2014 at 09:30 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    I design carefully first but then have a tendency to continue to tweak and tweak. Always looking for minute imperfection. Other people like them but I am still seeking something. I then leave it to rest whilst working on another, come back to it later then decide the first was better after all.

    I find the end very difficult to recognise. They are my creative babies and I find it hard to let them go before I am completely satisfied. I'm not sure that is a bad thing though. Some perfumes take shape very fast and others take years.

    One of my favourites and my best was made in one attempt whilst in a hurry, and no tweaking has yet bettered it. Yes, you've guessed it. The one I didn't record the measurements of properly!!! Thought I would remember them later.....

  7. #7

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Mumsy, I have that same tendency as you describe with the tweaking and then again, more tweaking. As I inevitably destroy the batch I am modifying, and tend to experiment with small quantities and therefore don't generally have a portion set aside, I just accept the destruction of everything prior to the final tweak by way of my philosophical stance that I described earlier.

    Today I came to the brilliant awareness of the fact that I don't only have to jot down on paper the ingredients that I use, but as well, have to not misplace the list. In checking on the progress of maturation of an accord that I have coming along, and for which I worked off a published formula, I made some changes around the materials that I had on hand at the time I put it together. And while I have the original formula no problem, I have not been able to locate my copy of the formula which has the precise details of the changes that I made. I thought I was reasonably organized, but I now realize that is not quite the case. Maybe this will motivate me to redo the blend with all of the ingredients in the forms that were indicated to be used, without any substitution, as I now do have everything that is listed in the original published formula.

  8. #8

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    It was only the once I made bad notes, and learned my lesson well from it. I think everyone must have to do it for themselves the once to experience the distress it causes. We have been duly warned about inadequate record keeping many a time on here.

    I used to keep fairly good notes right from the beginning and bag them with the correct sample but they were often on scraps of paper. So since that event, I keep the small rectangular record cards for every mod that I make. These are in numerical and date order with the code number being the perfume/batch number/day/month/year/tweak number so an example I have on my desk now is GingerRogers/1/20/01/2012/5. This is a perfume I have been working on since Jan 2012 and it isn't ready yet to my satisfaction but is nearly there. I haven't worked on it for all that time. It has been left in between each mod for long periods whilst I am on others. It will be ready when it is and not before.

    Whilst the perfume is at project stage, they are in a box with all the mods all labelled the same way as the record cards I keep a master bottle of the original blend and hive off samples for the tweaking so I can always go back a stage for comparison. It gets messy with the number of vials but each mod is vital to understanding. I swear by my mettler toledo volumiser for mods. I dispenses micro amounts of fluids as low as 20iu and I couldn't be without it.

    I actually would argue that finishing a perfume in a week is not an indication of a professional. Indeed they may well finish in a week but time is not the criteria to determine professionalism. No offence meant to David by that comment as he is obviously very efficient. I would only judge a perfumer by his or her finished goods.
    Last edited by mumsy; 8th June 2014 at 08:22 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Knowing when to stop; that is so difficult. Leaving well alone when the temptation to add just one more thing; that is so difficult. The advice given above, to make notes of every trial, and keep those notes safe is vital. If you do want to fiddle with your fragrance, take a small sample of it and fiddle with that.

    Dr Smell is too kind in his admiration of my working style (or else is taking the pee), but it wasn't quite as formulaic as he thinks. I wasn't a machine, churning out fragrance after fragrance. We had a time limit, and often I wasn't satisfied with my submission. If the customer was satisfied then that was good enough. The longest I ever spent a developing a fragrance was two and a half years; I could happily have strangled the customer. I will not tell you the fragrance application (certainly not a fine fragrance), which made it worse. However, when it was finally accepted, the product was sold for over a decade.

    The only way to lean perfumery is by doing it; someone else cannot learn it for you. Use new materials, try out new ideas; it all takes time. BUT, keep notes of everything you do; and keep them with you.

    By the way Keith Richard (who isn't a knight) was appalled when Mr. Jagger became Sir Mick.

  10. #10

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    I often find it is best to have a premeditated 'tinker' then leave it again to wait for the notes to meld properly. The perfume softens after a wait and isn't jangly if it has worked.

    I am working on one again today that has been troubling me on and off for over a year. I have finally got a version I am really fairly happy with, but it doesn't last long enough. I know that is partly due to a style choice on my part by using naturals, but there are quite a few oils in this version that last a decent length of time alone. This version that I like most, it has a top note that is effectively cancelling out the heavier base notes. It is the only one that has achieved the soaring effect similar to the aldehydic lift that it was designed to have, but apparently to the expense of the base.

    My next step is to go back through all the notes I have made and used and analyse exactly what is cancelling out what. I'm fairly sure who the culprit is but I don't understand why yet. It is all a fascinating learning curve.

  11. #11

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Thanks, all, for the thoughtful and helpful replies.

    I have a notebook where I write all my experiments (err, I mean "formulas"). I am still learning the best record-keeping style for me.
    "This, what is it in itself, and by itself, according to its proper constitution? What is the substance of it? What is the matter, or proper use? What is the form, or efficient cause? What is it for in this world, and how long will it abide? Thus must thou examine all things that present themselves unto thee." Marcus Aurelius

  12. #12

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Quote Originally Posted by MissVanilla View Post
    I had some beginner's luck with my first perfume blend. I like how it smells now. But, with each new EO or AC I get in the mail, I keep thinking of adding to it.

    How does one avoid the "George Lucas Syndrome" of endlessly (and not always for the better) re-adjusting and adding to a blend?

    How do you decide that it is perfect as it is?
    Honestly I think there is one simple answer to this: sell it!

    Once youíve sold a fragrance with a given formula there is a massive disincentive to mess about with it. Unless of course you put it on the market and it fails to sell . . . then you feel entitled to tinker again . . .
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  13. #13

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bartlett View Post
    Honestly I think there is one simple answer to this: sell it!

    Once youíve sold a fragrance with a given formula there is a massive disincentive to mess about with it. Unless of course you put it on the market and it fails to sell . . . then you feel entitled to tinker again . . .
    Chris, your advice made me smile. I am so far away from even making fragrances for friends and giving them away for free, let alone selling them to an unsuspecting public.
    "This, what is it in itself, and by itself, according to its proper constitution? What is the substance of it? What is the matter, or proper use? What is the form, or efficient cause? What is it for in this world, and how long will it abide? Thus must thou examine all things that present themselves unto thee." Marcus Aurelius

  14. #14

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Quote Originally Posted by MissVanilla View Post
    Chris, your advice made me smile. I am so far away from even making fragrances for friends and giving them away for free, let alone selling them to an unsuspecting public.
    Oh well glad to have raised a smile anyway! But in that case why not keep tinkering and enjoy yourself?
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  15. #15

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    I tinker past the point of no return, and then keep going. I keep notes, but it's usually not like I passed
    something worthwhile in the middle. I'm exploiting these to the max to learn the interactions between
    materials and take notes.
    It's not like I'll ever produce something nice anyway..

  16. #16

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    You will, Nizan - soon
    Directory contribution link:-
    http://www.basenotes.net/contribute.php

  17. #17

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Soon in human years or perfumer years?

  18. #18

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Just soon
    Directory contribution link:-
    http://www.basenotes.net/contribute.php

  19. #19

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    ...is by being lazy or by thinking about another new project to do? :-)
    At least that way you leave it alone for a couple of weeks or months before you go back to it again.
    www.eyeofthevoyager.com (owner)

  20. #20

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    I don't really see anything wrong with modification as long as you keep the original batch (and formula) to compare your modifications too. If you're in the modify mood then make a larger batch and split it so you can try a number of mods. Nothing better than finding a modifier that adds that special something your nose is searching for.
    The Little Blue Bottle Premium Perfume Kits Now Available
    https://twitter.com/TLBBPPK
    http://www.thelittlebluebottle.com.au/

  21. #21

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Quote Originally Posted by MissVanilla View Post
    I had some beginner's luck with my first perfume blend. I like how it smells now. But, with each new EO or AC I get in the mail, I keep thinking of adding to it.

    How does one avoid the "George Lucas Syndrome" of endlessly (and not always for the better) re-adjusting and adding to a blend?

    How do you decide that it is perfect as it is?
    I don't make fragrances myself, but I absolutely love any excuse to talk about how much George Lucas sucks!

  22. #22

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Quote Originally Posted by moleo View Post
    i don't make fragrances myself, but i absolutely love any excuse to talk about how much george lucas sucks!
    Last edited by MissVanilla; 19th June 2014 at 02:19 PM.
    "This, what is it in itself, and by itself, according to its proper constitution? What is the substance of it? What is the matter, or proper use? What is the form, or efficient cause? What is it for in this world, and how long will it abide? Thus must thou examine all things that present themselves unto thee." Marcus Aurelius

  23. #23

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    Too funny!
    Jennie's Handcrafted Fragrances
    www.etsy.com/shop/jenniesfragrances

  24. #24

    Default Re: How to stop fooling around with a formula and leave it alone?

    When I think if I should stop or add anyhting to my formula - I take a brake and take a whiff of some commercial perfume. Suddenly my stuff doesn't smell half as bad ;-D

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