Day 2- More basic raw materials and simple accords

Another beautiful day in Grasse in the south of France; the sun is shining, the birds are singing and it smells wonderful.

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I can see the Mediterranean clearly from our gîte. I have to pinch myself to believe this is all finally really happening, and that I am lucky to be learning in the place where modern perfumery began centuries ago. The drive to the school is done without the aid of the navigation and I am beginning to recognise landmarks. I arrive in good time and look forward to another inspiring day of smell and learning. The humidity is considerable and  higher than what we ever experience on the prairies.

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Inside the front door of the school is a intricate miniature display of the essential oil distillation techniques. Many of the people working in the fragrance industry creating the raw materials that are used for fragrance and flavorings around the world are trained here at the school. Instruction in actual perfume creation, like the course I am attending, is only a small part of what ASFO do.



Someone had taken a lot of effort and time to build this case of replica machinery made out of metal, with pipes and all.

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We start the day with a quick test of the previous day’s material, seeing how much our nose and brain remember of previous days work.

A quick break and we all settle in and begin doing more work on individual raw materials; defining the characteristics of another set of natural oils, learning what makes each oil or absolute unique. Start off with  Rosemary, Tonka Bean, Vetiver, Benzoin, and Nutmeg and then a look at the synthetics Coumarin and Vetiveryl Acetate to understand the link to the naturals. On to Orange Flower absolute, Geranium, Spearmint, Ylang-Ylang, and the amazing Black Currant absolute. We keep going until we hit noon and our noses need a rest.

A very nice box lunch is provided for us in the garden of the school.2013-06-18 00.07.32


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Back to it working on simple accords in the afternoon. Laurence has put together an accord of 2 or 3 oils and hands us the test strip. What is in the accord she asks? How much (or what %) of each oil makes up the accord?  Over to the scales then to measure out precisely our own accords to see if they “make sense”.

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More work on individual materials until 5:00 pm arrives and our noses get a well deserved rest.

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Back tomorrow to explore famous perfumes and what makes them tick.

1 Comment

  1. Nicholas Mayne

    This is so neat! Thank you so much for including the photographs. It looks like a really great situation and also a very familiar situation compared to the work area you have setup at home. More than anything I bet it is so nice to meet like-minded people who can get stoked in the same ways as yourself. Well proud!

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