Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A trio of perfume packaging titbits, including a haberdashery-themed hoarding tip

I am sorry for the rather relaxed pace of my blogging lately - so relaxed as to be almost supine! - but I have been preoccupied with a series of knitting commissions, and as this is a seasonal activity, you have to strike while the iron is hot. Or while the ambient temperature is really cold, more like, which it is now. I have just trudged in a blizzard about 100 yards from car to optician, and feel like a veritable Scott of the Antarctic. Yes indeed. I am amazed that the cold weather doesn't seem to faze Truffle - does her fur coat have different settings or something? Oh, and I also had a work inquiry to field, and have just met up with Val the Cookie Queen!, as some readers may have seen on Facebook, and had a visit (and pep talk) from the fire brigade, so it has been all go one way and another.

I do have some perfume reviews in the pipeline, but this time round I thought I would share one more perfume packaging hoarding tip to add to those in my recent post, and also report on a couple of other packaging-related matters. One is merely a bit annoying, and doesn't quite qualify as a scent crime - well, if you've had the same experience, you decide!

Button tins - an unexpected source of 'plastic baggie bounty'

Eek! Did I just say 'baggie' there? How much do I dislike that term, when there is the perfectly good alternative of 'bag'? Actually, I dislike it easily as much as 'veggies', oh my goodness, yes. Preserve me from anyone 'prepping the veggies'. But in this instance, 'bag bounty' doesn't pack such a punch - in a consonance way, I mean, so I have run with my baggie nemesis. I am talking about those little sealable plastic bags that perfumistas find so handy to use for smaller sizes of perfume vials, whether singly or in small huddles.

In the old days I used to buy loads of 1ml stoppered glass vials, which came with their own supply of plastic bags, but you don't see them so much with the larger sizes like 2ml and above, or not where I buy my stocks. Then a chance search for a decorative button to sew on a new style of wrist warmer I was working on led me to the cornucopia of small plastic bags that is my button tin. At some point these buttons all belonged to a garment I owned, and the little bags may even have hung from the fabric on a thread when you bought it. I would have cut them off and transferred them carefully to the tin for safekeeping, against the time I lost a button on that item of clothing. 30-40 years after I started this collection, Lord only knows what happened to most of the clothes, and even in the case of the ones I may still have, it would take me forever to locate their relevant matching buttons. So I now feel completely free to plunder the tin for bags, and tip the buttons out to take their chances in a general melee, safe in the knowledge that they will probably never be needed.

Clam-like perfume bottle boxes 

Now this is a topic I have been meaning to raise for some time, as I encounter it across all the categories of makeup, skincare and perfume. Quite simply, I am talking about those boxes which resist all attempts to open then, and even your most concerted prising efforts are to no avail. The only way to open the damn box is to yank or rip it in the process of tugging wall of box away from flap. The precise nub of the geometrical problem at issue is the little indented bits of card that sort of catch at the corners: in vain do you try to make the side wall bow out to release the flap from those cut out bits; you can never pull it far enough away to get purchase inside and meanwhile you risk distorting the whole shape of the box.

I do not mean to single out Yves Rocher's Quelques Notes d'Amour as the main culprit here, for it is a 'thing' with lots of boxes, as I say. But this was the last one where I observed the phenomenon, and the nearest to hand.

Unexpected factices in the conservatory

The other weekend I was invited to a Chinese New Year party hosted by the sister of the friend who feeds Truffle. She was also there, resplendent in Chinese costume, which reminded me that I also have an authentic outfit, though I would be way too self-conscious at this age to wear it!

Anyway, it was a great party, with the perfect combination of good company, food and drink, and cute pets running around - the house was even bedecked in Chinese lanterns.  A particular highlight for me was the party trick of the hostess's labrador, Obi, who would obediently balance a prawn cracker on the end of his nose until further notice.

At the end of the night, I was thanking my friend's sister for her hospitality, when she piped up: 'So did you see the factices?' This threw me, and I asked her to explain. 'There are three in the conservatory, behind the door. I thought you might have clocked them.' No, I didn't, to my shame, even though that was where we were sitting all evening! I should have half expected such a novelty, as our hostess used to be a perfume buyer for House of Fraser - I think she has moved onto jewellery now. I hardly need mention that there were no perfumes on display in the bathroom...

PS I didn't feel I could possibly follow up a music-related post with yet another one(!), but at some point I would like to write an account of this latest trip in which I met up with Val and her husband. I fully intended to take Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's cosy animalic scent Foxy away with me, so that I could justify the title: 'Fur, fur, fur auf die Autobahn', but aside from the forgetting of the perfume itself, it would have been rather disingenuous given that we travelled around entirely by train. ;)


  1. Wow I love the factices, V. VVWhat are the other two next to the Guerlain?
    I saw my sister after your last packaging post and she was chewing - sucking? - a SmintS so I mentioned that you wrote about how handy the tins are for conveying perfumes samples. The next time I saw her she gave me the empty container and it is indeed, perfect. Cannot wait for the Val/music postp
    You are quite right to make scarfs while the snow falls 😀

    1. Hi Tara,

      Samsara at the end and I can't recall the middle one, oh dear. Maybe another Guerlain??

      Ah, the credit for the SmintS tip off is all Crikey's! It was she who had the idea to send me samples protected that way.

      Yes, scarves are very in keeping with the weather. By rights I should also be knitting full fingered gloves rather than wrist warmers, as that way frostbite lies!

  2. Hi Vanessa,
    Your button bag tin made me chortle. I too have a stash that must accompany clothes that I disposed of 20 years ago. I must remedy the situation.
    I hope Truffle is keeping her paws warm, Joseph dives out into the snow for 5 minute fast wee sessions, or bird stalking, or snow fluffing. I've really no idea... He has been back inside sharpish.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Amused to hear I am not the only one with a vast collection of superannuated haberdashery. ;)

      Truffle's MO in the snow is not dissimilar, though she does spend a bit longer than Joseph out in the white stuff. She was out when I came downstairs this morning, though not far away.

  3. I have a very similar looking tin that I keep filling with all the buttons and pieces of yarn that accompany wool items. In the last 5 years I started writing short descriptions on those labels with the brand name and insert them into the bags (e.g. “black pants,” which isn’t really much help taking into the consideration my affinity for the color). I also noticed that those “baggies” are not much different from the ones used for perfume storage/swapping and even used a couple for that purpose.
    With the stubborn not opening boxes I’m familiar with frustration! Especially since I like storing everything in the original boxes. It bothers me if the top gets tears from me opening it. I think it’s a curse of cheaper packaging.
    I like the picture of factices but I think it lacks the point of comparison: it’s hard to say how tall they are on that picture.

    1. Hi Undina,

      I am not surprised that you would have devised a cataloguing system for your buttons, but agree that 'black pants' might not be specific enough given most people's ownership of multiple pairs of these, hehe. But it is an advance on my anonymous jumble for sure!

      I am reassured to hear I am not the only one with problems opening boxes safely. I am really bothered by tears even though I am not so attached to the boxes in principle as you.

      Ah, the factices were about a foot tall from memory, but I should have captured a smaller object in the shot!