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Independent artisan made perfumes.



January Scent Project thoughts and musings.


Filtering by Tag: indie perfume

Words With Lucy Raubertas of Indie Perfumes

John Biebel

Last week I spoke for well over an hour with Lucy Raubertas, writer, artisan, perfume expert, and connoisseur of all things cultural. She is also a friend, so this was a great opportunity to catch up. She put together a blog post on the new perfumes that was so insightful, it left me thinking that she'd found more to what I'd been making than I'd even considered myself. As she said so well later about the writing process, "I like to bring something to the table." It's very important to me, as a reader, to see this as well. What does someone else think, feel, interpret?

Her essay about Selperniku, Eiderantler, and Smolderose was so engrossing, vivid, and drew together threads into a kind of Northern mossy tapestry so well suited to the scents. You can read her thoughts here at her blog, Indie Perfumes.

What is particularly nice about this experience is that Lucy is one of the first people to smell the very first version of the very first Smolderose, back in 2015 when I had poked around with alternate versions of the scent for many months. We all agree at that time that it needed work, so it was back to the drawing board, but armed with a lot of important feedback. It's a joy to come full circle with Lucy and hear her thoughts once again.


John Biebel

About a week ago, the new perfumes were released. Selperniku, Smolderose, and Eiderantler all had their debut in their new bottles and packages last week, and it was a culmination of many feelings: accomplishment, concern (is everything set and ready?), and hopefulness. I've had so many good people around me, and when that happens, you are tempted to ask, "So, how does this look?"

It also means that what was private is now public, and that's a big leap. Perfume making is such an extraordinarily private undertaking. There really can only be just you at that table in front of the bottles, pipettes, computer, notebooks, scale. It's just you bringing it all home at night to test, and all you making the judgment calls as to what road you'll take; your next step. When you tell "the world" that you're done and ready to share, it's rather sudden, unplanned. But, putting it all together, it is a feeling of release. It's an extremely positive sensation. Letting go and taking in at the same time.

I've been blessed with two very insightful early reviews of the perfumes. Erica Golding from Australian Perfume Junkies has written beautifully about Eiderantler in her review, saying "the grassy and herbal notes glow brilliantly, but they are elegantly tempered by the velvety moss and hay. The composition is fresh yet rounded, conjuring emotions of peaceful optimism." Another reviewer, Joseph Sagona of The Scented Apprentice writes about Selperniku, describing it as "... a creamy, dreamy, very rich, plush, over the top sandalwood, that smothers over a salty, slightly melted, smooth butter, and a tea-tinged, soothing, subtle chamomile." These are both very gratifying reactions to the new scents, and I'm glad to see the optimism that they're inspiring, as I'd hoped it would be understood. Fragrances are extremely subjective, but it's good to know that Spring has been embedded in the evolution of these scents and it has translated as well.

I'm excited by two interviews I did this weekend which will soon become online stories. I'll post the links as they come.

One last bit of news: I was able to acquire the 30ml bottles that I'd so wanted for the perfumes (in addition to the 100ml ones), and so in about a week to ten days, they will each have their release as 30ml versions, too. This will be as individual scents and as a specially priced set. They are tall, thin, sleek bottles that are easily portable so great for grabbing and going. 

I'd like to thank all the people for thoughts, suggestions, ideas, and well wishes during the past year as I worked away getting phase two of The Project into motion. Your patience and thoughts and interest have made this possible.

Scents Abound in 2017

John Biebel

I was on a trip to the Netherlands in April of last year, after the release of the first perfume from January Scent Project, and I was thinking a great deal about what would come next. An idea had been brewing in my mind for a long while - something that was intensely green. I'd been hoping to see this green scent take shape by the time summer came along last year, and it did - slowly. In fact, extremely slowly. I was working in a rather painstaking manner: I'd come up with a basic concoction, make variations of it in little vials, and then test each of them later. Usually one or 2 would make the cut, and then I'd work from there. But this process can be exhausting, and before you know it, you've made an enormous formula that's grown deeper and deeper in complexity, but also having lost some of its initial power and punch. 

I worked through the summer, the autumn, took a break of two months and came back and looked at the endless notes I had from the last version. I decided to start again from the beginning, taking many cues from the process so far, but simplifying as much as possible where I could. No redundancies, no needless repetition of notes that were very similar. A few rounds of tweaking, and then - was this it? Finally, it all came together. Then in rapid succession, the other perfumes worked their way out and within just six weeks, the three perfumes came into being. It was satisfying to see it happen, but I think the long months of trial were needed for gestation, learning, and indeed smelling. 

On this journey toward understanding the construction of perfumes, it becomes clearer that creating perfume is an inexact science that relies on some very exact components. This interest flipping back and forth between the known and the unknown is extremely daunting at first, but then becomes fascinating. Here are some specifics that were amazing experiences:

Exercises in Longevity:

Perfume longevity is a goal, a bane, a difficulty, a desire. I've smelled materials that would delight the senses only to find that they evaporate and leave within an hour, and others that persist for days or more. Of course it's usually the deeper base notes that last longer, but in combination with other materials, longevity can be experimented with and expanded upon. 

I first thought that one must load up a perfume with the highest concentration of oils possible to achieve solid longevity in a scent, but this isn't always the case. High concentration certainly adds density and intensity, but the air and distribution that alcohol or another carrier adds creates diffusiveness, and that does contribute to the impression of a scent's longevity. In other words, scents which cannot rise off the skin at a steady rate are simply too dense to enjoy steady evaporation. There may be methods by which one can chemically (and mathematically) detect what is the best combination of components to take advantage of evaporation rates, but it can be experienced through sensation as well. Blotting, smelling, waiting, smelling again: I pushed one perfume as high as 35% in its concentration in order to get it to last longer, and it did, but in the process it had become overpowering. Learning to let the components breath and live well with each other is the key to longevity.