The Making of a Pencil: A Presentation by Caran d’Ache of Switzerland

Meet one of the Caran d’Ache craftsmen as they showcase the making of a pencil – as a part of the London Craft Week’s events. There is an ongoing animation during the sessions, as well as demonstrations of various techniques, applications and unlimited blending possibilities. Discover the secrets behind the making of Swiss-made Caran d’Ache colour pencils, used by artists including Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. Whilst it may look like a simple tool, there are more than 40 steps involved in the creation of a single Caran d’Ache pencil. From the selection of the purest pigments and other fine materials to the shaping, varnishing and sharpening of a pencil, the craft of high quality drawing instruments requires unique knowhow.

Their colour pencil master takes you on a multi-sensorial journey into pencil-making craftsmanship.

“To give shape to a colour, first of all you have to create an amorphous paste made of pigments, rubbers and several other ingredients. Each colour requires a tailor-made amount and the appropriate level of moisture. The paste must be soft, but with a texture suitable to being either extruded or pressed. It must be perfectly uniform. My work requires keen awareness and a great deal of experience as well as strong nerves!” smiles – Hatem, specialist in lead/pastel extrusion, when speaking of his unique and fascinating universe. “It’s a kind of kitchen and we use a lot of culinary terms!” laughs Hatem when describing his world. A good sauce, a smooth, homogenous paste, cooking time, “spaghetti” … Colour pencil terms are indeed very appetising. Hatem regularly collaborates with the experts from the Caran d’Ache Research and Development department in order to test new colours in production. “You have to persevere and take however long is needed; success comes with long-term experience,” says this young specialist in the realm of “sophisticated cuisine”.

Demonstration:
9 May 17:00 – 20:00
10 May 13:00 – 15:00, 17:00 – 20:00
11 May 13:00 – 17:00

Booking Details
Booking not necessary, free
Location: Paperchase Art Department 213–215 Tottenham Court Rd London W1T 7PS

Phot Credits: Caran d’Ache

A bit of history

Located in Geneva since its inception in 1915, the Maison is committed to creating and developing writing and drawing instruments combining the finest materials with the most advanced, innovative skills – including some that are extremely rare, such as the exceptional art of authentic Chinese lacquer done by hand in the ancestral manner. Caran d’Ache comes from the word “karandash” that is the Russian term for “pencil” and in turn comes from the Turkish root “kara tash” which refers to black stone – the origins of graphite. This natural material found in the mountains of Switzerland gave rise to the first Swiss pencil factory set up in Geneva in 1915. Nine years later, in the hands of its founder, the visionary Arnold Schweitzer, it took the name of the famous illustrator became known as Caran d’Ache.

Main Photo: One of the Caran d’Ache craftsmen holding pencils in the process of being made, a process that demands the purest pigments and other finest materials, to the shaping, varnishing and sharpening of a pencil, and a unique know-how.

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