The Exceptional Box

Dancing pencils on the wall of a Caran d’Ache boutique in Geneva.

Exactly three weeks ago today Matthew and I were in Geneva, Switzerland.   We had a special reason for being there; we were to be given a tour of the Caran d’Ache factory!  [Caran d’Ache, in the opinion of this artist – and many other artists – are manufacturers of the best artist-quality light-fast coloured pencils in the world.]  Before the appointed day and time, we had an opportunity to explore Geneva and visit two Caran d’Ache boutiques in the city centre.

First we went to House of Colors Fine on Place du Bourg-de-Four opposite the Palais du Justice.

“House of Colors Fine”, the Caran d’Ache boutique on Place du Bourg-de-Four.

I sought permission to photograph inside the shop…

…and then I bought some supplies.  I was almost light-headed from the treasures within.  What was to be done next?  TO THE SECOND BOUTIQUE….

Walking from one boutique to the other, we never forgot that we were in Switzerland.

Caran d’Ache chez Brachard on rue de la Corraterie 10 was our next stop.  Once again I was given permission to take photographs.

I was stopped in my tracks by an an enormous box of coloured pencils on display.  I had seen this box on the internet and hoped that I might see it in real life in Switzerland – and there it was.  Oh MY!

I bought some more art materials and then we walked in a happy daze beside Lake Geneva while I daydreamed about how the factory tour would be…and I thought about that exceptional box.

The following morning we were greeted at the Caran d’Ache factory in Thônex by Eric Vitus, Fine Arts Manager.  We were introduced to Carole Hubscher, President, and then Eric took us on a comprehensive tour, showing us materials, machines and methods which are used to make pens, pencils, oil pastels, and paints.  It was such a delight to discuss my favourite art materials with their creators and developers that I have no adequate words to convey the absolute joy of our visit.  Thank you, Eric!

We mentioned to our guides, Eric Vitus and Gaby Perrissol, that we had seen a rather amazing box of pencils the previous day, and was this box perhaps available to purchase?  There was one on view in the board room so we had a thorough inspection of it.  Matthew said, “We’d like to buy one if it is available”.  To cut a long story short, arrangements were made.  Huge thanks to Gaby and to Viviane Du at Caran d’Ache for organizing passage of The Exceptional Box across the world.  We have number 62 out of a limited edition of 100.

The box is not only a piece of perfection on its own, but it also reminds us of that day, the factory tour, the alps of Europe, the people we met, and the whole magnificent trip.

This afternoon at the front door.

The Exceptional Box is unpacked on the kitchen bench.

To fully appreciate this box of pencils which is a true work of art, I invite you to watch the two minute video Matthew made.

The Certificate of Authenticity says, “To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Supracolor Soft, Caran d’Ache has concentrated its colour expertise to gather a selection of its legendary products in a luxurious wooden box.  This world most important treasure chest of Swiss made artists’ pencils contains 422 colour pencils, including 30 exclusive Supracolor Soft tones.  The exceptional Limited Edition is a testimony to the history of Caran d’Ache and a tribute to the world of colour.”

Lucy (youngest daughter) admires the Supracolor Exceptional Box.

Related articles:  Art Materials  

Caran d’Ache open stock available in Australia



Art Materials

Choosing art materials is as personal as choosing friends.  What works for me may also work for you.  Here is a page showing you the art materials I use for my drawings.   Some of my drawings are 100% coloured pencils while others use wax/oil crayons combined with coloured pencils. My favourite paper is Arches Aquarelle hot-pressed […]

Pictures at an Exhibition


Speech on Opening Night no. 1

Robyn Varpins and I are half way through our art exhibition, “Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto”.  To mark this point, I am writing a post to share the journey so far.

Gallery Opening no 1. With my youngest daughter, Lucy.

Opening no 1. with Lucy.

Lucy Clements (youngest daughter) came all the way from Sydney to lend her support during the week’s lead up to the show and to help serve food and drinks (with style) on Opening Night Number 1.  We decided on THREE openings because the gallery is intimate in size.  We wanted our guests to have plenty of space to move around and see the art – and more openings meant more opportunities for celebration.

Showing the audience "Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto" by Robert van Koesveld.

Showing the audience “Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto” by Robert van Koesveld.

Two artists and their work.

Two artists and their work.

The Consul-General of Japan in Perth, Mr Tatsuo Hirayama and his wife, Sachiko, attended our first opening accompanied by Consul for Information and Culture, Mr Hideo Shinozuka.  We also had visitors from Australia-Japan Society of W.A.

Robyn taking a break last weekend.

Robyn having a brief respite last weekend.

We held two “Artists Talks”; last Sunday and today which were both well attended.  Robyn Varpins (Sculptor), Robert van Koesveld (Photographer and Author) and I (coloured pencil artist) held our audiences spellbound (I think) as we explained our processes, art materials and secrets as well as introducing the subject of maiko and geiko of Kyoto.

Robyn at today's "Artists Talk" explaining her sculpture process.

Robyn at today’s “Artists Talk” explaining her sculpture process.

After the 'Artists Talk' this afternoon.

After the ‘Artists Talk’ this afternoon.

Tomorrow is a public holiday in Western Australia.  I would like to announce, “YES, WE ARE OPEN ON THE PUBLIC HOLIDAY MONDAY” – and every day of the week after that, 10 a.m till 4 p.m until close at 4 p.m Sunday 2nd October.

Another exhausting day!

Another exhausting end-of-day!

We love to make our visitors feel welcome so we have chocolates to munch as well as a box of 40 Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils to win.  At this half way point in the exhibition, there are 163 people in the draw for the prize.  Thanks very much to Kadmium Art + Design Supplies in Sydney for donating the Luminance pencils.

On Saturday 1st October the exhibition will be visited by members of Perth Kimono Club.  That should be a beautiful occasion!  (I’ll have my camera ready.)

Half the drawings have sold as well as many of Robyn’s sculptures.  To see which drawings are still available, click here.

Only seven days left to see this little bit of Kyoto transplanted in Fremantle.  And after that it will be gone forever.  Please share this fleeting moment with us if you haven’t already….

invitation 3 jpeg

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"Wings" mixed media drawing. 285 x 335 mm. January 2014. A pied oystercatcher stretches on the sandbar at Point Walter.

“Wings” mixed media drawing. 285 x 335 mm. January 2014. A pied oystercatcher stretches on the sandbar at Point Walter.

You may remember that I drew an oystercatcher a couple of months ago.  I have reposted the drawing (below).

Eye Catcher 285 x 305 mm, November 2013, mixed media on pescia paper. Copyright 2013

Eye Catcher
285 x 305 mm, November 2013, mixed media on pescia paper. Copyright 2013

The subject of “Wings” and “Eye Catcher” is the same individual.  In my drawing “Eye Catcher” he was just about to open his beak to yawn.  The subsequent drawing reveals that after yawning he had a big stretch!   I was so happy that I caught this with my camera.   I started working on “Wings” before I went to London and finished it when I recovered from jetlag.  In fact it was completed only yesterday.

I am continuing to use oil pastels and wax crayons with my pencils; something which I started to do several drawings ago.   It is refreshing to be experimenting with new materials and combining them with pencils.  I stocked up on pastels, crayons and pencils at London Graphic Centre buying items unavailable in Australia.  What a beautiful display of Caran d’Ache I saw there.  I asked if I could take a photo so that I could put it in my blog.  (They said yes.)  I am giving you their website because you can buy their products online.


However I digress from “Wings”.  I hope you can tell from the fact that birds yawn and stretch when I am watching them that I am respectful and try not to bother them in the slightest by my presence.  I tried to be like that when I was photographing maiko and geisha as well.  I wanted to melt into the environment so that they wouldn’t even notice me.  It suits me to be invisible; watching but not watched.

Return to Contents of Posts page     Related post:  A Difficult Birth