Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Macmillan, Apr 1, 2011 - Health & Fitness - 272 pages
19 Reviews
An artisan perfumer reveals a lost art and its mysterious, sensual history.

For centuries, people have taken what seems to be an instinctive pleasure in rubbing scents into their skin. Perfume has helped them to pray, to heal, and to make love. And as long as there has been perfume, there have been perfumers, or rather the priests, shamans, and apothecaries who were their predecessors. Yet, in many ways, perfumery is a lost art, its creative and sensual possibilities eclipsed by the synthetic ingredients of which contemporary perfumes are composed, which have none of the subtlety and complexity of essences derived from natural substances, nor their lush histories. Essence and Alchemy resurrects the social and metaphysical legacy that is entwined with the evolution of perfumery, from the dramas of the spice trade to the quests of the alchemists to whom today's perfumers owe a philosophical as well as a practical debt. Mandy Aftel tracks scent through the boudoir and the bath and into the sanctums of worship, offering insights on the relationship of scent to sex, solitude, and the soul. Along the way, she imparts instruction in the art of perfume compositions, complete with recipes, guiding the reader in a process of transformation of materials that continues to follow the alchemical dictum solve et coagula (dissolve and combine) and is itself aesthetically and spiritually transforming.

  

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Review: Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume

User Review  - Rose - Goodreads

so far so bad. assumption-laden and factoid ridden. irritating and ill-informed. there's some fascinating writing about olfactory processing in humans. this is not it. I plugged on for a while as she ... Read full review

Review: Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume

User Review  - Elizabeth - Goodreads

This is a cross between a layman's textbook on perfume (including resources for the beginning perfumer, and a recipe to create as you progress through the book) and a philosophical treatise on the ... Read full review

Contents

Title Page
The Spirit of the Alchemist A Natural History
Prima Materia Perfume Basics
The Calculus of Fixation Base Notes
Aromatic Stangas Heart Notes
The Sublime and the Volatile Head Notes
An Octave of Odors The Art of Composition
Hacon de Seduction Perfume and the Boudoir
Perfumed Haters The Reverie of the Bath
Aromatics of the Gods Perfume and the Soul
ALSO BY MANDY AFTEL
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About the author (2011)

Mandy Aftel, founder of Aftelier, creates one-of-a-kind perfumes for individuals and private labels, and is also a counselor who specializes in working with artists and writers. The author of three previous books, she lives in Berkeley, California.

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