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Making a leather accord without the use of castoreum is no easy feat. I can get my hands on castoreum but I would prefer to leave beavers intact. I think I have a close approximation using styrax, cassie, cade, birch, juniper, nagarmotha, and bitter almond. The accord is slightly sweet and not quite what I would consider a traditional leather note so, I may try adding myrtle. Carrot seed is popular for imparting a leather note but I’m afraid of imparting a vegetal quality to the accord. Cade and birch do love to make their presence known in a blend, yet surprisingly they are able to acquiesce the bitter almond.

I’m hoping this accord will be a success so I can attempt working leather notes into fragrance experiments. Of course I won’t really know until I let the accord sit and stew for a few months. This hobby is definitely not for the impatient, I tell you what.

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On 4/20 I found myself purchasing cannabis sativa essential oil. Not to worry! The oil doesn’t contain THC or CBD. I was curious about the fragrance possibilities so, a quick lookie-loo on Google connected me with Hemp Trader. The company is based in California yet the EO is a product of France. I’m working under the assumption that Cannabis is a middle note. Let’s see what we can make!

Top notes: Blood Orange

Middle notes: Cannabis, Carnation, Geranium

Base notes: Indonesian Oudh (you’re welcome), Frankincense, Olibanum, Tobacco, Styrax

It’s rare for geranium to be overtaken by any notes but cannabis is up for the task. I may revisit the blend with carrot seed to give a leather accent because I still cannot accurately create a leather accord (SHUT UP).

I am deciding between vetiver or fossilized amber for the base to bring a more smoky quality to the blend. Who are we kidding? I’ll be using vetiver.

The blood orange may benefit with a little boost from pink grapefruit. Or just more blood orange. Mmm, blood.

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Etat Libre d’Orange shared a new video on Facebook:

I found myself obsessed with the song and set to work finding the artist. Behold: Pillo by EASTER.

Fragrance! Its effects are limitless.

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I miss the tactile in the age of the information superhighway. Twenty years ago I would spend my free time over blank canvases with mixed media to work out/through narratives and my understanding of the world around me. I may still sketch but those ideas are kept on my iPad in the Paper app. In fact, during our summer holiday in Europe I often sketched fragrance blends based on our given environment. (I’m also glad I left many of those blends as sketches, because mixing licorice, birch and coffee together sounds better than the physical result.)

Nick Offerman has a wonderful one-man show “American Ham” that features his tips for a prosperous life. Tip #5 is Get a hobby:

When you can make something with your hands, it’s not nerdy. It’s actually super-sexy. Who would you rather be attracted to? Someone who can text fast, or someone who knit the dress that she’s wearing?

The Internet allows us to share media at such rapid speed that we retain so little of what we consume. The scandal of yesterday is already replaced with a meme today that will be acquiesced by a 6-second video tomorrow. Our collective attention span requires online content to constantly evolve for fear of losing an audience to the better, brighter new thing. It it wasn’t for The Wayback Machine occasionally snapping moments in online time, how else would we keep track of all the times a company changed its visual design and user experience?

Being a hobbyist perfumer is not cheap – holy mother of pearl is it ever not cheap – but it allows me to create visceral pleasures using just a little oil and a lot of time. Even if my fragrance blends are more failures than successes, the latter smell amazing to wear. At the same time I learn from my mistakes and I’m able to create better blends.

I’ve created two fragrances, both perfumes, for friends. The results were better than I expected, and I’m able to give a gift that can’t be consumed like a listicle or animated GIF. At some point, sure, maybe I could attempt a product line of essential oil fragrances, but that pipe dream doesn’t require me to cut costs just yet.

Sometimes I like to daydream that my hobby could lead to something bigger, but then I remind myself that my knowledge of chemistry is nil and I really don’t know essential oils like a pharmacologist understands medications. This sanity check allows me to stay close to my makeshift laboratory and occasionally use friends as occasional lab rats share the fruits of my labor.

Having a hobby like perfumery allows me to find permanence in a stream of constant impermanence. A sort of intersection against technology and Buddhism, I suppose. What makes my hobby so gratifying is the moment a fragrance fills one’s senses and creates unadulterated joy. And that is simply amazing.

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I have gone through my fair share of smartphones due to my hands possessing the grip strength of a wet Slip ’N Slide. My fingers taken on a texture of a stone that was gently smoothed over time in a riverbed, so that any relaxed tension in my hand gives license for items to glide in many directions away from what is supposed to be my grip. This talent for watching objects fly out of my hands and land on the ground, in various means to an end, also extends itself to glassware. (Justin has seen my grip in action enough times to warrant all our glassware be purchased from IKEA.) Armed with this knowledge, knowing I am notorious for randomly dropping objects, you’d think I would know how to use textured materials to wrap around smooth surfaces. But that would be easy! And why should I resort to a (further) path of least resistance?

In my attempt to create a fragrance for Justin, I thought to mix Oakmoss and White Cognac EOs to replicate a whisky accord. My friend Meredith at Sweet Anthem was kind enough to let me have 20–30 drops of oakmoss and white cognac for my experiment. I was excited to return home and get to blending: I started with the oakmoss and white cognac, to which I added cinnamon leaf. Next I added Benzoin and Tolu Balsam, topped with Coffee Bean.

And then, of course, it happened.

The cinnamon leaf and oakmoss were a little too strong so, I decided to add a bit more white cognac. I reached for the dram vial of white cognac (so far, so good) and held it in my right hand as I twisted off the lid. That is when my hand and fingers decided Hey, what exactly is our purpose again? and let loose the vial. I tried to catch the vial as it flew up and out of my hand, only to watch it bounce and land inverted on an orange nylon box where I keep my packets of fragrance testing strips. What happened next was an interlude of several epithets for a good 10 minutes. I started with 20–30 drops of white cognac and ended with a good 5 in the juice. Good times.

As much as I would love to return to Meredith with an ask for additional white cognac, it falls on me to buy my own supply to let slip time and time again.

As for the juice, the fragrance is quite a gourmand treat. I am tempted to add birch tar to give the whisky accord a little smoky flavor, but I have a penchant for dark roasts and the peatiest of whiskies. I still need to figure out what would constitute the smell of kitten kisses, and fortunately for everyone involved, our feline belovedaries aren’t smooth creatures. (It doesn’t hurt any that Baldur enjoys being held from time to time.)

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