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Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume [Format Kindle]

Mandy Aftel
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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From Publishers Weekly

To this most extraordinary treatise on the history and making of perfume, Aftel, a writer and aroma designer, brings sheer delight in the bouquet of aromas in the natural world, as well as a "love for arcana" and an irreverent sensibility that embraces "little-acknowledged" aphrodisiacs like the smell of sweat. Smell is one of the most primal senses: even newborns orient first toward the smell of their mothers' milk. And world history is full of the manipulation of smell, she reveals, starting with the palace perfumers of ancient Egypt; the Israelite women who concocted essences for temple sacrifices; the Romans, who anointed nearly everything; the alchemists, who searched for the Divine Essence; all the way up to modern pheromone researchers who hope, finally, "to snare the sex drive." Aftel traces this history with witty anecdotes (Ben Franklin's plea for a drug to make sweet-smelling farts, Petrus Castellus's advice to rub civet directly on the penis) and well-chosen alchemical and botanical illustrations. After this seductive introduction, she shifts into the how-to mode, discussing the actual making of a scent, a process of selecting certain "base notes," adding "heart notes" and finally the "top chords." Her emphasis is on experimenting, and developing an "olfactory consciousness." Since organically based perfumes interact with the wearer, they must be designed for a particular user, not vice versa, as with commercial, synthetically based products. Aftel provides some sample formulas and concludes with a roundup of romantic, bathing and spiritual uses of perfumes. Agent, Peter Matson.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Présentation de l'éditeur

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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Commentaires client les plus utiles
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Je recommande ce livre 20 novembre 2013
Par Laura
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Je recommande ce livre aux débutants qui souhaitent se lancer dans la création de parfums faits maison (à partir d'huiles essentielles et d'absolus de plantes). L'auteur détaille bien les étapes pour se lancer, la classification des essences, etc.
Simple et accessible, ce livre m'a beaucoup aidé pour créer mes premiers parfums.
Je pense qu'il peut aussi intéresser les "parfumeurs confirmés" car l'auteur partage sa vision et son savoir faire, elle détaille bien chaque essence.

Seul petit bémol : le livre inclue peu de recettes de parfums (ce qui est quand même bien pratique pour se lancer !)

Conclusion : je recommande chaleureusement cet ouvrage.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  54 commentaires
127 internautes sur 132 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Essence & Alchemy 22 juillet 2001
Par nancy - Publié sur Amazon.com
This just might be the best overall book on fragrance ever, ever written. It is of essential interest to the reader interested in perfume at most any level, from the connoisseur to the designer to the fabricator to the consumer. Mandy Aftel persists in creating perfumes from "all natural" ingredients, after "the trade" now relies on synthetics and scent enhancers and linear construction, even in the most expensive concoctions. And, here we're talking about QUALITY perfumes with history behind them, not new age, "go with the glow" infusions that are often a little reminiscent of the compost heap after the rain. For the general reader, Aftel references the history of fragrance preparation, from ancient times, through alchemists perfumery, to the great age of the perfection of the art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. All the traditional ingredients are itemized, from essential incenses and oils used as the "base" to the citrus and floral essences used for the "heart" or middle notes, to the delicate and short-termed finishing high or "head" notes. The properties of each are well explored. More interested readers will be delighted to learn more about the character of what is going into their favorite perfumes and what combines and what doesn't. The reader considering dabbling in perfumery, will find this to be an excellent guide on how to start and continue to build fragrances from easily obtainable essences acquired by mail order.
62 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 enchanting!! 29 août 2003
Par Jason D. Florin - Publié sur Amazon.com
This book relates the historical facts about perfumes in an enjoyable, easy to read manner. The author does not limit herself to the descriptions of the typical essential oils listed in most books such as lavender, rose and jasmine, but also includes more exotic aromatics such as blood orange, champa, amberette, and cabreuva. She does not include the more medicinal smelling oils like thyme and tea tree in her recomendations as many other books do. However, this is a book on perfumary and the esthetic properties of the essential oils are the focus. For those interested in the technical and medicinal merits of the essential oils, this is not the book for you. The author does not promote the use of animal products; they are mentioned as these oils are a part of the history of perfumery, and still have a role , albiet diminished, in the modern perfume industry. Her discriptions of the various oils are detailed and her anecdotal references are interesting. She describes how to blend oils, offers suggestions on blending companions, and provides enough data to create your own blends. The oils are catagorized by note, and also according to family ie. resin, citrus, floral etc.She also includes recipies, indicates which oils are costly and/or difficult to find, and some sources. Overall, this is a well written, entertaining, and information packed book, which focuses on perfumery not chemistry.A sheer joy to read, and inspiring for the creative nature of blending essential oils.
34 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This should be a prerequiste book... 10 décembre 2004
Par Kasee L. Kozel - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is the book to have when you want the best perspective about natural perfumery. Most perfume books focus solely on the synthetic or aesthetic aspect of scent. "Essence and Alchemy" goes into depth about all aspects of perfume: scientifically, historically, sensually and spiritually. Maybe this will add one more element to home perfume-making. It's what makes the book unique. That, and it's a great read. I renewed it twice from the library when I first came across it!
48 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 When Mr. Gilbert Talks.... 16 juillet 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
I am familiar with the few available sources of reliable information on perfumery, as well as the various treatises on sundry applications of natural botanical oils and extracts. Books offering expert insight into the individual ingredients used in natural Perfumery, such as Steffan Arctander's History of Natural Flavors and fragrance Materials, are quite scarce and far beyond the budget of most. Recent publications on the fundamentals of perfumery, such as Salvatore Paul Gimelli's Aroma Science, are highly technical and unsuited to those lacking a broad foundation in chemistry.
I would recommend that Ms. Mandy Aftel's Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume be considered mandatory reading for anyone fascinated with natural oils and extracts, and the sensual world of Perfume. This is an ideal guide to the student and neophyte perfumer alike. Ms. Aftel has offered us a wonderful introduction to natural perfumery. Those seeking an historical study of perfumery will find in Essence and Alchemy exhaustive research distilled into a fascinating and elegant retelling. But more than providing us with a mere history of perfumery, Ms. Aftel has shared a wealth of knowledge gathered from her own experiences working as a professional perfumer. Essence and Alchemy offers a unique insight into a master perfumer's art. Ms. Aftel provides a most enchanting invitation to the world of natural perfume, and if ever a book may revitalize the all but lost art of natural perfumery, it is Ms. Aftel's Essence and Alchemy.
A reviewer has expressed strong disapproval over the inclusion of Animal derived materials, such as Civet, in Ms. Aftel's book.. Civet is certainly among the ingredients used in traditional natural perfumery. Civet can prove extremely difficult to work with, and a great deal of skill is required to successfully formulate with this ingredient. Competence in the application of Civet may serve as an indicator of the skill of a natural perfumer. Of course, use of Civet, or any animal derived ingredient is not necessary to make natural perfume. Vegetarians, Vegans, and many others who find animal derived materials unpleasant may work without them.
In my opinion, this reviewer has greatly overstated the role of animal derived materials as suggested in Essence and Alchemy. Nowhere in Essence and Alchemy does the Author "wax nostalgic on the world of perfumery when animals were hunted to extinction or worse for their essences". This remark is absurd, and hurtful. The author expresses no cruel delight in reminiscing over the decimation of species sacrificed in order to collect fragrant musk.. Civet Cats are not slaughtered to collect Civet Paste, which is a grease-like substance secreted from glands located below the animal's tail. Proper care of the cats will vary from keeper to keeper, but it is not necessary to do the animal harm while collecting Civet Paste. Any keeper who cares for the animals or values them as a source of livelihood will protect the cat's health as vigilantly as any dairy farmer would that of a milk cow. Civets are not considered endangered, and the Cat has no forerunners that have become extinct due to demands of the fragrance industry.
Further, it should be made clear that the reviewer is thoroughly in error that Civet Paste "....is illegal to import to the US, and illegal to sell". I have been professionally importing fragrance and flavor ingredients into the United States from around the world for six years, and I recommend all concerned parties peruse the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (2003) - supplement 1, Chapter Five, under the heading 0510.00.20.00, Ambergris, Castoreum, Civet and Musk. My personal recommendation to the reviewer is that they offer an apology and courteous retraction of the statement suggesting that Ms. Aftel has encouraged any illegal activity, such as the import or distribution of good labeled contraband in the United States.
But I digress...If you are interested in the art of natural perfumery, Ms. Aftel's Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume is the best resource the available to you. Take advantage of a beautifully written book on a most fascinating topic!
29 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 An overview of perfume, but somewhat unfocused 25 octobre 2009
Par Raine Daye - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This book was an entertaining read, but it was hardly a good historical account of perfumery. It did have a brief overview at the beginning of the book, but it quickly goes into a collection of quotes and historical quirks about perfume. I think that the "alchemy" part of the book where the author repeatedly ties perfume making to the thought processes of alchemists gets old fast. While alchemical processes did play a part in perfume's beginning the parallels she draws seem to be more of her own making.

I think this book also didn't quite live up to my expectations of a book to help a beginner start making their own perfume. It did list items a beginner needs and go into a discussion of the different notes and the ratios they need to be in, and it also described the characteristics of a sampling of fragrances as well. However, a majority of these passages seemed to drift into (and worse yet start out as) lengthy paragraphs on the "spiritual" aspects of perfume, while others simply dwell on the intangible and almost go as far to qualify as "purple prose".
The author also has a preference of natural scents over synthetics which I don't have a problem with especially since she explained why, but she does mention that synthetics can cheaply extend natural scents for perfumers on a budget but at no time during the book does she discuss the use of synthetics for scents that cannot be naturally derived such as with the "ozone" smells.

This book did have a few recipes for scents (only about four I think), and it did have a list of beginning supplies as well some website retailers of these items, but no where did it go into a lot of detail as to why someone would want to do this on their own (given the large starting cost) outside of creating personalized scents. I think I would have liked the book better if there was more information or at least if the information contained was more easily accessible. As is, the useful parts of the book are often hidden between the author's comparison of perfumery to alchemy and while I may find the imagery of combining the sun and moon interesting it isn't incredibly relevant to what people who want to start making perfume need to know.
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