Sunday, 12 November 2017

Scent your walls with fragrant art - an International giveaway


My perfume collection has extended. It’s filled its designated drawer and mounted the walls.

Fougere, Noir and Florale

Over the last month I created a collection of mixed media artwork themed around imaginary perfume. I spend my working days teaching young people how to make visual art that passes exams, it’s rare that I get chance to relax and create my own. However, in the recent holiday I got the bug back and spent the fortnight ankle deep in cut paper, devouring coffee and listening to French radio. I felt quite the bohemian!




The concept:
I think most people with a serious perfume habit have at least a little bit of Synesthesia. As fitting for an artist, I sense colour in fragrance. That which most pleases my nose tends to conjure gold and yellow hues. I don’t think it’s just the case that I have a deep adoration of ylang ylang. I gravitate towards scents that fizz and sparkle with an emphasis on volatile top notes, so perhaps I’m visualising champagne and jewels in my collection.
The artwork uses colour to describe fragrance genres as I sense them. I wonder if the colours resonate with you?


The process:
I monoprinted, stained, painted, tore and reconstructed paper. I also stained my kitchen worktop in the process which is now light grey wood with ‘crimson accents’. Joseph (also known as the feline paper shredder) ate several of the paper components and gained a temporarily Prussian blue paw. Coloured magazine paper was also used, sometimes soaked and scrunched up or scrubbed at to alter the surface texture. 
Once I’d created a huge collection of papers, I cut, layered and assembled imaginary perfume bottles. As I selected paper for each bottle, I imagined how that piece would smell, as if each section was a note within the composition. The creations represent fragrance genres and were named accordingly. 
The backgrounds were created by staining paper with acrylic inks. I tried to create a kind of abstract ‘shelf’ for them to rest upon, a little like a messy version of a Fragrantica wardrobe. 

Close up of a bottle from 'fougere', showing the layered paper techniques. 


The resulting collection of seven fragrance genres is available to buy as limited edition prints at:

To celebrate the launch of my collection, I would like to offer readers of Odiferess a chance to win their favourite artwork within the collection. The competition is open to readers all over the world and the winner be announced on Friday 17th November. To enter, please visit the Facebook page and leave a comment stating which one you would like to win. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The 100th post - revisiting my favourite articles at Odiferess

Crikey, this is my 100th article for Odiferess!

To mark the occasion, here is a round up of my favourite posts over the last 5 years. They are articles that fizzed out of me faster than my typing speed, those which are an utter joy to write. I like to think that they are somewhat 'different' from what visitors expect to read and that they offer an insight into my often bizarre thought process! 
I hope you enjoy revisiting them.

On Witches:
It seems fitting to include my review of Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne, it is Halloween after all. Highlights include references to my Grandmother's dubious home remedies and getting ferns in your knickers.
click here to read

On Music:
A celebration of exuberant women in music, inspired initially by the technicolour wonder that is Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire. What perfume would suit these musical marvels?
click here to read

On a truly saucy scent:
When Anubis by Papillon Perfumery brought to mind salty pirates, Captain Nolan and the power of female sensuality.
click here to read

On an under appreciated Guerlain:
Why is Idylle not hallowed in the Guerlain hall of fame? Here I speak of my love for the scent and swoon at Thierry Wasser. 
click here to read

On heartbreak:
A personal story of love and loss inspired by Jul et Mad - Terrasse a St Germain. 
click here to read

On the great outdoors:
A picturesque post where a walk in the Yorkshire Moors became an ode to the chilly aldehydes of Clinique - Wrappings
click here to read

On the significance of a Royal Warrant:
A rather slapstick look at branding within the British Perfume Industry featuring discussions about the Queen's fear of warts and why Fergie was the only Royal I'd invite to the pub. 
click here to read

On proper perfume:
The most recent post, on how I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Warszawa by Pure Distance. This posts discusses the concept that we might all be 'a bit too expert' and ponders the days before the online fragrance community existed.

click here to read

On the cats of perfume land:
How I fell in love with a furry little fella called Joseph and a photographic peep at the feline companions of my fellow perfume writers. 

click here to read

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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Puredistance WARSZAWA - a PROPER perfume

I love proper perfume.

Puredistance have released one. It’s called WARSZAWA.

Andy Warhol illustrates some proper perfume

‘Proper’ perfume is grown up. It’s sits on your dressing table and simmers until you are sufficiently dressed up to reach for it’s seductive bottle. It doesn’t travel to work with you, or the supermarket, or similar non-event. It’s an uncommon wonder. It’s got a personality more colossal than your own. You can only wear it when you feel emotionally abundant and dressed to kill. 

Fitting really, as WARSZAWA was inspired by good old fashioned glamour. 

“Puredistance WARSZAWA transports you to a dreamy world of old-time chic. 
Inspired by the class and elegance of Polish women and the rich history of the city of Warsaw, WARSZAWA evokes the chic of the golden days of Fashion and Perfume.” 
WARSZAWA sleeps in a bed of emerald satin
Perfume used to be a curious phenomena. We didn’t know what was in it. Although our noses could detect familiar notes such as culinary spices or garden flowers, we had no idea how the perfumer conjured the mysterious juice. The perfume lover probably new nothing of the nitro musks, aldehydes and other bonkers sci-fi ingredients that helped to create the allure. Nowadays we consult Fragrantica’s (excellent) ingredient database and compare fragrances with similar notes. We avidly read note lists supplied by the perfume houses and actively seek out a perfect interpretation of our favourite. They make it even easier by naming their wares with the notes e.g. Tobacco Vanille, Patchouli imperial etc. We swop tips and decants with our online friends and gain access to luxury goods that we would not normally be able to afford. 
In some ways this is helpful as it allows us to find fragrances that might suit us more easily. It adds knowledge to our hobby and the research and subsequent hunting offers quite a thrill. We’ve become experts. 
But sometimes I don’t want to be an expert. I don’t want to own thirty bottles of well researched fragrant wardrobe. I want to relish and adore one bottle of precious perfume and not have a clue what sorcery has created it. I want to have saved up for it patiently and bought it full price from a beautiful shop in Paris. I want some proper perfume. 
WARSZAWA is not a note list. It’s a grand composition, symphonic, multi-faceted. You can’t smell a dominant feature ingredient, simply a gargantuan perfume. It’s overwhelming, aspirational and bloody gorgeous!
With this in mind, here is an alternative note list for WARSZAWA. It contains:

Your first ever clubbing outfit, the heady perfume that your mum wore when you were six, the weekend break in Venice when it was minus 2 degrees and all the palazzos sparkled with frost, the sensual (real) fur coat that you bought from a charity shop in Leeds and felt (sort of) OK about because you hadn’t directly contributed to the fur trade, shopping before the internet existed, the jewel hued antique glass Christmas tree baubles from your childhood that reflected fragments of magical light when you spun them, whopping shoulder pads in a 1980s edition of ‘Le Smoking’, red vinyl lipstick, Bryan Ferry’s tight trousers, a pool party attended by Grace Coddington in the 1970s, backcombed hair, violet cream chocolates from Charbonnel et Walker (bought in Bond Street, not the food discount section at TK Maxx), your first trip to London and the moment that you bought your first pair of ‘knickers with intention’.
YSL rocks red lipstick and cabin crew glamour in the 1980s
It’s nostalgic, it’s awe inspiring and it’s insanely glamourous. Odd to think that it's author is the controversial genius - Antoine Lie, creator of the infamous Sécrétions Magnifiques. Has the nose behind the strangest perfume of all time created the most glamourous?
In recent years, I’ve wandered around Selfridges feeling bored. I am throughly fed up with over-priced, over hyped-nonsense, constant replications of a jaded theme, bottles of bandwagon bollocks applauded for being ‘niche’.
In WARSZAWA I feel like I’ve discovered perfume again. I am no longer a 44 year old perfume ‘expert’. I’m 17 year old me, buying my first ever bottle of Shalimar and inhaling possibility.

It feels wonderful.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Eiderantler, a fougère visualised.

Winning a prize draw is thrilling. Even when it’s just a little sample that’s affordable to buy in the first place. There’s something about seeing your name appear on a winners list that feels deliciously victorious. 

The fortuitous win of a sample set from The January Scent Project lifted my scorched mood, as that morning I’d awoken to discover that part of my outbuilding roof had been stolen. Creator John Biebel’s generosity went someway to rebalance the bad karma instilled by the cretins that pinch anything made out of desirable Yorkshire Stone around these parts. I’d planned to spend the rest of the day sitting out back in a deckchair with a rusty rake in hand in case they returned for the rest of the roof. I saw sense and shelved my plan. 

theft hole

good karma package

The January Scent Project is a line of three unisex fragrances created by John Beibel, an Artist from the USA who is well known amongst the fragrance community for his regular columns at Fragrantica. Each of the three fragrances has a corresponding artwork which has been published in the form of gorgeous little postcards. 

John describes the concept:

“The "vintage" artworks for the perfumes was a really fun side project that I wanted to include as part of the creative process. The idea that I could envision the scents in a different time context was so appealing, and it kind of plays on both the timely and timeless, if you know what I mean.”

I know what he means.

My favourite of the three scents - Eiderantler is certainly ‘timely’. It feels neatly into the current resurrected trend of the aromatic fougère genre and yet could easily invoke a spirit of the seventies when airy outdoorsy scents such Alliage and Diorella graced our tanned outdoorsy skin.

Eiderantler is described as an ‘Ivy fougère’. Fougère translates as ‘fern’, a term used to categorise fragrances that contain green notes associated with nature, they tend to feature lavender and coumarin (a derivative of tonka bean). Here are the notes for Eiderantler:

Lavender, green leaves, moss, pink pepper, lavandin, champa leaf, ivy, elemi, fir cone, hay, oak wood, cashmere, vetiver, and musk.

Ivy is essentially an abstract composition, a clever combination of ingredients that create a cool and crisp atmosphere reminiscent of dewy woodland foliage.

What struck me about Eiderantler is it’s vibrancy. Lavender rich scents have a been a trend in recent years with Chanel - Boy (an elegant version of Brut) and Guerlain - Mon Guerlain (muggy sugared lavender) being perhaps the most discussed releases. Both of them feel ‘dull’ to me. Not dull as in boring, but dull in the true sense of the word in that any sparkle or radiance has been eroded. Eiderantler feels sparkly and volatile. It hasn’t been mugged by the blanket of tonka bean that so often occurs in a fougère  I asked John how he created the sparkle effect and received a wonderfully detailed answer:

“In answer to the question about "sparkle" I attribute that to a few different things. There are a number of small elements in the perfume that add a nice touch. In this case, a small bit of ultrazure, a mixed aquatic/air molecule that has a very bright and faceted quality, and other small bits like templin fir cone (which is like a bright pine lemon), pink pepper (which has a lot of sparkle.) There are some key ingredients that help this all along too, primarily champa or champaca leaf. It's related quite closely to magnolia and to the magnolia flower (also known as champaca flower, usually imported from India.) it shares a fairly primary component that is found in a number of greens and flowers called linalool. It's an incredible substance, which has a scent somewhere between lemon, pepper, orange flower and very gentle wood. That, I believe, is at the heart of the perfume and helps it keep its sparkly quality.”

If his paintings are indicative of personality, I imagine that John is a sparkly man. Whilst his artworks vary significantly in subject matter and medium, the character that links each of them is an energetic vibrancy. These hurried brushstrokes and clashing colours certainly speak of a man that fizzes at great speed!

City Afternoon, John Beibel 2016

I shall stow away my sample of Eiderantler until the 29th of October. The occasion upon which the clocks move forward in the UK. When the first dark night of the season closes in I shall spritz myself with Eiderantler and be transported to a forest where dappled light graces my skin.

You can discover The January Scent Project by clicking here
If you love to sparkle you might also enjoy reading about Clinique Wrappings and Perles de Lalique. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Guest blogging at Thompson & Morgan - On the glorious scent of the sweet pea

I've been busy growing stuff, lovely smelly stuff to fragrance my home.
You can read all about my gloriously whiffy sweet peas at Thompson and Morgan's gardening blog by clicking on the link here.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The extra-sensory library book campaign, scent your reads!

 I read a lot of novels.

My love of books was instilled at an early age by my mum who took me to Garstang library every week to borrow an armful of magical free words. 

 The peculiar 60s architecture of Garstang Library

Each night I send myself to slumber via another world; a curious country, an eerie haunting, a torrid love affair or simply the complexities of someone else’s life. My arms cradle the book ‘praying mantis’ style whilst Joseph purrs away under an elbow. 

Most towns in the UK had a library until about 5 years ago when the government cut funding under austerity. Big cities had many branches with the largest ‘central’ library housed in a grand municipal building. Many of the smaller suburban libraries closed forever whilst others now survive on limited hours as volunteer run organisations.

On average, I read about two novels per week, they are free. If I bought them, my reading habit would likely cost me at least £100 per year assuming that I shopped thriftily in charity shops, or up to £700 if I bought shiny new ones from Waterstones. 

We need to support them.

My local library in Huddersfield is a quirky venue where alongside newly releases titles, you can find a selection of the bizarre and unconsidered. Whilst browsing the health and beauty section this morning I discovered that alongside Lizzie Ostrom’s ‘Perfume - A century of scents’ and Sally Hornsey’s two make your own skincare and perfume manuals, you can find books about both DIY welding and the history of arsenic. This could be handy if you are planning a murder and an evidence burial in a skilfully sealed metal box. 

Bonkers genre combo

Library books can smell a bit stale. Whilst new releases still retain a delicious inky print whiff on their fresh unblemished pages, older titles can sometimes carry an ‘eau de damp portacabin’ or more worryingly ‘unidentifiable fragrant stain’ which might be a bit of spilt Ovaltine if you’re lucky.

I scent my library books, and I choose their fragrance with great consideration. 

I imagine that most of my readers have a sizeable stash of promotional fragrance smelling strips as a quick sniffing to trip to the department store usually results in pockets full of the things. They’re pretty, I keep them. But best of all, they make wonderful bookmarks. 

One night I sprayed the last dregs of my Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles onto a smelling strip and allowed it’s pine sap fragrance to seep into my book. The book was Eowyn Ivey’s haunting forest populated novel ‘The Snow Child’. By the following night the isolated atmosphere of it’s Alaskan location was amplified by the harmonious whiff. I recently read the wonderfully spooky ‘Dolly’ by Susan Hill (of Woman in Black fame). I fragranced this with Antonia by Pure Distance, allowing it’s vintage dusty greenery to evoke the ivy clad derelict house conjured in the story.

I like to imagine that the next borrower will pick up on the fragrance, perhaps so subtly that instead of detecting a ‘perfume’, my scenting activities will simply add to the power of the words, providing an extra-sensory dimension. Perhaps if we all start to do this library books will take on new powers to thrill the imagination?

Caron whiffing cards have the perfect dimensions for a bookmark

In discussion with friends, suggestions were made about possible perfume partners for their favourite books. War and Peace was partnered with a fragrance fit for nobility - Zibeline by Weil, Practical Magic amped it’s spells with Moonlight Patchouli by Van Cleef & Arpels and 50 Shades of Grey was sullied by the notorious Secretions Magnifique. A wonderfully vile idea!

I hope that my readers might join me in my guerrilla book scenting campaign. However, if you’ve gone over to the dark side and become the owner of an e-reader, your local library has oodles of free e-books in it’s catalogue so at least you can support their 21st century service updates by joining up and helping to promote literacy in the UK.

To ensure that you never miss a piece of my fragrant waffle why not use the 'subscribe' box on the right hand side. Feedburner will send you a link asking for confirmation of your request, Alternatively, hit like at:

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Scent your home with flowers - a post for the green fingered.

£48. That’s how much it costs to scent your home with Diptyque’s beautiful Rosa Mundi candle. If it’s the middle of winter, or you live in a flat and have money to burn (literally) I understand the desire to buy this object of loveliness.

However, £48 buys a hell of a lot of real flowers. Not the rubbish ones that don’t smell of anything from the florist, I’m talking about growing your own.

Last May I moved from my sky high urban flat to an old Victorian terraced cottage. It’s tiny and a little bit knackered, but there is a garden. As the proud owner of green fingers I couldn’t wait to plan my much missed outdoor space. I have only a miniscule front garden, South facing and elevated from the lane by rickety stone steps.  Its patio area is just big enough for a few planters and a deck chair from which I can tipple gin in the summer. At the rear of the house is a yard filled by an old outdoor toilet shed. I plan to sow a ‘cut flower’ patch in grow bags upon its roof when the sun rises high enough to battle for daylight dominance with the neighbouring woods.

The garden was a mess, an overgrown patch of shrubs that had never seen a blade and waist high grass on a mission to self-seed dandelion clocks and sadistic thistles. My determined Dad spent several hours ‘strimming’ the grass, pausing every few minutes to rethread the machine as its exhausted cord broke repeatedly. Meanwhile I destroyed my back digging up a plethora of eye pokingly sharp cordyline plants. I have a fear of spikes…

Hardcore strimming event

Whilst it was too late in the season to grow many seeds, I couldn’t resist giving life to some sweet peas. I spent 99p on a packet of ‘Spencer Mixed’ variety which by August grew into a 5 foot high pot of scented glory. For the next couple of months my house was filled with their intoxicating fragrance and I slept soundly lulled by bedside vases of this frilly wonder.

My Mum divided her old fashioned carnation plants and gave me clumps to plant up by the patio. If you’ve never smelt a garden grown carnation you will be astounded by its peppery floral fragrance. Imagine a Caron boutique in the 1950s and that’s about it. They smell exactly like Bellodgia. A single bloom can fill a room with a strident Oeillet olé such is its bold exuberance!

Carnation and Sweat Pea Spencer Mixed spicing up the dining table

The neglected white Rosa Alba that lived here had bolted to a giant straggle. Although a few Dior-esque petals remained it needed lopping almost to the ground to encourage healthy new growth next year. Meanwhile I headed to the garden centre and chose a David Austin ‘Generous Gardener’ climbing rose to satisfy my craving. Chosen for its scent, this pink beauty smells like the finest Rose Damascena absolute with a teeny hint of sugared almond. Sadly I knocked its heavily budded head off in a clumsy car exit but it rapidly grew back.

My Generous Gardener in full bloom

My plans for 2017

It will be a summer of vivid scented annual flowers. My ‘Spencer Mixed’ sweet peas are growing vigorously. In October I transformed a worn out G-Plan side table into a miniature bubble wrapped greenhouse to see if it really is possible to ‘overwinter’ annual seedlings in the cold damp Pennine winter. It is. In May I will plant a second variety ‘Sweet Pea Promise’ – a posh one from Thompson and Morgan that promises to be hugely whiffy.

G-Plan greenhouse

Sweat Pea Promise from the Thompson and Morgan website

Early flowering scent will come from Stocks ‘Appleblossom’. Stocks have a heady narcotic whiff, which with just a few stems is intoxicating. More than a few is a whopping migraine.

                                          Stocks Appleblossom from the Thompson and Morgan website

My perennial white Phlox plants will hopefully reawaken and battle the slugs to bring some elegance once again. Their scent is a marvelous combination of the skanky indole that we devour in our white floral fragrances and a more delicate and fresh green nuance that brings brightness and vivacity and makes the plant smell ‘youthful’.


Some shrubs inherited from the previous owners have proved to be seasonally boring. They will be dug up and replaced by lavender, the foliage of which will make an excellent 'leafy bit' in my indoor arrangements. 

Last year I waged war on slugs. I had millions of the little thugs. With Joseph and his neighbouring cat friends around, the use of toxins was not a possibility. This year I’m conducting an experiment. I am collecting my own hair in order to create hairy rings around the base of tender seedlings. I never brush it so a hair wash yields lots of useful strands! Apparently slugs hate the dry texture of hair and wool and won’t cross it. The witchy side of me loves the idea of having a part of myself lurking sentinel like in the garden. My grandmother would have approved of this frugal and somewhat pagan approach.

Joseph strolls his territory wall

I’ll post an update in early summer and let you know which plants yield the greatest fragrance. I would dearly love to hear from any of my readers who tend a fragrant garden. Your recommendations would be gratefully received in the comments box.

To ensure that you never miss a piece of my fragrant waffle why not use the 'subscribe' box on the right hand side. Feedburner will send you a link asking for confirmation of your request, Alternatively, hit like at: