Recently I visited La Maison du Pastel. I was toting handmade paper and ink and a journal or two that I had bought on the other side of the Marais and had trudged miles to find it tucked away on the rue Rambuteau and I guess it all showed because as I walked in, the lady behind the counter looked at me and said quietly, “Le Graal.” She wasn’t wrong. I don’t even work in pastels and this room was the holy grail.
These pastels have been made since 1722 and has been in the Marais district of France since 1766. In 1878, M. Henri Roché took over the concern and it is in his family still. Currently they have 1540 tints and counting of pastels that are world famous for their intense colour and quality. (They were the pastel of choice for Degas.)
I bought a small box of half sticks. They were (understandably) expensive and as I say, pastel is not my medium of choice but how could I walk away without something, some touchstone and connection to hundreds of years of artisans committed to creating the finest tools for creating. A spell. A part of the grail.
To visit La Maison du Pastel online, you can find them here.