making of

give off a strong odour

I cannot help it: When I have hyacinths in the house, I need to talk about them. ….

“Hyacinth flowers give off a strong floral, narcotic, green-fatty odour, which also contains earthy, spicy, animalic aspects.” , say E.-J. Brunke, F.-J. Hammerschmidt and G. Schmaus, in their article in the FLAVOUR AND FRAGRANCE JOURNAL, VOL. 9. 59-69 (1994), titled Headspace Analysis of Hyacinth Flowers.

So there you go: a strong floral, narcotic (whatever narcotic really means) odour.

Hyacinth in bloom is indeed a touch too much. And this morning, early, as I have to run down to the factory soon packing and getting shipments ready, early in the morning when fiddling with a hyacinth base I wondered “who wants to smell like hyacinth really?”. I mean: Would you want to stand in a room with a human sized hyacinth in bloom? Nope. You don’t want to.

It is not only the narcotic aspect, this “oh my god, I get a headache” thing, but also this odd combination of earthy, spicy, animalic aspects, that render hyacinth so … “special”. The animalic aspect is somewhat tame, though. The headspace analysis (says the article cited above) brings up indoles, but in my nose, hyacinth is mostly spicy. Metallic sharp. A hint earthiness, maybe. Green, yes. But spicy.  Uncomfortable spicy, and yet: Beautiful.

I guess that’s the magic of flowers, of some of them, how they can be repulsive and welcoming at the same time.

My base work, somewhat complex, aims at breaking hyacinth down; it is like putting a filter over a complex picture, a reduction, and an enhancement at the same time. And in there, there’s also an inspirational aspect; looking at the flow of colors, the waves of bright and dark, and letting go, placing the flower there, into one’s own imaginary spring garden.

The base sits next to me while I am writing this post. It feels a bit vintage. That’s nice. What’s next? The base is very complex (17 ingredients), thus things should not get too complicated from here. I see a need to cover up some of the top notes, maybe an aldehydic fresh bergamot-citrus chord (would underline the vintage aspect), and I see a musky ambergris base, with some fixation by sandalwood that should blend in gently without destroying the flower giving off a strong odour.

We will see.

Today’s picture: My watercolor lunchbreak yesterday. Hyacinth, of course!