What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Monday, March 12, 2018


It’s sunny! It’s warm!  The crocuses, cyclamens, hellebores, and camellias are in full bloom after a ridiculous cold spell that slowed them down. The purple crocuses have reproduced so much that there are huge purple patches in the garden. The jasmine survived the winter. The fruit trees have huge buds and the birds are going crazy. It must be spring cleaning time.

This week my cleaning will consist of another 100 g of miscellaneous perfume samples, plus a mint condition 28-color lipstick palette. If you like lipstick and don’t mind applying it with your finger or a brush, this should be fun to play with. It’s an extra because I ordered one and they sent me two (maybe it was a buy-one-get-one free deal) – it was a while ago so I don’t recall how I ended up with a duplicate.

This week’s question to answer if you want to be entered in the drawing is one or more of the following: Do you (or someone you know well) like to wear lipstick or other form of lip color? If so, how long does it typically stay on? Have you/they found one that lasts a decent amount of time?

[Crocus photo is mine from last year - there are way more purple crocuses this year. Lipstick photo from Wikimedia] 

Sunday, March 11, 2018


My spring break from the university has officially started. I may not really have more time, but at least it's a prompt to finally do the last random drawing and announce the winner. And with no further fanfare, the winner is:


To claim your winnings, just send an e-mail with your full name and shipping address to olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a PM on the Olympic Orchids Facebook page.

Another Monday giveaway will be coming tomorrow, so check it out.

[Decorative photo shows an orchid species, Dendrobium lawesii. My plant, my photo] 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


After running in place for several weeks just to keep from falling behind, I've finally gotten around to doing the drawing for the perfume and cosmetics samples.

The winner is: MARY.

Please contact me by e-mail at olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a PM on our Facebook page. If the winnings are not claimed they will go into the jackpot for next time.

Even after packing a big box of cosmetic samples, there's still enough for another drawing of the same, plus the usual 100 g of samples.

To enter the new drawing, just leave a comment about what you're looking forward to this spring. I know I'm looking forward to spring break!

[The webcam photo from the local ski area in the rain looks like the invasion of the alien bubbles]

Friday, February 2, 2018


Given so many distractions, my plan to post giveaways on Mondays and post about materials on Wednesdays has gone awry. Maybe the bright side of this is that I've co-opted my usual Friday complaint about something. 

Frangipani, also called plumeria, is a type of shrubby tree native to Central America, Polynesia,  and parts of South America. It has been introduced to tropical regions all over the world as an ornamental tree. The white flowers are, as would be expected, fragrant at night to attract night-flying pollinators. There are plenty of cultivars that have been bred to have flowers in shades of lavender, yellow, pink, and red. The fragrance of fresh flowers is quintessentially tropical, somewhat like jasmine, gardenia, and other white flowers, but with a character of its own.

The scent of the absolute is not at all like the fragrance of the fresh flowers. I’ve tried frangipani absolute from several sources, and all are similar. The absolute itself is waxy and difficult to work with. It doesn’t really liquefy when heated, as most other absolutes do. It doesn’t readily dissolve in alcohol. The scent is mild, crisp-green like mastic, honeyed-sweet, and cooked-vegetal. For the first few minutes, it has a sharp, almost menthol-like note and a hint of what is commonly called “indolic” in perfume descriptions, but that I would call more “cresolic”. After that it’s mostly green and slightly honey-sweet, like baked acorn squash with brown sugar, becoming less aromatic and more of a waxy-woody dried hay smell as it declines and fades away. Longevity is in the top-note range given that it only lasts about an hour. I think anyone used to commercial perfumes (or just smelling fresh frangipani flowers) might be disappointed by the absolute.

Given that real frangipani absolute is horrendously expensive and not the most tractable material to work with, is it worth using in a perfume? I did use it in Tropic of Capricorn, and I think it contributes to the overall jungle-y-wet feeling; it may also modify some of the other materials. For that reason, I need to keep a supply on hand, but I’m not sure I’d commit to using it again.

Unless a fragrance is credibly guaranteed all-natural, any mention of a frangipani (or plumeria) note refers to a synthetic accord, not the absolute. The synthetics are strong and floral-smelling, with considerable longevity, what most people would associate with frangipani or tropical flowers in general.

Have you ever smelled frangipani absolute? If so, what did you think of it? If not, do you have any favorite perfumes with frangipani/plumeria notes?

[Photos all from Wikimedia]

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


OK, it's a day late, but at least here it is - the periodic giveaway.

I’m not only a perfume sample junkie, I’m also a cosmetics sample junkie. I love those little packets, tubes, and bottles, and will buy full sized things, usually things that I actually want, to get more of them even though I have enough. My cosmetics collection rivals my perfume collection, and I actually use both of these collections so little that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep them at their current size. I would like, at the very least, to create some sort of homeostasis so that things move out at the same rate they move in. 

This week’s exercise in elimination will include the usual 100 g of assorted fragrance samples, but it will also include a variety of mint-condition skin-care and skin-enhancement samples. I’m pretty particular (and lazy) about what I put on my face. I don’t use any sort of sunscreen product, and I never use any sort of foundation unless I’m going to engage in a major photo shoot. I won’t use lotions, moisturizers, serums, and other such things if I don’t like the smell, or if they’re strongly perfumed, even if it’s a scent that I might like in another context. I don’t use face primers, highlighters, contourers (is that a word?), or face powders. Nevertheless, I’m always receiving unsolicited samples of these things, and they just sit gathering dust. If you like face products, you’re in luck this week because the giveaway includes a goodie bag full of these things.

To enter the drawing, leave a comment about whether you use face products of any sort and, if so, what you like and/or dislike.

[Upper photo is mine, from our December trip to Vancouver Island. Lower photo is modified from a vendor's image]