The first days of school~

view on the walk to schoolIt’s been a few days since my last report.  I have experienced three days of school so far and these have been 3 of the best days of my life!  Day one when I walked into the classroom/lab, and spent time looking at the perfumer’s organ (the station where a perfume is created) and the shelves full of endless little bottles of aroma chemicals (natural and otherwise), I was so overcome with happiness, I felt like melting onto the floor in a puddle of joyful weeping!  Absolute bliss!

 During day one and two,  our professor introduced us to  eleven aroma chemicals.  This is the beginning of a study of 175 in total.   We will learn 10 per day from tomorrow on.  It’s very challenging work, memorizing and then being able to identify chemicals like hexenyl acetate CIS-3,  Phenyl ethyl alcohol, or methyloctine carbonate, by smell,  as well as being able to say what aroma family they belong to (Green, Violet etc) and whether they are a Top, Middle or Base note. bottles of raw materials We are tested by being given random blotter strips and then having to identify what it has been dipped in.   Lots and lots of memory; but memory deeply connected to imagination and descriptive language.  I learned an interestng thing- if we are unable to smell a certain sample, (which happened to me), it means that I have never smelled that particular substance before.   As I worked with it, over the course of an hour or so, I could begin to register it and so developed a new olfactory capability. 

perfumer’s organToday we had a different professor; the one who will teach us the naturals.  He has been working with the natural raw materials for 35+years and is a wealth of information.  He took us through 10 oils- all of the citrus family, including chemical constituents etc.  It’s  surprisingly difficult to identify and distinguish between, by memory, sweet orange, bitter orange, grapefruit or lemon oil, especially when the blotter has dried for 1/2 hour or so.  He instructed us to train constantly, like an athlete, to get to know the materials by heart.  Practise practise practise! our instruction tableIt can be likened to an artist learning and memorizing all the colours; intimately, by name, by scent, by how they develop over time, and by how they interact with each other. 

It’s interesting to note that I smell in colour.

 I am feeling exhausted, but happier than I have been in years.  Perhaps happier than ever before- C’est ma vie!

sunrise with the pigeons

Published by

Jessica Buchanan

Canadian independent perfumer, designer, and entrepreneur.

5 thoughts on “The first days of school~”

  1. I am SOOOOOOOOOOO joyed for you! You are in a position I’m so intending to create for myself: that of having living masters to learn with. Soak it up girl! You’ve got our virgin noses back here to eduacate when you return!


  2. a violet in the youth of primary nature,
    forward,not permanent,sweet,not lasting.
    the perfume and supliance of a minute.

  3. Mon amie Jess,
    How are the markets? Any food stuffs unique to the area? Or are there things you may miss from home?
    Unseasonably warm here in the desert SW. 30 C?
    Off to climb up Superstition Mountain tomorrow.
    Are you doing your yoga, Kuwanyauma?

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