Patrick, specialist in colour pencil trimming
“I make colour pencils!” exclaims Patrick when describing his profession. His gaze lights up with pride, because he exercises a rare profession. Within a 500-kilometre radius, Caran d’Ache is the only Maison to manufacture pencils. A fan of wood since childhood, he has had a job as a pencil trimmer at Caran d’Ache for the past 14 years. His unique and complex profession involves shaping colour pencils, with the help of a great ally: the cutting and assembly machine.
Californian cedar wood slats, renowned for the homogeneous distribution of the fibres, are cut with high-precision, finely adjusted blades. The emblematic hexagonal shape of Caran d’Ache pencils is made here. The diameter of each type of pencil is also defined. Identified according to the English term “ply”, which becomes the unit of measure, it depends on the number of pencils cut (6 ply, 8 ply, etc.) per pair of wooden slats assembled. The coloured leads have to be perfectly centred and the parts assembled with five hundredths of a millimetre accuracy. Patrick coordinates all operations and constantly watches over the quality of each stage in the making of each colour pencil.
The machine has a “soul”, the wood “lives”
“I live with the machine,” enthuses Patrick. Every day, he takes care of it, adjusts it and repairs it. “You need to listen to the machine, the noise it makes tells you if everything is fine or if, on the contrary, something is wrong.” His powerful attachment to his profession stems from a love of wood, born in his father’s carpentry workshop. This incredibly beautiful natural material with its gentle scent is alive. To shape it, you must respect it and have an ecological approach. “You must love wood and you need to be able to manage pressure. It’s a position which requires a certain energy and you need to be truly on the ball,” Patrick confides, while emphasising: “This is not a profession that you really learn, you can feel if you were made for it. Caran d’Ache is focused on quality and I love producing quality!”
The quality experience
Over the years, Patrick has developed acute awareness and acquired a wealth of experience. His profession is demanding and each operation contributes to the renowned quality of Caran d’Ache colour pencils, which all come under his critical eye. “When I work, I put myself in the customer’s position. Client respect creates the value of the product,” adds Patrick, before going back to the controls of his machine with a smile.