Monday, October 8, 2007

In Praise of Henri Roche, Pastel Maker

Casey at the Box

There is a secret in the pastel world that I will now let you in on. The Henri Roche Pastel is the best, and the most desirable, pastel stick on the planet. Keep that little snippet under your hat. This guy, Barry Katz (location held secret), has leaked the news already, but I am not sure if you have read his article yet. He relates the story of how he spent a good deal of effort and fortune to acquire some of these delicate beauties.

Here is a quote from Katz's epic search for the holy grail of pastels:

I first heard about Henri Roché pastels several years ago from the painter, Wolf Kahn. He spoke about the almost ridiculous difficulty of obtaining them. They were, he said, made according to an ancient recipe by an elderly Parisian lady who, along with her two elderly sisters, maintained the last vestiges of a family business that had catered to many of the great artists of the last couple of centuries. If you wanted to buy some, he continued, it was necessary to appear at her doorstep at a particular time on Thursday afternoons and hope that, if she were feeling well enough, you would be admitted to the sanctum sanctorum, the Lourdes of the serious pastelist. I thought he was exaggerating.
Read the whole article here.

Buy 'em here:
Rochester Art Supply, NY.

Okay, let's cut to the chase. Here is Ms. Roche (
Isabel Roché ?) herself, in a video interview:


Anonymous said...

The link to Rochester Art Supply doesn't's the correct one:

Casey Klahn said...

Thank you, MM. I will update the post asap.

Anonymous said...

It is too bad despite their presence at a retail store and pastel trade shows, they are illegal to sell in the United States because they do not conform to ASTM D4236 that requires them, by federal law, to be tested by a toxicologist for potential hazardous material. This is required of all artist materials sold in this country.

alice said...

We are working hard for the release of La Maison du Pastel's online shop. The Pastels Roché will be so available everywhere ! if you want ot be kept informed on the project, please send an email to

Casey Klahn said...

My readers may visit the following website to see info on Roche pastels.

Isabelle Roché said...

Dear Casey,
thank you very much for your praise of Henri Roché pastels!
It is indeed myself pictured in the interview ;-)
I would just like to add that Roché pastels are at present going through the ASTM D4236 certification process to conform to US legislation. "All things come to him who waits"!
My best wishes to your Blog!

Casey Klahn said...

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, MM Roche. My readers love all things pastel, and I admire your standard of excellence.