Instead of the usual “best of the year” lists that are the customary thing to do, I like to also have a little bit of retrospective about the past year. Besides, who am I to judge what was best or worst, especially not having the capacity (or even the interest) in covering every possible scent launched this year (click here if you really want to know) ? And so Helg’s invitation from Perfume Shrine to participate in a pan-blog theme of 2008 in retrospective was most welcome.
For me personally, this year was a bit different in terms of blogging. My life out of SmellyBlog has been so drastically busier than ever that I simply wasn’t able to dedicate enough time to blogging as I would have liked to. The result was, quite clearly, less blogging about perfumes (aka “perfume reviews”) and more blogging about my own work, which has consumed my time this year beyond belief. While I intend to do more blogging this year and study more of the many wonderful perfumes that I haven’t tried yet, I think it’s only fair to share with you here what was it that kept me so busy.
In spring 2008 I have begun a whole new journey when I opened my doors to students eager to learn the art of natural perfumery. Leading to that, I spent the best part of the first quarter of the year writing the course’s handbook - what I thought at the time to be summarizing and condensing all of my knowledge in a simple and comprehensive 88 pages of words. I now realize that there was much more in my head that didn’t make it to this first edition, so a second edition is in the making and will hopefully see the light of day in 2009.
Another equally interesting project has been writing the ad copy for the pure natural essences offered by Eden Botanicals. This is a work in progress and I am yet to complete the task. This has been a very interesting learning experience for me nevertheless, and often times required comparison between very similar essences (i.e.: oils of the same kind of plant generally speaking - just from slightly different species or that were grown in different parts of the world, or were extracted in a different method. This requires very fine observation skills and has been a fascinating source of learning for me. The fruit of my labour is yet to be posted on their website, but I will be sure to notify you when that happens.
My students are few but a very inspiring bunch of passionate learners and each is posing me with a challenge of leading them to the way of finding new knowledge and unveiling their hidden abilities in the olfactory art. Teaching them makes me grow and become a better person, a better teacher and a better perfumer too.
I have been for long on the path of refining my art and making my perfumes more elegant and simple - yet without losing any of their interest or complexity (I know this is contradictory, but this is the truth). I want each of my perfumes to be a liquid capsule of olfactory storytelling, while following universal principles of aesthetics. My work process have become more tedious and elaborate as a result. In some ways more scientific, i.e.: making many modifications that are only slightly different from one another, so that I can truly see the difference a change in the ratio makes; or an addition of this note or the other. While this has proven to be a far more efficient (i.e.: less materials are wasted) way to work - I feel it is a little less adventurous than methods I’ve used in the past. Maybe next year will be about being more adventurous again...
I have been working on plenty of accords this year. Accords are either complex or simple combinations of notes (usually at least 3-5) that can be used as a note within a more complex perfume. I’m particularly proud of my frangipanni accord, which is in my opinion far more true to the real living flower than frangipanni absolute; and than there are the more playful Thai curry accords, pumpkin pie and five spice, among others. It all begun pretty much with the Perfume Inside a Poem project, where I created a cherry blossom accord for my contributed perfume “Petals on Wet, Black Bough”. Since than I’ve been on a roll and creating new floral accords for future perfumes.
I’ve just mentioned the Perfume Inside a Poem project, which was an incredible initiative of blogger Heather Ettlinger, and turned out to be an awesome experience. This was an interesting opportunity for connecting with the work of other perfumers, even if just virtually, and find inspiration in a poem.
The other more tangible collaborations have been working with local businesses (Belmondo and Beyond Pilates), and last but not least - the new line of scented candles that I’ve worked on with Nikki Sherritt of Gabriel’s Aunt. Fine-tuning the formulas when “translating” them into the candle version has been a fascinating learning experience for both of us (albeit frustrating at times!). The result is 3 beautiful candles, and one more on the way for 2009.
Lastly, I want to thank you all for reading my blog all these years and especially in the past year. I wish you all a very happy new year to come, and may it bring exciting fragrances.
Read retrospective of other participating perfume bloggers: