I have inherited both my Great-grandfather's pastels and Granny's mixing palettes..... both of these pieces of art equipment really have stayed the test of time. There are very few pieces of equipment which I feel the need to preserve- the brushes from Great-grandfather have all started to deteriorate substantially, the watercolour paints from Granny have all solidified and cracked and started to powder.
My paternal Great-grandfather owned and ran a stationers shop on Dorking High street. He was also a self published local of Rambling routes around Leith Hill, Box Hill, Westhumble and the like - some of his publications still exist at Father's house. He had obviously built up a fair amount of stock especially for demonstrations or travelling sales pitches. The pastels I gather, were one such item. Nan gave them to me when I was studying Art at college- I was a little reticent of using such finery for my stumblings, yet I found that their quality and ease of use was simply irresistible. I haven't used them much recently but I will not be parting with them given a like for like replacement would be nearer £200 than £20! Equally, they are Edwardian. That appeals to my romantic side enormously. They are LeFranc Winsor Newton soft pastels.
Granny's palettes are ceramic watercolour palettes which I was also given by her when studying. She had spent a considerable portion of her life painting and sketching and I think it is articles such as these which show the patina of years of gentle use, which really are quite special. They have a crackle glaze surface now after years of jostling in bags or boxes and it adds a bizarre authenticity to them. They feel more real than the plastic, more disposable ones.
Both items, because they were well made, because they have family connections and because they have stood the test of time are testament to the craftsmanship which went into them, regardless of whether at the time they were mass manufactured items.
That is the kind of craftsmanship I love today in this resurgence of Artisan making. The rugged almost imperceptible flaws in some pieces of ceramic, wood or metal work is delightfully real.