View Full Version : Terrible Cat Disaster HELP

12-29-2016, 09:56 PM
This morning I heard a crash in my studio.
I thought, "Those stupid cats. I hope it was just my brushes they knocked over again."

Honestly, I never thought I would hope for that....


I had my Dakota box filled with all my Unisons on my drawing table and......

yeah that's what they knocked over and of course it wasn't covered because I forgot to do it last night.

I almost took a picture but I didn't because I don't ever want to see that again and you all shouldn't be exposed to that kind of graphic imagery, either. It was bad.

So anyhow I spent a good part of today putting my Unisons back in the Dakota box...oddly it was bursting full and now it is not...Many of the sticks were unharmed and many were very harmed. I also decided to start removing all the labels.

Here is the box in its current state:


Now, Here is the problem:

I have a pile of pastel chips that is painful to look at.
I know they can be reconstituted.
I have done that with a few larger chunks, but it is very messy.


What do I do with these chips?
What would you do?
How would you do it?

:crying: :crying: :crying: :crying:

12-30-2016, 02:24 AM
I will be voted off the pastel island for this comment, but I would throw them out. I am more than 1/2 way through my 7th decade on this earth. From where I sit, life is way to short to sort and clean fingernail size shards of pastel.

12-30-2016, 08:07 AM
You could grind them up and make new pastels. I have 7 years worth of dust and little chips still waiting for me to do that.....
I would use the ones I can hold, look at all those lovely sharp edges for detail. the others I would use for underpainting...if I could hold them long enough, or throw them away.
Yes, it's sad but please look on the bright side, you still have lots left!

12-30-2016, 09:36 AM
OMG, that is my biggest fear come to life. Well, painting fear. I have four cats who love to get on my pastel table and easel. What I've done is use an old fitted sheet to cover my pastels. It hugs the table they're on which I hope makes it harder for the cats to knock over if they jump up.
I've read before how people have made a nice neutral color from the pastel chips. It seems like you have a fair amount to give it a try. If you're not interested in doing that, maybe throw them out. At least then you won't have that visual looking at you. How heartbreaking!

12-30-2016, 09:53 AM
You poor thing. I am so sorry! That is genuinely traumatic, and it's possible that only other artists would understand how much :(

Second, a positive. What a beautifully organized pastel box. It is lovely to look at, the colors are gorgeous, SO many of them are so in tact, and I love the way you sorted it. :)

Third, some of those bits definitely look large enough to use, so I encourage you to pull the biggest of them out of the pile and put them back into your beautiful box. As for the rest of the tiniest bits that cannot be used as they are, it is up to you. My thoughts: put them in a jar and set it aside for now. In about a week, if looking at it still hurts your feelings or brings you down, toss it. If you feel better and more optimistic, you may have the chance to sort them a bit into warms and cools, or reds/blues/golds, or not at all - however you like - and experiment with making some new sticks of your own.

Lastly, and on the half-full side: since it appears you are in the habit of using your pastels on the tip, unbroken, I think this can actually begin a wonderful experiment for you. Many artists break their pastels on purpose and use them on the side, like a paintbrush, rather than only on the tip, like a pencil. Now you have the opportunity to see if you like using them that way. Some, but not all, are broken, and so many of the pieces are usable in about 1/3 size. That's perfect! Give it a try! You may be surprised and find that you love having that kind of variety available to you in your strokes. Play a little bit. Have some fun with them and see what you think.

All the best to you, and happy painting :D

12-30-2016, 11:17 AM
Oh, you wonderful people. :heart:
Thank you, even to the "throw them out" vote.

Lastly, and on the half-full side: since it appears you are in the habit of using your pastels on the tip, unbroken, I think this can actually begin a wonderful experiment for you.

I use them mostly on the tip and on the side.

About a year ago, Da Vinci here in NYC stopped carrying Unisons and they sold all their open stock discounted for $2.45. I got a bunch. For Christmas I got a second Dakota box to store them in, and that was this box. So these particular pastels have been lightly used. I have been keeping them in various less-than-ideal boxes for a year, being a little paranoid about being careful with them, and now that they finally get a memory foam box, CRASH. The irony, it kills me. :(

I know they needed some breaking in but honestly, I didn't mean for the stupid cats to break them!!

Bethany Carter-Fields (go look at her work she is amazing) (http://bethanyfields.com/works) had a recent accident where her cat knocked coffee onto her pastels... :eek: so I asked her and she said keep them for detail work.

I decided I am going to make a chip box- keep the usable bits and grind the rest together to make a surprise gray.

Here are both my Dakota boxes- the bottom one is all Unisons, the one the cats knocked over.

The top box is my older box.

I think I need a third box, I still have a bunch more homeless pastels that aren't being stored in a set.....


12-30-2016, 08:33 PM
Okay. So I got these little cosmetic containers to keep my pastel shavings in when I sharpen a pastel. Why not buy a bunch, just crush them and use them like you would Pan Pastel? Just a thought. http://amzn.to/2imN9Xi

(Disclosure, this link is through my Amazon Associates account.)

It's upsetting, but your cats are worth the inconvenience. You know you wouldn't trade them for pastels. ;)

Caat :)

12-30-2016, 09:04 PM
Be glad it wasn't our dog. She would have eaten them all.....along with the box most likely.

I have had really good luck making new pastels out of chips. Just keep the hardness type separated. If you mix soft and hard then you can end up with little hard chunks mixed in with the soft body.

12-30-2016, 10:16 PM
You definitely made the right decision in keeping them. If you paint in detail you will find those pieces, with their nice sharp edges, more useful than the full sticks.

12-30-2016, 11:41 PM
You know you wouldn't trade them for pastels.

HAHAHA I would trade one of three for pastels.
The one who will pee on my bed if not closely supervised.
Does anyone want a mentally ill orange cat?
She comes with Prozac supply til about March.....

The panpastel idea is a good one...hmmm...

OMG the dog eating pastels....he would poop purple!

12-31-2016, 05:58 AM
Just a thought: instead of throwing out, how about giving to someone who is actually interested in recycling or doing whatever with them? :D

12-31-2016, 12:50 PM
You don't need to mush the chips all into gray.

First step, get a box and fill it with corn meal or rice or some other grain. I'd say corn meal, that's what I used. Put the chips in that with the corn meal. Shake it around vigorously with its lid on. That should get all of them cleaned and back to their particular color.

You can fish them out by hand or use a small sieve or something, a tea strainer, but take out the cleaned pieces and sort them. Set out dishes by hue, small ones, twelve of them if you want to separate Warm and Cool versions, and start sorting them by color. Sort the lights and deep darks by Warm or Cool into two more dishes. So either 8 dishes or 14. Just sort them by color, large or small.

Any pieces that are about the size of a half stick or even smaller, a third of a stick, put them back in the Dakota boxes as Usable Sticks. This will restore some to your collection. I saw a blue half stick in the photo that's a perfect "useful size" half of a stick. I broke all my Unisons in half, you'll get used to that.

Any that you can hold at all, start organizing them into a small Unisons box in spectrum order, light at the top, dark at the bottom. This will get you a Plein Air Box or the start of one, where you have many more colors than would normally fit in such a small box. Karen Margulis does this with her stubs and did a great blog article on it. So did Colorix, who used a 30 piece box from Art Spectrum and put four or five bits per slot in.

What's left of them are the unusably small pieces. Sorting them by color and then looking at the piles, if you have a lot of a particular hue like blue, you can separate the blue pile into lighter and darker or warmer and cooler.

Then, take a mortar and pestle. Dedicate this to pastels, they're usually sold for kitchen use for herbs but after using it for pigments you don't ever want to cook with it again. Sweep all the blue leftovers (or lighter blue leftovers) together into the pestle, grind gently with the mortar till it's powder. Add distilled water or rubbing alcohol, drop at a time, and stir this around until you have a very stiff paste, moldable stiff paste. Make forms out of aluminum foil and once it's a stiff paste, roll it into a usable stick shape and put that into its aluminum foil mold. Knead the paste thoroughly till there's no cracks and make sure the powder is well mixed before forming it.

Just make the molds curved rolls about the thickness of a pastel stick. Leave them open, it's just there to let it sit in and dry.

You can make some gray sticks too mixing like this, but they'll be more interesting if you slant them toward violet or pink or blue or green. Let some color predominate in the mixed sticks.

You'll get interesting mid-value colors, unique colors, and since the source of all the chips are Unisons you'll get the Unisons texture again probably. The binders from the chips are all the same, Unisons mixture. Re-molding is something I've read about hundreds of times.

I haven't done it myself yet but I am planning to, saving pastel chips of different hues in pill bottles till I have enough of one hue to make a stick. I didn't want to do a gray stick to start (and don't really have enough to make a stick even if I consolidated them), so I'm still planning this project.

But you have some good sized use-pieces there that are just the same as the Unisons that I handle all the time. Also, the cat disaster did give you enough pieces you can do quite a few different colors. Plenty of blue there, I know you'll get a blue stick.

The more you sort them, the less muted the colors you'll get. You can also experiment by mixing golds with violet to get interesting browns, just play with combinations for unique colors.

It's not that hard as I understand it. A number of people have posted about it and shown the results, most of them working from chips and nubs of multiple brands. The main reason I don't have many chips is that I have so many pastels and work so small, I have yet to use up a full stick of anything I bought full sticks in. Some of my Sennelier half sticks are crumbled by travel but not that badly, the pieces were still usable.

I hope this helps! I can't remember how many drops it is, but it's like making stiff icing from what I saw in the threads. As little liquid as possible, just enough to make a paste of the powder and get it to stick together. Then let it dry for days, I don't know how long but maybe someone who's done it can clarify that. It may vary with how much liquid went in.

Your boxes are beautiful. If you don't want those chips, put them in a zip lock bag with some corn meal, put that in a box and send it to me! Don't just throw it out. I'd take the time to play with them.

Those darn cats. It's why I never leave any pastel box open except when I'm right there painting with it. I stack the boxes and strategize to keep cats from knocking anything over. I am way too attached to my cat or cats not to catproof any studio area - though moving into my studio, things may need more stringent organizing than in the house. Right now most of my pastels boxes are within sealed Sterilite under-bed tubs so the cats don't even know they're there and content themselves with throwing pencil rolls, watercolor tubes and stray brushes around.

I've got three indoor cats here at the farm and three barn cats, all of whom are friendly and playful. They get everywhere. Pastels need serious protection and can never be left open. Long term tips, it may help to put something over the pastels trays like a lid or inverted cookie sheet or something, anything to keep them flat and in the middle of the table when not being used. I flip the box closed even if I'm going to the bathroom because that's when a cat will strike - and I dread some cat poking into an open box or tray, taking ONE out and batting it around the floor. I try to avoid colorful cats and the indoor ones are all predominantly pale or white.

Oooh your Dakota boxes look good, just all those luscious colors! Purrr... thank you for all the photos!

12-31-2016, 02:42 PM
Rob!! :heart: I know I can always count on you to help!

I do have a regularly-used pastel bath (cornmeal) in my studio, and I also have a marble mortar and pestle on my painting table!

Don't worry, I'm not throwing away the chips...I was thinking to make a chip box like you describe in detail, that's really helpful, thanks! :)

The chips are still sitting on my drawing table with their wonderful sharp edges and points.

Now that I have my Unison box in order, I feel so much better. There is something about having that box back in order, and full again (I had some Unisons that didn't make it into the box the first time around)...and looking at the boxes nice and ordered is very soothing. :)

12-31-2016, 05:58 PM
Ooh purr! Yes, seeing the boxes cleaned, ordered and organized is so soothing and inspirational! Every time I look at mine it makes me want to paint. Yours are far more full though! I have one small Dakota box full of miscellaneous and am thinking of splitting into two by texture, super soft in one and medium soft in another. But I have got so many others in boxes, don't have that many open stock to fill it out with.

01-01-2017, 03:25 PM
Just a thought from another Cat owner, If you put empty boxes they can get in at the same level as your pastels, they will get in the boxes first and should leave your pastels alone.

This is from first hand experience as I had my cats walking across paintings that were laying flat(in progress works)


01-01-2017, 04:36 PM
Thank you! Yes, ours really like boxes too. The big box the frames came in drove Kyra kitten crazy, she was all over it, in and out of it, playing with mat scrap. It was adorable and she didn't mess anything else up.