Friday, September 14, 2007

Canada: Sensorium, Scent

"Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived." ~ Helen Keller

The sense of smell has been critical to the survival of human beings. Early in our evolution, when we were on all fours, our smell sense was vital to our survival. As we became upright, olfaction was no longer the dominant system. We still depended on it for locating our food, mating, and hunting however the other sense systems began to play a much larger role.

Some interesting smell facts:
* The sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than any other sense. * Every person experiences the same exact odor differently. * We have a keener sense of smell later in our day. * Woman have a more acute sense of smell than men. * Olfactory nerves can renew themselves. * Each of us has an individual odor thumb print. * The right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for odor recognition. * Smells fall into the following catagories:
minty, floral, ethereal, musky, resinous, foul and acrid.

Smell Idioms:
To win by a nose. The sweet smell of success. I smell a rat. Everything is coming up roses. Smelling like a rose. Nosy. The nose knows. Something smells fishy.
Wake up and smell the coffee!

The word for smell in Spanish and French is "sentir" which means to feel / to smell.

When I heard we were going to Vancouver the first thing I did was to e-mail fellow botanical / natural perfumer Ayala Moriel. Ayala and I have known each other and participated in a few perfume groups and exchanges, but we had never had the opportunity to meet in person. Having arrived in Vancouver late in the afternoon, Greg suggested we go on a walk. As we toured the city by foot he mentioned that the following morning we would be shown an apartment as a potential live space during his stint at Rainmaker Studios. When he told me the address, I looked at him in disbelief. It was the same building that Ayala lived! What synchonisity.
My first visit with Ayala was fun, insightful and inspiring. Like illustrators, niche perfumers spend much time in solitude, cloistered in their ol'factories. It is a delight to meet
other artists working in the same medium, and a double treat when given the opportunity to see how they work. The arena of Natural/Botanical perfume often resembles Gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome. Ayala and I choose not to be part of the adversarial games and see the benefits of an inclusive perfume community.
Upon my arrival I was treated to a custom blended tea made specifically for her perfume Tizrah, meaning linden in Hebrew. In addition to the delicious tea she brought out fresh dates and Ethiopian tahini, as well as chocolate truffles. What an unforgettable and wonderous combination of flavors. I was enchanted with the fresh date and tahini pairing.
Ayala took me up to the studio and introduced me to her consultation process which was followed by experiencing her perfumes and witnessing a bit of her working methodology. She is very warm and willing to share glimpses into her scented realm, including some fragrances still in progress, soon to be released. My favorite of the perfumes I experienced and have samples of include Tamya: a cheerful floral, Caberet: a warm, rosy fragrance and Espionage: a deep, leathery perfume which dries down with a lovely soft and sweet powder note.
Ayala has just debuted her new, very expansive and informative website where you can read more about her and get samples. Additionally you can view a feature of her on CBC TV creating a custom perfume.

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