A Berkeley Weekend Continued

Mandy started us right off the bat by discussing how to look at ingredients. First, she described top, middle, and base notes in terms of how long they last on a blotter strip—an hour for tops, maybe four hours for middles, and longer for bases. She has her organ organized in this way, with each of the three categories given its own color-coded label. If nothing else, this is great training for remembering which compounds are which—the colors quickly adhere to the psyche.

Next, she discusses odor intensity. Obvious sounding, but not to be confused with volatility. A base note can be mild or intense as can a top note. Particularly interesting was her emphasis on the shape and texture of ingredients. She uses such words as “sharp,” “round,” “flat,” and “layered.” It reminded me of Kate’s synesthesia—when she sees aromas as colors. I found that by examining the ingredients in this way, it brought me closer to them and prepared me for a more emotional response.

Last, she discussed her ideas of “burying” and “locking.” Burying is the result of using an ingredient with too high an odor intensity next to one with a lower intensity. Her examples were cèpes (porcini) versus sandalwood, a little like Godzilla meets Bambi. It takes but a tiny trace of cèpes absolute to obscure sandalwood. Locking occurs when two ingredients enhance each other in an accord that’s more powerful than the sum of the parts. Mandy helped me with this effect when, later, I worked on a scent containing sandalwood.

Mandy also discussed filler notes—ingredients that fit into the interstices of the perfume and smooth off disparate ingredients. Not only did she discuss these theoretically, but she gave us a list.

The next day she gave us a system for arranging these ingredients into a viable structure.