Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Activating Memories Through Smell

Laura Trieschmann, a 2015 Summer Institute attendee, shares her awesome demo!

As many know, smell is the sense most closely connected to memory. Smells are evocative — a stranger can pass and draw our attention because she wears the same perfume as Gramma, or we might feel disgusted smelling something associated with a painful memory. We can capitalize on this smell-memory connection to generate writing!

·         small plastic soufflé cups with lids (the kind restaurants use to package sauces or dressings)
·         permanent marker
·         cotton balls
·         coffee filters
·         cups/glasses
·         measuring cup
·         water
·         a variety of fragrant materials, such as:

·         anise (black licorice) extract
·         coconut extract
·         orange extract
·         lemon extract
·         liquid smoke
·         pencil shavings
·         jalapeno
·         mouthwash
·         hair mousse
·         Germex

·         vanilla extract
·          apple cider vinegar 
·         cough drops 
·         cilantro
·         coffee
·         herbal tea
·         chai
·         dill
·         cocoa
·         sawdust
·         pine

·         eucalyptus
·         lavender
·         rosemary
·         Greek seasoning
·         grass
·         cinnamon
·         onion
·         poultry seasoning
·         dryer sheets
·         perfumes
·         ... and anything else with a distinctive smell!

1.    Assemble materials.
2.    For non-liquid scents, you will essentially make a tea:
a.     Place a coffee filter in a cup/glass.
b.    Then, put the desired fragrant material (an herb, for example) in the filter.
c.     Measure 1/2 cup of water and pour over the filter, submerging the fragrant material.
d.    Allow to steep (like tea) for 12-24 hours.
e.    Remove coffee filter and fragrant material, leaving the scented water.
3.    For liquid scents:
a.     Soak a cotton ball in the liquid (ex: water from step 2, extract, etc.)
4.    Number the plastic soufflé cups and corresponding lids so you can create a key for which cup contains each smell. Be sure to keep notes as you go!
5.    Place one scented cotton ball in each labeled soufflé cup and seal with the corresponding labeled lid.

You’re ready to activate memory through smell! Each writer will select one or more soufflé cup, smell the scented cotton ball(s) within, and write about whatever s/he chooses.

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