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  • work in progress

    Yesterday, on the way home from long weekend in the Swiss countryside, the conversation in the car went like

    (me) "you know, in a way, it feels right not to work too hard today!"

    (driver) "how come?"

    (me) " well, it's Labor Day"

    (driver) "where's that?"

    (me) " well, Labor Day's happening in the US"

    (driver) "I do not get it. We don't really live in the US".

    (me) "well, you know, I'm a global player these days and have my US company tauer perfume llc, and hence, I am sort of entitled to celebrate Labor Day. Ha!"

    (driver) " I don't get it. You're crazy"

    OK. Bottomline, I guess, is: I sort of took a day off on Labor Day to take a deep breath before heading for Pitti (Thursday) and before stepping into autumn (nowish) and before launching my newest baby, and getting ready for my early year (2016) and spring orders.

    yes. I am now thinking about spring. Because, what's planned for autumn, is either there or not. Mostly it is there (uff) and there is not much that can go wrong now. But although my thoughts are already spinning around March 2016, because some things really need a lot of time,  I am like everybody else. I can feel the days becoming shorter, temperatures going down, the light changing and with all this comes an introspection and a hint of a cozy mood. Like moving into house again, suddenly enjoying warm and darker colors, reaching for the snuggly blanket and looking forward to hugging the fleece. That's why I picked today's picture. It is work in progress, warm colors, with a somewhat introspective motive or mood. I have painting class today and will continue working on it: the eye and the hair needs some work. And yes: The picture of today is a very quick shot, and does not reflect the colors properly.

    I am reaching out for patchouli and amber and leather these days. These notes fit perfectly. And you?

  • dirty hands

    I painted the second last picture published here on the blog, the elephant in orange, with the brush that you see in today's picture. The brush is pretty rough, pretty large and round. This translates into: Difficult to do details, and nice structures due to the brush's rough hair. The brush helps to stay "generous" and free when painting.

    Here's a detail.

    20150804-2

    Thus, the tool is defining the result. When composing fragrances, my tools are pipettes and a balance, and the raw materials. In my composition work, with very few exceptions, I always use the undiluted raw materials. Sometimes, they are a bit hard to weigh in as you only need super tiny little bit of -for instance- a powerful aldehyde. I mention this because there are different ways to compose. Some use pre-diluted raw materials. My fragrance brushes are rough and heavy. To be honest: I do not know whether it makes a difference, but I guess it is part of my style. In an analogy, I might say: It helps staying "generous" and free when painting with scents.

    In the brush picture you can see more: a dirty hand.  When painting, you get dirty hands. (and dirty rooms and shirts....) When creating perfumes, I quite often get dirty hands, too. And when packing and making shipments ready and piling up boxes and fiddling with palettes: Dirty hands. Does it matter? You bet. It makes a difference because you get involved, soaked with scent, covered in sweat when lifting boxes, and you go home with a shirt that tells what you have done all day long. I have long working hours, but every day I am feeling blessed: What I do, everything, I do for myself. And my clients. What a difference compared to turning burgers or piling up soup cans or filling excels or ... The price to pay for that: Constant uncertainty as the next pay check is not guaranteed. I guess it is a choice.

    The brush picture shows you more, in the background, out of focus, but nonetheless very important: Aluminum cans. These are post- production cans, with not much left, fragrance raw materials, that I use for creating and all sorts of experiments. My perfume "organ", my collection of scents, is spread out everywhere, a complete chaos, but I know pretty much by heart where the bottle of vetiver oil stands. Again: It is a matter of style. I cannot get organized there and I don't know why, but I feel this is important.

  • off

    Hi there!  I am off and away, for a couple of days there will be no posts as I am sort of off the grid, too. Off from sickbay, too. The last two days were - to be honest- terrible: what  a perfect timing to get sick...but now I am up and running again. Sort of.  Bottomline: As I will be in the desert for a while, there will be no posts.

    And finally:  here's a thank you.  To the people at nichepack.com . It is them who pack and ship my US orders for tauerville. Without them, I would have been lost the last 48 hours.

    I am looking forward to talking to you soon again. Have a great time!

     

     

     

  • headlight

    I got myself a headlight for camping. Today's picture shows you what the light does when having it shine down, on myself...

    I do not like to post selfies too much. I am not a digital native and always feel that my face is not that important really. But here, I could not resist. When I got the lamp, I tried it out in a darkened room and took the selfie. I like this picture. It is so odd.

    That much about the selfie.

    I tend to think a lot about pictures, the way we see them, and the world. Never in human history so many pictures were taken and published. Not by real cameras anymore, but by phones and pads. And never were so many pictures shared like today. The sheer number of pictures, I am convinced, changes the way we see them, and the world behind them. And with all the  pictures that we take to mirror reality, through the filter of our eyes and tools, there is no need anymore to paint pictures that accurately mirror the world. We discuss this in the painting class a lot. No need for that.

    But, trying to paint and illustrate accurately what we see, is the perfect exercise for hand eye coordination and a great lesson to master your tools. Once familiar with your motive: Move on and reflect about a motive, let it flow, follow your inspiration.

    With head space technology and a couple of ten thousand molecules at hand, more molecules than ever at the reach of anyone who wants to create perfumes: There is no need to recreate the scent of a rose or any other flower accurately.  First, it has been done multiple times and you can get your perfect rose directly from your prefered raw material supplier, like Givaudan. I don't get these ready to use flower bases, though. Because 1) everybody is using them, 2) you get dependent on a particular base and its composition that is not revealed to you and 3) I find it a good exercise to come up with bases myself and learn about the motive.

    Sometimes, I read online comments, from perfume lovers, complaining generally that perfume xyz from brand xyz says "rose" and does not smell like a "real" rose. I feel that this is wrong. Nothing's wrong with a nice "real" rose splash, for instance, but in the end, I feel we should expect perfumes to be inspired by, not copies of.

  • Schleswig-Holstein

    I had the pleasure to attend an event last week, a get together, at the Duftcontor in Oldenburg. This is one of the very few real niche perfumeries there are in Germany. You will find some of the best there is, there, and none of all the other bottles that you find in many places. Call it hardcore niche or whatever: It is a wonderful perfume place, the Duftcontor, and curated in the best sense of the word,  and - to be honest- you would not really expect this kind of perfumery in Oldenburg.

    Don't ask me why there is not much of artisanal high end niche perfumery in Germany. My products, for instance, air du désert marocain included, are sold online and in brick and mortar stores in Germany: in 3 places. Only. Compare this to Italy. I lost the overview there. It must be 35 or 50 "doors". Why is this? It is cultural, I guess. Germany is more up north. Whatever.

    I explored the north of Germany, more or less by chance. You know: There are two Oldenburg in Germany. They are about 3oo km apart, by train. Today's picture shows you what you see in one of them when you get there. Just in case... When getting out of the train in Oldenburg in Schleswig-Holstein I realized quite swiftly that I was wrong. The Oldenburg in Schleswig-Holstein is nice, but small and not much perfume is happening there.  The next train brought me back and on the right track. Thus, there were a couple of extra hours to think about what is happening there in Germany, up north, where my ancestors are from. I am second generation Swiss. Only. Part of my parent side was first generation immigrants from Germany, a couple of years right after the war.

    The last war. Now that I write these lines: Funny. We had so many wars in Europe and the world that we started numbering the most important ones. WW I, WW II. Which leaves room for more, like WW III and beyond. Yesterday, when watching the news, learning about Jemen falling down into the abyss  (too)  and the fascists moving all over the place and gaining ground in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, we wondered whether the third one is there, but just looks different than what we were expecting. You know: I stopped talking about "Islamic state" and "Al Quaeda" or whatever other groups there are: I call them fascist. Because that's what they are and their logic follows fascist logic. And I am convinced that the media should just do the same. Stop giving them faces and names: Just tell the world what the challenge is and what their nature is. Fascists.

    So you see: There was a lot of time to think, travelling from Oldenburg to Oldenburg, passing by Hamburg, where my family was bombed out of their house during WWII. I am so grateful that there were hundred of thousand US families sending the most precious that they had, their sons, over to another continent to fight the fascists. And in the end, I guess there is reason to be grateful that they have sent their bombs, destroying the house where my mother lived as kid, as there was no freedom as long as this house was still standing in Hamburg.

    So. And now: A lovely week to you. Mine will be super busy. As I will travel to the US in about three weeks there's a lot that needs to get done by then.

     

  • kraftort

    Kraftort is German, and I guess it does not really translate well. Power place. A place where there is power, where you can plug in (figuratively) and recharge. Today's picture shows you such a "Kraftort", where I was over the weekend. In the Alps, at the foot of a glacier (100 years ago the hotel was built at its foot, these days you have to walk for 30 minutes to get to the glacier, though), with an incredible view. I sketched the view in watercolors, just a quick sketch, looking into the valley, with the glacier hiding behind a line of trees, before leaving. And as so often: The quicker the better.

    It is one of these places where you feel in balance and where you can forget the everyday forth and back, feeling a strong gratitude for the good things that happen to you. I am very blessed and know that a lot of good things happened to me recently.

    This short trip up there was also a good bye to winter. Snow, snow hiking, the silence of crisp cold air. And now, down here in Zurich again: Done with winter. Hurray!

     

  • a man who works

    Today, I wish to share with you a citation from a book. Sometimes, when I feel that I am not advancing in my painting explorations, when I feel like nothing works and every failure feels not like the next step towards success, sometimes I buy a book. They don't really help, as there is only one way to get better: Training, failures and more training. But the books are a motivation.

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer, a man who works with his hands and brain is a craftsman, but a man who works with his hands, his brain, and his heart is an artist". (Painting Portraits and Figures in watercolor, by Mary Whyte, eISBN: 978-8230-2678-4)

    I think this is true. I will keep this in mind for perfumery.

    And, if true, this comes with a couple of consequences. One of them being: It makes the artist vulnerable.

    Today's picture: The parking lot next to where my factory rooms are located, seen under a grey sky last Friday, with stormy winds melting the snow away.

  • cheers to a fruitful 2015

    Here's a cheers for a happy, fruitful, peaceful and fragrant 2015 .

    I am looking forward happily into the new year, not knowing what it will bring, but I am sure that it will be full of surprises. I am also looking happily into the start of 2015 with the daily routines coming back after the holidays. It is time to go back to normal. And this is perfectly fine with me.

    So there we go: A Happy New Year !

  • light's the enemy

    Yesterday, when labelling more Rose chyprée in the factory, the sun broke through the clouds and brought the flacons to life. Today's picture shows you this moment. This is a rare sight, as the flacons are stored all in boxes, hidden on the shelves, and do not see the light really. Neither do I see them. Light is actually a perfume's biggest enemy.

    Although, I think, not every scent is equally sensitive. I remember the one flacon of air du désert marocain, that was sitting in the window of a shop in bright daylight, for about 2, 3 years. When I noticed, I mentioned that the flacon should not be used as tester anymore, as the scent's probably gone. We tested it, the shop owner and me, and, oh wonder!, the fragrance was still there, almost perfect. Just the citrus chord was a touch off, but really just a touch. So that was cool.

    I remember another scent of mine, the last drops of my limited edition "orris", now about 8 years since I presented it (without any plan to bring it back up to now). These last drops (think 100 ml) were always sitting in a closed but large aluminum can, with (unfortunately) quite some empty volume, air, and when I tested it about two years ago, it was off. Still recognizable, but definitively off.

    So there you go: Perfume can turn bad, and eventually it will. In a sense, perfumes are alive. They change.

    And they change also (slightly) from batch to batch, because what goes inside changes, especially naturals. As much as we all hate changes when it comes to our fragrances, in a sense I like the idea: perfumes as living matter.

  • cliché

    Today's picture shows you a little ( more or less post card sized) illustration that is one of the results of yesterday's watercolor class. Yes. It is very cliché. I painted it following a picture, and have no idea what mountains these peaks actually are. Maybe they are somewhere in the US?  No clue here: Any guess?

    So there we go: Cliché. I love them, we all do. They are all around us. There's tons of cliché when it comes to perfumery, and -sometimes- when giving presentations I feel like: Lets enlighten the listeners. Deep down there I am still a little bit a scientist. Thus, during the radio talk the other night, there was the cliché of perfumes and pheromones and how perfumes can be used by its wearer to attract the innocent, unknowing guys or girls. Cliché. Forget it.

    But then, we all love cliché, and why destroy them if we all love them.

    While travelling to the place where the radio talk took place (in a cool bar), I googled "perfume ad". Wow. Talk about cliché.

    Here's a nice "counter" cliché picture that I found there, too. I love this one. Here's the link. As I am not sure about the copyrights, I prefer not to publish it here, but please, check the link.

    "Cliché", is what I thought yesterday night, watching for some time Home Order TV (jewellery section), as I sometimes do before going to bed when suffering from restless brain syndrome. There is nothing more soothing than 15 minutes home order TV. It is like a church service. And they sell. That's a least what they tell us. It is selling, in the most professional way, and I bet: They are profitable. Which brings me right to the last point of this post: Amazon (still) running in deficit mode. How cool's that? There is nothing wrong with Amazon. From time to time I get stuff there, too. But here's the thing: There, in this industry, profit right now seems not to be that important. A classical cutthroat competition.

    One last point, so to say "something to think about for the weekend": Two days ago, when watching a show about money, a priest actually said something interesting, and it is sort of in line with me watching home order TV, and thinking "church service". The priest said, referring to `money makes the world go round`: Actually, this is heresy. So there you go. Have a great weekend.

     

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