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troutbum
07-10-2014, 09:55 PM
I recently won a Richeson Award Certificate good for either paints or pastels. Since I don't really need any paints, I ordered a set of 48 Richeson Half Stick pastels. I have a few Unison Pastels, but I don't think they are the same. Does anyone have any experience with Richeson Pastels? I would appreciate any feedback.
Thanks!

troutbum, a.k.a Boyd

Dedrian
07-10-2014, 11:00 PM
Hi Boyd,

I bought the Paris set of Richeson pastels a few years ago, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. They have a buttery, softness about them and some really rich colors. At first I didn't think I would like them but in my paintings - have found they often fill in with rich colors where other brands are lacking.

Dedrian

Jason1616
07-10-2014, 11:44 PM
Hi Boyd,

Richeson has several different grades of pastel. You are correct that they own/make the Unison pastels but those are very different from the Richeson brand pastels. Unison is top grade and well worth the money.

If you still have a few bucks to spend try either the Unison or the Richeson hand-made which are their highest artist's grade pastels. I tried them once and I did like them.

Hope this helps! :)

jakertanner
07-11-2014, 09:24 AM
Hey Boyd,

I am new to pastels, but I can offer some help nonetheless. I just got a few Richeson handmade sticks, then bought a few Unison singles in the individual boxes. There is somewhat of a difference in the way they lay down pigment, but what you may or may not know about Richesons that kind of put me off, is that they clearly say "made in China" right on the wrapper. Now I don't trust the lightfast claims nor the claims about being non-toxic..The Unisons are made in Northumberland and are 2-3 times the price per stick.

I think they are nice otherwise, and if not for the made in China label, would probably use them more as they are very inexpensive for their size.

Hope this helps.

Saskia
07-11-2014, 11:34 AM
That's good information, jakertanner. I did not know they were made in China. I had thought about trying them as well, but not in that case. I guess that's why they are so cheap compared to Unisons.

DAK723
07-11-2014, 12:04 PM
I may be mistaken, but I believe that Richeson only owns the US rights to sell Unison products - which are made in the UK. So there is no actual connection between the two brands of pastel.

Don

jakertanner
07-11-2014, 01:34 PM
Yes, I believe this is correct. Very misleading, one would think that Unison is just a higher quality Richeson, but it's actually a different company altogether.

jakertanner
07-11-2014, 01:36 PM
That's good information, jakertanner. I did not know they were made in China. I had thought about trying them as well, but not in that case. I guess that's why they are so cheap compared to Unisons.


Exactly, from what others are saying, and from reading too, it seems that they are just the distributor, and Unison is actually a completely different higher end company. Although, I really like the feel of the Richesons, but I am put off by the made in China factor.

JustinM
07-11-2014, 02:33 PM
Although, I really like the feel of the Richesons, but I am put off by the made in China factor.

FWIW, not everything made in China is garbage. There are some very high quality products made in China or Mexico, just like there's plenty of bad products made in Canada, the USA and the UK.

In this case its tough to say but like ALL art supplies (Chinese, British, American, Dutch etc) Id never take "their word for it" when it comes to lightfastness. Do you own tests - pretty much all manufacturers these days seem to like to stretch the truth on their products.

DAK723
07-11-2014, 02:45 PM
FWIW, not everything made in China is garbage. There are some very high quality products made in China or Mexico, just like there's plenty of bad products made in Canada, the USA and the UK.

In this case its tough to say but like ALL art supplies (Chinese, British, American, Dutch etc) Id never take "their word for it" when it comes to lightfastness. Do you own tests - pretty much all manufacturers these days seem to like to stretch the truth on their products.

I am old enough to remember when the phrase "made in Japan" was a derogatory term, so I, too, wouldn't care too much where a product is made. As for lightfastness, there still isn't a pastel standard, so doing your own tests is always a good idea - although personally I don't worry much about it. Lightfastness is more a result of using certain pigments - not something that is brand specific. Certain red, violets and I think a few greens pigments are the usual culprits. Some brands avoid using them - others offer a wider selection of those colors and continue to use them. Just make sure you frame under UV glass and keep paintings out of direct sunlight. Those steps are more important, in my opinion.

Don

JustinM
07-11-2014, 02:48 PM
Just make sure you frame under UV glass and keep paintings out of direct sunlight. Those steps are more important, in my opinion.

Don

Spot on.

robertsloan2
07-11-2014, 09:04 PM
Richesons are in a texture category for me with Mount Vision and Unisons, Gallery Mungyo Hand Rolled. They're fluffy, hand rolled, generous sized sticks. Quite large, good bargain for the money. My big issue with their palette is a lot of near look alike colors and some gaps - to the point that if I did get a large set I might be happier with the 72 than the 120 color set. The colors seem to be the same across their textures.

One issue besides lightfastness with Chinese art supplies is labor conditions. Are the people actually handling these pigments working with adequate ventilation and safety equipment? Are they paid decently for the work or are they doing ludicrous long hours in almost slave labor conditions like the ones working on some of the Apple products? When the price of an item is that drastically lower than similar items made elsewhere, I have to wonder where it's coming out of.

Whereas with companies like Terry Ludwig or Mount Vision, for that matter Unisons the founder was still working on them right up till he died creating new colors and actually making them, it's different. That's more of a small business. But I've noticed that their pricing is not usually Lowest In The Business type of super-cheap, it varies between "you're getting really high quality here, pay for that" and "a good value for your money." (Unisons on the high end and Mount Vision, pretty excellent pastels actually, on the low end given how HUGE they are).

I get the impression the process and recipe varies quite a bit among the manufacturers.

Gallery Mungyo is the other "Hand rolled dirt cheap" ones. They have a better palette and pricing similar to Richeson.

Agree that home lightfast testing is probably best, unfortunately don't have a sunny spot to do it. I'm not sure the manager would like it if I went down the hall and pasted up a lot of test strips in the hallway windows. I more or less go by lightfastness as company listed, but there's this big Catch in that.

Very often the "lightfastness information" given by companies in any medium is for the pigment as the pigment. Not what its lightfastness is when mixed with their exact recipe of filler or melted into their exact wax for colored pencils or their binders in paints. If I were living out in the desert somewhere that I could do brutal home lightfastness testing, I'd probably start doing independent lightfastness tests across every medium I use and publish the results.

However, with pastels, that runaround may be less of a problem as pastels are closer to "just the pigment" than if chemically changed by a paint binder. There's less binder in general. Unless some colors are dyed chalk, they should stand up closer to the way the pigment pure is. There's also what happens if more than one pigment is in a color, what they do in interaction.

Tests on the finished product are the truest.

The companies I trust most on the issue are the ones that specify which colors don't make the grade! If a range has a number of gorgeous colors that are warned about I am more likely to trust the ones they rate as good or fair or excellent. It means at least they checked the label on the pigment crate before they made the product. And maybe tested the product... Derwent seems honest by way of the number of products they have that over half the range isn't lightfast but others are. They only have the hard pastels but I'd trust the ones they call lightfast to be so.

jakertanner
07-11-2014, 11:47 PM
FWIW, not everything made in China is garbage. There are some very high quality products made in China or Mexico, just like there's plenty of bad products made in Canada, the USA and the UK.

In this case its tough to say but like ALL art supplies (Chinese, British, American, Dutch etc) Id never take "their word for it" when it comes to lightfastness. Do you own tests - pretty much all manufacturers these days seem to like to stretch the truth on their products.


The point wasn't against them being made poorly as a result of China, but in today's market, people farm out to China because it's cheaper..Now if Richeson handmade pastels were Chinese, then all would be great. it's a trust issue...I have them, and they feel great, but how long will they last, and are we sure there aren't any harmful chemicals..how is doing the control tests in China?

Also, I know this may sound nuts, but if Richeson pastels were to cost a lot more, I would tend to trust them more...They are inexpensive to begin with, at least where I buy them, so naturally, I am skeptical because I believe the reason they are so inexpensive, is because they are made with cheap labor overseas.

I honestly want to like them, especially because their price point is very good...but have they been really tested over the years?

jakertanner
07-12-2014, 12:01 AM
I think the pastels of Degas and whatever Edward Munch used seem to withstand the test of time...at least for 100 yrs or so, and that's what some manufacturer's claim anyway on certain colors. I am not convinced that the ratings are for the pigments, because then everyone who uses the pigments would claim the same, I believe it's the pigments in their current form...whether they are pastel sticks or pencils or whatever.

Also, i think like Robert mentioned, it's a trust or lack of, in the work environment that's setting me back from them. Why isn't Jack making these himself, or at least involved hands on? Farming production out to China is a red flag I think.

Even Mungyo brand..made in Korea, but they dance around their claims of lightfastness and avoid answering the question with a direct answer...here are our test, and these are our findings.. The most they said was that the handmade Mungyo pastels can hold their own against similar brands. That says to me they haven't really tested them out. Most artist quality brands boast the fact that they have great lightfast ratings, not shy away from them.

JPQ
07-12-2014, 01:52 AM
i think greens is have mainly pg8 when we talk problematic common pigments. and we have yellows what have potenailly problem like py3 for schmincke which uses it some yellows gives poor rating for lightest tints. btw some pigments have at least two quality versions other is fine and other is not.

Saskia
07-12-2014, 11:02 AM
The point wasn't against them being made poorly as a result of China, but in today's market, people farm out to China because it's cheaper..Now if Richeson handmade pastels were Chinese, then all would be great. it's a trust issue...I have them, and they feel great, but how long will they last, and are we sure there aren't any harmful chemicals..how is doing the control tests in China?

I couldn't agree more. To me it does not matter whether every single thing produced in China is complete garbage or not. It is quite enough that these goods are largely produced by companies that weaken the economies of Europe and the US by subcontracting out production there because it is cheap and virtually unregulated. Such companies clearly care more about quantity and cost than quality. On top of that, as Robert pointed out, Chinese workers can potentially be exposed to working conditions which are tantamount to slave labor. The fact that most of the goods (in my opinion, that is, and I will admit I'm a bit of a snob about quality) that come out of China are garbage . . . well, that's just a side effect of all the other factors.

I was a bit confused about the situation with Unison. I spent some time reading their website a couple of months ago, so I know they are made in a beautiful, quaint little factory in Northumberland that looks like it was part of a Tudor village. Truthfully, that alone makes me respect that company greatly. I know it is a family business, and the founder's name was John, not Jack (i.e., John's Summer Set of pastels). So I wasn't quite sure who Jack Richeson was and what his connection might be. It is good to know it is just a distributor relationship.

jakertanner
07-12-2014, 01:53 PM
I was a bit confused about the situation with Unison. I spent some time reading their website a couple of months ago, so I know they are made in a beautiful, quaint little factory in Northumberland that looks like it was part of a Tudor village. Truthfully, that alone makes me respect that company greatly. I know it is a family business, and the founder's name was John, not Jack (i.e., John's Summer Set of pastels). So I wasn't quite sure who Jack Richeson was and what his connection might be. It is good to know it is just a distributor relationship.

I believe the relation is that Richeson, is the US distributor or manufacturer...something like that, for unisons, and Jack Richeson himself, created his handmade line.

I too, like to see products made in a clean, nice environment with people who have integrity..I understand there is a premium to pay for quality and care of this kind. Although, I really like the Richeson colors, and I am tempted to buy a bunch just because of the price, but there are holes in there colors for sure, that they wouldn't work as an only pastel option anyway..

Potoma
07-12-2014, 03:58 PM
I like the handmades because it is one of the few kinds I can buy open stock at the only local art store even carrying open stock anymore - Utrecht in DC.

I am sorry to hear about the light fastness, though. I really like how they feel.

jakertanner
07-12-2014, 04:25 PM
I like the handmades because it is one of the few kinds I can buy open stock at the only local art store even carrying open stock anymore - Utrecht in DC.

I am sorry to hear about the light fastness, though. I really like how they feel.


I agree, they do feel great, but the concern was in the overall quality, consistency and safety due to the overseas manufacturing. I want to just jump right in with them, but for now, I need to hold off.

Perhaps if Richeson is on Wetcanvas, he can chime in and shed some light. I know other manufacturers are on these sites from time to time to answer questions.

EDIT: I just left them a message...hopefully they will return my call and put these concerns to bed. The price is right, but just need to be sure the manufacturing is on point as well.