View Full Version : Device or tips to collect pastel dust.

Moises Menendez
07-04-2015, 11:48 AM
I am back on working on pastel again, but I wish I could avoid the messy pastel dust that collects on the supporting bar of the easel. Does any one know any tips or device to collect the falling pastel dust, short of the expensive & cumbersome Air Cleaning System?

Moqui Steps
07-04-2015, 01:11 PM
We make a rectangular tray with raised edges out of heavy aluminum foil that sits on the easel shelf, kind of like what you would do with a broiler pan when you don't want stuff sticking to the it in the oven. Then when we are done for the day, or when too much dust accumulates, we empty it into a plastic bin to be made into gray pastel sticks later.

Some artists use a wallpaper tray or an easel tray at the bottom to catch the dust.




I plan on improving the tray system by adding wire mesh to the top of an existing tray, or making one that is more sturdy / permanent than aluminum foil plus the wire mesh top. Imagine a long skinny tray 1/2" to 3/4" deep that is a few inches wider than the widest pastel you will work on and extends out to the full width or maybe a bit more than the shelf at the bottom of your easel. It will have a 1/8" rigid wire mesh layer on top of it so the dust falls through to the bottom. That way you can lay pastels on the tray without them becoming coated with all kinds of dust, as long as you don't set them right under the work. When it gets somewhat full, remove it from the easel, tip it up so the dust slides down to one end and dump it into a collection bin.

The vacuum system seems a bit over the top to me, but I wouldn't mind trying one sometime to see if it eliminates rainbow schnoogies.

Barbara WC
07-04-2015, 02:26 PM
I use about 6 sheets of newsprint between my painting and backing board- this creates a cushioned surface, and prevents any marks from the backing board transferring to my painting.

To catch dust, I fold up the bottom of the top sheet of newsprint, about 3/4", and secure the edges with masking tape.


This shelf catches an amazing amount of pastel during a painting. After I'm done with the painting, I roll up the newsprint with dust in it and throw it away. I use a new sheet of newsprint for the next painting...

I also use a drop cloth under my easel (an old sheet). Even with the newsprint shelf, I'm amazed at the amount of pastel that ends up on the floor.

Also helps not to blow, brush off or tap your painting during a session. If I need to do one of those things, I take the painting outside.

Last fall, I started working with a desktop air purifier right next to my easel. It indeed did capture lots of dust in the pre-filter that i could see. However, I now think that it has been creating currents of air around the easel and blowing excess dust across the room. I'm currently cleaning up my art room and have found an amazing amount of colored dust way across the room. I've put the air purifier on the floor, and n the future, I"m going to keep the air purifier off while painting, then turn it on when I'm not painting...

Moises Menendez
07-04-2015, 05:03 PM
Thank you for the information and I may try your technique. Your idea remains a roof gutter, I guess ,very smart indeed.

Moises Menendez
07-04-2015, 05:05 PM
Thank you for the tip. It very ingenious and I will try it also.

07-05-2015, 10:40 AM
I use a piece of tin foil the length of my board, folded to three or four thicknesses, two inches wide & folded up into a tray on sides and ends. Cheap, effective & folds up to travel to class easily.

07-05-2015, 02:33 PM
I miss the air purifier I used to have.

Um, I work in my lap, then I change my dusty clothes and put them in the laundry? Also sometimes if I'm short on clean pants remember to spread a painting rag across my lap. Any crumb large enough to pick up goes in a pill bottle by spectrum hue to get saved and eventually ground and reshaped into a new pastel.

I have home care clean up my room three times a week. I also work small, do early layers with harder pastels and rarely get that much dust besides the smudges. I tap the painting often into a trash bin. This may be why I almost always have to change pants or sponge down the ones I'm wearing, but don't find colored dust anywhere else in the room. Not even my table usually. House dust even from the table next to me comes up house dust color.

I miss having a painting apron. I used to have two of them, they were great.

This is something that's gong to puzzle me for a long, long time, I think. Not having the problem even after several sessions is peculiar. Probably one of those unconscious disability adaptations. I remember reading about tapping off here in this forum in a post from Deborah Secor and now do it constantly, at least once per layer, sometimes several times. That may well be the trick, along with working small. Not much help for artists working large on an easel maybe... hmm...

If I did have the energy to work large and space to set up easel, I would want to get a large trash bin or tray the size of the drawing board width. Something that when I tap off it's wide enough to catch all the falling dust. This is why I switched from the 15" x 16" drawing board to the aluminum letter size clipboard for anything 8 x 10" and smaller. Sometimes 9 x 12" gos on that. I have to be more careful tapping the larger drawing board.

Moises Menendez
07-05-2015, 05:09 PM
Mudfish, thank you. Similar device I saw recently on a workshop with Susan Ogilvie, but I did not pay much attention at the time. Recently, I noticed that the pastel dust really accumulates on the bottom since I started doing landscaping. Something I did not notice while working on portraits.

Moises Menendez
07-05-2015, 05:16 PM
"(those unconscious disability adaptations. I remember reading about tapping off here in this forum in a post from Deborah Secor and now do it constantly, at least once per layer, sometimes several times. That may well be the trick, along with working small. Not much help for artists working large on an easel maybe... hmm...)"
Robert, I got confused with your comments. Do you have a disability?
I am trying to find a device that could collect the pastel dust, and also could be compatible with any size of board and also something that could be discarded at will. Donald mentioned something like that above.

07-19-2015, 01:32 PM
I use foil and when I remove will either roll up and pitch or create a pointy spout and pour dust in to a container to create a pastel stick.