Category Archives: Natural Perfumery Institute

New Natural Perfumery Course Textbook Cover and a Giveaway

Thursday - 9 October 2014

Natural Perfumery Institute cover. Textbook written by Anya McCoy.

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.

or

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 – Newsletter

Monday - 28 July 2014

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.

How to Make Your Own Perfume Professionally

Wednesday - 18 June 2014

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.

trio3ml-blue-copyright-mccoyThe 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.

Ask the Perfumer Sunday Forum on How To Make Your Own Perfume

Sunday - 8 June 2014

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.

Working with, or wearing natural essences is a healthy choice. Want to study this healthful art? http://PerfumeClasses.com

Working with, or wearing natural essences is a healthy choice. Want to study this healthful art? http://PerfumeClasses.com

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.

Textbook cover for the Natural Perfumery Institute basic course

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.

You'll need to know specific gravity to make quantities of perfume.  The NPI is the only NP course that teachs SG

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.

Anya McCoy

Founder and Head Instructor

Ylang Ylang Flower Tincture is Gorgeous Perfume!

Tuesday - 13 May 2014
The first tincture flowers are in the jar. The slightly-wilted second recharge flowers are in the foreground.

The first charge of flowers are in the jar. The slightly-wilted second recharge flowers are in the foreground. The liter jar holds about eight flowers, and they give color and scent immediately to the alcohol.

If you have Ylang Ylang growing, you must tincture it, it’s so beautiful, so easy.

My ylang ylang is blooming here in Miami, and I gathered flowers in various stages of maturity, from green to the “ripest” with yellow petals and a red throat, and put them into 190 proof alcohol. Within a few minutes, they had surrendered their perfume to the alcohol. I let them sit for a day, and then recharged the alcohol. The flowers are slightly wilted, as you see, and that is the best way to prepare them for the alcohol, as it insures the minimum amount of water is introduced to the alcohol.

Now, if you just want to make a beautiful room, linen, or body spray, use 100 proof vodka, no need for the 190 proof alcohol I use. I use it because it is for use in perfumes, and that’s the standard proof we perfumers need. For a spray, you can even dilute it a bit more with water when you are done recharging. You may wish to recharge many times to get a really strong extract. Have fun!

The scent of picked ylang ylang flowers is sweeter and more delicate than the concrete, absolute or various essential oil grades, it’s just lovely. I encourage my students to make extracts of many fresh and dried perfumery ingredients, it’s a rewarding adjunct to buying essences from suppliers. Of course, details on these processes will be in my upcoming book Perfume From Your Garden.

What a Great Scent Strip Holder Find!

Wednesday - 9 October 2013
Daniel Krasofski's skillful repurposing of a film developing reel!

Daniel Krasofski’s skillful repurposing of a film developing reel! On the right: don’t do this! On the left: do this!

I always am grateful for my connection to thousands of natural perfumery fans, perfumers, and members of the Yahoo groups. I’ve been on the Internet for twenty years, and have read about all the problems and opportunities in our art because of their posts and their private correspondence with me.

Daniel Krasofski is one of my students, and he wrote me from Napa, where he was taking Jeanne Rose’s day-long course at Eden Botanicals. It was this bit of a tiny photo in the collage of photos he sent me that caught my eye. What in the heck is that spiral stainless steel thing? He was in class and on the road for the rest of the weekend, so my email asking about it went unanswered until Monday, by which time I had spent hours on google trying to find the darn thing.

When he wrote me back, I immediately went on eBay and bought dozens of them. I’ll give them away as gifts and probably have one in each room of my house. What I like especially is that they’re divided into four compartments: top/middle/base/accessory notes!

One of my eBay scores: three reels for $5 plus $6 shipping. The best size is the 35mm reel (shown).

One of my eBay scores: three reels for $5 plus $6 shipping. The best size is the 35mm reel (shown).

They’re stainless steel (impervious to oils), stable (round, flat base) and repurposed from an industry that is almost defunct (film processing). Beautiful!

Here’s what Daniel wrote about his path:

/The round spiral blotter holder is an invention of mine that I love love love! As I might have told you in the past, I have a near magical ability to go into a Goodwill thrift store and find the “perfect” things I need at the time. I have a friend that drew a cartoon that depicts an average person walking into a GW store finding only broken crap, and then me walking into a GW and finding the garden of exotic amazing-ness.

Three years ago, when I was really getting into the perfume aspect of essential oils, I was sampling many oils via blotters, and found them messy and challenging to deal with. I went on a mission to find “the perfect mouillettes holder” and one day, I found it! As I was walking through the Goodwill in Hollywood I spotted a stainless steel vessel that resembled a thermos, picked it up and it rattled and clanged inside. I remembered this object from High school and knew exactly what it was: a film developing canister. Inside were four developing spools! The perfect touche holder. I had to make a few alterations to make it perfect; added some tape to the bottom and a small amount to thin wire to create more “sections”. I’ve been using them for three years now and they can hold up to 40+ blotters when inserted with a technique I developed. Super easy to use. The thing I like  most about it is, if I’m doing a marathon smelling and slightly fatigued, I can easily take the entire set of blotters to another location with fresh air to re-evaluate the scents. I’ve been dubbed the MacGyver of perfume by a few people, I have a ton of little ideas. /

Daniel certainly is resourceful, pays attention, and knows when to go into action! Thanks so much, Daniel, I hope this blog post spreads the word far and wide about your creative repurposing of the reels.

PS for those who missed it, another of my students, Michael Singels, invented a no mess, no fuss way to warm up thick oils (like labdanum, etc), so that they’re easily pourable. No bain marie, no microwave (Yikes! don’t use that for your oils), just sheer ingenuity.  You can read about it on my old blog site: http://anyasgarden.blogspot.com/2011/05/so-simple-so-elegant-why-didnt-anybody.html

My students are so creative and I appreciate them sharing their discoveries with the perfumery community!

If you’re a perfumer, aromatherapist, perfume blogger or perfume lover reading this, you know the value of this find. No more roach clips! No more odd, unstable photo holders/memo holders. Can you spread the word, and share this blog posts? I’m sure your friends and/or readers will really appreciate it.

 

Poetic Perfumers – Some of the delights my students submit

Thursday - 18 July 2013

Lucky me!  I received two assignments from students in my Natural Perfumery Institute perfumery course recently, and I just loved the poetry they wrote to describe their experiences with the module’s topic.  Both poems are very different, as different as the authors, one from Ghana, the other from Canada.  I post the second one in a few weeks, and maybe they’ll inspire you to write some poems about perfume.  I am not a poet, so I really admire these talented students!

Aba Williams

Module 2

29 June, 2013

 

Illustration of Aromatic Groups from Natural Perfumery Institute textbook Basic Natural Perfumery Course

Illustration of Aromatic Groups from Natural Perfumery Institute textbook Basic Natural Perfumery Course

Poem describing some Observations on Aromatic Groups

and Differences between Aromatic Groups and Fragrance Families


How do I describe an aromatic group in one word,

When there is so much going on in there,

I thought it would be easy,

But then I was kind of wrong.

 

I thought all WOODS would smell woody,

That all FLORALS would smell sweet,

That all GREENS would smell like fresh green leaves,

And GOURMANDS smell good enough to eat.

 

But not all WOODS smelled woody,

Not all FLORALS smelled really sweet,

And GREENS could smell sweet, earthy, spicy,

And GOURMAND Butter CO2 smelled too smelly to eat!

 

I found that aromatics in the same group,

Could be like siblings in a family,

Similar in some organoleptic respects,

But with traits imparting unique identity.

 

Take the CITRUS group for instance,

A citrus smells like citrus, case closed?

But wait, petigrain was dry and bitter,

And yellow mandarin floral and sweet.

 

Now check out the ROSE family,

I thought a rose is a rose is a rose,

Then I found geranium smells nothing like rose de mai,

Or was it just my nose?

 

Next came the almighty FLORALS,

Should have known you divas would differ so,

Yes you all smell quite sweet, some of you heavy, narcotic and strong,

But you all scream hey look what else I’ve got!

Tuberose says “I’m spicy”!

Jasmine “I’m green and sultry”!

Champaca says “I’m savory you see”!

Orris boasts earthy, dry notes,

Orange blossom, a beer note,

And Cassie whispers “clean shower fresh smell is me”!

 

Voila! the heavyweight EARTH group,

All base notes, heavy, musty and damp,

They also displayed, their unique wares in an array,

Of smoky, herbal, animalic and oil.

 

So back to my attempt to describe,

An aromatic group in one word,

I have learnt that I need more than one word you see,

And honestly that is fine with me.

 

Oh, just one more thing I’d like to share,

The distinction ‘tween aromatic groups and fragrance families,

An aromatic group is one of many building blocks,

Used to create members of a fragrance family.

 

 So while aromatic group FLORAL contains only florals,

And aromatic group WOODY only woods,

A member of fragrance group FLORAL could consist of

A mélange of woods, florals and citruses.

 

These are just a few observations I made,

In my study of aromatic groups,

I have so much to say, not enough space to write,

So I’ll just end here and say goodnight!

Aba Williams, a Poetic Perfumer

Aba Williams, a Poetic Perfumer

Aba’s Bio:

Aba Williams is a Ghanaian from Saltpond, a town in the Central Region of Ghana. She has a background in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Food Science, Agribusiness and Rural Development. She discovered natural perfumery in 2007 while researching on aromatherapy. She has since developed a keen interest in and love for natural aromatics and the art of perfumery.  She is a member of the Natural Perfumers Guild and is currently enrolled in the Basic Perfumery Course of the Natural Perfumery Institute. Her vision is to establish a fragrance studio in Ghana providing natural fragrances for use in perfumes, food, environmental scenting and more.

Besides being fun to read, there are some real educational points Aba makes. Are you inspired by this lighthearted poem?  Did you learn a lot?

Home Study Perfume Course with Online Resources

Tuesday - 16 July 2013

 

Dilution of costly aromatics and use of dropper bottles is one of the first exercises for Natural Perfumery Institute students http://PerfumeClasses.com

Dilution of costly aromatics and use of dropper bottles is one of the first exercises for Natural Perfumery Institute students http://PerfumeClasses.com

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.

Textbook cover for the Natural Perfumery Institute basic course

Textbook cover for the Natural Perfumery Institute basic course

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.

You'll need to know specific gravity to make quantities of perfume.  The NPI is the only NP course that teachs SG

You’ll need to know specific gravity to make quantities of perfume. The NPI is the only NP course that teachs SG

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.

Anya McCoy

Founder and Head Instructor

Sandalwood and Carrion: Perfume in pre-modern India – a class at the Institute for Art and Olfaction

Tuesday - 23 April 2013

We’re featuring a Guest Blogger today.  Daniel Krasofski is a student of mine, and he is generously sharing a report on a class in pre-modern Indian perfumes he attended recently.  The class was conducted by Professor James McHugh at the Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO) in Los Angeles.

April 11, 2013, ‘Sandalwood and Carrion: Smell in Indian Religion and Culture’

Cover image from Sandalwood and Carrion book

Cover image from Sandalwood and Carrion book

On Sandalwood

“You were born on the heights of Malabar,
yet woodsmen found you and brought you to a distant land
where men have ground you into scented ointment.
Grieve not, sandalwood, my friend;
it is your virtues have undone you.”

From “Sanskrit Poetry from Vidyakara’s Treasury”
Translated by Daniel Ingalls

Greetings Natural Aromatics Community,

Plant derived materials have been used as perfume and adornment for thousands of years, in every culture on almost every continent. These ancient cultures are heavily influencing some modern perfumers, on their quest for using natural materials. “Natural Perfumery” has seen a resurgence in the last decade as a viable alternative to the synthetic aromatic molecules in modern, commercially available perfumes. We seem to be at a beautiful junction point of modern science and ancient wisdom.

Through a number of fortuitous encounters in late 2012, I became aware of and involved with a non-profit organization based out of downtown Los Angeles called “The Institute for Art and Olfaction” also known as IAO.

On April 11th, I had the pleasure to attend a class taught by James McHugh, the Assistant Professor of Religion at USC at the IAO. The topic for the evening was ‘Sandalwood and Carrion: Smell in Indian Religion and Culture’ based on his recently published book of the same title. The evening was a fast paced, informative, interactive journey through ancient India’s natural, aromatic raw materials.

Professor James McHugh

Professor James McHugh

He began by presenting some of the key ideas, concepts and terms utilized in Indian religion and culture. The first being “Karma”, which literally can be translated as “actions” and refers to the results of what we do in life bears fruit, either good or bad / desirable or undesirable. In the context of the pre-modern Indians, smells had either a good or bad scent, and these scents could influence actions.

We then moved to “Samsara”, the cycle of life and the place where humans get to play out their role on Earth; the place where humans cultivate experiences through the five senses (as in smell), or the “pleasures of samsara”. The three goals of life were next:

1. dharma- righteousness / religion / being a good person;
2. artha- power, money, success; and
3. kama- pleasure, sensuousness.

He also briefly talked about the Vedas (Vedic texts), the numerous ancient Indian texts that date back about 3000 years. Many of these texts reference aromatic plant material and products used in spiritual and medicinal practices. His book references, in great depth, many of these ancient books and manuscripts as well as a couple written in the last 1000 years.

The Vedic texts consist of many volumes on a multitude of subject matter. In the classic Ayurvedic medical texts, Susruta Samhita and Charaka Samhita, the sense of smell can be used as an analytical tool to determine the doshic / elemental imbalance. A practitioner can smell different body parts, or excretions, to determine the origin of an imbalance as well as prescribe specific aromatic substances to restore balance to the affected element.

Image from the Vedas

Image from the Vedas

One of the things that struck me during the evening was the notion that pre-modern Indians consciously layered scents to communicate, non verbally, with the people of their community. The notion that scent is directly associated with memory, as in modern times, wasn’t their primary focus, but scent as a calling card, for the here and now. James referenced a story from the Mahabharata (1.94.41-45), that told the story of a king who followed an excellent fragrance that he could not specify. The king searched all around, and finally found the source emanating from a fisherman’s daughter “…Who was endowed with beauty, sweetness, and the fragrance, a beautiful divine image…” If I remember correctly, this was referred to as the “9 Mile Perfume”.

In the context of Indian religion, we read a few passages out of the Mahabharata (13.101)-
Perfumes please people and gods: …For the odor produced from flowers is taught to be twofold: desirable and undesirable. One should understand the flowers with pleasant odor to be for the gods. The majority of thornless trees are white in color, The flowers of those ones are constantly desired by the gods, oh lord.

By means of the perfume the gods are satisfied…

We reviewed a number of raw plant material that were, and still are, prized for their scents, colorand energetic/ doshic effect: Sandalwood, aloeswood, musk, saffron, camphor, nutmeg, cloves, cubeb(a fragrant pepper), frankincense and guggulu. I had the corresponding essential oils for a number of these raw materials, which were passed around on blotters for comparison. An excellent exercise for anyone who enjoys scents.

Students in the Prof. James McHugh class on pre-modern Indian Perfumes at the Institute for Art and Olfaction, Los Angeles

Students in Prof. James McHugh’s class on pre-modern Indian Perfumes at the Institute for Art and Olfaction, Los Angeles

While tracing the origins of raw materials to the different ages and regions of Southern Asia, we created a traditional “perfume paste”. This co-creative process of creating an ancient perfumed paste was the highlight of the evening, for me. James presented a rough, rounded grinding stone and a piece of agarwood. He saturated the stone with a few drops of water and instructed each of us to take turns at rubbing the agarwood on the rough surface, similar to what the monks would do in the temples to create sandalwood paste for rituals.

Fron the Internet, not the class: Perhaps this may have been an example of applying perfumed pastes to the skin

From the Internet, not the class: Perhaps this may have been an example of applying perfumed pastes to the skin

The stone was passed around the room so everyone could get a chance to erode the agarwood, making a thick paste. When a good amount of agarwood paste was collected, we added a couple drops of water and some musk grains. Again, we were instructed to grind/ mix the musk grains thoroughly. Next, he added a few drops of Saffron oil and a small amount of camphor crystals. After a few minutes, the ancient perfumed paste was complete. Everyone was given the chance to apply a small amount to their skin and it was amazing to sample and compare the different scents based on one’s chemistry. After everyone got to smell this paste, I offered a small amount of diluted Rose Otto and Jasmine essential oils to create the illusion of fresh flowers.

These aromatic pastes are utilized in Ayurveda for various healing techniques, as well as developing a personal scent. I likened it to the way we produce modern perfume. Using essential oils, we start by building our base notes, then moving to the heart of the perfume, then finishing with the top notes. The pre-modern Indians did this as well but in a slightly different manner. In pre-modern times, this type of paste would be applied to the entire body, then layered with fresh flower garlands or other plant material. Thus, instead of making a harmonized perfume blend in a bottle, they would compose a perfume by applying the base notes to the physical form and use fresh ingredients to make middle and top notes. A full body perfume.

A 2007 recreation of 'an ancient art form' in Kerala from chime.in

A 2007 recreation of ‘an ancient art form’ in Kerala from chime.in

In a matter of two hours, we reviewed concepts about aromatics from ancient texts, took a scented trip around Southern Asia via raw materials and made a solid perfumed paste. If you are interested in the history of perfumery or an academic look at the ancient texts of India from the perspective of scent, James McHugh’s book ‘Sandalwood and Carrion’ is a must for your library. Experiencing these ancient aromatic texts in this modern era helps illuminate the ancient wisdom so we can integrate their depth and symbolism into our modern, scientific world.

About The Guest Blogger Daniel Krasofski

I was introduced to essential oils and natural perfumes in the late 1980’s and have been hooked ever since. While attending massage school at the Aveda Institute Minneapolis in 1993, I was exposed to the Indian medical science of Ayurveda. For the last twenty years I have been fortunate enough to use plant derived products in my personal life, as well as at work, literally touching tens of thousands of people with oils, herbs and scents. As an educator of Aromatherapy, Ayurveda and other spa services, I’ve also been witness to students touching and sharing this knowledge with hundreds of thousands of people, from every corner of the globe. As a 2003 graduate of California College of Ayurveda, my passion for creating a state of “balance” has been fundamentally accomplished through the use of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.

Over the last two years I have focused my energy on learning the technical art of perfumery by attending seminars, classes and groups with renowned Natural Perfumers and organizations. As a Friend of the Natural Perfumers Guild and a recent enrollee to the Natural Perfumery Institute, I am honored to have Anya McCoy as my mentor in the Guild’s Apprenticeship program. Her advice and encouragement will be priceless in my future endeavors. When it comes to education, I have very high standards, both as a student and as a teacher. The Natural Perfumery Institute’s “Natural Perfumery Institute: Basic  Course” is simply the best text book and program I have seen on the subject of natural perfumery. It is presented as a higher educational text book, clearly written and organized in a coherent manner. For those who have looked into the conventional path to becoming a modern perfumer, which has many hurdles, this program is a great option. Clear, concise and extremely informative.

More on the IAO:

The IAO is an innovative, educational and supportive laboratory space for those interested in scent. The IAO is an innovative, educational and supportive laboratory space for those interested in scent. The IAO was founded by Saskia Wilson-Brown, and  Koan Jeff Baysa is the Director of Arts Programming. I look forward to presenting classes on the Sense of Smell and Ayurveda, historical perspectives of scent as well as fundamental laboratory skills.

From Anya:  Readers:  Have you ever studied or practiced these pre-modern Indian perfumery practices? Are you inspired to try making colored perfumed pastes?  Leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for random selection of 2mls of organic, vintage Sri Lankan Santalum album sandalwood oil to get your experiments started. Leave a message by 11:50 PM Wednesday April 24th, and the winner will be announced here on Thursday April 25th.  Be sure to check the box to receive followup messages in this thread so that you will see the winner. Actually, we’re all winners for receiving this knowledge from Prof. McHugh via Daniel and the IAO!

Links mentioned in this article:

‘Sandalwood and Carrion’ by Prof. James McHugh, Oxford University Press, 2012 Amazon link

Institute for Art and Olfaction: click here

Natural Perfumery Institute click here

I’m Available to Assist Perfumers on several forums

Wednesday - 10 April 2013

I’m always happy to help hobby and professional perfumers. Here’s a good question that was asked today in the Yahoo group I host, and here’s my answer. Perhaps it can help someone else!

The iconic image that has graced the homepage of the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group I've hosted since 2002
The iconic image that has graced the homepage of the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group I’ve hosted since 2002

> I was just given a sample in Shopper’s Drugmart of a product that states, “100% of the total ingredients are from natural origin”. Upon reading the list it ends with “…Tocopherol, Linalool, Limonene, Geraniol, Coumarin ”
>
> Please correct me if I’m wrong. I understand that tocopherol may be vitamin E oil. The next few ingredients would be natural isolates, correct? Does anyone know what the letters and numbers inside the brackets mean?
>
> Thanks a bunch for helping me out,
> Suzy
>

Hi Suzy:

The tocopherol is a form of vitamin E oil, added to help retard
oxidation. The others are not isolates, they are chemical
constituents of essential oils/absolutes that the manufacturer
listed to conform to the EU/IFRA list of potential allergens.
The final number might be a lot/batch number.

HTH,
Anya

http://AnyasGarden.com/
http://NaturalPerfumers.com/
http://PerfumeClasses.com/