Generally speaking, perfumes tend to be invisible expressions of feelings, emotions or experiences that the perfume creator has in their heart and mind when they are creating it. Sometimes the perfume genie is captured in a beautiful ornate bottle which helps to convey something of the story it wishes to tell.
But there is another approach one can take to the subject that includes natural botanical materials such as spices, herbs, resins, cones, pods etc that give an added dimension of color, texture, form and scent to ones perfume. In days-gone-by these were called as potpourri's and one could as well call them that now but one might also bestow the name of "visual perfumes" upon them(or any other name one might like)
Nowadays the range of natural botanical materials available to the person who wishes to give this added visual dimension to their perfumes is greatly increased from the past. There are many companies that specialize in these types of materials and taking the time to explore their offerings can be a very inspiring experience. One can quickly discern by perusing their online catalogs that with a little creative imagination one could create wonderful visual perfumes that could be a joy to behold and smell. During the next few years I will occasionally present a recipe for a visual perfume with hopes that it might inspire others to create even more original and beautiful creations.
The heart of a visual perfume lies in the fixative base which absorbs the essences that are poured into and mixed with it. In past times the main fixative base that was used was orris root(in powdered form for sachets and in chipped form for potpourri) Orris root has become increasingly expensive and now one can fine a very cost effective fixative which is made from chipped corn cobs. For a few dollars a pound one can obtain it from most companies which specialize in dried herbs, roots, spices etc.
Once one has obtained this base material then one can begin to develop the aromatic themes which will be at the center of their visual perfumes. Like in all perfume blending work one should create their perfume well in advance and allow it to mature so that the different components of the perfume can mature together over time take on the aromatic qualities one desires.
All one needs for this part of the process is a stainless steel bowl in which the fixative base is placed. If one likes to work in terms of weight then they will also need a scale so that when adding the absolutes, essential oils, co2 extracts etc that they can make an accurate measure of what they are adding to their fixative base. Alternatively one could mix all the liquid ingredients together first and then pour them over the corncob chips stirring all the while. One could also get a set of stainless steel measuring spoons in either metric or customary measuring liquid(Avoirdupois) measurement units. The following conversion tables will provide useful information for those who like to work in that medium:
For metric/standard measuring spoons you can go to Amazon.com and find and abundance of them often having the metric and standard measuring units on the same spoon i.e. 1/4 tsp+1.25 ml, 1/2 tsp+2.5 ml etc.
Now the question arises as to how much liquid can 16 ounces of fixative absorb? This depends a lot on the essences to be used. If one is using thick absolutes then one can use a lot more than a pure liquid essential oil but I think as a rule of thumb one should plan that 16 ounces of fixative can hold no more than 2-3 ounces of liquid perfume. It is important to understand that after adding the liquid essence to the dry fixative base that absorption may take several days to be completed. So after adding ones perfume concentrate and mixing it thoroughly and then pouring the perfumed base to tightly capped glass jars, they should be sure to shake the composition several times a day till the fixative is saturated with the perfume.
Then one should patiently allow the composition to mature for 2-3 months.
After the composition has matured then one is ready to complete the visual part of their perfume.
Here one can move in any number of directions according to the message they wish their aromatic creation to convey. It may simply contain the botanical equivalents of the essences which is quite beautiful in itself; it may convey a setting in nature, like a forest theme; a season of the year; a culinary creation, like a masala chai recipe; etc. The choices are as wide ranging as a persons interests and creativity. The botanicals used may, in fact, contribute substantially to the overall aroma of the visual perfume or they may have simply an aesthetic function. In any case the fixative base will provide the main aromatic aura that radiates from the creation.
Good sources for the ingredients that will form the visual part of the aromatic creation are listed below. There are many more and if one has the patience it is well worth looking through their price lists to check the costs of similar botanicals as prices per pound can vary considerably.
San Francisco Herb Company
A World of Plenty
Monterey Bay Spice Company
San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company
Mountain Rose Botanicals
Star West Botanicals
Good Hope Botanicals
After creating your fixative base and adding it to the dried herbs, spices, roots, pods, cones, resins etc that give the perfume its visual beauty one may then wish to find suitable vessels in which to display their aromatic treasures. Ideally one should display the visual perfume in a vessel that has a lid which can be placed over it when one is not in the room. This will help preserve the perfume it contains much longer and allow it to disperse in the room while one is present to imbibe its delicious fragrant radiance. Upon entering the room and removing the lid from the vessel the aroma will begin to quietly and gently spread throughout the area giving it a find ambiance. One has both the pleasure of viewing the shapes, textures and colors of their perfume and imbibe its scent as well.
Such small pleasures add immeasurably to the joy of everyday living and can also be shared with others to their delight as well. As many of the visible ingredient correspond with the extracted or distilled essences used, it also helps to understand and appreciate the profound beauty and mystery of nature as these botanical treasures come into being through manifold trees, herbs, flower, vines, etc. One can, in a real sense, explore the stories behind each of these gifts as one holds them in ones hand and adds them to the beautiful blends one is creating. For thousands and thousands of years many of these beautiful sees, resins, roots, etc. have been admired and treasured by those who have come in contact with them. Another really nifty thing about the visual perfumes is that they create a soft gentle ambiance around one. One could even consider taking them with them to work or on a trip in a simple clear top tin container, like is offered by Special Bottle Company. Whenever one is in desire of an aromatic refresher one simply removes the lid and allows the aroma to waft about one.
CocoaTonkaNilla Visual Perfume
The first perfume in this series is CocoaTonkaNilla. A simple combination of cocoa absolute, tonka absolute, vanilla absolute and cinnamon bark essential oil. As mentioned above this essences are added to the corn cob chip fixative base:
16 ounces of corn cob chips
2.5 ounces of Cocoa abs
.125(1/8th ounce) Tonka Bean Absolute
.25(1/4 ounce) Vanilla Absolute
.125(1/8th ounce) Cinnamon bark eo
This is allowed to mature in tightly sealed glass jar for 2 months.
In the meantime one can combine and let natural botanical ingredients age together, as they will substantially contribute to the scent of this particular visual perfume:
32 ounces Cocoa bean nibs
16 ounces Cinnamon chips
16 ounces Tonka Beans
8 ounces of Vanilla Beans(I buy the whole beans and then chop them up)
At the end of two months add them together and enjoy the most incredibly delicious aromatic bouquet.
* Important note-vanilla beans can be very costly but if you by B grade which have wonderful aroma but may not be as visually perfect as A grade then you can get them for $12 a pound from:
A good source for cocoa nibs for about $9 a lb is:
During the month of November a small 1 ounce container with the CocoaTonkaNilla visual perfume will be sent out to customers who order from our regular list of essential oil, absolute, attar and co2 offerings.
Please note that this visual perfume is not meant for internal consumption. You might think it smells good enough to eat--but please don't. It is meant simply to be inhaled and enjoyed in the olfactory sense.