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?(...)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I am still trying to recover from my laugh attack respectively from yesterday's toilet duck by Heather. Gorgeous.

(picture top: Andy made Amaryllis flower, picture bottom: The real stuff)
This is going to be a short post as I am busy moving my metal box with four wheels from here to there, and it is going to be a simple one: It is about compromising. Its motivation: My unhappiness with how things develop in matters leather. After thinking real hard and dreaming my leather scent again I came to the conclusion that part of my troubles might be due to compromising.

If I look what I have done so far: The results look like the picture on top. Nice, colorful, but not the real stuff.
The vision I have in mind are more like the picture at the bottom.....

Thus, I decided yesterday to be Beaux-like and reach for the tough stuff respectively try some things radically new (for me...). Meaning: Go at the limits with Birchtar and Isobutylchinolein and Cedarwood without compromising and see that I do not cross the limit and how things develop from there. This is not easy as there is a fine line for some compounds, like Birchtar, or for instance Clary Sage. A very fine line from brilliance and flowery, clear effects to nauseating suffocating presence. We will see.....

Monday, November 28, 2005

Trickling down …the drain

Yesterday’s comments by Heather on my rose post made me smile: I linked her lines instantly with an article that I got from a dear friend of mine; an article which was dealing with several aspects of modern perfumery. Such as the most expensive perfume (bottle) with pearls and stuff by Clive Christian that seems to sell quite well. A fact I find rather astonishing as the perfume itself is entirely ignored compared to the packaging. But celebrities such as Mr and Ms UK football (let’s call them the B’s) bought it respectively their custom made perfume bottles for this most expensive perfume. Obviously Mr and Ms B. weren’t entirely convinced by the celebrity perfume that carries their name and was launched a while ago….. Or it was the other way round: Having bought this exquisite custom made perfume bottle with this exquisite scent, they looked down the masses and figured out a way how they might share their fragrance pleasure with us. Well, be it.

The link I made was Heather’s comment on soaps with rose absolue (bad, bad, bad, waste of a treasure, sacrilegious …): In the article the author mentioned the problematic fact of Trickling-Down. Sooner or later, and the longer the sooner, modern fragrances find their way from high-end perfumes to articles such as bathroom cleaning tools or worse. Trickling down translates into finding your 2005’s expensive eau de toilette scent in your 2008 dishwasher tabs. And suddenly you wonder why your 50 $US perfume containing miracle fruits such as wild pink mango from Bangladesh highlands and exotic woods such as east Mongolian Pepperwood seems to be everywhere; deodorizing your household to a degree that finally urges you to find peace for your nose by spraying odour eating molecules…


Starting my day with a steaming coffee mug in the train, I wanted to write a post about Cistus, but then I read a downloaded an e-mail from Laurie and I just couldn’t resist posting about Le Maroc pour elle and ...la Rose. Before leaving home I downloaded my e-mails to do some reading while being transported at high speed across the flat part of Switzerland, lightened by cars on highways finding their way through a cold winter morning. The rose: I am a little boy when it comes to my perfumes. Very proud, indeed, convinced of myself, but still somewhat dependent of what others have to say about it. This is also one reason for my visiting the shop on a more or less weekly basis…like a cat coming home after a thrilling night, Andy is lurking around in Zurich….in search for compliments.
What I liked about Laurie’s feedback on Le Maroc pour elle was the comment on the rose, commented to be very natural and bright and lasting; which is exactly what I wanted it to be. Looking back almost two years now, this was one of the biggest hurdles in the creation of the scent: To bring in the rose. I find rose absolute a very demanding scent to work with and there have been many, many trials of le Maroc that finally could not even be used as a room spray for their candy soapy appearance.
For months I was using the most wonderful rose absolutes, the work of dozens Moroccan women collecting flowers in the morning before noon for basically nothing…, just to rinse the soapy mixtures down the drain. There were days when I really hoped that there is no god of perfumery who would see me mishandling and wasting these treasures. When I look now at the formula of Le Maroc, I realise that the rose accord is very simple: It consists of two different rose absolutes, one being the rose damascene from Morocco and the other being Bulgarian rose (R. kanzlak), extended a little bit by Phenylethylalcohol, in my opinion rendering it a little bit greener and Lemongrass with beta-Ionon, highlighting the flowery citrus accord within it. The key to the rose accord in Le Maroc pour elle is simplicity and quality of the absolutes. Simplicity in the sense that there is little interfering with the wonderful natural beauty of rose absolute. As far as quality is concerned, I have to admit, that I was never guided by artificial limits such as 50 $US per kg or by my financial return on investment. (These limits imposed on perfumery in the real world of multi billion dollar companies seem to me to be perfect contraception to creativity.)
I guess the return on my investment that I really care about is getting lovely e-mails on a cold winter morning.

Friday, November 25, 2005


Yesterday’s post was on Sandalwood and today’s post is about time and constellations. Time: It somehow does not exist, being a construct of little value. Yet, it imposes heavy constraints on us.

I started writing this post on the train, after a day flooded with meetings that are part of a decision making process and that seem to pop up in my agenda like waves coming from far away places, finding their way to the beach, rise in a moment to a short climax and disappear into nothingness. Well, you guessed right: It was a difficult day with difficult meetings. And it was a day entirely not devoted to perfumes and perfumery.

Almost. There was a moment, buying cheese over lunch for a Fondue in the evening, when for a short moment scents became relevant: I discovered Lavender syrup but did not buy it. ….Which already now makes me feel sorry because I really wonder what it tastes like. I missed the moment, the window in time and space when this syrup popped up and I wonder how many important moments there were in my live when something popped up and I missed it.

Or looked at it from the other way: To which extend are we there where we are just because an unlikely constellation of people, places, ideas and situations arose and lucky us, we did the right thing. So, let’s hope for the next lucky constellation when working on the leather theme again, peacefully without any meetings ahead….

Thursday, November 24, 2005


(wished by many, I have added a little picture of Mr. Man....)

Let’s face it-there is a sandalwood crisis looming around the corner. Not that this mere fact surprises me, there were signs on the wall for quite a while; one being the price exploding, the other being quality eroding. But when I talked to Essencia a while ago, my preferred Swiss supplier for standard essential oils, I learned a detail which puzzled me.

You know the Latin origin of the word “perfume”: Pro fumum, meaning literally “for the smoke”. Guiding us etymologically to the roots of perfumery: At the beginning of perfumery there was smoke, holy smoke, produced to please some far away gods, living in the sky (where the smoke would go) and welcoming this scented gift from men and women. You would get rain in summer or turn pregnant in exchange for incense and maybe a good glass of wine devoted to the god of rain or fertility. As a matter of fact, in old Egypt, there was a man-like good, kind of specialized to man’s fertility and related vital functions. I saw pictures of this sub-god in Luxor, highlighting male details that were rather explicit. Wouldn't it be a nice change to get spam mails with pictures of this man god instead of silly e-mails praising Viagra and other little helpers?

Thus, our ancestors praised these gods and sent fragrant messages to them in the old days. Today, we still send smoky messages, the more and more outside of office buildings, as smokers are not allowed to smoke inside buildings anymore. And we come back to the starting point of this little post: Sandalwood is used in low quality but large amounts in ….cigarettes. A somewhat disturbing fact that leads to too early cutting of trees, which that are not mature yet to yield high quality oil and, as most trees are still harvested unsustainably, finally to a depletion of overall Sandalwood trees.
I still do not understand thoroughly why a synthetic replacement such as Sandalore would not do the job in cigarettes, but in the end there is no way but trying to find alternatives. At the given time, the best replacement I could get is Vanuatu Sandalwood from Eden Botanicals which comes rather close to the real stuff. They seem to be able to deliver rather large amounts and the price is reasonable.

But, in the long run, we should also reconsider our smoky messages sent from outside of office buildings, I guess.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Paper strips

I must admit: I have an intimate relationship with my computer, we love each other and I couldn’t live without it anymore. Coming home in the evening, leaving my little office labtop for tomorrow, pressing the start button on my magic machine with its unique temperament, makes me feel good. My computer is, even with all its little things that do not work, a tool of creativity. I like to play in my excel perfume file, mixing fragrances in electronic space, and create perfumes that do not have to proof themselves in materialized form, yet. On the screen they always look perfect.

And I like to play with my photoshop, drawing pictures, adding text, line by line without having to worry about any mistakes. Every day it is a miracle again how this wonder box lets us create, byte by byte, from a galaxy of options, an electronic representation of ideas that originate from another wonder box, our brain. Finally, the bytes find their way on paper, using HP’s nanotechnology, electrons and magnetic spins being transferred into another universe, where their representation can be touched, used and thrown away.

This week’s representation: Smelling strips, printed on 224 gr/m2 soft paper, with a little lavender flower logo and some text. They are for the shop and for our event in December, replacing Kleenex or …..skin. The paper which originally is used for carbon drawings is quite good for this purpose; I have tested it before and it is a reasonable compromise between price and quality.
But, in contrary to the electronic world of my computer where you cut and paste with the click of a button, they come out of the printer in A4 sheets, 20 strips per page. Meaning: My manual paper cutter will turn hot in the coming days…. I just hope our happy customers will appreciate these hand crafted masterpieces, remembering me on Heather’s post on hand crafting things.

Maybe I should sign the paper strips on the back, with love from Andy and his magic computer……

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Complex matters

As mentioned earlier: The leather theme has come to a point where it is worth waiting for a couple of weeks. Maybe, it will turn out to be a Christmas present for myself, as I intend to let it mature until end of December before a dilution in ethanol will allow final judgment. Being an impatient personality I couldn’t resist diluting a little aliquot for prior study. The development of some components in an assembly, however, is very hard to predict. I have seen it with orange flower absolute and rose especially that an initial composition changes completely, turning into sweet soapy lush mix de tous et rien. But, one can get a first idea about a composition, and an instant satisfaction. Being generation 60’s, I am kind of spoiled there…. It is like hiking in the mountains; it feels good to look back after a while to see how far you got already, reducing the pain ahead. As a matter of fact, it is very much like hiking in mountains, where your endurance is put to test on your way up and where the supposedly easy part of walking down often turns out to be much tougher on your muscles.

Thus, the leather theme: As I got many queries on what I put in, I will provide you with an overview of things that went in it. By looking at the grouping and the compounds per se, you might get an impression of how I work and think. Whether the composition will work: We will see. I expect some changes as I am also a little bit of a perfectionist, which balances the impatient nature to some extend.
Let us start with the head.
A grouping of white grapefruit, bergamot, linalool and litsea cubea with terpinylacetat for freshness, clove flower oil and carrot seed for earthy, warm accents (all within IFRA limitations). Some Bourbon geranium rounds off, with benzylsalicylate and Ylangylang already pointing towards the middle note.
In the heart you will find: Rose damascene absolute, pumped up by anethol, decenal, 4-trans, anethol and methylphenylacetate, nicely intermingling with the citrus notes in the head.
Some jasmine absolute with Isoamylsalicylate is part of the leather theme which extends right into the head and continues into the body: Cistus, oakmoss, birchtar, iso-butylchinolein, cresylcaprylate
In the woody base we find: Francincense, guiac wood, methylcyclomyrceton, vetiverylacetat, vetiverol, cedar wood (Texan), Myrrh, Sandalore (to be extended by sandalwood) and Coumarin, to be replaced by Tonka bean resinoid.
Things got kind of complicated and I might well find myself after Christmas reducing this complexity.

What I like about it so far is a pleasing start, very intense and warm citrus notes with flowery, woody spices, followed by a warm, and deep leather theme (maybe too much for the average guy) and a dryout note which is full of woody accords that last and change on drying out. January 2006 will see another post on that one….

Monday, November 21, 2005

Back from administrator town

I am back from Brussels, which is very much an administrator town; you can fell it in the metro, see it in the streets looking at the office building’s signs for lobbying organisations that are called briefing organisations in EU terms. Nothing bad about it, it is just different.
Arriving late on Friday, there was not much time to do anything in terms of perfumery which I compensated for over the weekend. Visiting the shop, meeting with Vero, cooking my home made Sauerkraut (which turned out very yummy), working on the leather note, writing my e-mails and thinking about the brochure for the December 18 event of ours.

The leather note: It is coming to a point that I feel comfortable with. Version 15.2 looks very promising and I presented it (version 15.0) to Vero who thinks that the woody base should not be modified anymore. From 15 to 15.2 I made some corrections in terms of head note and middle note, but the base stayed untouched. Tomorrow, I will tell you more about it…..

Coming home from Brussels, after a rather stiff week, also meant bringing home some shirts that needed ironing after a thorough wash. This was yesterday’s task before jogging, 10 shirts, one hour, giving me time to meditate in steam clouds about things to get done. There is comfort in repetitive work that involves only basic functions of our brains and that frees computing power to batch jobs like what kind of presents to prepare for my neighbours and friends for Christmas. Realising that there are scents and molecules which survive even an 80°C washing cycle and are released by steam ironing (Ambroxide being one of them), the thoughts wander from shirts to the French court of 250 years ago where due to missing hygiene fragrances were so important that they even scented the walls with natural musks; some sources say that besides perfuming the intension was also to prevent greedy husbands to visit. I wonder what 250 years ago people would have said about our perfumes. They might well have judged them as being quasi non-existent. Quintessence: You need some deodorised room to wear a delicate, piece of art perfume.
But back to Christmas presents: The ideas are room (spray, ethanol based) perfumes for toilets, scented soaps as every year or scented bath oils. The bath oil is a tricky one, for many people do not like taking baths at all neither do they like oils in their bath tubes, even if it is Jojoba oil, which is wonderful for any skin, being a perfect carrier for scents as Jojoba oil will not oxidise. My favourite here: Bergamot, Rose, Rose Geranium and Patchouli combined. The Jojoba oil joins with the Patchouli, covers the skin with a thin layer, smoothes dry skin and scents the whole body for hours. The room spray might be Incense based with some citrus (Lemongrass?, bitter Orange?) and Lavender. The soaps: Last year’s favourite was red Mandarin with some Lemongrass. But, maybe we should all consider buying our soap at Heather's , (EIEFLUD shop link is here) too, because I know from personal experience that soap making is not easy, and if I read about Heather’s soap making it just sounds wonderful. What I find difficult in soap making: It is very tricky to predict what it will smell like after storage for a couple of weeks, probably due to the basic environment within a soap bar, scents decompose, some notes dominate very easily. A job for the expert! Thus, it’s probably going to be a room spray this year. Mission neighbour’s house deodorisation started…..

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Dear readers, I just could not resist to post this note, using my little labtop, logged into Wireless LAN at Zurich's airport. This technology is just wonderful and somehow it is magic.
In an hour, I will -again thanks to magic technology-move off the ground and drink a cool beer at 10000 meters above sea level. Ain't this great? Which remembers me in the fact that Swissair used to serve biologically (organic) grown beer on their flights, which always made me smile. You sit in an airplane that burns something like 5000 liters of Cerosine per hour and to sooth your bad conscience you get served organic beer, all ingredients grown without synthetic fertilizers....

So, there is not much more to tell you here, except that I will go right away to the duty free and try to get Guerlain's Vetiver as a present for a friend. And hopefully, I will from time to time get a chance to smell it there.... A Vetiver note is still on my to do and wish list.
Have a good time and see you here again, at the latest next Monday.

Jasmin Wanderer

I will be absent from my computer until next weekend. Before leaving, I would like to tell about my nightly Jasmin search.....

My hotel at the Red Sea in Safaga, a little green place of peace and happiness in midst of a harsh desert, had a Jasmine bush full of flowers. Every evening I would visit it, approaching it carefully, testing from how far I might smell the flowers. Every evening, I would pick one little flower and bring it home to my room on the first floor, with a little balcony allowing me to see the calm sea beneath a black sky with twinkling stars all over it. I would place the little white flower on top of my bed and sleep in a blanket of Jasmine. A cover of velvety scent which is much softer than the absolute concentrate, less sweet, so clean and yet disturbingly…. dirty. I imagined how happy pharaohs have slept the calm sleep of a supreme, untouchable godlike being surrounded by scents of white flowers, myrrh and olibanum. I imagined how they have sent caravans to Nubian forests, to the highlands of Somalia and other far away places for the pleasure of scents. As a matter of fact, Hatschepsut, female Pharaoh and gifted with an architect who built a marvel of temple, the temple of Hatschepsut which still stands out in a modern line (see picture of this temple), this exceptional woman has sent out caravans to Somalia who brought back Frankincense trees. Trees that were planted at the foot of her temple and the roots of these trees can still be seen, conserved in the desert ground.
She has, in good company with other Pharaohs, managed to collect the labour of thousands, free men and slaves, in order to build monuments that last thousands of years for the glory of herself and her happy survival in the shadow world awaiting her on the other side of the river.

Today, we the tourists from countries where you can buy all the wonders of this world in malls, happy citizens who can travel to all places on this planet with a snip of their credit card, we have become Pharaoh like beings, sleeping our calm sleep in comfortable blankets, enjoying the beautiful scents of this world. But, we will never have a temple built like Hatschepsut has, as our malls are build for today, not for tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Seeds of love

It got busy, kind of a kick-start after Egypt. Let’s start with the pleasures of a perfumer: Working with scents. I dared again to touch a bottle from Eden Botanicals that I bought a while ago with a slightly yellowish liquid in it, smelling disturbingly interesting and difficult – Carrot seeds essential oil. I know the scent since a while, I discovered how long lasting it is, how dry and woody and somewhat stingy, vibrant and warm, somewhat musk like, for me rather erotic scent.....but so far, every composition where I put it in failed entirely.

They failed because I did not understand the power of this scent and yesterday evening, I had for the first time an idea of how to bring it into a composition. I used it with a new idea for the leather theme, which still bothers me a lot. Et voilà, there it fitted, amongst a grapefruit, litsea cubea and rose dominated head, supported by a cistus, birchtar, cedar middle note, pumped up by lots of Methylcyclomyrceton and woods en masse. So far , so good, but the cardamom (CO2 extract, again from Eden) stands out too dominant, and there is a peculiar weakness close to the back that I have to correct….. you see, it is never ending. But, another pleasure for the perfumer: The W. factor (see a previous post about it) is very positive and the latest version of my leather theme brought me an SMS this morning, telling me how good it smells even after 12 hours. So, there might be some light on the horizon….comfort for the next few days.

Which brings me to the less amusing part of this post: I will be absent for the rest of this week; Brussels is calling again. And I will have to go to the dentist this evening, getting a surgery done on one of my teeth. As a matter of fact, one which should be completely numb, dead as far as the nervous system is concerned. This was my hope when the nerve was killed: Never to feel pain again due to this little white knob in my mouth. But, somehow, the root and bone? below got infected and I will probably travel to Brussels with a slightly distorted head. At least my visual impression will be remarkable.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Back from far away

I am back from a short visit to a beautiful land along the Nile; it is just 4 hours to fly there, but it is far away nevertheless. As requested by many: Here are some of the travel details.... I was in Luxor and Safaga. That's basically it! In Safaga, which is a calm green place in midst of a dry desert, I enjoyed the pleasures of the Red Sea.

In Luxor I felt obliged to visit the temples and tombs which are just amazing and I had completely forgotten how impressive they are. Sometimes, this year's trip was a déjà-vu kind of thing but mostly I had the impression to see things the first time. As a matter of fact I was in Egypt 20 years ago, all by myself, travelling by train and bus and visiting almost every monument between Cairo (the pyramids) and Assuan (Abu Simbel). As there are many monuments to be seen, I was totally exhausted by the end of this 4 week travelling and, due to a severe lack of money, I experienced quite some strange hotels.

This year, it was somewhat different and I treated myself with one of the nicest hotels in Luxor: The Jolie Ville, which is situated on an island in the Nile, with a view over the river, the green band of palms and fields on the other side and the desert mountains. Every evening, I would sit on the terrace overlooking the Nile and watch the sun go down. And I would think about egyptian men living in a time 4000 years before ours, building temples for their priests (temples, they themselves were mostly not allowed to visit) and hoping for the Nile bringing enough water. I would sniff my arms, sprayed with my old Jicky or a vintage version of Coty's Chypre and I would be amazed how well composed they are and how they fit into this enclave of luxury; thoughts that usually lead to an extra tip for the waiter in the dining room, hoping to shift the unequal balance in this world just a little bit.