dimanche 31 janvier 2016

Interview of Maxine Hyndman, blogger passionate for tinctures and perfumes

Please, could you introduce yourself ?

­­­My name is Maxine Hyndman and one of the many things I have decided to learn is how to make perfumes - not something that smells like aromatherapy but a real perfume and so I signed up for the online Perfumery Art School's two year online course.

Portrait de Maxine Hyndman


What led you to plant tinctures, and to tincturing by yourself ?

Hmmm, I have to think about that one... well I would say that in the beginning I was obsessed to just begin smelling things and since I couldn't afford to purchase everything I set my sights on I had to wait and patiently gather them a bit at a time so while waiting for some shipments to arrive or the money to manifest I decided to use what I had around me and because I have the good fortune of living in the Alps there's a lot of raw materials to start experimenting with!

Do you remember the first tincture you have realized ?

I sure do, it was a piece of resin my husband had been keeping in the car that he would use as a chewing gum every once a while. One day while we were driving I saw him do it and got the mad idea to use that to start tincturing and since neither one of us knew the origins of the resin that tincture is now called "Resin Unknown".

Where did you find the information/training to guide you ?

Initially it was just my curiosity and desire to start smelling and learning that really guided me, but having the school as support was helpful in giving me the courage to continue.

What  information source  (book, website, blog, training) would  you  recommend for someone aspiring to enlarge his/her “tinctures” culture ?

The perfume portal Basenotes was and remains immensely useful and there I found someone in the perfume making forum that just focuses on tinctures and her wealth of knowledge and experience is large. I also found a couple recipes I really like on the Hermitage website, I'm not sure if it's still up there but he had posted a wonderful recipe for a Vanilla tincture that is out of this world wonderful! I changed it a bit to suit my own tastes. Another blog that has a lot of information is http://tambela.com/blog/.

What kind of tinctures do you realize most often and with which purpose ?

I haven't been making perfumes for so long to have made one specific one many times so I have many different types because I like to try lots of different things.

Olfactively, which one is your favorite tincture ?

I absolutely love my white Ambergris and my Larch resin tinctures but the best one is my Lapsang Souchong tea tincture.

Maxine et sa teinture de thé Lapsang Souchong

Photograph : the Lapsang Souchong tea tincture of Maxine

Could you give us your recipe ?

This is a really simple one: 50gr of Lapsang Souchong tea into 100gr of pure 96° grain alcohol. I miwed the tincture on August 26 and filtered it out on December 18th 2013 and the smell is simply gorgeous!

Resins, food, plants more or less dry, more ore less concentrated alcohol, macerating time, replacement, filtering, conservation, and so on… Not that simple… What would you advise to a beginner to avoid spoiling raw material?

First of all recognize that spoiling precious raw materials is a part of this learning process, it cannot be avoided if we are to learn. Yes, this is an expensive craft/hobby I have to be honest. But one can minimize the errors with proper research, some basic, sound education wherever you can get it, and a process (which I learned from the school) that is your own including the proper proportions every time so that you're not producing things as a hit and a miss ans the right tools like a good scale, one that measures in 0.01 or if you can afford it 0.001. Then commit yourself from the beginning to weigh EVERYTHING ALWAYS.

Les petits cailloux d'ambre gris de MaxineLa teinture d'ambre gris de Maxine







Photographs : white ambergris of Maxine, before and after tincturing

In which types of preparation do you use your tinctures ? And in which proportions ?

I typically wouldn't do more than 20gr of raw materials, between 10gr - 20gr is ideal in 50ml of alcohol because then if you don't like it you won't end up with a lot of wasted material and calculate that you will lose some of the tincture in the filtering process.

A little recipe ?

I weighed out 40gr of Mate tea and added 125ml of alcohol but the tea ended up soaking up all the alcohol so I doubled the alcohol to 250ml and ended up with a wonderfully, smooth 16% tincture after 6 weeks.

Les teintures de maté et de riz basmati de Maxine

Photographs : Mate tea and basmati rice tinctures of Maxine

How can we follow you on the web ?

You can check me out at Her Two Scents http://www.hertwoscents.com.

The photographs from this article come from http://www.hertwoscents.com with the courtesy of Maxine, thank you very much Maxine !


samedi 22 février 2014

Walk through the snow-covered countryside

Wednesday, November the 20th, 2013 : snow falls without discontinuing, coating in white a dozen of small villages located in the Terres Froides (in the Dauphiné). A lot of trees, still full of their autumn leaves, break and fall on the electric wires. Living two days without electricity, without internet, without cellular phones is a particular experience with its own aesthetics.


I park my car near a hedge. This morning, I plan to walk under the falling snow, in a small village of the Terres Froides (the "Cold Grounds"). I am surprised, as the engine stops, because my car smells hazelnut.

Benzoin : 10, Tonka Bean diluted at 50% : 3, Cacao Absolute diluted at 10% : 1, Bitter Almond diluted at 50% : 1

Today, a total electricity breakdown took place in this village and the surrounding ones, and I would dare to say one smells this. The chimneys exhale scents of burnt wood. Only the snowplough and some farmers on their tractors found the courage to drive on the road this morning, and remind me of the odours of civilization.

Juniper bay : 1, Virginian Cedarwood : 10, Cade diluted at 5% : 1

Snow envelops our steps with a hushed sound and wraps the landscape with white cotton. It also covers the scents, it blurs them and makes them more aquatic. Let us leave the roads, and come next to the woods, we will be more able to find there the typical scents of autumn.

Oakmoss : 9, Patchouli : 4, Tea tree : 2

The trees protest, they still have their beautiful autumnal foliage, with ochre, orange ans gilded glints. The snow lacked fair-play, covering them like that ! They give beneath the snow's weight, and sometimes, capitulate, incapable to resist anymore, their branches breaking and falling. Watch out for you, who walk under !

Green Mandarin : 6

There are other creatures than children that snow makes really happy. I meet four foot friends, coming to meet me, sniffing me, sharing with me their warm exhalations. It is snowing, this is a conversation topic that adds itself to the usual "hello" wanderers are used to saying one to another.

Niaouli : 2, Labdanum : 7

I walk along houses, here and there still remains the odour of shrubs from recently cut hedges. Typical, reassuring scents of mastered gardens, woody, tonic and green in the same time.

Mastic tree diluted at 50% : 1, Galbanum diluted at 10% : 1, Frankincense : 8, Siberian Pine : 10, Cypresss : 5

If I add a few drops of bergamot, this walk though the snow-covered countryside leads me slowly to the idea of a Chypre base. Now I give birth to this Chypre base, I will let it rest and will not be smelling it before 6 weeks.

Afterwards, we will see together how I will brighten it up.

Drops and grams :

Drops (for information, because drops depend on the capacity of the dropper and on the density of the EO) and grams :

Benzoe absolute (styrax tonkinensis) diluted at 50% : 60 drops = 1,30g,

Tonka bean absolute (dipteryx odorata)  diluted at 50% : 6 drops = 0.20g

Cocoa absolute (theobroma cacao) diluted à at 10% : 2 drops = 0.10g

Bitter almond EO (prunus armeniaca)  : 2 drops = 0.04g

Juniper twigs and bays EO (juniperus communis) : 2 drops = 0.07g

Virginian cedarwood EO (juniperus virginiana) : 20 drops = 0.62g

Cade rectified EO (juniperus oxycedrus) diluted at 5% : 2 drops = 0.04g

Oakmoss absolute (evernia prunastrii) diluted à at 50% : 56 drops = 1.08g

Patchouli EO (pogostemon cablin) : 8 drops = 0.24g

Tea tree EO (melaleuca alternifolia) : 4 drops = 0.10g

Green mandarin zests EO expression (citrus reticulata) : 12 drops = 0.33g

Niaouli EO (melaleuca quinquinervia) : 4 drops = 0.11g

Labdanum absolute diluted 50% (cistus ladanifera) : 40 drops = 0.62g

Mastic tree EO (pistacia lentiscus) : 1 drop = 0.04g

Galbanum EO diluted 10% (galbanum ferula) : 2 drops = 0.04g

Frankincense EO (boswellia carterii) : 16 drops = 0.38g

Siberian pine HE (abies siberica) : 20 drops = 0.44g

Cypress leaves and twigs EO (cupressus sempervirens)  10 drops = 0.23g

Bergamot zests EO expression, without bergaptene (citrus bergamia) : 36 drops = 0.99g


samedi 4 janvier 2014

Back to the roots of the website "Les Parfumeurs Amateurs"

During the starting up of my business, I have been looking carefully upon the visual identity of the Perfumers Amateurs's website, and upon all the graphics which had to represent and accompany my approach along this adventure.

Rather than an operational picture, as a perfume bottle, or than a suggestive picture, as a bouquet, or a blend of citruses and spices, I have chosen a logotype showing an extract of a sylvan universe, close to my olfactive and personal affinities.

Conifers are not the first raw materials we think about, when we talk about perfumes. But I fell in love with the scent of the black hemlock absolute (branches and extremities), smelt when I was studying at Cinquième Sens. As I tried to learn more about this tree, I saw photographs and I decided that black hemlock would stay with me, whatever the way, during this project. The needles and the cone of the logotype of Les Parfumeurs Amateurs, drawn by the graphic designer Nelly Lemar from ScrivaCom, evocate this conifer established on the Western coast of North America. For English speakers, it is the black hemlock or the mountain hemlock, for the botanists, the tsuga mertensiana, in French, la "pruche subalpine".

Before any olfactive comparison, the first words crossing my mind qualifying the black hemlock absolute are : rich, deep, noble, dark as a forest or as the night, generous and warm like a chimney fire in winter.

I have smelt it many times, I regularly come back to several impressions that follow one another or overlap : a blend of "Stoptou" candy and of strawberry marmalade, frankincense EO associated with cardamom and sprinkled with "Ajax" powder, a frindly aromatic touch of laurel or verbenon rosemary, of picea abies, patchouli submerged by a sea of cloves which, freed form its stillage exhalations, would maintain this conifer absolute within a sweet confit, joined by smoked notes, balsamic, almost powdered, livened up with a tiny touch of ginger. A note of immortelle absolute could also emanate from this scent, after a few hours of evaporation.

Smelling the spruce EO (tsuga canadensis) used for aromatherapy purposes, is not adapted for those who want to live the olfactive experience of the black hemlock absolute.

Perfumes containing this raw material :

  • Ormonde Woman, from Ormonde Jayne
  • Wode, from Boudicca
  • Forest Walk, from Sonoma Scent Studio

Some photographs, thanks to Wikimedia :

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3a/Tsuga_mertensiana_Eagle_Lake.jpg  :

Auteur : Frank Kovalchek d'Anchorage, Alaska, USA

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Mountain_Hemlock.jpg  :

Auteur : Janet L. Howard, USFS, Fire Sciences Laboratory


Auteur :  Walter Siegmund


Auteur :  Walter Siegmund


Auteur :  Walter Siegmund


Auteur :  Walter Siegmund


Auteur Charles Dawley from Petoskey


Auteur :  Walter Siegmund