If you'd asked me in my teens if I 'liked' Jasmine, my response would have been based on my experience of the toiletry soap and cheap eau de toilette sprays sold at department stores. My answer would have been "No",...and I probably would have also made a face and wrinkled my nose...Those fragranced products were so harsh, so 'in y'face' and they stuck in the back of my nose annoying me well after I'd left the perfumery aisles.
Many years later, after many headaches and reactions, I learned that these fragrance molecules were not natural and I was one of those people; the canaries, that couldn't exist with them in close proximity. I began to look at all my personal products through a new lens of true botanical purity. It also reacquainted me with an interest in botany, illustration and the creative process. The property I grew up on was always flowering with something, and I'd make 'potions' from the Frangipani flowers, Boronia flowers, 'Elizabeth' Roses and all manner of weedy goodness. I loved textbooks and encyclopaedias with their exactly drawn specimens of flower, seed, root, stem etc.
Add to this my Mother, who has always been very interested in horticulture, just having a natural affinity and curiosity for it, so I grew up being routinely told the botanical names of plants and replying with "oh, you mean the purple one?", being quite unaware of the amazing resource this woman was and the value of her knowledge. Anyway, we live, we learn. She was the one who insisted on making the new privacy trellis at the back gate to the family home prettier with a Star Jasmine vine. It loved the spot (as Mum knew it would) and the flowers really were like white stars when it bloomed among the dark-green, glossy leaves.
Years ago when beginning my perfume journey I was introduced to a true Jasmine Absolute, diluted in some Jojoba, and the smell transported me back in time to the Star Jasmine at the back gate. Each time it bloomed the heady perfume would waft around our humble backyard making me feel like a princess. That was when I had my first real light-bulb-moment of understanding what botanical perfumery was in comparison to 'fragrance construction'. Perfumes try to mimic a scent. They are immitations of the real thing, and we love them anyway because they remind us of beauty and these scents can provide a portal to another time and place. But there IS a way to get 'true-to-bloom' scents and it is absolutely natural...it's called 'enfleurage'.
The process of Enfleurage involves fresh blooms being placed onto a layer of fat or butter which takes up the scent over a period of time. It's labour intensive as it has to be done by hand and changed each day.
This is the only way to get a *true to bloom* perfume from particular flowering plants. Jasmine grows in proliferation along one of my fence-lines where I live now, and I've only attempted this process once before with limited success. This time around things worked out better. No significant rain during the weeks meant I could collect fresh, dry blooms each day. The temperature during the day remained mild without large fluctuations (that usually results in too much natural condensation forming which actually damages the process). The base I used was a simple organic Shea Butter, scored each time I changed the blooms, and a small batch, so I wasn't overwhelmed with it.
Out of it all I have created a tiny amount of pure Jasmine Pomade (enfleurage solid) and a little Jasmine flower tincture from the spent blooms (waste nothing 😉). These are offered in a tiny Magic Earth Perfume collection, in limited quantities, as I'll be keeping half of the pomade to use in another base when the vine begins to bloom again. During some years I've been able to get three blooming episodes from this one set of vines, so here's hoping we have a year like that.
The spent blooms were steeped in 40% alcohol (gluten free) to make a botanical eau de toilette, or floral water (like a cold process tea/tissane brew). I'd placed a few drops of Radish Root Ferment in to avoid any microbial disintegration of the tincture and keep the infusion smelling perfect and fresh. This is also offered in a tiny release so that it can be experienced by other scent addicted nuts like myself.
During the summer I'll be experimenting with a Frangipani Enfleurage and Carnation Enfleurage...can't wait to see how they turn out 😊
Jasmine EDT (soon to be released)