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Unison Handmade Pastels - The Gold Standard in Soft Pastels

Unison soft pastels are one of the best and most popular pastels in the world. Soft, creamy & vibrant in every stroke. In this blog, we take an in-depth look into these gorgeously hand-crafted pastels. Read on to discover.

Handmade & Humble: Unison Colour is based in the Northumberland National Park and was started in the early 1980s by artist John Hersey. We have to say, these are brilliantly made. Every single stick has been rolled by a real person. Every single pastel stick goes through someone's hands and is endlessly checked for quality.

So how Soft are we talking? Unison pastels are wonderfully soft. Period. The secret behind this is that the pastels contain a very little binder, making them truly soft and smooth. In their subtlety and intensity of color, their fluency and responsiveness to touch, and in their delicacy and robustness. So let's dive into the actual process of making one shall we! These pastels are made from pigment and a small bit of binder, which is stirred into a paste and then hand-rolled into shape. More pigment and less binder, and softer your pastel is (usually) and the better your color is (also depending on the quality of your pigment of course). In contrast, Hard pastels usually have more and different binders, making the pastel stick hard. Soft pastels have less binder, so the pigment particles are not kept together as much as in a hard pastel. This then makes the pastel ’softer’.

Colour Selection: Unison has over 400 colors ranging from subtle greys and earth colors to brilliant reds, blues, greens, and yellows using only pure pigments in a cycle of related hues, instead of adding white or black to the colors. The result is intense, vibrant color, not muddied by the blending of colors. They are mixed into meticulous recipes and are based on traditional pigments such as cadmium, cobalt, and natural and synthetic earth.

Unison has a fantastic range of earth colors, greys, and darks. The colors are deeply pigmented and by putting them side by side with a cheaper hard pastel, you can really see what a difference pigment can make. Even a dull, muted color looks deep and interesting with Unison. All that said, Unison of course does some fantastic rich and vibrant colors as well. A good pigment load makes all the difference. The same applies to their darks and blacks. I have not found better darks than the ones by Unison.

In Conclusion: Unison Colour Soft Pastels are still completely handmade and are mixed to John's meticulous recipes, based on traditional pigments such as cadmiums, cobalts, and natural and synthetic earths. The difference in the manufacturing process - hand-rolling rather than extrusion - gives Unison Colour Soft Pastels a unique texture that is unmatched and loved by artists.

So, who is Unison for? Anyone! Well, that’s easy to say, but we suppose they are. Yet, they are not student pastels and so they are not priced like that either. They are not cheap but no more expensive than other premium soft pastel brands. But for anyone who wants to up their pastel game, this is gold dust!



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