Lonestar Memories: Colombina on Perfumesmellingthings. (...)Lonestar Memories makes me want to escape the mundane confines of my everyday world(...)

Lonestar Memories: Katie on Scentzilla. (...) Lonestar Memories smells of the examined life. Inside there is joy, and there is tiny heartbreak, e xisting only in reverie. The scent unravels into the consideration of past experiences, and pinings for future joys and heartbreaks(...)

Lonestar Memories: Marlen Harrison's review on PerfumeCritic.com (...) If you're a lover of leather or richer wood fragrances, this is gonna be a holy grail scent and in that case, better get two bottles.(...)

Lonestar Memories: Cait Shortell's review on Legerdenez. (...) Do you appreciate scent because you identify with the scent and its image? Does a scent have the ability to create a memory outside one’s own experience?(...)

Sunday, October 30, 2005


My dear readers
It is time for relaxation and I will not post here before November 12. Thank you for your patience.
I wish you two wonderful autumn weeks full of happy perfume experiences.


This is the last post before I leave for my happily awaited vacation. And it deals with a most disturbing experience of last Friday evening. For several reasons, one being the fact that having spent a large junk of money (let's say for vacation and books and fragrance material...), another sum that you intend to spend seems to become proportionally smaller. This results in the fact that spending becomes much easier the more you have spent.

Thus, I was real brave and embraced the opportunity to visit Chanel's boutique on the famous "Bahnhofstrasse", Zurich's high end shopping mile where money shouldn't matter otherwise it turns into a mile of misery for your self-esteem and credit card. Therefore, reason number two: Cuir de Russie is so expensive and yet, I thought I need it.

Reason number 3 being the cult around Chanel in this temple of luxury that I entered innocently on Friday, October 28, 2005. It was a first in my lifetime and I immediately realized, it's time for a prayer. I entered this hall with black dressed female priests awaiting the sinner in search of forgiveness. I was given soothing comfort and the healing power of luxury without having to confess my sins (of buying cloths at H&M). After having decided for the smallest flacon of perfume, the high priest at the end of a long corridor, in the holiest niche of this temple of consummation, gave me her absolution once I paid with my credit card the bill which was hilarious.

I just hope now for eternal happiness with this little flacon which will fly with me for study reasons to Egypt, country of uncounted temples and thousand years of true culture.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Exploration ideas

My time of departure for Egypt is approaching; there is light on the horizon for thorough relaxation and inspiring input for my work and lots of photographs taken to use for posts here.

Yesterday, I was in the shop selling my perfume in Switzerland and although it was a marvelous sunny and warm late autumn afternoon, I wanted get some heat, to feel the heat of the market. I found myself soon discussing with a charming customer about art and the creative process in general. She, being a painter, asked me how I address a new perfume idea: What I have at the time when I start with a creation and how I move on. And finally we realized that we work quite the same way, starting with an idea or a vision, having the lines in our head, seeing the picture on the canvas. It is a little bit like the stonemason seeing the figure within the stone. Luckily, he just has to remove things to get to the statue.... we have add things which is much harder ;-)

With the first few lines of paint on the canvas, a process kicks in which is anarchic, liquid in a sense and an interplay between an imaginary picture in our head and the materialized colors and figures starts off. It is this dynamic process which a client of mine once called the liquid phase of the innovation process. Innovation in the sense of bringing products to the market.

Starting from the gaseous phase of building a pure idea without thinking about how to materialize it, you enter a liquid state where things get touchable, specific in a sense, but still free flowing from here to there. Finally, you enter the solid state, where you bring things to the market, make series products and start getting bored .... Well, this is the brute, abbreviated version. More about these phases and Creaholic here....

Thursday, October 27, 2005

City morning

7.14 in the morning. At the left you see the first colors of the sun rising, behind the early morning lights of Zurich, a view enjoyed for a couple of minutes with a steaming coffee mug standing barefoot on my balcony before moving on with daily business, such as getting a PR parcel ready ...with great joy! and a private parcel with fragrant samples of Knize Ten and others for a perfume lover in Sweden.

This is about all I would like to post today as I have quite a busy schedule except for this: My beaver post the other day lead to quite some responses (also by mail), most of you telling me that you love beavers. So do I! Let me just tell you for once, my dear readers, that I thank you very much for your interest and your responses. I appreciate very much!

I wish you all a sunny day and lots of nice thoughts on your way through your day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


We are hunters and gatherers-I mentioned this before. We collect all kind of things, from beavers (see yesterday’s post on these furry fragrance carriers with high Teddy Bear factor), to cars and mobile phones, to emotions and personally taken photographs. For about 99% of all photographs there is no artistic criterion such as compositional quality that would justify its mere existence, be it on paper, be it in a more metaphysical form such as a couple of iron clusters with reversed magnetic field on a PC’s hard disc. The only reason why this particular, slightly out of focus, limited resolution photo of grey Fontana di Trevi exists in this universe is you. You personally have it taken and within a 125th of a second you make it part of yourself, it becomes externalized memories and by storing it on your hard disk or by printing it out, you confirm yourself of your past, your pure existence.

This aspect might be one reason for this blog’s existence too; externalized memories, ascertained existence. It is like a comet leaving a trail behind in an electronic universe while passing the sun before leaving into dark emptiness again. The bottom line of this prelude: I got my vintage J….by Guerlain. I post about it, although the line of authors having described this perfume is longer than the queuing line used to be in front of a banana store in the German Democratic Republic. Nevertheless, for entirely self-centred reasons, I want to leave a note here on this very special fragrance. Thus, what is special about it?

On one hand we have the W. factor. When I put it on in the evening the other day, my friend (W.) immediately realised there is something extraordinary in the air, this gives 3 points out of 9. Then we have the private A. factor. Andy (author of this post) immediately liked it on a very primitive level, without asking what’s in it, this gives another 3 points. Finally there’ s the composition; with all the years passed by, this fragrance has a modern quality which is remarkable. A true classic. The composition is exceptionally balanced, Bergamot, Rosemary, Civet, Vanillin, Lavender, Tonka (Coumarin!), a touch of dry woods (Vetiver?) all there, woven into a fabric that is pearl like reflecting its surroundings, flexible on all sides yet holding together. This compositional beauty gives another 3 points. I like how the initial freshness of herbs and bright green citrus is a short prelude to a more solid theme of slightly oriental character, without break in the story line. The transition from head to heart is smooth and like a camera slowly moving from one focus point to another without any cuts. And finally, I adore its modest understatement, a trait which should not be misunderstood; it is very present, but never loud.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Do you like beaver?

Do you like beaver?

I love them.

In a sense they are cultural beings, just like us, maybe more driven by instinct’s power within their genes then we are. Just like us they are forming their habitat, building artful dams that allow them to life their way of aquatic life, transporting yummy woody sticks home to their timber castles. We on the other hand build highways to life our mobile live, transporting ourselves in rolling 2 ton metal castles to wherever we want to be at a given moment in time. Which is great but rather unsustainable, therefore our little private mobile existence will sooner or later come to end whereas innocent beaver will still build his water world.

Having reached Methuselah age and finally going there where all beavers have to go one day, after a happy existence in untouched forests, for instance in Canada’s wild north, our lovely beaver is the natural source of a fragrance that is remarkable and was of high value to perfumers in the past: Castoreum, the fragrant extract of beaver glands. It is –in dilution!- a wonderful scent, very indol-like, a dream fixative, woody mossy aspects, a few drops lasting for ever. Now, most beavers these days do not really die in their sleep, modern mobile men is driving with 4 wheel drive into the woods, hunting pretty beaver lady for her natural furry cover to fabricate a less natural cover for uptown beauties. That’s man’s advantage of being on the very top of the food chain; you get furs for almost nothing, some meat with it and Castoreum.

For those among you who do not want to use Castoreum, feeling sorry for little beaver while enjoying your steak ;-) , get Cepes absolute, from Eden botanicals for instance! Not in the sense that it would be a true substitute. This beautiful scent is rather in between beaver’s Castoreum and oakmoss, with edible qualities, very radiant somehow, a mossy sweetness in it, but I guess, it might be an interesting substitute worth considering in love of Mr and Ms beaver in their castle.

Monday, October 24, 2005


One of this weekend’s highlights was, besides e-banking and paying some checks, my meeting with Vero and the final ultimate wrap up of the invitation text for our scent apero, getting it ready for print. As a matter of fact, I was finalizing the text in the bath tub, after having sent a personal invitation to my little imaginative private muse to join the warm water. Unfortunately, my timid call for support remained unnoticed thus the text stayed close to where it already was. Not, that the text would be lengthy or otherwise an outstanding specimen of textual art; but I wanted to go through the words, each of it, considering whether they are really needed and at their appropriate place, and eventually come up with the ultimate formula and graphical setting. Well then: Be it! As we will have a lecture on Canetti’s “Voices from Marakkesh”, I am optimistic to attract quite a few perfume and Morocco lovers.

One issue of discussion with Vero was, of course, the leather thing. The ambiance being the lobby of Zurich’s Hyatt with a wonderful Chardonnay, we couldn’t but conclude that the whole thing is getting somewhere but it is too tame, respectively dull and boring. Both of us are driven by an urge to make things perfect. And luckily enough, we are under no pressure what so ever not to do so. I forced the leather on a line where it becomes pleasant but misses the punch entirely. Meaning: Back to the lab! Allow me here again a reference to the wild life of Africa’s wild, wild East: The leather theme right now is there where a lion would be after 5 hours wellness treatment on 5th avenue in NYC, including fango packs, extra volume shampoo and some refreshing of colour to bring out the beauty of his head hair. From his 20th floor window he’s watching yellow cabs and is enjoying his Valium induced peaceful mood while a desperate photographer figures out how to make this ultimate photo of the wild beast for Vogue’s next edition cover page.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


This week end duties are:

Shower the orchids, as every weekend, by placing them into the bath, get them soaking wet, place them back on their window seat again and forget them (in terms of water) until next week end and enjoy their flowers.

Move my body through the woods (jogging), as almost every weekend, by fighting real hard with this inner voice telling me that I should be more careful with my knees and my back, as jogging can really be hard on joints and that I could just do nothing instead....

Pay the bills. Hurray! A safe haven for my money.

Anti-messing... Get a limited order into the weekly growing stock of fragrant starting materials for perfumery, once every 2, 3 months I get this vision of a clean, nicely arranged perfume organ-like arrangement of small bottles and of the stock perfectly organized in my cellar.

The treat: buy some goodies.....Shopping therapy and fragrant happiness.
I wish you all a wonderful Sunday with little duties.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Extra sensual perception


There is a brain chemistry enhancing quality in the good old techno sound which is truly remarkable. You put it on, headphones recommended when listening in public place, 80 decibel being sufficient, and the little hormone helpers start kicking in, immediately. It is a cocktail of adrenaline with some dopamine and a touch serotonine, drawing a happy smile on your face; unclogging nervous tissue just like a nose spray frees your congested little smelling knob.

Writing these lines, I sit in the train to Bern, 60 minutes post bed, and listen happily to this CD (called extra sensual perception) of long past days. This is like travelling into my past, as this particular CD was an acoustic companion of my PdD student time in a little chemistry lab with three co-sufferers , me doing weird experiments on bacteria, called Thermoplasma acidophila, trying to elucidate their way of making the building blocks for DNA. It was very basic research, with a happy end but a long hilly route towards an answer which raised yet more questions; which I did not answer, but my boss, Steven Benner, still thinks seriously about these issues, where life has started and whether Carbon-based life on earth is just one example of many other ways how life could start and lead to complex structures, as complex eventually as our brain which is an universe of its own.

Truly important questions, almost as import as my leather subject…. An e-mail with some questions from Sergey (well, thank you Sergey!) was my companion yesterday when looking at version 8 (following version 7.6, 7.5, ….) of my leather trials. In my self-critic analysis I came up with two issues that I have to correct: First, there is a line which is too harsh and aggressive at the very start, partly due to a side effect of coriander combined with the Texan cedarwood. This should be easy. Second, it needs a hint more volume and a touch of sweetness after the first notes have passed, after about 30 minutes on my skin, it kind of weakens for a while before rising again. In a positive sense you may call this circular, but here I think it is rather a weakness in the construction that I want to correct. Techno boosted I will have to do some further thinking here….

Thursday, October 20, 2005

a shorty

A shorty
After rather long posts the last three days, this one will be much shorter. I haven’t been working really on any scent the last few days which bothers me a little bit. This will follow in the coming days, hopefully. There was besides wonderful coverage (Thank you Kathie!) in digital space another little report in a truly solid paper media: The Swiss edition of Brigitte. Jupieh….for free… and lovely.

It is just a short note with about 3 sentences about le Maroc pour elle, but the editor placed the photo very well and added an especially personal text. Right on page 3, upper left corner, with the flacon in its original size, the editor used my words that I stumbled on the phone when giving my little telephone interview. “I wanted to create a lovely scent…. “ I wasn't really professional, I guess, but with lots of emotions that found their way into this one sentence. It mentions the Moroccan Rose and Jasmin absolute and the Cedarwood and is entitled: Scents the Moroccan way (in german, literally translated)

So, for the upcoming season, I think the ingredients are there for a wonderful cocktail. What’s next? The scent apero, thinking about L’air du désert and placing a paid add for it early next year and two wonderful weeks at the end of this month in Egypt. I feel like I could need some rest in an Egyptian tomb, all for myself, in a wonderful alabaster bed surrounded by artful paintings on the ceiling, embalmed in sandalwood, incense and myrrh, laying in a bed of rose petals, arms peacefully crossed, dreaming of rose scents and jasmin…....travel details will follow

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Some of you probably realized: I activated the spam filter on this blog, thus you have to type in a few check characters before your comments will go live. It was a preventive measure as the spam that landed on this blog was still moderate and mostly related to perfumery, like some weird announcements of after shave pages. Nobody would really visit these websites without their blog spam messages misleading Google’s little web crawlers towards them to finally reach a higher ranking, but they are harmless and with my daily after shave posts I consider myself a happy blogger.

As far as my e-mail is concerned, I am not so happy, indeed. Ms Vanessa is still mailing me daily, in her second state of excitement about my last e-mail (which I have never sent), funny enough she is using every time a new mail account, a constant guest is Mr Doctor who thinks I am obese, depressed or otherwise deficient. I feel daily sorry for dear Ms Obongo (widow of Mr Obongo, his Excellency) who writes lengthy letters begging for help to finally find a safe harbour for her money in Switzerland (obviously unaware of modern e-banking solutions), I am offered plastic flowers and rugs for my office, I could buy expensive software for nothing, I am warned of constant expiry of my e-bay account, and I win the lottery on a more or less daily basis. Contrary to the plastic flower offer, these joyful announcements of big fortunes are kind of a torture as I really would like to win the lottery and buy…..Orris Butter!

Again, I would do so by visiting my little Eden botanicals shop. I would buy all I can get for it is truly dream stuff. Their orris butter from Italy is a creamy, yellowish paste, it is completely dry, as dry as can be I guess, vibrantly woody, without a sugar crust attached to it. It is very present once applied on the skin, but without asking for attendance. It is just there and I guess it would integrate perfectly into a rose heart and vetiver/sandalwood body. And many others….
In my nose and brain it feels like the Savannah, dry grass and animally and furry, remembering me of safaris trips in East Africa, where I had the opportunity to smell zebras and other wild animals in their natural habitat, surrounded by tourists in their safari mobiles. Which, by the way, did not affect them at all; the only thing a zebra seems to worry about is carnivores on four legs. (Two legs good, four legs bad….)

I have not worked with Orris Butter, I have to admit (see above), but I guess that its fixative and supportive power is enormous. If you happen to win the lottery: Go for it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tarzan and bling-bling moments

There is something funny about elderly ladies travelling in Zurich’s public transport system that I would like to bring up here to start a post about a discovery I made in the field of Tuberose absolute. When you sit in a typical Zurich tramway in the middle of the day -a time when I rarely use public transport-, cruising slowly through Zurich, you will sooner or later observe a strange movement of elderly ladies, on the move to catch the better seat.

It is kind of special to observe their move, mostly from a double chair (where they sit next to an other passenger) to a single position, sometimes fighting real hard with the centrifugal forces exerted on them by the moving car, hanging like Tarzan on the metal bars, just to get this perfect position; a perspective which may change within minutes by the next emptied seat which gives an even better view on whatever is to be seen in downtown Zurich. It is comparable to my picking the perfect fruit from the help-yourself shelf in my preferred supermarket: I always end up with a specimen in the shopping cart that suddenly doesn’t compare anymore to the one which is in the outmost back line of the shelf. Or to my ordering oils and absolutes.

Thus, I was happy so far with my Tuberose absolute, which I found very nice, but somehow not interesting enough to work with. At least, it never made bling-bling in my head. This bling moment is very important and entire books have been written about this unique crossing point when you instantaneously realize what to do how. Well, last Friday, when rushing through my day, an alert lamp started blinking while smelling some samples I got from Will Lapaz, respectively Eden Botanicals. Tuberose absolute among them, a few drops of a deep orange, almost red colour, and thick syrup in a little glass vial, from India. It is an absolute of Tuberose like I have not found it so far. It is a very complex scent, starting with a note that I would describe as flowery liquorice with vanilla undertones, powdery, but not offensive at all. It is somewhat dry with a touch of smoke attached to it which is shortly transformed on my skin into mouldy woods, but the pleasant type, earthy flowers, almost leathery. My friend put it into other words: For him it is the scent of fading, almost dead Tulip flowers in their last day of life.

I put a little bit on my skin yesterday evening to realize that it lasts for hours! I imagine that this scent is going to be tricky to work with, but one idea came immediately (the bling moment): A leather scent based on some of the story lines that I already told you here, but with this tuberose in the heart! At least a little bit, because it is kind of expensive and probably the stock at Eden Botanicals is limited…..

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wine culture

Back home from France where I spent the weekend in a little village in midst of wine yards that cover the surrounding hills in gold with their autumn foliage. The days were devoted to hiking in the woods which might be worth another post another day for some thoughts about mushroom and mouldy wood. In the evening there was time for trying some of the local wines for which the Alsace is famous: Gewurztraminer, Cremant, Pinot gris and Pinot noir; and of course for some wine tasting. I always go to the same place again, Dopf&Irion, for they have a wonderful sparkling wine for an excellent price. This year, I also tasted a special Riesling which has won the gold medal in a Riesling of the world contest. It was incredibly rich, smooth, and velvety, with a full body which is unusual for Riesling, indeed. I asked Monsieur le chef what it is that makes this wine so spectacular. Well, it is similar to perfumery and very simple: You choose the best grapes you can get without compromising in quality, you tightly control the fermentation process, the storage and maturation and you promote the resulting wine with all tools you have at your disposition (thus, try to get the gold medal…) At least, they do not have to worry about bottles too much…..

As Monsieur (by himself) started to compare some of his wines with high end perfumes, and how an excellent wine leaves an unique memory just like a high class perfume, an old favourite idea of mine came back to my mind. I dream of making a perfume which matures in an oak wood barrel, eventually used before. I image how the diluted perfume grows by this maturation process, how it enters the wood and absorbs its scent, how it softens and transforms itself. Well, eventually….

To be considered once I have reached the “barrel scale” for my perfumes.

Friday, October 14, 2005

No post today

Dear readers
There will be not post today, except for this one and no post for the week end.
The next week I will tell you more about print media coverage and do some public thinking about Orris butter and Tuberose.
Enjoy your week end

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Profane agenda

With this blog’s title being „perfumery" I feel obliged to post from time to time about issues that are positioned on a profanity scale going from 0 to 5 in the five region with a fun factor on a much lower scale. When deciding a while ago to create a perfume for a market full of happy consumers awaiting our launch, these issues were not on my event horizon. The market was considered to be huge (it is enormous as a matter of fact) and the rest would happen. It is the situation of being a traveller through space, sailing with your ion driven space ship luckily in a gigantic emptiness with bright gleaming stars all over. A while ago we decided to make this huge step for mankind and lifted off from planet earth to fly to this particular nice star, not far away in cosmic distances. We may be a hero on planet earth but in our little spaceship we are engaged in cleaning the floor and changing light bulbs and other boring stuff on a fun level close to zero. Things you rarely see in science fiction movies.

Well, here we are and embrace empty space and profanity. To do list: Thinking about how to get a little article in my favourite newspaper: The NZZ. They write sometimes about stuff like a new boutique so, they might well write about our shop or about my perfume… Creating text for an add for our Scents of the Maghreb event, writing a letter or two, calling a glass vial supplier to figure out why I got the bill already with the vials still being somewhere but not in my place (it is not about perfume bottles, which would be much higher on a fun scale…. it’s about simple vials to do experiments)

An announcement for this weekend: The coming days are top on the fun level scale. I will spend Friday evening until Sunday in the Alsace. Therefore: No posts over the weekend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Good enough?

Remember the Orange flower topic covered on this blog? It is time for an update. My little Orange flower baby has matured for a month, bottled in its glass vial and sitting on the shelf patiently going through this mysterious maturation process. Like the homunculus of past days growing in his bottle, the maturation of Orange flower oeuvres is a tricky one, I have seen it many times how a golden concentrate of a wonderful deep sensual scent has turned into diluted caramel syrup, vulgar and trashy. Thus, it is like opening an old bottle found in an Egyptian grave, labelled with a papyrus with magic hieroglyphs saying "Warning: Contains harmful liquid which may enlighten desire or disgust upon release. Opening this bottle may result in immediate disappointment. Do not open if you are under 18. Contraindications: Depression, cardiac problem encountered in the past, limited self-esteem. You open this bottle at your own risk."

Now, with the bottle opened, an aliquot diluted to a starting dilution of 10%, which would result in an intense eau de toilette, I sit here and wonder. Is it good enough? Is it what I wanted to get done? Well, I do not really know yet. Vero, my friend and mentor in perfume matters, thinks it is there where it should be. I look at it and I am faced with two very basic traits of my personality, juxtaposition of two intrinsic driving forces: Unconditional enthusiasm and luring scepticism. It is the best Orange flower so far, that’s for sure (enthusiasm speaking), but it is maybe not abstracted enough (scepticism spreading), it is powerful and clear and vibrant (happy enthusiast) but there are spots in it which might be too loud, too direct for the unacquainted and it is not really a man’s nor a women’s scent (desperate sceptic).

The question of "good enough?" will never be solved, I guess, but for the time being, I will stick to it and see how it develops in different dilutions from 5 to 15%. I think, 7.5% will turn out to be the perfect dilution bringing out all the wonders of this expensive and sexy Orange flower absolute in it, turning my baby into any Orange flower lover’s dream…..(enthusiast speaking).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Yesterday's post was on the sense of beauty and while writing it, it occurred to me that there is an urgent need to post on the intrinsic motivation in perfuming ourselves. I think there are at least three different motivations leading to quite different results:

Cover up mission. This is perfuming in order to cover up a note that one thinks is not appropriate. This is the easiest and probably cheapest use of perfume. Intensity and duration is the guide: Just spray on enough of something which lasts for ever and it will cover you up from head to toe with a wall that even the oldest sneaker can't break through. The perfuming man engaged in mission cover up will face solitude and the misery of being olfactory displaced.

Mission added value. This is perfuming in order to enhance your fragrance aura which you think might need some fine tuning. It is the trickiest mission to accomplish as you have to find just the note which integrates perfectly into your individual scents, lifting them and adding value to the olfactory impression you leave on others. The price to pay for this mission: Eternal search for just the one and only. While doing so you will be faced with a narrowing social network, shrinking to a guild of me-too-sufferers and lost souls.

Mission joy. This is perfuming in joy of scents. It is the pleasure of smelling fragrances and discovering the beauty of man made creations. Joyfully you wear scents without caring what others say, except for your daily growing club of fellow perfume lovers. It is the most expensive mission as the world of perfumes is like a river passing by. Every day you will discover new forms and reflections that you must have. Your local perfumery will be your second home and money drain will lead directly into heart breaking poverty.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A sense for beauty

Yesterday morning I was on my balcony, enjoying the warmth of October’s sun under a clear blue sky, and talked to my neighbour about how beautiful live can be. She treated herself in the morning with a candle light bath and a glass of champagne which may sound somewhat decadent but knowing her since a couple of years I can assure you it isn’t. The line between luxury and decadence: Enjoying and sharing the pleasures, knowing how very privileged you are.

And we in modern western civilization are privileged, very much indeed. We live a life of kings and queens, better even if you compare with the miserable medical standards, the hygiene of public space and of our living rooms, the pleasures of entertainment, …. of let’s say French kings and their entourage 250 years ago. At the very end, one reason for our well being off might be due to the fact that we just got rid of those kings and queens. We killed those who lived by grace of god from our taxes a while ago and started to think for ourselves. Except for the Swiss (we unfortunately never enjoyed the soothing comfort of knowing there is a king taking care of our well-being), and the British who chose a more civilized way to their noble class’ oblivion; ultimately by building an entertaining Disney zoo like playing ground for their royals and feeding them to the paparazzi lions.

Thus, my neighbour and me were talking about the beauty of the last autumn flowers and the special quality of October’s sun, shaping the colours and contours like an artist working on a sculpture with an ultra-sharp old Japanese knife. A conversation which brought back memories of another good friend of mine who once asked me, being the expert in molecular biology and evolution back then, why we have a sense of beauty anyway. Why has evolution shaped us in a way that we may stand one day in front of a rose and immediately feel how beautiful this flower is, a piece of art with its colours, shape and scent? What is the evolutionary advantage of man/women having a sense for beauty? It doesn’t really help when searching some edible roots in African savannah. It may be a by-product of evolution for which we should be grateful as it gives us joy in life, for instance by smelling a beautiful perfume on a beloved person.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

rose greetings

My dear readers
I wish you a sunny weekend and rosy scents.

Ingeborg Bachmann
Schatten Rosen Schatten

Unter einem fremden Himmel
Schatten Rosen
auf einer fremden Erde
zwischen Rosen und Schatten
in einem fremden Wasser
mein Schatten

Shadow Roses Shadow
Below a foreign sky
Shadow Roses
on a foreign soil
in between roses and shadow
in a foreign water
my shadow

Saturday, October 08, 2005


(dead or alive? an interesting query to many companies)
You find survival strategies in nature that are just amazing. Some animals (when hunted) pretend to be dead since years therefore rendering themselves totally unattractive to any hunter in search of fresh yummie meat.
You would not think this pattern is a reasonable option and strategy for any business being faced with happy customers asking to buy stuff from them. Yet, these companies exist, the look awfully dead and they might be much more alive than you would guess from their non-existent life signs like answering e-mails or feed-back forms. I am faced with such a dead company corps lying in front of me on my computer screen and I will have to try reanimating this poor thing, scare to death almost due to my e-mail queries, by repeated phone calls or fax. Funny enough, there are companies like Givaudan, that never answer anything, but still, they put me once on their e-mail newsletter for new chemicals that I should consider buying. But, when trying to get a sample for a new chemical.... forget it, which is kind of funny....)

We will see what approach might work to convince Polarome
(with their European Headquarter for sales basically next door, just 100 km away) that I am completely harmless to them, even if the finally decide not to sell anything.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Parallel chemistry

There was a time in my life, a while ago indeed, when I was engaged in the field of parallel chemistry. I wasn’t really working in the lab though, but rather working in the marketing and product development department of a Swiss firm that some of you may know: Buchi, the house bringing the Rotary Evaporator to the world. During three years I was developing a new instrument for parallel evaporation and preparing the international launch of this Syncore line (I named it Syncore, for Synthesis and Core Technology, and like a father watching his little boy moving out of the family house, I am still very proud on this baby of mine and sometimes miss it).
Parallel chemistry is basically doing similar chemical reactions in parallel, thus reducing hands-on time and getting more different products at the same time. It is a brute approach with intelligence attached to it. I am sure; it is employed in perfumery by some “createurs de parfums”, too. I am sometimes tempted to leave the noble path of thoroughly immersing myself in one single approach but rather use a brute parallel lineout. This line of thinking comes up every time when I get the impression of moving around in circles.

The little chemistry devil on my shoulder whispering something like ….“Skip the creative and painful approach and move on to brute mass trials of parallel combinations; you will love it, find the Holy Grail, and will live happily thereafter and have extra time to do your favourite blog reading…..” So far, little devil was just not convincing enough, but the Holy Grail is a definitively a teaser….. (more on the Holy Grail on Eieflud’s blog here).

kicking in

Autumn is kicking in, cool damp morning air and foggy blankets covering trees that fight with their last blast of colours the approaching monotony of wintertime. It is time again for tea (or coffee as you like) to fight post-summer depression, to bring home summer flowers from abroad, to eat chocolate and to find comfort in warming scents.

It is time again for my green and black pepper, my cardamom and coriander and my cinnamon. I have a CO2 extracted cinnamon bark from Eden Botanicals which really is sizzling hot, lasting, woody, soft and spicy at the same time, the harshness reduced by a crust of sweet brown sugar. It is a severely restricted oil, due to cinnamon aldehyde being on IFRA’s list of do-not’s on a high scale, restricted as a matter of fact to levels where you do not really want to work with it anymore in perfumery. But still, I like to engage with this Indian soul smoothing concentrate, to sit with it watching its beauty, even if it is on a very abstract level without being allowed to find a place where it would find its deserved attention.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

perfumer's hand

The other day I was e-mailing with someone nice from the US, discussing on the side l’homme de coeur by Divine, a perfume house located in France. In my mail that flew off, ping-pong style from server to server over the Atlantic as fast as light, I mentioned that I like it but that I find it too modest somehow, too shy. Well, I would like to reconsider here. I had the sample on my desk and while preparing almost hundreds of PowerPoint slights yesterday, a wave of something nice approached my nose. In search for the olfactory source I discovered the little sample bottle again beneath piles of paper. But this time I did not put it onto paper strips but rather allowed it to find its destiny on my skin. It was nice, dry iris, still shy, a present overture remembering me of Mastix, lasting and comforting woods; a feels good scent. It is perfect for an office day with difficult meetings, where from time to time you want to retreat to the peaceful world of yourself.

Clearly this fragrance is not supposed to be tested on paper, as it will not develop adequately. Well, I guess this is somewhat true for any perfume, but some scents are explicitly not made to be tested on paper. One example that I know by practice: Benzyl-salicylate is easily very dominant on paper and may cover, even in small amounts within a composition, the overall impression. Somehow it sticks to the paper and its share in a creation is aggravated.

And then, there are compounds that develop quite unpredictable on individual skin, too; like cumin which sometimes amazes me how it is transformed by the skin of an individual. Bottom line: By working on paper and on his/her skin a perfumer does not know how a creation is going to develop on a stranger’s skin. We are clueless, sort of. Troubling, isn’t it? Thus, you want to experience what the perfumer really sensed when he created a particular perfume? You have to ask for the perfumer’s hand….

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Eden botanicals link

And here it is... the Eden Botanicals link.

Roller coaster perfumes

Roller coaster perfumes
I love my red mandarin essential oil. I adore it, orange shining liquid, and a scent like pealing a not quite ripe mandarin, fresh, fruity, sunny and sweet, a trace of orange flower, green hints coming through very early. It is a darling scent to work with and blends in almost everywhere. I have just ordered a batch of CO2 extracted Clementine oil from Eden Botanicals and I can’t wait to get it. The description on Will’s homepage sounds as if this one is going to extend my portfolio of citrus scents by another corner stone.

The collection of new scents is for sure a major driving force in my perfumery work. Hunters and gatherers we all are; and we also hunt for emotions….which brings me closer to my topic of today: I wanted to write about the challenge of bringing any perfume creations to an equal balance from top to base note without having one single line in it, to make a composition which is not overwhelmed by a dominant note and to tell a story which is emotionally touching from the start to the very end. A good perfume is like riding on a roller coaster. You enter the cabin of pain together with yelling youngsters and are lifted all the way up until you make out why evolution has not equipped us with wings. Then you start falling down, getting the chance to realise what gravity really means. The very moment you get used to falling down you are allowed to feel the pleasures of your inner organs trying to rearrange close to your knees while going up again. It’s all about emotions….The same is true for any well composed perfume. It will ultimately fade away, forced by laws of nature, but on its way towards disappearance it will give you the pleasure of twist and turn, of up and down.

Thus, test your favourite perfume for this element: Is it a roller coaster ride? I’ll bet it is!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Brain stuff

It is amazing how our brain is working, if it is. Yesterday, I was walking home through a never ending rain which started on Saturday and continued until this morning. I was thinking about the week end and an e-mail by Kirstin, wherein she asked me about Mousse de Saxe (anyone out there who smelled Mousse de Saxe?). Walking down a hilly street looking over soaking wet Zurich I suddenly remembered a specific scene from a cartoon movie of my childhood days: It was a series in which a professor played a key role and whenever there was a trouble, Mr professor went into his thinking room and the saying would go like “…and he thought and thought and thought”. Finally, you would see Mr. Wise walking around in circles until he found a solution to a little problem like saving the world from aliens and he would build a machine to do just that.

This little flashback from long past days came to my mind yesterday, probably because it was mostly what I did this weekend with my leather note. I was thinking about it, analyzing a version which is ok so far, trying to imagine what changes had to be introduced. In order to help my 1 kg nervous tissue to solve this task, I grouped the lines into four individual traits: Green, spicy fresh Geranium, Orange flower, woody line and a line “mix de cuir”. After two days thinking about it, I prepared all four traits in different bottles and mixed them together in order to reach equilibrium.
Thus, Kirstin, the cuir premix might interest you:
Vanillin, Oakmoss, Birchtar, Castoreum, Iso butyl Chinolein, Jasmin abs., para Cresylcaprylate (traces!), Ambrein, Cocoa abs., Cistus oil, Violet leaf abs.

The trick here: Cocoa absolute. This one really adds an extra twist of sweetness and imparts light heartedness for which I was looking for a long time. And that’s the nice thing about our brain, sometimes it works and old memories pops up intermingled in associative images. You don’t know where they come from but suddenly they are there.

A final word on the Sauerkraut storyline: 20 kg kraut has successfully been transformed. It is now in a 25 l barrel (polypropylene) and in 4-6 weeks it should be transformed by happy little Lactobacilli doing their conservation job.

Collateral damage: Two fingers hit seriously (knife), one arm weakened (recovering).

Saturday, October 01, 2005

déjà vu and alcohol

Today, I read a small query on my blog about Birchtar which I still have to answer.... soon.

So, I visited the blog of Ms Slave2love (dear readers: There will no offensive content, the name being eventually slightly misleading, so please continue reading.....). If you are also interested you to visit this blog, especially the note on starting perfumery , click here .

For me, this note was an almost 100% copy of what I went through and experienced when starting to walk on this new planet perfumery. Me too: I was talking at the very end with the boss of a few companies in Switzerland, arguing what I am going to do with what and figuring out how they could sell stuff to me, not being a multi-million dollar company. My first chemicals I had to by via a pharmacy (this after 4 years studies in chemistry and a PhD after 5 years....)! One company was happily sending me an offer for a particular chemical, but they assumend my request for 100 gramms was a typing mistake, thus, the offer was for 100 kg.... they just couldn't imagine what one would possibly get done with 100 gramm.

Anyhow: There are companies that are great and very helpful for the micro perfumer. I just want to mention two of them:
Essencia in Switzerland selling naturals and synthetics within Switzerland
Biolande in Grasse, naturals, synthetics and wonderful artessences. They have local agencies in many places and great stuff!

Amazingly enough: I never had troubles with the Ethanol so far. Here a warm and grateful thank you! to Alcosuisse, the Swiss Federal Office in charge of providing licences, respectively authorization to buy Alcohol which is only partially denaturated. These people at the Alcosuisse are really how you wish your federal offices to be: Efficient, willing to find a solution, supportive and very open minded.

And now, my dear readers, I wish you a nice week end.
Next week: I will tell you everything about this afternoon adventure: I am going to make sauerkraut....from scratch.... happy Kraut cutting with mom.