Kathleen Hamilton – Botanical Perfumery

Kathleen Hamilton, an artisan perfumer, gave last Tuesday’s talk on botanical perfumery, taking us on a thorough tour of the subject, so dense in information that I would hardly know how to summarize. Fortunately, for those who attended and can’t remember all the facts or for those who missed the lecture, Wikipedia has a nice, detailed article at this internet address: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfumery
It covers much of the subject matter that Ms Hamilton spoke to us about.

Dr. Hans Moller introducing the speaker

Perfume making is dense in science, human labor and, of course, the poetry of fragrances. Below is a scent laboratory, and the blotter strips used to test scents.

A fragrance pyramid which shows the complicated “structure” of a perfume

A Fragrance Chart


Enfleurage is a technique developed in 19th century France, to capture fragrant compounds from plants. A large framed plate of glass is smeared with a layer of fat and allowed to set. Petals or whole flowers are then placed on the fat and their scent is allowed to diffuse into it. The process is then repeated by replacing the spent flowers with fresh ones until the fat has reached a desired degree of fragrance saturation.

Grasse, the French perfume capital


Distillation vats in India

Flower pickers




The Indian marigold market. These “ropes” of marigolds are draped over everything.


Since antiquity, perfume bottles are their own art form

After the talk Ms Hamilton set up a table with blotter strips and samples of the scents she has created


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