28.01.2017 - 31.01.2017 — Hall: 4.1 Stand: J 45
Coates simply make the best willow charcoal in the world, and have been doing so for over 40 years.
However, our business PH Coate & Son Ltd, has been around for much longer. Founded by Robert Coate in 1819, and still run by the Coate Family today. We are located in on the world famous wetland area in the south west of England, the Somerset Levels and Moors.
The Somerset Levels
Is the most important wetland area in the U.K. This unique landscape provides perfect conditions for willow growing. Basket making willow, known as "Withies", have been grown here for two centuries, and it is now the only area left where it is still cultivated for the production of baskets, furniture, garden items and high quality artists' charcoal.
The willow beds provide homes and shelter for many species of birds and animals during the summer months. Willow growing is part of the rich environmental heritage of this area of Somerset. Both the commercial willow crops, or beds and the pollarded willow trees contribute to the character and image of the region.
Production of Drawing Charcoal
We are often asked why does willow produce the best draw-ing charcoal? Willow grows extremely quickly, it can grow 1.5m in one growing season. The wood produced is particularly soft and so, in turn the charcoal produced from the wood is particularly soft. We grow approximately 70 acres of willow, and with our generations of experience we are able to produce superb quality willow and create great quality charcoal for all artists.
Once the crop is harvested it undergoes various processes in preparation for turning into charcoal. This includes boiling the rods for ten hours to soften the bark so it can be removed by special machines. The processed rods are then cut into regular length pieces that will soon become the familiar charcoal sticks. The cut pieces of willow are graded according to diameter and packed tightly into cooking tins.
As the full length rods are tapered along their length, the pieces from the top of the rod become thin charcoal and the pieces at the bottom of the rod become the thick charcoal, with the pieces in the middle becoming medium charcoal.
Once the tins are packed they are made air-tight and then cooked in custom made kilns for 10 hours. This cooking process is finely controlled at all times, failure to keep control will result either in a fire or uncooked willow sticks, which are suitable for drawing with. A small proportion of the willow crop is left to grow for two or even three years, these rods are turned into the very large tree sticks.
As we only produce 100% natural willow charcoal we are unable to supply charcoal pencils or compressed charcoal sticks.
Pigmentation - colour:
There is more to charcoal than sticks!!
Using powdered charcoal with your fingers. 'finger-paint' style creates soft, subtle effects. If you feel really creative, why not try making your own paint by mixing ground charcoal with a binder substance to make black paint or to darken colours.....
Fireworks - Pyrotechnics:
Ground charcoal is one of the key ingredients in making Black Powder. Black Powder known because of its use in explosives - the Gunpowder Plot and firearms. The charcoal provides lift, it acts as a propellant. The same lifting qualities that make charcoal vital to explosives are also valued in the creation of fireworks. Charcoal helps launch the rockets we enjoy on bonfire night.