Hatem, specialist in lead/pastel extrusion
“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, when speaking of his unique and fascinating universe.
For the past four years, he has worked in the colour department at Caran d’Ache. It is here that the leads take shape to become water-soluble pencils, dry pastels, graphite, chalks … A kind of insider’s magic emanates from Hatem’s clear, simple words. Care and patience are his daily allies. “I work with extreme concentration, every colour is extruded or pressed in huge quantities. Then we clean the machine completely before processing another similar colour. The pigments and raw materials used by Caran d’Ache are the best possible quality, so I have to be unfailingly accurate,” confirms Hatem.
The unique art of dry pastels
While this is an extraordinary material, it is also one of the most difficult to master. The art of pastel is another whole world, reserved for a small circle of insiders, and pastel artists are extremely demanding with regard to the quality of their materials. Great sensitivity is required to appreciate the level of moisture of the paste before pressing dry pastels that must release the beauty of the colour without breaking or becoming powdery. At this fragile stage, his sense of accuracy takes precedence over accepted standards and Hatem’s expertise has inestimable worth.
An expert’s “kitchen”
“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”.