First: Hello and thank you to all our new backers! A lot of you haven't actually taken a class with us, so last night's Perfume Workshop at Homemade: Brooklyn was an A+ time to show you all what we're up to.
Usually our Scents & Sensibility course spans 4 weeks, with 90 minutes a session. For this workshop, though, I crammed it all into an hour, complete with everyone mixing up a batch of their own perfume!
First we started off with some blind smelling (you pass around some paper that's been dipped in essential oil and see if people can guess what it is). Everyone nailed vanilla and lime, but cloves and even rose were a bit of a battle.
We kept on the sniffing trail - comparing complex oils right from the plant with synthesized versions that only included the "important" odor molecules, as well as highlighting the nuance that exists in the scent world by comparing things like cinnamon bark with cinnamon leaf.
We talked a lot about where different essential oils come from, and what causes them to range in price. Citrus is cheap because it's a byproduct of the juice industry, while natural musks are expensive because killing deer in the Himalayas is a little environmentally unfriendly. FACT: it takes two thousand pounds of jasmine flowers to make a single pound of jasmine absolute! (that being the stuff that smells, y'know)
See that pyramid huddled down in the bottom left of the picture? That's from talking about how perfumes are built. Heavy, long-lasting base notes build up to mostly-floral middle notes, and finally you pop on up to top notes, which last all of fifteen minutes. That's all thanks to the magic of molecular volatility and rates of evaporation.
Finally we started mixing! It's unbelievable how with a dozen people in the room everyone's scents ended up smelling completely different. And what did we use to dilute them down to normal-perfume strength?
Our good friend 160-proof vodka! You're supposed to use ethyl alcohol, which you might know as moonshine or grain alcohol, but unfortunately you have to trek all the way over to New Jersey to get those kinds of things. Neutral-smelling spirits like vodka take a decent second place.
If this looks fun to you, take Scents & Sensibility next time we offer it! Or pledge $115 to get you or someone you know a sit-down session for with one of our know-it-alls, where you talk you through all of the ingredients and work together on a perfume just for you.
There is no way those pictures can convey how completely fun it all was (check out the rest on facebook). It's what we'd love to do all of the time, and having our own space would go a long way in helping us get there. Keep spreading the word to friends, families, long-sworn enemies and neighborhood cats - thank you all so much!