Welcome to JORUM JOURNAL ISSUE IV.
JORUM JOURNAL is a monthly glimpse behind the scenes at Jorum Studio. Find out what’s inspiring us, what’s motivating us, what we’re celebrating – the thoughts and stories behind our fragrances.
APRIL at Jorum Studio brought a very busy laboratory, as we worked full steam ahead towards the release of our new collection, Scottish Odyssey. Thanks to your incredible support, the collection sold out online within 48 hours – we’re working hard to have all four fragrances back in stock (along with another rather big surprise) in around 2-3 weeks. Phew!
A MOMENT WITH: JACK SHEAHAN
This month we caught up with Jack Sheahan, master woodworker and the fourth recipient of the Jorum Craft Award.
As a deeply process-oriented woodworker, do you see woodworking as an inherently philosophical practice?
Yes. As Socrates said, 'the unexamined life is not worth living'. Being self-taught, I’ve needed to pay close attention to other makers in order to learn for myself. Because of this, I have learned to work in a very particular way, and have not been willing to give that up for a more industrial/commercial method.
As a result, I’ve leant heavily into hand tool work. There’s generally a pretty good reason why things 'have always been done this way', so you need an even better reason to it differently. For me, this has manifested in a close examination of how method impacts result (the work of David Pye has been a big influence). Machines are efficient, precise, and repeatable, but they result in mundane, interchangeable, soulless and often thoughtless pieces. Human eyes and hands are exceptionally good at picking up subtle variations, and the right kinds in the right amounts are actually preferable to us. I generally size my parts by eye to what they should be visually. This creates pieces with much lighter, better balanced elements
What sets woodwork apart is that it is exclusively a reductive process. I can only make a piece of wood smaller. I can glue bits together, but once a piece is cut, that's it. When it took 60 years for this piece of wood to grow, and there are no other identical boards, and I’m taking it from its raw, blank state – whatever I do with it needs to be an improvement. This means taking a long time looking at the features of specific boards – grain patterns, colours, strength and movement characteristics – to ensure their best use. If I don’t pay very close attention to why I’m doing something in a particular way, there’s no reason to be doing it at all.
Different woods have vastly different aromas, changed again by how the wood is treated – how does the fragrance of wood affect your experience as a maker?
The smells and sounds of woodwork are some of the best parts! Taking a shaving of cyprus pine (a citrus, minty smell), or applying the first coat of tung oil (a rich orange oil made from nuts) are a real treat. In many aspects this kind of work is mentally and physically challenging, and as I mentioned above, the actual process of the work forms a huge part of why I do it. Metal working, in my mind, is a necessary evil of woodworking. A dull tool is a useless and dangerous tool. I don’t look forward to a messy, greasy session of smelling steel and cutting fluid, but the smell of fresh sawdust? The sound of a sharp plane iron glide through wood? Yes please! (The exception to this is traditional hide glue, which smells like halitosis and flatulence).
What drew you to the Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetic and philosophical principles your work is inspired by?
Starting out with a passion for woodwork, but without regular access to a workspace, tools, or materials, I spent a lot of time reading – particularly about how different cultures have approached the craft. Japanese tools evolved in a totally different environment to Western ones, so work in very different ways. I’ve not looked back since I swapped my saws to Japanese style, and am slowly building a chisel and plane collection. Japan also has a very strong cultural history for craft, and a deep religious connection to it. I think particularly of temple construction – of all-wood structures built with mind-bending joints designed to be regularly disassembled and repaired – and the tea ceremony with its focus on how objects, and how they’re used, can contain a different kind of beauty.
Nobody does mid-century quite like the Danish, and nobody has quite found the same success in blending mass-manufacturing, hand tool work, accessibility in price, and quality of work since. For someone with a particular fascination with chair design, there's something incredible about the variety of chairs designed during that period, all of them revolutionary and timelessly beautiful. Hans Wegner’s CH24 is a big part of why I got into furniture making.
Both styles contain a very quiet, subtle and serene beauty – work that doesn’t shout for attention, but rewards close inspection. There are no unnecessary embellishments, but every part is exactly how it should be. Furniture should improve its environment, not overpower it.
What does craftsmanship mean to you?
The name I use for my work, Sheahan Made, was a deliberate choice. Anything I make is forever connected to me as a person and as a maker. I make things to last, so I need to make them well. Craftsmanship to me is doing the work well, even if it’s slow. It is also about keeping the owner of a piece constantly in mind, and ensuring that what I’m going to deliver exceeds their expectations. As my brother says, 'you can do it right, or you can do it again'.
'Think of Scotland' – Martin Parr
Parr's photography captures the reality of growing up in rural and semi-rural Scotland, and was a key inspiration for our new collection, Scottish Odyssey.
'Binocular Vision' – Edith Pearlman
We're particular fans of short-form fiction here at Jorum... in the same way that fragrance can transport you instantly to a particular moment, these short stories waste no time in depositing you in the midst of a fully-realised world.
'Severance' – Apple TV, dir. Ben Stiller, Aoife McArdle
A bit of a cheat, this one (in our defence, it's been a busy month without much time for reading!) Nonetheless, we devoured this dark, cerebral series and can't wait for the next season.
MATERIAL FOCUS: AMBRETTOLIDE
Ambrettolide is a wonderful musk molecule that has exceptional radiance and longevity as well as moreishly nuzzling ambrette-y layers. What does it smell like? Well, many users can be fairly anosmic to the neat material – meaning it doesn’t smell like much or anything at all.
With that said, the molecule does possess a rich musky-floral character with an elegant radiance and reserved sweetness. Besides sharing similarities with other musks, Ambrettolide displays exquisite Ambrette seed lactonic beauty (hence the trade name). There are very subtle red-fruits hiding in the profile and it synergises within formulas in special ways.
The Ambrettolide we use is a very high purity biochemical that is produced using renewable carbon and is vegan friendly. But what makes Ambrettolide even more special is its functional properties – it can exalt other materials and improve the overall performance of a perfume. Its ability to improve the diffusion of a perfume is very handy when working with materials and/or profiles that tend to sit closer to the skin. If that wasn’t handy enough, it is one of our greatest ‘fixative’ materials, anchoring a perfume to the wearer or surface material thus improving longevity.
Medullary-ray uses a lot of our sustainably and ethically sourced Ambrettolide for both its aromatic character as well as its inherent functionality. It gives the fragrance that radiant, dewy-woods shimmer on application, and is partly responsible for the fluffy, musky quality in the deep and later-stage fade. Medullary-ray sans Ambrettolide is a very different experience. It's fascinating how one material can massively impact a final product's performance and profile.
We use a giant dosage of Ambrettolide in Arborist too, and smaller amounts are scattered across some of the other Jorum perfumes. This wonderful material carries a relatively high cost but is worth every penny. It is, however, a fairly unforgiving material: mishandle it in a formula, and you’ll ruin the whole thing.