A Method by Jean Carles 1


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The Perfumer’s Apprentice www.perfumersapprentice.com A method of creation and perfumery By Jean Carles (Dec.1961) This series of articles was published in the 1968 yearbook issue of the publication “Soap, Perfumery & Cosmetics” and is available at many libraries across the country. To find a library near you, search on www.worldcat.org. The apprentice perfumer at the beginning of his career is like a ship without a rudder. If he is left to his own devices or badly lead, his discoveries will la
  The Perfumer’s Apprenticewww.perfumersapprentice.comA method of creation and perfumeryBy Jean Carles (Dec.1961)This series of articles was published in the 1968 yearbook issue of thepublication “Soap, Perfumery & Cosmetics” and is available at manylibraries across the country. To find a library near you, search onwww.worldcat.org. The apprentice perfumer at the beginning of his career is like a ship without a rudder. If he is leftto his own devices or badly lead, his discoveries will lack organization and will lead him inevitablyto wasteful and ineffectual use of his creative energy.In my early days on this rugged pathway, I found myself in the presence of tutors who seemed tohave disregarded the necessity for basic rules and whose enthusiasm in our fate was of themildest. Watching how they proceeded with their own work was not particularly enticing: theyappeared to believe in a happy-go-lucky way of life, desultorily dipped smelling strips into theavailable samples of odorous materials, and thus their formulations progressed, small addition bysmall addition, and not according to some preestablished plan. Thus, in the past, most of thegreat perfume creations, or rather, of the commercially successful perfumes, were producedalmost by chance, sometimes to the unfeigned surprise of their authors! Although such happyoccurrences are always possible, a firm belief in them should not be the guiding rule.Since the trial and error method held no appeal for me, I attempted from the very outset of mycareer - 50 years ago - actually to understand the whys and wherefores of the fascinating world Ientered for better or worse. This is why I feel I may now offer to share whatever experience I'veacquired since with my younger colleagues, many of whom still work undirected and create inhaphazard fashion, in the expectation of a potential miracle.In perfumery, however, miracles are few and far between. From the very outset, a perfumershould be able to tell whether a creation stands a chance of becoming a sales success. Thetechnique I eventually worked out has made perfume creation surprisingly easy. Thanks to it, Iam never a loss for creating new perfumes.Although some sort of apology should be in order for the seemingly inordinate conceit of what Ihave just set forth, all my laboratory colleagues and all those who have come to us for tuition canvouch that I've stated nothing but the truth. Also, I firmly believe that the simplicity and the readyapplicability of my method will become fully apparent once I disclose my views on organizedcreative perfumery.Perfumery at present is at a crossroads. The number of trained perfumers tends to decrease,since the long apprenticeship required appears an insuperable obstacle to most young people,who cannot afford to wait long enough before earning a living. Such a situation should be  remedied at all costs. While it is not to be expected that srcinality can be taught or that thepotential sales appeal of a novel composition will be apparent to the young perfumer before hehas gained the experience which only time will bring, it is nevertheless of prime importance thatthe apprentice perfumer be given help and guidance for coordinating his first attempts in the fieldof perfume formulation.There is no mystery in the way I work. Over the past 35 years, more than 100 students, bothFrench and foreign, have taken courses in perfumery in the company's laboratory at Grasse andhave been taught according to the simple method which I had srcinally devised for myself.I am here trying to record the result of 50 years of sometimes disappointing, but often mostrewarding experiences, in the hope that my young colleagues will find therein new possibilities forfuture creations and will see their enthusiasm increase tenfold when their efforts are crowned withsuccess: since without enthusiasm there can be no perfumer.PERFUMERY AN ARTActually, what is perfumery and how should be understood?Perfumery is an art, not a science, as many seem to believe. A scientific background is notnecessary for the perfumer; scientific knowledge may even sometimes prove an obstacle to thefreedom required in perfume creation. The creative perfumer should use odorous materials in thesame way that a painter uses colors and give them opportunity for maximum development andeffect, although it is understood that potential reactions such as discoloration within the ultimateformulation and also the stability of the perfume should be given due consideration. This is aboutthe only use the perfumer will be able to make of his scientific training, if any.The perfumer’s only tool is his nose. I was first called Mr. Nose in the USA about 20 years ago.But any one of us is a potential Mr. Nose since, in perfumery, there just is no privileged nose .Anyone may acquire a highly developed sense of smell, as this is merely a matter of practice. Agood nose, that is, an excellent olfactory memory, is not sufficient for producing a good perfumer.By the term a nose is meant a perfumer who is able to distinguish a pure product fromunadulterated product, who can tell lavender 50% from lavender 40%. I myself, in spite of mylong experience, am but a beginner in comparison to the old noses I met at Grasse at thebeginning of my career, and who were able to detect olfactorily the geographical area where agiven oil of neroli or of lavender came from.Olfactory training is of prime importance and should never be neglected or interrupted. Our ownperfumers make it a strict rule to test daily their knowledge of perfume materials and this is why ahalf-hour is set apart for this exercise, which we all perform in a truly competitive spirit.Let it be emphasized again that no nose can be said to be better than another, and that it ismerely a question of olfactory memory for which daily training is not onlynecessary , but indispensable.OLFACTORY STUDIESThus, the training of a beginner who knows nothing about perfumery should begin with theolfactory study of all odorous materials, both natural and synthetic. In order to facilitate such astudy, the beginner will first be given to smell contrasting odors, and later materials belonging to acertain odor family . Elsewhere are given two tables relating to olfactory studies, according to  such requirements. Learning to smell his smelling strips, to identify and to distinguish from oneanother all odorous materials, the beginner will soon notice that the odor of the products changeswith time, that the rate of evaporation is not the same for all products.TOP, MIDDLE AND BASE NOTESTherefore, the next step will be for him to establish a classification of odorous materials according to their volatility. While such a classification could be establish scientifically, the apprentice perfumer will soonattain unexpected proficiency by forgetting any technical information he may have, and byestablishing his classification for himself, as I had to 40 years ago.On the smelling strips will first be inscribed the date and time at which the drop of the odorousmaterial was deposited thereon, and later the date and time at which the product on the strip willbegin to lose its main characteristic, it's typical odor. When proceding thus, no considerationshould be taken of the ultimate off-odors, such as terpenic notes or the like. This technique willsoon make it apparent for the student that while some products are very volatile and lacking intenacity, others are of intermediate volatility and tenacity, and others still are of low volatility andhigh tenacity.Such data will then readily be set forth in tabular form, all available all odorous materials beinglisted under three headings, as shown in the table below. Classification According to Volatility Very volatile productsLacking tenacityTop NotesProducts of intermediateVolatility and tenacityModifiers of Base NotesProducts of low volatilityAnd high tenacityBase NotesAmyl acetateBois de RoseLinaloolPhenylethyl acetateLemonLavenderBergamotOrangeCorianderTarragonLaurel nobilisPetitgrain from the lemon treeEtc. etc.BasilTerpineolPetitgrain (Paraguay)GalbanumVerbenaThymeGeranyl acetaqteJuniperTansyPhenylethyl alcoholGeraniolAbsolute LavenderCitronellalNeroliRose BulgarianYlangGeraniumAldehydes C8 C9 C11 C12ClovesEtc etc.Methyl Ionone –IononesAbsolute Orange flowerClary sageAmyl salicylateAbsolute JasminBenzyl salicylateCedarwoodAldehyde C16Aldehyde C18SandalwoodArtificial MusksAbsolute OakmossVetiver and derivativesPatchouliCeleryEtc. etc.The student will then have to be taught how to use this table.  As set forth above, I have termed:very volatile products lacking tenacityTop notesproducts of intermediate volatility and tenacityModifiersproducts of low volatility and high tenacityBase notesThe reasons for this choice of terms are the following:As indicated by their name, the base notes will serve to determine the chief characteristic of theperfume, the sense of which will last hours on end and will be essentially responsible for thesuccess of the perfume, if any.Anyone even remotely familiar with perfume materials is aware that all products of low volatilityand high tenacity such as Vetiver, oak moss, patchouli, the Methyl Ionones and the like, give off arather unpleasant smell when freshly deposited on the smelling strips but, on the other hand, thescent given off during the subsequent stages of evaporation is excellent. This is the reason forthe use of the modifiers of intermediate volatility and tenacity which will serve to change theunpleasant top note of the base products.Finally, the very volatile top notes, lacking tenacity, will serve to impart to the perfumecomposition a very pleasant odor on opening the bottle.For illustrative purposes, let us take as an example the creation of the chypre note.CREATING A CHYPRE NOTE1. The Accord between bases.Absolute oak moss is the basic raw material for the chypre note. It belongs to the series ofproducts of low volatility and high tenacity, or base notes. Others of the more common materialsbelonging to the series are products such as the Ionones and Methyl Ionones, Vetiver, patchouli,Cistus Labdanum and the like. Therefore, we must choose among them the products which willblend with absolute oak moss and impart an srcinal characteristic to our perfume. We shall beginour study of this Accord in the following manner.We shall select a second product belonging to the series of base notes, whichever was the mostappropriate for blending with absolute oak moss. In the present case, we shall use, for example,absolute Cistus colorless or a similar product such as ambergris 162B, and we shall prepare aseries of Accords containing both constituents in the following ratios:AbsoluteOakmoss9 8 7 6 5Ambergris162B1 2 3 4 5We shall not test combinations beyond the five: five ratio, since the following ratios of materials:AbsoluteOakmoss4 3 2 1
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