In The Studio: Blue Mist

Blue Mist
Misty Mountain and Summer Petals

The summer of 2022 marked a significant turning point for the perfumery in two major ways: first, I began rebranding the perfume business; and second, my creative process took an experimental turn. Regardless of the concept or inspiration, I committed to working with materials and fragrance profiles that were novel to me.

Embracing simplicity and elegance, I aimed to use a lighter touch, steering away from my favorite and go-to ingredients. This was challenging because I naturally gravitate towards rich amber notes. It required me to expand my scent vocabulary and become intimately familiar with ingredients I had previously found uninteresting.

To set the tone for my work, I attempted to write a few haikus. This particular one was written on July 3, 2022, almost two years to the day of writing this post!

homely haiku
Composing Something Blue

It was already getting quite hot when I visited the garden that morning, with temperatures in the 90s and rising into the 100s until after dark. Despite the heat, the outdoors still calls, and mornings are the only chance to breathe fresh air.

Sitting by the pool is incredibly relaxing and opens my mind to creativity. On this particular day, when you’re sweating by 9 AM even in the shade, it makes one reminisce about those times when the air was crisp, cold, and clear.

Years ago, we took a trip to Brackenridge. I remember the stunning brilliance of the air at 9,000 feet, the intense blue of the sky, and the clarity of the atmosphere. How could I capture that in a perfume? Or, similarly, the cool moisture of the fir forests on the west coast? This led me to the central concept of the formula: juniper berry.

As I looked around, I realized I was completely surrounded by juniper berry. Here in central Texas, we call it cedar, and it’s considered a nuisance in many ways. But what a treasure trove of fresh berries right in front of me.

Blue Juniper berries on the tree.

Juniper berries are commonly used in gin and traditional stews. I started using them in hunter’s stew from a recipe I learned while living in Germany in 1981, and I still use that recipe today. Here is a link to a similar recipe. My version includes a bit of dry sherry.

Light, subtly oily, clear, fresh, slightly coniferous, and, to my nose, watery and cool; juniper berries are delightful when crushed fresh off the trees just as they ripen. The essential oil is naturally more intense, as it lacks water content. Dried berries, available as a spice, have a warmer profile compared to their fresh or oil counterparts.

Contrary to popular belief, juniper berry has multiple health benefits and is not toxic up to 10 grams. Due to its bitter taste, it’s unlikely anyone would use more than a few berries for tea, and my stew recipe calls for no more than five dried berries, well below the recommended limit. 

Here is a link to a similar recipe.

Building Around A Top Note

Perfumes are usually designed around middle and base notes. Top notes dissipate quickly and are primarily used to ‘open’ a perfume to the heart and base notes. It was extraordinarily frustrating to try to follow the rules for formulation and have the blend fail again and again. 

Ultimately I resolved to make a beautiful perfume by breaking some of the rules, which means that the blend is top-note heavy. And, somehow, I managed to select middle and base notes that support the top notes and bring them along the drydown. 

Blue Mist pairs juniper berry with linden blossom CO2 to create an airy floral composition, cool enough for a hot summer day. 

An Unexpected Result
Incense Bush

A few weeks ago, I sprayed Blue Mist on my wrists and neckline before heading to the pool. The Perfumery is still under construction (see below for some in-progress photos), so we usually walk through to check on the progress each morning on our way to water the vegetable garden and take a dip in the pool. I wanted to test how Blue Mist performed on a warm summer morning, and it did not disappoint. Admittedly, if anyone nearby was wearing a lot of sunscreen, it might have been overpowered. However, in the fresh air, it was innocently sweet.

On our walk back to the house, I caught a strong whiff of the scent again. Initially, I thought it was my perfume, but I was puzzled because it had washed off in the water and I couldn’t smell it on my skin. To my surprise and delight, the sweet almond verbena bush in front of our house was the source of the fragrance. When I sprayed the perfume on my wrist again, it was remarkably similar to the verbena blossoms!

We’ve enjoyed the incredible fragrance of these bushes every year since we planted them in 2017; it’s a scent that’s both familiar and always enthralling.

How fortunate that I was able to unwittingly create a perfume that allows me to carry this impossible scent with me anytime, anywhere.

Amaravati Perfumery Construction

Perfumery Workbench

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