Unison Color HQ – The place Handmade Pastels Come To Life

As an Affiliate Artist and a loyal fan of Unison Color with my very own 36-set of pastels, my current travels to the UK needed to embrace a go to to the Unison Color headquarters tucked away within the coronary heart of Northumberland. And it was nothing wanting magical! The dedication to handcrafting every pastel with consistency and unwavering ardour left me in awe. I now have a a lot deeper understanding of what “handmade” means!

Be a part of me on my journey to Unison Color HQ the place we see the step-by-step course of of making these creative gems.

My Journey to Unison Color HQ Begins

My journey began with a prepare trip from Newcastle upon Tyne to Hexham, the place I used to be warmly welcomed by Nessie. We then launched into an attractive half-hour drive by way of scenic nation roads, heading in direction of the house of Unison Color pastels.

Unison Color’s headquarters is nestled in a serene countryside location and is comprised of Kate Hersey’s charming home, outbuildings with the varied stations of creation, and even a picturesque church and churchyard. 

A Heat Welcome

Upon arrival, I used to be met by Liz Reekie, my contact with Unison Color. (She’s truly the corporate’s UK Retail Account Supervisor.) Over espresso and biscuits in Kate Hersey’s house, we mentioned the artistry behind the pastels, and contemplated the legacy left by her husband John Hersey, the creator and founding father of Unison Color.

Earlier than lengthy, I discovered myself within the midst of a pleasant tour of the premises, meetinga few of the Unison Color staff alongside the way in which.

And off we go to the beginning of the pastel-making journey

The Begin of our Tour 

The tour started in Jim’s room. Jim is the chief concocter of the pastel recipes however sadly, he was away on the time of my go to. Every recipe combine he places collectively creates a batch of about 200 pastel sticks. Liz and I had a peek into a few containers of pigments – brilliant, saturated ones after all. “Proper, you don’t do brown,” says Liz!

Unison Colour HQ-A room full of pigment!!
A room filled with pigment!!
Unison Colour HQ-Liz telling me what Jim gets up to in this room
Liz telling me what Jim will get as much as on this room

Now let’s check out the journey a single bowl of pigment combine takes. (These concoctions can have 5-35 totally different pigments in them!) 

From Mixing to Rolling to Drying

Nessie skillfully combined the bowl of pigment with water earlier than effectively spooning the combination onto paper in blobs. To take away extra moisture, used paper is stacked beneath the clear sheets. 

Subsequent, Sue took cost, skillfully mushing after which rolling the pastel blobs to kind particular person sticks. I had the prospect to attempt my hand at it and shortly found that it wasn’t as straightforward because it appeared!

As soon as rolled, the sticks are reduce with a helpful dandy instrument created from two palette knives!

Unison Colour - Cutting the pastel sticks to size
Reducing the pastel sticks to measurement

The pastel sticks are then moved to a drying rack after which positioned within the drying room which surprisingly sufficient must be stored at a sure moisture degree to verify the pastel sticks dry evenly all through. Every batch has its personal notice recording the color, the date, who made them, and the scale. This turns out to be useful as Hazel does her assessments. (I’ll speak about this later.)

The Artwork of Labeling

After the pastels are dried, the pastels are prepared for his or her labels. Two ladies, devoted to the duty of labelling every pastel stick, meticulously and dexterously handle this course of. Wow. And all of us had a great giggle after we talked in regards to the first issues some artists do once they get their pastels – rip off the label!

Unison Colour - These two women label every pastel! They also do all the individual stick packaging.
These two ladies label each pastel! Additionally they do all the person stick packaging.

Protecting Consistency

In the meantime, Hazel, together with her 27 years of expertise at Unison Color, ensures the standard of every pastel, testing a pair from every batch towards the unique colors.

Unison Colour - Hazel in her domain
Hazel in her area

Challenges and Perseverance

Unison Color’s dedication to consistency generally brings challenges, particularly when coping with altering pigments. Hazel makes positive that there are not any color shifts between the pastels created utilizing a brand new cargo of pigment and the originals. Even slight fluctuations require recipe changes, a time-consuming process that requires persistence, perseverance, and dedication!

Unison Colour - doing colour tests
Testing pastels made out of barely totally different recipes
Five different recipes trying to match centre swatch
5 totally different recipes making an attempt to match the centre swatch

A significant headache for Hazel is when a pigment is not obtainable. When this occurs, an alternate pigment should be discovered. After which, the recipe for each pastel stick that features the unavailable pigment should be recalculated with the alternate selection. It’s not unusual for a single pigment to look in as many as 35 colors! Not a job for the weak of coronary heart (or for somebody with out the experience Hazel has!).

The Origin of the identify “Unison Color”

I questioned out loud in regards to the model identify. Liz defined that the identify “Unison Color” itself displays the philosophy behind their pastels. John Hersey, the creator and founder, selected the identify as a result of the colors in every color set (usually 1-18) work “in unison” with each other. He was impressed by how gentle impacts totally different colors, very similar to how the colors of an apple change when held up and turned within the gentle. His creative imaginative and prescient was not restricted to including white for lightness or black for darkness; he integrated various pigments to create distinctive hues.

A Rainbow of Prospects

Unison Color gives pastels in three totally different sizes, making certain that artists have a spread of decisions to go well with their wants. With an unlimited palette of 380 colors, we artists can discover and experiment to our coronary heart’s content material, discovering harmonious mixtures that resonate with our creative visions.

One of John Hersey's beautiful samplers - a piece of art on its own!
Considered one of John Hersey’s stunning samplers – a chunk of artwork by itself!

My go to to Unison Color’s house left me with a brand new respect and love for these pastels. I’m deeply impressed by the staff’s dedication to handcrafting really distinctive pastels. 

I now have a look at the pastels in my field with a special appreciation. Every stick has began as a recipe of pigments that are then combined, divided into about 200 blobs which can be then left to dry to a sure consistency. They’re then hand rolled and put within the drying room earlier than being labelled, by hand. Lastly, they’re boxed up and despatched out into the world. Wow!! Every one! (The packing and delivery space is now in a separate constructing some 20 minutes away therefore the branded van they now need to run between the 2 places!)

The Unison Colour van
The Unison Color van!

I beloved assembly the individuals behind this unbelievable dedication and look ahead to returning at some point. I additionally am decided to assist them get the phrase out in regards to the fabulousness of Unison Color pastels!

The wealthy historical past and creative ardour infused into every stick of pastel make them a treasure for artists worldwide. As Unison Colour continues to develop and increase, I do know their dedication to creating pastels that work “in unison” will stay steadfast, enriching the artwork world and artists’ lives one color at a time. Thanks John Hersey and the staff at Unison Color!!

Till subsequent time,

Gail

PS. If you wish to see me truly rolling the pastel dough and also you’re on Instagram, check it out here!

PPS. I couldn’t resist these photographs of the ground!!