View Full Version : How to prepare and use new pastels?

08-30-2015, 07:37 PM
Hello all,

I am just starting in pastels. Over the last few years been buying pastel sets when they are on sale. Bought couple when a local art store went out of business as well.

I am going to build a table to store them. Here is my question. What is the best method to start using them. Several books and videos suggest breaking them and leaving half with the labels in the original box. Some suggest cutting the papers with a razor and not worry about the colors...

Thanks in advance...

water girl
08-30-2015, 11:52 PM
I break my Great Americans, Rembrandts and Schminkes, but leave my Terry Ludwigs alone. Everyone has a different way to sort and store. Hopefully some of the other members will share photos of their storage systems.

08-31-2015, 02:45 AM
I do the same thing. Halving them helps a lot, and leave th elabel on the stored half if you want to reorder. Or chart them.

Past a certain point I stopped worrying about replacements or exact color matching since I have enough pastels I can always find the one I need. I've started buying half sticks for the convenience.

One cool thing I did with a large set of 200 was break them each in half, then put all of the colors into each of the two trays. A set of 60 colors that came in two boxes got the same treatment. That does a lot to give table space and make large sets easier to reach.

You may start to find some favorites, so that's a good reason to save labels or chart with color names and numbers. I don't bother when they're discontinued ones because I wouldn't be able to replace them anyway.

When I get half stick sets I keep them in their set boxes to keep track of them by texture. But full sticks get split and usually reorganized.

08-31-2015, 06:49 AM
Thank you both for the replies. What do you suggest I use for charting? What type paper, neutral color or white background? do you use a fixative on the charts? Or use a cheap pastel book style pad? Is there a photo you guys can share?

Also, what do you suggest for a box? I wont be traveling with them. I am a wooedworker and can pretty much make anything. I was looking at the 2 drawer pastel storage units. Is it better to build a box with 6-8 divided areas for color or keep all in their boxes?

Thank you...

09-06-2015, 09:06 AM
If you're not carrying them you want a tray, not a box. Drawers are a pain in the tail. Definitely divided areas for each color family plus neutrals, pencils, other gear. Since you're talented at woodworking, google Heilman pastel boxes. Those are the gold standard; function well as a studio tray and if you do decide to carry them around its the perfect box. Dimensions are on their website.

09-06-2015, 09:09 AM
This is a Heilman box opened as a studio tray.

09-08-2015, 11:45 AM
I have a Heilman box that I filled....... but I still have some pastel sets that I cannot bear to remove from the original packaging, they are soooo pretty.... :heart:

09-08-2015, 02:46 PM
I "made" this: It's just pre-made frames from a craft store that are made for displaying trinkets - so, I stacked them, then hinged them together to keep everything from going "52 pick-up".... or "500 pick-up"... and the beauty is you can just keep adding/stacking more frames as you acquire more pastels... Now, my pencils are another story, because I tried making them slip under ribbon, but my ribbon kept coming loose and so the pencils go everywhere... I am a work in progress! :angel:


Thanks for viewing! What do YOU do with your pastel pencils? :eek:

09-08-2015, 03:21 PM
that's really clever!

I have a 72 set of Derwent pastel pencils, I just store them in their original tin.

09-08-2015, 04:29 PM
I would keep them in their original foam beds. I once dropped :eek: my 120 half stick Rembrandt set (I almost crumbled myself at that moment :D ) and, though some pastels broke, it pretty much survived this accident without turning to dust. I believe due to the foam protection.

09-13-2015, 03:05 PM
Lilli, I have a lovely inexpensive solution for my pastel pencils and colord pencils. I used to use Global Classic Leather Cases, still have several, love them. But budget dropped. Don't have a photo of it but I found Niji canvas pencil wraps for $4.95. They hold 36 pencils each. I put 60 Carb-Othello Stabilo pastel pencils into two of them, splitting by top and bottom trays in the tin.

They've been perfectly secure and lots more portable in the nice black canvas wraps with snap straps to hold them shut once rolled.

Elastic strap cases and roll-ups are about the same to protect delicate pastel pencils or extra soft colored pencils from Internal Breakage. Unrolled, the pencils don't slide out by themselves. They're easy to get at. Rolled up they're as secure as a tin but don't have to be stored flat or any particular way up.

Derwent also has nice canvas roll ups or used to but theirs are more expensive. Niji's cool little black one is a huge bargain.

Mudfish, your photo looks exactly like my small Dakota Traveller. Love your layout with the browns under yellows and oranges and grays with muted colors on the far right. Very clean and organized. Mine isn't as spotless or uncrowded but is organized.


My small Dakota Traveller with my 15lb cat for scale. This is the same type of case as a small Heilmann Backpacker, however the Heilmann has a long piano hinge and a couple of holes in it to balance an easel insert. Heilmann is the gold standard Rolls Royce of pastel cases. Dakota Traveller is the nice decent mid-range solid one.

I do like it but someday want to add a Heilmann Single or Double Sketchbox, smaller and lighter. The single also has paper storage and lid sits up to make it a lap pochade so that actually tempts me to the smallest model.

My Dakota Traveller successfully protected all those pastels except for a couple of cracked Senneliers and I needed to clean them all after arriving. I moved from Arkansas to San Francisco with a flight followed by a quite long drive hauling it. My only problem is it lost its four little rubber feet for standing upright on the hinged side. Pretty minor.

09-13-2015, 04:53 PM

Hiiiii Ari! :heart:

09-13-2015, 06:06 PM
Beautiful cat by the way...Have you ever painted him/her?