View Full Version : sennelier soft pastels

04-09-2005, 08:44 AM

I am new on the site. Don't know how it all works. I have got a question about Sennelier soft pastels. How do you prevent them from drying out? I notice that the pastels get hard after a few months.What can you do to solve this?

04-09-2005, 09:25 AM

I am new on the site. Don't know how it all works. I have got a question about Sennelier soft pastels. How do you prevent them from drying out? I notice that the pastels get hard after a few months.What can you do to solve this?

Hello and welcome to WC - post No 1 of many I am sure!

How very odd about your pastels. I have been pastelling for more years than I care to remember, and NONE of my soft pastels has ever "dried out", even Senneliers that I have had for years.

I wonder if it is to do with the climate in your part of the world.

One thing you can do with a very hard scratchy pastel, is grind it to fine powder (put it in a couple of plastic bags and use a rolling pin, or use a pestle and mortar thingy), and then reconstitute the pastel stick by adding a few drops of distilled water, form a stiff paste, and then form a pastel. Leave it overnight to dry. this works very well. The water gradually evaporates, leaving you with a new stick of pastel, made up of its original components of pigment and binder.


04-09-2005, 09:46 AM
Thank you for the tip. I wil try that. I live in a very wet part of the world so I don't think that is the problem. I have also got a set of Rembrandt pastels. I have no problem with those. Thanks a lot

04-09-2005, 12:14 PM
That does seem really odd. Admittedly, I haven't been working in pastels very long (only around 7 months), but I can't imagine them drying out. they are already DRY! I wonder if it isn't the climate where you live? Maybe there is high humidity and it is affecting the pastels negaively. I'm pulling at straws here.... :confused:

04-09-2005, 04:11 PM
I live in Holland. I cannot imagine that the climate is affecting the pastels. After all they are made not so far away from here. I have got the pastels now for 2 months. Especially the red colours are hardening already.

04-09-2005, 04:28 PM
When you first got the pastels did you try them all? Occasionally, particular colors of Sennelier seem hard & scratchy from the beginning. I'm curious to find out if this happened later.

04-09-2005, 04:36 PM
I did not try them all, there are 250 of them. I got a box as a present. Last year I had only one red pastel of sennelier. After six months I could not use it any more. It was so hard. I have noticed with this new box that some of the pastels already feel hard on the edges. I am just worried that all of them dry out in six months time. I wondered if there was anything I could do to prevent that.

Deborah Secor
04-09-2005, 05:06 PM
Applebee, I've had mine get dry but I live in a very dry part of the southwest US. Around here most of us don't buy Senneliers because as soon as we peel the paper off they crumble away to nothing. :(

I usually find this problem of Senneliers becoming crispy on the outside happens when the pastels are quite old, maybe years and years old, so I wonder if you got some from the bottom of a stock shelf. What I do is lay the pastels between two damp tea towels or paper towels, which I keep dampened with a spray bottle for a couple of days. Water won't hurt the Senneliers at all, so don't worry about getting them too damp--but don't flood them. Usually this will rehydrate them to a degree.

Hope it helps!


04-10-2005, 03:14 AM
actually, this is silly. You live in Europe, so this is what I would do in your shoes.
contact Sennelier in Paris and tell them about the problem. send them one or two pastels to show them the problem, the worst ones, like those reds your describe. Tell them that you have a NEW box of 250, most of which you now cannot use, and you would like them to replace all the pastels which have dried out, because clearly they are faulty. In fact, given that many of them are slowly drying out, you would like a whole new box of pastels which will NOT dry out. This should never, never happen, and certainly not in damp Holland!!!!

Please believe me ...it is absolutely their responsibility to do this. Pastels are expensive, and if they are not fit for the job for which they were intended, it is up to the manufacturer to replace them. Tell them you are VERY upset. Make your letter very strong and positive. (I might even send them the whole box, come to think of it, but you may prefer to write first sending just one, in case they ignore you!)

Here is a link to their website, with an address:


04-10-2005, 09:18 AM
Dear Jackie

Thank you for your advice and concern. It is not that I cannot use the pastels. At the moment they just feel dry on the outside edges. The red pastel I had last year I threw away because I could not use it any more. I am worried that the same will happen to my new set. I just want to prevent the new pastels from drying out so that I can still use them in six months time. How do I store them? Maybe I should be writing to Sennelier and explain the situation and ask them for advice. My drawing teacher has not really got an answer either. It is just that I am concerned. I haven't got much experience with them as I only started drawing two years ago.

By the way I had a look on your website. It looks very nice. I saw that you are giving a course in Greece. I wondered if you still had a place or that it is fully booked. I am still very much a beginner but I am very taken with pastel. It is a lovely medium.


04-10-2005, 11:08 AM
Storage - well, you should not have a problem, I store mine in either their original boxes, or else in OPEN TRAYS alongside my easel! I can imagine your concern, given your experience, but to be perfectly honest, I thnk you must have had a "dud" lot, and in general, pastels do not dry out. You could do as Dee_artist suggests with the damp cloth, that sounds quite a good idea to me, or else try my suggestion of reconstituting any that harden, if you cannot be bothered to send them back. ( I would send them back, it's less trouble in some ways!)

As for my Greek holiday ... I will check with the travel operator who is organising the trip, and see if there are any more places available. I do have one other lady coming from Amsterdam! However, last time I checked, although the flights were available, they were having problems finding more single rooms in the hotel. I will see what I can do. Please send me a pm with your email address.

best wishes