Mini Perfume Making Course with Julie Nelson of Aromatique Essentials

Post by Madeleine
Last Saturday, I was given a terrific opportunity to embrace some scented creativity by the one and only Miss Portia. She couldn’t attend a perfume making course with aromatherapist and creator of the Aromatique Essentials perfume line, Julie Nelson, due to work commitments and nominated me to go in her place.
The session was at Julie’s house in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains, about two hours’ drive west from Sydney. I was graciously offered a lift by the wonderful Catherine du Peloux Menagé, a perfume consultant and the organiser of the Sydney Perfume Lovers meetup group. Catherine and I had met many years ago at the launch of the Frederic Malle range in Sydney and I was one of her first perfume consulting ‘guinea pigs’. We have recently become reacquainted and it was wonderful to share and swap perfume stories on the trip.

Mini Perfume Making Course with

Julie Nelson of Aromatique Essentials

During the morning session, Julie described her love for natural perfumery and the reasons why she took up aromatherapy and the natural way. If you have been reading the blog, you’ll know that the main catalyst behind Julie’s vocation was her daughter, who was born premature and then diagnosed with a rare lung condition. Julie’s story of all the struggles and love particularly resonated with me as I was also three months premature back in 1974 and also given not much chance. Listening to her, I felt very thankful to be happy and healthy some 39 years later. Catherine, Julie and I were joined by a quartet of lovely bright young things: the bubbly Dimi and Monique, the inquisitive Sophy, and Teal, a lovely lass who had decided to embrace aromatherapy after coming to a crossroads in her life.
Julies Class #4Photo: Homemade meringues with edible rose petals for morning tea
After lunch, we got on to the creative part of the session: making our own scents. As someone who has loved contemporary perfumes for a long time, I was intrigued about exploring essential oils and having the chance to create my own scent rather than writing about others. Julie brought out her vast collection, a virtual menagerie of smells for the enthusiast. I was especially keen to try the musty herbaceous oakmoss and of course, the tuberose, which didn’t disappoint with the sharp mentholated opening segueing into buttery creamy goodness.
Julies Class #3Photo: Some of the oils we were working with
Before I start on the creative process, I should point out that while natural perfume making is about combining essential oils, it changes depending on what base or carrier you use. Julie had said earlier that she used oils such as jojoba or a mix of almond, sunflower and macadamia for perfumes to be dabbed on the skin. For spray versions, as the ones we were creating, a variety of bases could be used from vodka to spring water, floral waters or a hydrosol, which is the first 30 per cent of a floral water gleaned from the distillation process, such as rose or orange blossom.
Julies Class #2Photo: The lovely Julie explaining her process
Before we started mixing, Julie asked us five questions to work out what kind of blend would suit us: What was our favourite colour? What was our favourite food? What were our favourite types of smells? What were our favourite leisure activities? What feeling did we want to have wearing the perfume we had created?
My answers were: red; cheese and anything that satiated the umami taste; white florals, aldehydes and aromatic greens; reading walking and anything perfume related; confidence.
Julie advocated a blend of petitgrain, jasmine, ylang ylang, oakmoss and patchouli for me and a number of other oils for the other ladies in the group. We then got to work. My resulting perfume was rather lovely, a very soft and pretty white floral with a slight aromatic tinge from the petitgrain and oakmoss and anchored by a dry chocolately patchouli.
Julie Class #1Photo: Monique and Dimi at work
We had terrific fun blending and sniffing and perfecting, all capped off with a beautiful glass of champagne with raspberries. All in all, a fabulous day out and some wonderful insights into an area of perfumery I hadn’t explored before.
Have you tried natural perfumes or do you use essential oils? Have you tried any of Julie’s line?
With much love till next time,
M x

8 comments on “Mini Perfume Making Course with Julie Nelson of Aromatique Essentials

  1. Jackie b says:

    Oh, you must have had a wonderful day!
    Drooling over those little bottles…
    I do use essential oils for lotions and potions rather than perfume, but am loving Esscentual Alchemy Perfumes because they are so unique.

  2. Belle says:

    Oh, it must have been so lovely! I hope that I can attend this sort of class one day… I haven’t tried natural perfumes yet, but I’ve heard lots of wonderful things about them!

  3. Hey Madeleine,
    Great article, very upbeat and sweet. Isn’t Julie amazing?
    The girls enjoyed themselves immensely and they loved having access to so many of the perfumers building blocks, many of which are now banned by IFRA.

    I need to point out to the Perfume Community who are thinking of doing this course that the girls only complaints were that there wasn’t enough perfume creation learning, scientific knowledge and that some of the facts were erroneous or opinion, especially about the parts of the fragrance making community that creates scent using synthetics.
    What you get if you decide to do this course was a wonderful Natural Perfume Introductory Day and the most delicious meringues ever.
    Portia xx

    • Madeleine says:

      You’re right Miss P,

      The only downside was some erroneous thoughts that commercial perfumes are all synthetic and bad for you, which is incorrect. As you say the IFRA are banning many ingredients due to allergenic or toxicity concerns, some of which are natural like oakmoss.

      Julie happened to have some oakmoss and it was great to have the chance to experience something that we now sadly lack in most perfumes because of said restrictions!

      Would have liked to spend more time on Julie’s creative process as well, but overall, a nice mini introduction to essential oils.


  4. Azar says:

    I like to wear natural perfumes and have a small stash of essential oils and tinctures, fractionated coconut oil and sundry perfume making supplies. I’ve read books and attended a class or two where I did make my own scents but I just don’t have the motivation to go it alone. I have had no problem working in other art forms but just can’t seem to muster the energy to really try natural perfume making. Maybe its because I’m just so happy with what other people make?! Whatever the reason, I had better get busy before the FCO is past its pull date! Perhaps answering Julie’s five questions will help get me going.

  5. It was indeed a lovely day and I am left with admiration for all perfumers – whether they only work with natural oils or whether they work with nature identical materials and synthetics as well. The skill of recognising hundreds of different scents, of knowing how they will smell when they are blended into an accord, how to combine accords, knowing what to add to create an effect is truly awe inspiring. Julie has a wonderful collection of oils, often from the same plant but extracted in different ways and smelling slightly different – CO2 extraction usually produces a purer scent. I came home with my perfume – nice but fleeting – and a lump of cacao used for perfume making which I sniff as I’m at my desk. It’s extraordinarily powerful, almost tobacco like but if you hold it at just the right distance from the nose it evokes the best quality dark chocolate with a hit of liquor! Thanks Julie!

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