One of my beauty ‘things’ I always mean to do is to learn more about fragrances. There are some writers who are so skilled at talking about scents, it’s so very impressive, maybe because they know their stuff – the notes, the similarities, the subtleties that make each perfume unique.
I have tried reading a few books about perfume before but it never really sunk in. A thick book about the history of perfume is great but I don’t have the time…a book covering all the technicalities of perfume is great too, but hardly engaging. Then I got this book, Perfume, The Art and Craft of Fragrance by Karen Gilbert to review:
Firstly – presentation. I am a sucker for book presentation (I have a very impressive library as I’ve been collecting books since I was a kid). This book is well presented in hardback with a stylish cover, and it’s compact size – not so small that you have to squint to read it, but smaller than A4 (not as long as a normal A5 size but a squarer shape) so it can be carried around fine. The photography is lovely – clear and modern.
But, I have pretty books that don’t say much so presentation isn’t everything. Luckily in this book, everything I wanted to know and am interested in, in terms of fragrance is covered in this book.
The chapters are below but basically they cover the psychology of smell, the history of perfumery (a concise history but I like it, because it basically got to the point) and fragrance icons (such as Chanel), fragrance classifications (groups, ie. Floral), natural and synthetic ingredients…
Chapter 5 to 8 is how to make your own perfume and smelly goods – YEAH! Not many books incorporate both the history and background of scents, AND has recipes on how to make this stuff at home.
This book is very relevant. What I mean by that is…you know when you go to a discount book store, and there’s a book thats 99p and you flick through it and it’s so old fashioned and dated? Well I have seen perfume books in this kind of category and I’ve thought no…I don’t want to create a fragranced pillow for my knicker drawer. But this book has many things that I personally, really want to make, such as a simple perfume oil, home made reed diffusers, solid perfumes etc. Many of the products look tempting…
To be honest you could sit back in an evening or so and read the first half of the book, depending on how much time you have. With baby H needing my attention it took me more like 2 weeks, but that’s because I did a few pages at a time. The book is useful because of the recipes in the back – even after you’ve learned about this history, you will still want to refer to them and also for classifications too.
Even though you can get through this book quite quickly and everything is concise and well written (easily read and understood) it doesn’t hold back on using proper perfumers terms or using ‘special’ words if that makes sense – it’s not a micky mouse book even if it is a small book.
I haven’t had a chance to try the recipes in the back yet but I do have this sort of stuff around and I will do as soon as I get a spare hour to myself! I have a blend that I was addicted to during my pregnancy (Lemon, Geranium, Ylang Ylang and Vetiver) and I’d love to make it into a perfume oil.
Notice the measurements – you might need to get yourself a electronic mini scale! (they sell them on eBay, usually for jewellers. I have one and it’s useful for small measurements).
I don’t really have time to read as much as I’d like these days but I truly enjoyed reading this little gem of a book – I learned, I enjoyed, and now I have some projects to be getting on with! And of course, many of the items on the back would make lovely Christmas gifts for people.
If you are quite advanced with what you know about fragrance the book may be too basic for you but as a newcomer its the perfect unpretentious and hands on introduction to the art.
Buy it (current price £8.99).