View Full Version : "Softening" hard pastels

10-25-2003, 11:16 PM
Is there any way to do that? I've got a few reds in particular (NuPastel- natch) which are so hard they don't want to make a mark, even. Would steaming them help any?

I know- I know- why ask us? Just try it- you'll never know 'till you find out....

I'd prefer to ask y'all before I try cooking with pastels :-)

Mikki Petersen
10-25-2003, 11:27 PM
Boy do I wish I knew an answer to that one. I thought about grinding them up in a blender to make powder then following the instrcutions for making pastels to remake them. But I haven't tried it yet. If the steaming thing works, let us know. That would sure be easier.

Laura Shelley
10-25-2003, 11:28 PM
I think I know which ones you mean! The Nupastel burgundy in particular is the color that got me started on wet application. I dip it in a glass of water, blot it with a paper towel and draw. You have to do it every other stroke, though.


10-25-2003, 11:33 PM
I can hear it now:

"What's for supper?"


"With Alfredo?"

Mikki Petersen
10-25-2003, 11:52 PM
ROFLMOA! I love it!

Now, I haven't tried the dipping in water...there are a couple of darker shades of red Nupastels that way. And in the Sennelier sample box I got, I was quite surprised that while most of the sticks are just as creamy as one could want, there are several dark blues that only scratch the paper they are so hard.

10-26-2003, 12:32 AM
Funny this should come up now. I received my very first box of "soft pastels" today. They are half sticks of Rembrandt soft pastels but I find them a bit oily and harder than the cheapo sticks of one or two colors I bought at the craft store. Having said that, I like the fact that theyare not as messy as the less expensive ones but I find them hard for a beginner to use....pun intended. Lily

10-26-2003, 01:38 AM
I went to the company website and filed a formal, beseeching complaint- we'll see if they reply. Apparently, my satisfaction is guarunteed- but they never do say they reply to the e-mail question/comment link they have. hmmmm.....

10-26-2003, 04:06 AM
In some makes of pastel, the darker colours are always hard and scratchy. I rarely buy Rembrandt for this very reason - their darks are usually hard and scratchy. I find this really irritating, because it doesn't have to be that way. Both Schmincke, and Unison, make very dark colours, and they are just as soft as the other colours in their sets. I think you are right to complain tothe manufacturers, tho I doubt they will do much about it!!

I think you would do best to buy individual sticks, and then you can pick and choose your colours. If your darks are very hard, then buy just a few individual darks in one of the better makes, add them to your set, and enjoy them, rather than struggle with scratchy pastels.

Mikki Petersen
10-26-2003, 04:21 AM
Now that's probably the smartest advice of all, I guess. I'm far enough into collecting my colors now that I no longer buy in sets anyway, so I guess I'll just give the nasty ones up as a loss and find better brands of similar colors. Like I said earlier...you get what you pay for!

10-26-2003, 05:50 AM
I know what you mean SBJ...... I have Nupastels and had the same problem ........ but they are ALL fine on textured paper as in Art Spectrum or Wallis.... (something of rough/sanded papers) ..... thats one reason why I went 'off' Canson :)

..... I dont know if you have seen the thread about Nupastels NOT being Archival........ and many others too for that matter

10-26-2003, 12:47 PM
SBJ - I love that dark red nupastel for making the details I need but that's about all.

I have to agree with Jackie's comment. do yourself a favor and buy a single Schmincke red or Rembrandt stick and you'll be much happier.

Or - send me your address and I'll put one in the mail to you directly. It would be worth it - I promise.


10-26-2003, 01:10 PM
I've got both Rembrandt and Sennelier reds- just kinda ticks me off I have this whole set of NuPastel with that great ability to do a very fine line- and some of the darned things are so hard they won't release colour! On the upside, I plan on releasing my inner Baja- I mean, child- and complaining directly to them- "They won't mark. They won't mark. They won't mark. They won't mark." They shouldn't have left that phone number on their website....

Thank-you for the offer, though- and I just found a website which features Roche pastels- ummmm- I think I need to win PowerBall- these things are $10 and $12 a stick!!! But if I spend $50 (easy) I am automatically entered to win a 300+ piece set of Giraults....

Let's see, don't go anywhere, that'll save me $15 in gas every two weeks, no more quick lattes, there's another $10; cut out lunch for Hubby- an easy $20 (he could stand to lose some weight- honest), the dog's looking a bit chunky....

10-26-2003, 03:11 PM
Originally posted by SweetBabyJ
I can hear it now:

"What's for supper?"


"With Alfredo?"
You want fries with that??????????? ;)

Hey SBJ you go get 'em girl -complain, b****, moan :D :D

10-26-2003, 08:43 PM
Recently I saw on here a suggestion for softening hard pastels, made to someone by Terry Ludwig. It was to crush it together with a Tums tablet (calcium carbonate), moisten the mixture, and re-form the pastel. Just so you know, I tried it and the resulting pastel was like granite! Wouldn't even mark on sandpaper. :(

Mary Robinson
10-26-2003, 09:05 PM
I've got a set of those dark rembrandts, I don't like them, the really dark blues make a terrible mess of the work. And someone got me a set of yarka pastels too, all of those work like the rembrandt darks. However, I have found some hard pastel sticks that might be just what you are looking for, SBJ, they are made by Faber-Castell and I got them at Pearl Art Suppy, I bought mine by the stick, I'm not sure if they come in sets, but they are fantastic hard pastels for making fine lines. Even the darks, which btw, I have been using in my current seascape that I'm doing.

Hope that helps :D

Craig Houghton
10-27-2003, 12:32 PM
I stopped having hard-scratchy pastel problems when I started using papers/supports primed with a pumice ground. The sandpaper-like (or actual sandpaper :) ) surface does a great job of tearing through the harder stuff.

Beyond that, when starting in with a harder nu-pastel, rough-skinned rembrandt, or a diamond-tough rogue sennelier I rub the stick against a paper towel as if I were chalking a pool cue. With the rembrandts things seem fine once I'm passed the outer layer, and the same goes for the nu-pastels usually. With the dangerous senneliers (too inconsistent to bother buying beyond open-stock IMO) you just have to pay close attention, mind the paper and layers, and keep spare paper close by to test upon/de-rough.

Hope this helps!


10-27-2003, 03:24 PM
I had the same problem, what I did was file them to get a little mound of pastels 'dust' ala Gaka and used that with q-tips to paint.