We’ve saved the best for last with our last series of photographs from our European travels with the folks at Canson and Royal Talens. Although we went to dozens of galleries, had a private after hours tour of the Louvre, and got to enjoy the beauty of Amsterdam- the best part of our trip was visiting the Royal Talens factory in Apeldoorn. Usually our interactions with art supplies happen in Blick and Utrecht art stores, so being able to see how all those magical art supplies gets made and packaged was a rare treat.
The Royal Talens brand, started in the late 1890’s, has been a staple in art stores for over a century! You really get a sense of the rich history of the brand just by looking at the gorgeous vintage packaging that they have on display in their lobby. We suggested that they bring back some of these iconic packages from the past, hopefully they’ll heed our suggestion as each package is truly a work of art in itself.
Before I visited the factory I was expecting hundreds of robots putting together all the various products that Royal Talens carries. However after just a few minutes of being in the space I realized how integral humans were to the operation. The above machine wraps individual pieces of Rembrandt watercolor into tidy squares that resemble saltwater taffy.
Before each piece gets wrapped the patient worker pictured above inspects and places every single piece of watercolor in its individual tray. We’re talking about tens of thousands of pieces of watercolor everyday! Chances are if you’ve bought some of the Rembrandt watercolor over the last couple of years you now know who put it in the tray for you!
In another part of the factory the ingredients of oil pastels swirled around in a giant steel bucket radiating its fluorescent color. It was amazing to see it getting processed in its raw state. There is one man in charge of the color of the oil pastels, because the process is so complicated this individual is soley responsible for making sure the color is just right. You’re probably thinking that he has some advanced machine that lets him know the right pigment balance right? Wrong! Each batch of color is determined the old school way by touch! He simply picks a piece of the pastel mixture with his hands and feels for the right consistency. Again I’m not talking about a few pieces of pastels here and there but hundreds of thousands each month!
Here’s some pastels moving into machines to be individually packaged. They create pastels in every shade possible so just do the math on how many pastels have to go through this one machine every single day to make a set!
Next we were off to see how Rembrandt oil paints were made. We first made our way over to the pigment warehouse where they stored thousands of colors in pigment form. Just look at the rich cobalt blue pigment! It was amazing to see every color imaginable in giant sacks scattered through out the space!
From the pigment house the solid pigments get weighed into the right combinations and go through a complicated process of mixing…
and dripping. Each batch of color gets inspected by happy workers over and over again insuring the quality of each color.
The above is the final result!
I was truly impressed by Royal Talens level of quality and care. Each product was tested, inspected, and retested every step of the way by skilled workers who have a passion for creating high quality products.
I walked into the factory expecting to see a corporate and automated culture of production but left knowing that each and every piece of Royal Talens product has gone through the hands of people who want us to have the best art making materials in the world.
Thanks again to Kyle Richardson and all the other Royal Talens staff for making this an unbelievable trip. You have gained a lifelong fan and dedicated supporter!