Scent is life...and I can almost hear the sound of your eyes roll as you read that statement, but bear with me because I do have a point to make. It sounds like something that would be uttered in a french accent by a dark mysterious man in a black and white perfume commercial. Why are perfume commercials all the same!?
Scent is a powerful sense that we so often take for granted. It has an enormous power to unlock memory, more so than any of our other senses. Just a whiff of a particular scent can take you to a place you had long forgotten about in an instant. Whether you realize it or not scent is weaved into our lives and our memories like the melody of a song. It's always in the background but it forms the foundation of our memories and in turn our lives.
Having lived in London for five years in what turned out to be a rather tumultuous time in my life, it was there that the power of scent really became apparent to me. About a year into my London life I was living in a shared house in Tooting and remember very distinctly the start of my first London summer sitting in our lounge room with the doors open to the backyard. It was late afternoon and the smell of Jasmine from a tree in our yard wafted it's glorious fragrance into our house. Before then I didn't even know what Jasmine smelled like, but after a long dark winter in London that fresh, clean heady scent gave me hope that I could survive in this city. It inspired hope, and excitement and it awakened the adventurous spirit in me once more. Now not many people would associate London with Jasmine but for me that smell takes me right back there.
After being away from home for about three years I returned to Australia on holidays and all of the wonderful smells and colours of Australia flooded my senses. All of a sudden I felt a deep homesickness like never before for these scents that could only be found in Australia and longed for them when I returned to the UK.
Then I was stuck between the two places, my new life in London and my old life in Australia. By this stage I had married my husband in London and it looked as though we were there for the long haul so how could I possibly visit home whenever I felt homesick without actually visiting home?
On that Australian holiday a relative had given me a soap for Xmas that was supposed to smell like the beach in Australia and I kept it tucked away in my musty old wardrobe in London and would get it out on occasion and close my eyes and just breathe in the scent and imagine I was home. Then it struck me that scent has the most amazing ability to take you somewhere else. I immediately started researching and buying fragrance oils and essential oils online.
I learnt about the different notes in fragrances and how different essential oils where made. I experimented with mixing my own 'Summer in London' scent. Based off of my own experiences, Jasmine, Fresh cut grass, Prosecco and Strawberry. Then I started looking for a vessel to carry the scents, I started out trying to put the scents into bath bombs. I figured they would be easy enough to make and could carry whatever scent I wanted. Turned out I was wrong, I turned our entire kitchen upside down making different bath bomb recipes with different coloured embeds, with crazy colours and scents. I just couldn't get a single bomb to set. Not only that but the scents I made were awful, in fact the London Summertime scent I had been mixing gave me actual head spins when I smelt it and I felt like a complete failure. I mean how embarrassing! I had spent months collecting different scented oils and mixing them trying to recapture these memories and these scents were literally making me almost pass out. I almost gave up.
Fast forward two years later and my dreams of returning home had come true. I ended up shipping my oils to Australia despite being completely afraid to even open them to get a whiff after my previous dizzy spell.
Once we had settled in Australia London felt like a whole world away, I was happy that I had returned home but I also felt this emptiness like I had left part of me in London. I feel like anyone that has lived abroad or even lived somewhere away from home for any length of time will understand this feeling. And I was grappling with this desperate desire to feel like I could make a new life here while still being able to connect to my old life. For those of you who read my London blog you will know that my experience was character building to say the least. There were times of utter pain and isolation but there were also euphoric times and amazing people and memories. My baby was born there and spent the first 6 months of his life there. I saw my first snowfall in London, I can still remember seeing the first few flakes outside my window while I was brushing my teeth before heading off to work. I still remember the musty smell of the houses we lived in and the smell of the central heating whirring in Winter. The smell of jerk chicken on the streets of Brixton and portable barbecues filling the parks in Summer. The smell of the carpet in Wetherpoons, stale ale and cigarette smoke. The mud at Glastonbury, the cut grass and the cider. Winter Wonderland in London, the sweet and spicy mulled wine, the fresh cut wood and pine needles... my eyes well up just thinking about it all.
I think part of me is so afraid that I will forget these experiences that have shaped me, and I know that there must be other people out there that feel this way. And this longing, this abject feeling of Saudade is the spark of inspiration behind Scents of Saudade. It's not just about candles, candles are just the medium. It's my desire to use candles as a vehicle to capture these feelings and experiences. Like little time capsules, I can be sitting here in Sydney but I can also light up a candle and smell my old place in Tooting.
If I can make someone feel something (anything) when they smell my candles then that is my goal. I have taught myself how to make candles over the last couple of years and learnt as much as I could about fragrance and scent. What notes are and how they work together to create certain moods, the language perfumers use in scent to convey a message. Fragrance is not always literal. Salt for instance does not have a scent, so how do perfumers create the smell of sea salt? How do they create the feeling of ozone or the feeling of the ocean?What does a sunrise smell like? According to some perfumes sunset is interpreted as fresh lime and sunset as sweet orange.
Sometimes I will take a literal approach when blending fragrance oils and will try to go for realism, and sometimes it will be more poetic or sometimes a mixture of both. It is something that fascinates me and I find lot of joy in experimenting with fragrance mixes. My local candle supply store know be by name now and I will sometimes spend over an hour sniffing fragrance oils holding up different scent combinations to my nose. I will often have a concept in my head and will be trying to out all of the raw ingredients together to paint a picture or tell a story.