Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ask the Perfumer Sunday Sept. 30, 2012

                                                    When the senior-year literary magazines for my high school were distributed, I was surprised that a botanical pen-and-ink drawing of mine was chosen for the table of contents artwork, and was on mirror pages.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I had an intuitive grasp of plants growing up from the soil.  No wonder I became a botanist and landscape architect, and given that my subject was the rose in this drawing, a natural perfumer.

If you have any questions for my weekly forum, please post them before 10 PM ET, USA.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From the Vintage Vault - Antique East Indian Perfume Case with Bottles

I snapped this wooden perfume case up, even though it looked a little rough, and one bottle was missing.  Sadly, another bottle broke during transit, and only four of the original six remain.  The bottles stoppers are fused into the bottle very strongly, and I'll think about trying to get them open.  Only a tiny scent, very oxidized, remains where the stoppers meet the bottles, nothing I can identify.

Do you love antique perfumery items?  I sure do, and I like sharing them with you.  It's been a long, lazy summer, and now I am going to revive my Vintage Vault series.  I have LOTS to share with you!

Spare, elegant gilt work on the top of the box
The silver mirror is tarnished.  I wonder what faces gazed into it as the lady (ladies) who owned it dabbed on the perfumes?

Lovely that the key survived all these years, along with four of the original bottles.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ask the Perfumer Sunday September 23, 2012

Good morning everyone, as we move into Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring in the Southern.  Here in Miami, I can both plant and harvest at this time of year, so maybe we're in the Middle Hemisphere?

The Ask the Perfumer forum is open, so please ask any questions you have about perfumery, the emphasis on the natural aspect of our art.

Here's a photo of some of the unmolded fragrant wax melts from my new line of ambient scents, Room Candy. I'll be blogging about them later this week.  If you're a blogger and would like a sample to review, write me via my website

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Natural Perfumery Institute Celebrates Its Fifth Anniversary with Discounts on Tuition and Textbook

A message from Anya McCoy, Head Instructor and Director of
the Natural Perfumery Institute:
In 2007, after five years of hosting the largest and oldest Yahoo 
group for natural perfumers, and at the request of many members,
I created a formal curriculum for online perfumery study.  Since then,
students from around the world have enjoyed a professional education in
perfumery without having to leave the comforts of their home.
To celebrate the Fifth year of the perfumery education method and materials I developed, 
new home study students of the Natural Perfumery Institute 
who purchase the textbook will be able 
to deduct 10% off the cost of the book until Sept. 23, 2012 at 
midnight.  For students outside the USA, this $50 
savings off the $500 price, equals getting the Express mail 
shipping for free.
Online interactive students will receive $130 refunded, a 5% 
savings on their $2600 tuition (not applicable to payment plan 
students). There are no coupons because of the variety of options, so once 
full payment has been made to enroll, home study students 
purchasing the textbook will be refunded $50.

Why this course is so special:

Some perfumery workbooks and manuals take you through the rigors 
of how to evaluate aromatics and basic blending techniques.  When 
I planned the contents of the 350-page textbook for the Natural 
Perfumery Institute, I wanted it to cover those aspects of course, 
but also address the breadth and depth of the perfume industry. 
This way the student is able to know, with certainty, all aspects of our art, 
and function at a high level of competence and communication with other
perfumers.  The lexicon of fragrance, the raw materials, production methods, and 
dozens of other topics are covered, all edited to be logically 
sequenced and easy to comprehend.
NPI basic textbook cover showing a fantasy illustration of botanicals and animalic ingredients melding with the element of time, a truly unique and beautiful representation of the process of making perfume
The textbook was recently updated by the editor and myself to 
include the latest updates in natural perfumery for the Fifth 
Edition.  Many of the recording forms, available in both Word.doc 
and Excel.xls format, were tweaked, and the Suppliers list of 
worldwide suppliers of aromatics, alcohol and equipment were also 

The NPI offers lifetime enrollment in the student discussion 
forum, a private group on Yahoo.  All students are able to chat, 
ask questions, network and also receive updates from NPI when new 
forms, charts and other materials are distributed.  Adjunct 
faculty are also on hand to answer questions, and all of them are 
experienced natural perfumers with many years experience.
The excitement and passion of the students is easily seen when they 
begin their studies and in the messages they send me about how they are
enjoying the strong and logical curriculum of the course.  For many, it is the 
only chance they would ever have to study without having to travel and uproot
their lives, and still receive the community benefits and instructor feedback 
NPI offers. 
Offer ends Sept. 23, so please visit the NPI website at
and feel free to ask me questions  about the curriculum or any other topics related to the course.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Oozy-ness of oakmoss and a call to suppliers for sensible packaging

Not the prettiest picture I've ever posted, but working with oakmoss isn't pretty!
On the left you can see the slurry oozing out of the bottle neck a bit - and on the right, the primordial reception pool.  Plop, plop.

Lisa asked a question in my weekly "Ask the Perfumer" forum yesterday, and it is timely.  She asked about the safety of oakmoss, a known sensitizer. I need some more for my Outlaw fragrance wax melts in my Room Candy line.  They contain oakmoss, bergamot and lime - yummy chypre!  I am also getting my assistant ready to pour a lot of kits for my students and customers, and bottle of 3% oakmoss dilution is included.

Anyway, I'm sensitized to it, but I know people who could bathe in the stuff and not have a problem. Besides the sensitization, my problem with oakmoss and other thick aromatics, even those that don't cause a problem for me, and that is that suppliers still bottle them in narrow-necked bottles that require a lot of warming to semi-liquify to pour.

Well, first of all, I don't think they need to be "poured" to decant for dilution or incorporation into a compound.  Every perfumer should know weight procedures for working with aromatics, and a wide-mouth jar would be perfect for these thickies, like oakmoss, labdanum, blond tobacco, et al.

I was just too lazy to do the bain marie today, so I popped the opened bottle of almost-full 8 oz of oakmoss abs into the microwave for 22 seconds (700 watts).  Looked, ok, no progess. I know oakmoss can be wild and crazy, though so 22 seconds more.  Opened the door just in time - it was oozing up the neck of the bottle and about to do a Mt. Vesuvius.

Upended it into a mason jar, and you see the beginning of the decant above.  What a hassle, but each time I need it from now on, I'll just have to scoop some with a stainless steel carving tool (the one I recommend to my students, as it's sturdy and non-reactive), put the ooze into a flask for weighing, and I'm done.

Please ask your suppliers to begin packaging their thick stuff in jars.  Some are, but others remain old school, and maybe with some encouragement, they'll make life easier for us.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, September 16, 2012, - until 10 PM EST

If you have any natural perfume-related questions, I'll be here until 10PM tonight to answer them for you.  Tincturing? Sourcing? Packaging - oh, the dreaded packaging problems!  What's on your mind?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, September 9, 2012, - until 10 PM EST

I'll be here until 10 PM ET to answer your questions about perfumery, and in the meantime read my update, below, including a giveaway of my latest launch, Patchouli Silk!

This has been my laziest summer ever!  Now it's time to get seriously back into the perfumery world.  I'll have Prima Rosa, a perfume, to release in October.  I may only release one perfume a year, because that pace, to me, seems "right".  I will be releasing Room Candy, my line of 100% organic and natural room fragrance wax tarts, later this month, as soon as the packaging is finalized.  The response from my newsletter readers who received samples of Room Candy has been very positive, with kudos for "long lasting", "the scent fills my big house" and "love the fragrance".

Now, for a surprise - luxury bar soap!  The first soap launched will be Patchouli Silk.  100% natural, exceptionally creamy and yes, it feels silky and will leave your skin silky - and perfumed with patchouli, myrrh sandalwood, liatris and sweet woodruff. Liatris and sweet woodruff are both herbs with a vanilla/coumarin/sweet hay fragrance.  They're in herb form in the soap, for a gentle exfoliating texture.

The first five readers who respond to this blog post - on the blog, not Facebook -  will receive bars of the Patchouli Silk. :-)  Email me privately with your addresses via