Hand-to-Hand - In the hills of Northumberland, England, an artist makes pastels. He mixes pigments in equipment a baker would use. He lightly hand-rolls the dough and allows the sticks to air-dry. No other pastels flow so smoothly into the tooth of the paper. These pastels are truly a work of art before you ever use them.
A Rapture of Texture & Color - Out of a frustration with the pastels available, British artist John Hersey began making handmade pastels. Developed to be superior in color, texture and response, Unison Soft Pastels are unlike anything on the market today. John Hersey worked out his unique color formulations over a decade of experimentation, creating intense, vibrant colors, blended almost exclusively from pure pigment and water. In his handmade process, the pigment hardly gets pressed at all. The sticks are rolled lightly making them very fluent when you use them.
"Many of our colors are pure and single pigments," Hersey says. "On the whole they are blended, three or four or five different pigments together. But we blend in very little white or chalk. Artists are generally looking for intense and dark pastels. You can get sick of the endless arrays of pale pastel shades. You want some really strong colors. And those are just pigment and nothing else."
Hersey brings a poet's sensibility to his work with color. He has developed his range of 288 pastels as a series of 20 sets with 18 colors each. The nine central sets follow Hersey's theory of color-integration. This theory is based on his observations of nature, in which he observes that a single color, from a single light source, can take on almost endless variations. He bases his color ranges on these variations.