I started collection essential oils and absolutes in 1966. At the time, I didn’t know my bottles of aromatics were supposed to be arranged on a tiered shelf called a perfume organ. Because I was a botanist, I categorized them by the part of the plant they were extracted from: florals, woods, leaves, etc., and kept them in plastic boxes for storage.
Later, I had a beautiful old wooden printer’s tray, which, when attached to a wall, provided a lovely display for the small bottles, but was impractical for working, and, of course, didn’t hold the larger bottles.
In 1990 or so, I stored my perfume organ in a beautiful Thai display case.
I finally located a man in Kentucky who made the wooden tiered racks for essential oils you’d see displayed in stores. I carefully measured what I perceived I’d need, and sent him the information. He constructed a lovely, modern-looking perfume organ out of pine, sweet and pale yellow and perfect for my needs – at the time.
All my bottles, except the ones that needed refrigeration were on the organ, interspersed with the dilutions I used in everyday blending. The dilutions sat right next to the undiluted aromatics, and that was okay for a while.
Top notes are on the top level, middle notes, of which there are hundreds, are on middle levels, and base notes along the bottom. Why dilute your essences? It saves a lot of money, first of all. Imagine using undiluted pricey oils, like rose otto, for all of your mods. Secondly, now you get the scent of the rose “opened up” by the alcohol in the dilution, too. Two great bonuses!
Don’t ever struggle with trying to use labdanum or tobacco absolutes by the drop again! The diluted essences are very fluid.
Now only dilutions are on the perfume organ. Most are 10%, some higher, some lower. The undiluted raw materials are kept in a refrigerator, with their specific gravity noted on a blending database. You may be able to blend a perfume modification with a diluted essence, but you need the specific gravity to be able to blend any quantity. This is taught in my Intermediate Level Perfumery course. Enroll now in the Basic course, which will prepare you to further your studies at the Intermediate Level.
Perfumers need a jolt, or a boost to the thinking process, to help them come up with a descriptive word for various aspects of a fragrance. When making modifications (aka mods) to choose the perfect perfume, it helps to have both the Aromatic Lexicon that I supply my students with, and the next step, a shorthand way to jot down those descriptive terms. The following shorthand key included in the textbook for The Natural Perfumery Institute, (NPI) is valuable for this, and I’m sharing it here to pay it forward to those who need some help with their word searching. I hope you find it useful.
If you’re considering studying perfumery, join us at the NPI, and you’ll find the textbook and supporting materials will give you an outstanding perfumery education.
You can right-click the image and save it as a .jpg, or copy and paste the individual entries, below. Saving the individual entries will give you the chance to create a document of your own, and add the descriptors your develop in your studies. I provide my students with an editable Word.doc to do this, and they really come up with some creative terms! Use the document as a jumping-off point to allow you to add to when new terms arise during your observations. Feel free to share this with your perfumer friends, and most of all, have fun!
A quick and easy way to keep notes while evaluating perfume modifications. Courtesy Anya McCoy Natural Perfumery Institute
ALM Bitter Almond
BLC Black Currant
LIN Linden Blossom
OFL Orange flower
ORB Orange oil, Bitter
ORS Orange oil, Sweet
PER Peru Balsam
TOL Tolu balsam
Making perfume takes time, and lots of thinking and introspection.
As I work through adapting my textbook for my new website, I am finding many passages that are very helpful for anyone who wants to make perfume, or is already making perfume, whether you stick to 100% natural ingredients like I do, or if you use aroma chemicals. I’ve decided to excerpt some passages on a regular basis, because I believe they can inspire and help others on this path. My first excerpt deals with the fear and indecision that every perfumer faces. If you don’t face it, I challenge you to challenge yourself, you’re too complacent.
Excerpt: Conclusion of Module 5 – Some Closing Thoughts
Although I am an experienced, professional perfumer, I sometimes face creating modifications with a bit of trepidation. For someone like me, a generally positive, self-assured person, that tinge of fear is a good thing. It keeps me balanced, so that I don’t become overly confident that everything I create is a masterpiece, because if I feel that way, I know I’m fooling myself.
Why do I instruct you to re-visit your vertical accords, although you just performed that exercise in the last Module? You might think it’s registered in your head, but I guarantee that, with your new concept or brief, you will be humbled when you evaluate your accords again. Subtle nuances, bits and pieces of it that didn’t seem prominent before, will become obvious now. Why? Because you now realize that you have to build upon the structure of that one simple accord, and you have to engage your scent memory and your artistic passions simultaneously in order to meet the final challenge in the next module – building a perfume.
A perfumer cannot become too comfortable, and the perfumer also cannot be afraid. Mods can humble you more quickly than any other exercise in this course. An accessory note, which is so beloved, so necessary to give a mod or a perfume panache, can begin screaming out its aggressiveness, overwhelming the blend, or just poking out in the drydown in a negative way.
My course is online, a resource in distance learning for those who cannot travel to attend a perfumery course. The 350 page textbook is the first American perfumery textbook, and it is written at the university level. For thinkers. And doers.
If you’re a perfumer, or thinking of becoming one, subscribe to this blog so you receive updates on this series, which I hope will inspire and instruct. There is a place to subscribe in the right column. Your email is private, and will be treated as such.
In 2007, when I launched my perfumery course on the Internet, I put together an expansive, detailed series of forms, charts, and educational materials to assist my students in their studies. There are organoleptic evaluation forms, an aromatic lexicon, several Excel worksheets, and much more. One way to help students quickly and easily jot down scent impressions was a reference sheet I call the Shorthand Key to Comprehensive Descriptors for Organoleptic Evaluations. The Key is designed to allow the perfumer to use three-letter references for scent properties. Some “full terms” the perfumer is familiar with, and some “shorthand” key terms:
The inspiration for the Key came from a similar resource in the book An Introduction to Perfumery by Tony Curtis and David. G. Williams. I wrote to the publishers, Micelle Press, and received permission to adapt the Key for my students. The Key is a starting point, to be used with the Aromatic Lexicon, another resource meant to jog the student’s ability to find the words to describe a scent. Once the words are found, they can be written longhand, or, more easily, jotted down with the Key descriptors.
Students are encouraged to add to the Aromatic Lexicon, and also to add to the Shorthand Key, according to their observations. Both forms are provided to the students as Word documents, so they’re easily editable.
For those of you interested in studying perfumery, perhaps already starting to read books and figure out the process, I hope the Key, provided below, can assist you. If you click it on, it should open up full size, and you can save it to your hard drive. If you’re serious about making perfume, encourage you to enroll in the Natural Perfumery Institute, where helpful forms like this, and a professional textbook can provide a solid foundation in perfumery.
As a university professor, I wanted to provide a perfumery textbook for my students at the Natural Perfumery Institute. In 2010, this became a reality, and is the first ever perfumery textbook produced in the USA. The course is comprehensive, professional, and will give the student a firm foundation in perfumery, whether you stay with the all-naturals theme of the book, or use aroma chemicals. The techniques taught in the book apply to all forms of perfumery.
My background in artisan perfumery is focused and covers several decades of perfume creation, teaching, marketing, and community building. In 2013, I became the first artisan perfumer inducted into the American Society of Perfumery, in recognition of my long career and accomplishments in the field. I want to pass the skills I have amassed over the years on perfume making to you. Creating a textbook that works with unique, professional record forms, charts and ancillary materials was necessary to provide the best education.
I am offering 15% off the fee during February 2015. Pay via PayPal and the refund will be issued immediately. Please visit the course website by clicking here, and choose between the Independent Study or Private Tutorial option. If you have any questions about the options, please contact me. I urge you to take advantage of this offer and move forward in your quest to learn how to make perfume. If you know of someone who is interested in studying perfumery, please forward this to them, or share on social media, so they can obtain this course at a great savings.
The cover for the perfumery course textbook at the Natural Perfumery Institute was due for a re-design. I love the new look, shown above, and I hope you do, too. The cover now cheerfully and correctly illustrates some of the raw materials of perfumery, from roses and vanilla to frankincense, and will be bound into a high-quality paperback. There are some final tweaks being worked on for the back cover, and I have to update a few items inside the book before I have a draft published. The new textbook should be available in a month or less.
I left the image of the beachside bottle full of flowers, ferns, shells and a clock on the cover, a holdover from the past textbook covers. I love the way that image shows the diversity of elements we perfumers use, from onland flora, to oceanic offerings, such as seashells and seaweed, all brewing together with an important element – time.
Now I’d love for you to help me, and maybe win a lovely educational prize in return. I have a survey for potential students, or those who would like to weigh in on a subject regarding studies:
1. Would you prefer a definite start date for studies, such as I had originally for students, with modules starting and ending on a specific date?
2. Would you prefer the “opt-in anytime signup” for studies now in place, and study at your own pace?
Leave an answer by Oct 31, 2014, and be in the random drawing for one of two prizes:
1. A free copy of the new textbook and enrollment in the course with the Independent Study option.
2. If you’re currently a student, once your course is completed, you’ll receive a $200 discount off the tuition of the next level of study.
Remember, leave a comment to be in the drawing. You can read more about the Independent Study option at http://PerfumeClasses.com Thank you for your feedback!
Tip: Use the Subscribe link on the right to either subscribe to my blog, or, if you’re entered in this giveaway, subscribe to the comments so you’ll receive notification about the winner.
An Extravagant Perfumed Life – Something we all want! 🙂 A closeout on the unctuous Kaffir perfume, 10% off through August 1st on botanicals and kits, and become the best perfumer you can be
A Perfect Scent for Summer – Closeout and Savings
I love my kaffir lime tree, also known as Thai lime. I’ve grown it for twenty years in my back garden, using the leaves and fruits for food and to make perfumes. I had to discontinue Kaffir perfume because one of the ingredients has disappeared from the world market. I have seven bottles of the pure perfume left, and I’ve put them on sale at a great savings. Kaffir is a heady, rich citrus scent, with a strong jasmine heart and a leather/wood base. $40 while supplies last. You can purchase it by clicking here.
Everyone Can Enjoy a Professional Perfumer’s Kit
I still remember back to the 1970s, and how I delighted in obtaining new essential oils and absolutes to explore.
When I began to offer the study kits to my students, I was surprised at how many non-students ordered them. If you love natural fragrance, you like to dabble and make your own personal scents, you want only the best aromatics. I carefully select the oils for my two kits based on my forty years of sourcing. My nose knows, and yours will, too!
With each kit, you’ll receive emailed instructions on how to dilute the aromatics for an affordable alternative to using them “straight”. I’m offering 10% off with the code 100%natural. Use it at checkout, and you’ll save on the boronia, too! Click here to visit the botanicals page.
The Perfumed Life Is Extravagant – and Beautiful
Miami is so fragrant with every lush, tropical flower blooming now, it’s a delight. Opening a window, or walking outside day or night provides a bouquet of gorgeous gifts from nature.
To me, the scent of vanilla, which does not waft off the plant, but requires a lengthy, careful process to tease out of the drying beans, is heavenly. Slowly but surely, I’m adding botanicals for sale back on my website, and this month, vanilla absolute, along with luscious boronia absolute are offered. I purchased such quantity that I can offer a very good price for this beloved vanilla absolute. I offer the most reasonable price on boronia to be found on the Internet.
To further reintroduce it to you my botanicals page, the same 10% off with the code 100%natural is available for the vanilla and boronia. Use it at checkout, and you’ll save on the boronia, too! Click here to visit the botanicals page.
Energy, Passion, Imagination, Training
Regarding perfumery, I have an abundance of energy, passion, and imagination, and I trained myself, taking several decades of trial and error to perfect the methods and techniques necessary to be a professional perfumer.
When I launched America’s first natural perfume line in 1991, it was the energy and passion that moved me to take such a bold step. Decades of successful perfume creation, hundreds of students, and a finger on the pulse of the worldwide rise of artisan perfumers later, I am happy to offer my professional course online.
Please visit http://PerfumeClasses.com to learn more about my course. I am delighted to instruct students from thirty two countries, helping them move their energy, passion and imagination forward with the latest in training resources. Join the Natural Perfumery Institute today and become the best perfumer you can be.
I get frequent emails from potential students who want more information about the professional course I offer at the Natural Perfumery Institute. It’s all about them wanting to learn how to make their own perfume, and what it entails. There is no short answer: even though my course is systematic, professional, and guarantees you will learn how to make perfume, the path is still different for each student.
The secret to perfume making is that there is no secret, and no reason to hesitate in blending if you are given a firm foundation. A few years ago I was speaking with a good friend, now passed, the late perfumer Alec Lawless. He also taught perfumery, and we were comparing notes on what we observed with potential students that wrote us, asking how to make perfume, what would the course do for them? Many had, to that point, been self taught, with an admittedly hit-or-miss approach, and wanted to step up and learn a system. They sometimes said they were intuitive perfumers, and couldn’t replicate some things, and ran into dead ends with experimentation.
Alec had a different method of teaching than me, and we both were self-taught, but we found we had one thing in common: we had assembled our knowledge into a systematic, replicable, scientific manner. A manner in which the students could find out about ratios, assays, iterations, modifications, and a number of other organized approaches. We both believed that by numerous repetitions of proven methodologies, gathered from different schools of perfumery, it was akin to a musician taking a course in music theory, which would propel them to the next level. With education, knowledge “clicks” into place.
Then, the student/perfumer is able to be a bit intuitive. They’ll know how to experiment, take notes, formulate hypothesis about a certain accord, or perfume, and work it out successfully.
That, hopefully, is the future of artisan perfumery. There will be an upswing in professional methodologies, a learned system, and the ability to be a freethinker – with roots planted firmly in the ground.
I have a number of successful artisan perfumers as students. They realized at a certain point that they needed a framework of knowledge in which to improve their skills, and my course provides it for them. Sign up and move up the levels I designate in the course: Contextual, Certain, and Active. The students are excited as they see the milestones of learning achieved, then surpassed. It’s my goal to provide the most professional, comprehensive course in natural perfumery, and I believe I have succeeded.
The Ask the Perfumer Forum is open for questions on how to make your own perfume today. I’ve been spending so much time on the Facebook page for my upcoming book Perfume From Your Garden, answering scent extraction questions, I felt a need to open up perfume making discussions here. I’ll be here until 10 PM tonight, ET USA, June 8, 2014, so please place your questions to me in that timeframe.
A little about my background as a perfumery instructor: In 2007, I developed a community based, professional natural perfumery course for those who cannot travel to study. This was the first course of its kind, and I pioneered many techniques for students, including making dilutions for initial study, using scales, organoleptic evaluations and many more. I wanted this to be the best course available to those who cannot travel to study, perhaps due to finances, job and family commitments, or maybe health reasons. If any of these factors apply, this course is for you, especially if you’re looking for an instructor who has decades of perfumery experience. A few students have told me they took the course because they’re very reserved and didn’t want to be immersed in a real-life classroom setting where they would have to participate. I understand this personality type, and I have found many natural perfumers to be reserved or shy, and I nurture them, as I have for eleven years on the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group I started and host, and in my Ask the Perfumer Sunday forum.
After studying perfumery on my own, from classic texts since 1976, I launched the first USA-based natural perfumery line in 1991, and since then have won dozens of awards for my perfumes. What the bloggers who gave these awards didn’t know is that behind the scenes, I developed the first textbook for natural perfumery. Not a handbook or manual, a fully-realized, illustrated, full-color, professionally-edited textbook. It is copyrighted and is in the Library of Congress.
So what do the students enjoy besides my expertise and wonderful textbook? Well, there are two options, the value-priced $500 textbook Home Study, or the $2600 Online Interactive option. The Online Interactive is for the student who feels they need one-on-one guidance and the ability to consult with me on an perfumery question, exercise or assignment. Both options provide dozens of professional forms, charts and illustrations to make perfumery understandable and organized. Both options also allow the student to be a part of the discussion forum – for life. Adjunct faculty, students and myself take part in the forum.
The convenience of distance learning is valuable for all the reasons stated above, and the companionship of the worldwide network of others in the forum is a treasure that will allow you to develop you skills.
Please visit http://PerfumeClasses.com and consider the premier online distance learning course for natural perfumery. Don’t forget to check out the testimonials, a tiny sampling of the many I receive for the course.
Founder and Head Instructor