by Yuko Fukami
Everyone knows that olfactory training is important to making perfumes. Without knowing how things smell, how would you mix and match them? Duh! What I didn't realize before I started smelling consciously was how varied the same smell or same kinds of smell can be. During the very first perfumery class I took with Lisa Fong, all the balsams she had on the table -- Peru Balsam, Tolu Balsam, and benzoin -- smelled basically the same to me. Ditto with the citruses. After working with them and evaluating the dilutions I've learned to tell them apart. Dilution is a very powerful tool I learned from Justine Crane in evaluating oils and blends. For me, when something is diluted to 5% or 1%, all the parts of the scent are taken apart so that you can smell each aspect better. It's like spreading your clothes out on the floor and seeing what's inside the drawer. Once you know what was in the drawer, you begin to recognize it even without spilling the entire contents of the drawer on the floor again and again. (Though you might keep finding something new every time you do this.)
Evaluating is a time consuming process, and one that's not always fun. I know I'm way behind schedule in my evaluations, but when I do get around to it, I can expect a payback almost immediately.
*Yuko Fukami is a graduate of NNAPA Natural Botanical Perfumers Antiquarian Perfumery Course, a graduate of Washington University, St. Louis, with a Masters in Architecture, was a Communications Specialist at Nexfocus, wrote freelance articles at PACE Interior and Architecture, and was the Project Manager at Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis (EHDD). Yuko currently works as a Translator/Transcreator, Cross-cultural and Language Consultant, as well as the creatrix of extraordinary Natural Botanical Perfumes. Yuko's website, Parfum Phyto, is scheduled to open in 2011.