It had been a quiet gradual internal process. Finally, I started to become more conscious that I was ready for more in depth education in the deep ocean of perfume making. Natural perfume making, to be more precise, since I am coming with an aromatherapy background and understanding that scents are not only created for pleasure, but to be our medicinal companions as well. Using chemicals is an absolute no for me.
I was lucky and honoured to be one of the first students at the Art of Botanical Perfume course with Roxana Villa launched at The School of Aromatic Studies (formerly known as The East-West School for Aromatic Studies) in March 2016. It has been a fabulous course and I am forever grateful to my teacher and guide Roxana Villa for fostering my journey with her beautiful wisdom throughout her highly inspirational sharing during my studies.
In the final submissions, I was also asked to give a short summary of what I had learnt during the classes. Of course, my short list had a very personal approach, and there is way much more in the details, but I thought it would be interesting to pick and share some of my highlights here. So, these are the kind of things (including but not limited to) what you can learn about at the Art of Botanical Perfume course:
- Botanical perfumery is using combined skills from aromatherapy, alchemy, herbalism and art, and it is also the intention and the materials that differentiate this healing art from products of the general perfume industry.
- The dynamics of the elements in our mystical approach to botanical perfumery. The fascinating structure of plant parts translated into their healing codes as also observed by Leonardo da Vinci in his manuscript The Book of Waters.
- Ancient people started using scents by burning plants to worship Gods, to perform magic and healing, to go ecstatic and for inspiration. In ancient Egypt an incense called kyphi was blended from several aromas and used to promote awareness.
- Some of the great historical names that paved the way for our scented studies like Rene le Florentin, the court perfumer of Caterina de Medici. Being born in Hungary I have a special connection with Queen Elisabeth’s Hungary Water that is considered to be the first modern perfume in Europe.
- The serpentine cooling system was invented in Italy for the commercial production of alcohol in 1320.
- My favourite quote from the great masters of French perfumery “Never a perfume without Jasmine.” (See my related article Distill Your True Self with Jasmine)
- Intentions and practicalities of making alcoholic tinctures and oil infusions. The process of enfleurage, as well as the botanical solid fat alternatives and their challenges – like coconut oil, beeswax, palm oil – that can be used in botanical perfumes.
- The methods of gaining musky aromas by torturing animals which gives the underlining emphasis of differentiating natural botanical perfumery from others in the perfume-making industry.
- The language of perfume and how to describe fragrances and odours, how the aromas are categorised into fragrance families and types, and the corresponding plants and fragrances within the groups.
- The significance of Goût de Terroir.
- Building Olfactory Awareness and learning the Scent Observation process (It was sort of cathartic… as I realised I am able to do it!)
- Getting acquainted with new essential oils like Galbanum, Oakmoss, Balsam of Peru, Liquidamber and Ambrette seeds.
- Styling process, working out the colour palette, imagery and look development, and creating an inspiration board/book for my personal brand.
- Method and systems to composing the notes for a perfume, and diluting the composition in a carrier.
- More understanding of alchemy, alchemists and the stages of the alchemical process.
How beautiful it is to put my reflections into a description while selecting fragrances, and that all this turns into a brief that narrates the story of my perfume? See my brief on my Journey, the perfume!