View Full Version : Gettin' Dirty - Playing With Pastels

Kathryn Wilson
10-18-2005, 02:57 PM
Hey Everybody - I've been wanting to try this for a while now, so decided to get all my pastel cast-offs and shards and grind them up to make my own pastels.

Not hard to do - just add distilled water to make a thick but moist paste and roll them out.

I first grouped them by color, then ground them in my mortar/pestle until a fine dust. Then added the water.

Wanna play? If you do, post your results here. Make sure you have rubber gloves, a cleanable surface to roll the pastels on - and next time, I want a small sieve to refine the pastels even more.


10-18-2005, 03:12 PM
What fun, Kat. I've been saving my dust for a while to make some neutrals...perhaps it's time to play....perhaps this weekend, if I get a chance. I'll be sure to post them.

Kathryn Wilson
10-18-2005, 03:35 PM
Make sure you have enough dust - it takes a lot to make one stick.

10-18-2005, 03:41 PM
I have about half of a small coffee can ful so far...and a bunch of duplicate colour pastels I want to crush...

Also - in Terry Ludwig's forum, he gave a neat technique for using your current pastels to create new colours you need.

You can make your own , if you know what combination of colrs you want to include in it. Select the colors of existing pastels, fold a paper towel, soak it with distilled water, pplace the sticks on it untill they become saturated with the water. Take them off and place them on a solis surface, ie, glass or a piece of plexiglass, and work them together with a palet knife until they are blended. Take a plastic bag, like the one from the grocery store, wrinkle it up then smooth it out.

After you have formed the blended pastel paste into the shape you want it , place it on the bag and let it dry, it is dry when you can place the stick to your cheek and it doesnt feel cool.
If the paste is too wet to shape blot with a dry paper towel untill you can form it.
The plastic bag will give enough when the stick drys to allow for the shrinkage of the stick, otherwise it will crack in the drying process.

It sounds really neat and has me curious to try it. I'm neading some more coloured greys and I think I might just be able to use my bits to create some lovely ones....

10-18-2005, 05:14 PM
Yep, and I have about a zillion of those AWFUL greens that are NEVER found in nature which I think could be adapted with a judicious addition of odds and ends of other colors. And who knows? I may actually stumble on that PERFECT grey blue I've been searching for!

10-18-2005, 05:24 PM
ohhh...maybe I will too...and an assortment of purple greys...since that is what I so want...some deep purple greys and some really light ones...

10-19-2005, 09:54 AM
Kat- those are so cool! I try so hard to get rid of the dust so I don't sneeze as much- but love those greens! I even have a whopper of a mortar and pestle....thought it looked cool- but that is all I do with it since making pesto is better in the blender

Kathryn Wilson
10-19-2005, 10:10 AM
Yes, I've been wanting a spring green and haven't found one I like - so I took some ordinary greens and added some bits of yellow and came up with this color. As soon as it is dry, I will post a sample. Cross your fingers it doesn't crumble!

10-19-2005, 10:57 AM
If they crumble they must be as good as Townsends or Sennlier's LOL... I love your idea of sorting them in cupcake papers! An old cupcake tin would be a great pastel storage thing for the bits...

Kathryn Wilson
10-19-2005, 11:16 AM
LOL - Thou Makest Do With What One Hath Available - my motto - :)

Terry Wynn
10-19-2005, 11:29 AM
Wow, what a great idea. I can't wait to see your results and how your home-made sticks are to use.


10-19-2005, 11:35 AM
If they crumble they must be as good as Townsends or Sennlier's LOL... I love your idea of sorting them in cupcake papers! An old cupcake tin would be a great pastel storage thing for the bits...

ohh - I like the way you think, Linda!!! I think I have an old one kicking around...and an old cookie sheet too, to use as a lid....ohhhhh - now I just wanna make pastels today....

K Taylor-Green
10-19-2005, 01:06 PM
Kat, I've made several of my own pastels and just love the process. Like making colorful mud pies! Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures!

Kathryn Wilson
10-19-2005, 01:17 PM
Kate, did you make them from pieces or from scratch. I've seen photos of the workshop Kitty gives on making pastels - it does look a bit messier than this process. BTW, we are re-cycling too - good for the environment! If you are going to grind up your harder pastels, I strongly recommend the sieve. A recent article in the PJ says that the author uses a food processor for grinding. A trip to the local thrift store to buy a cheapie to try might be a good idea.

When I get some time, I want to grind up all my pastels by color (see my assortment), then put the dust in jars until I have enough to make into pastels. I can see rows of different colors waiting to be born - :)

hmmm . . . I wonder if I can do the same thing with OP's? Will go start a thread over there too.

10-19-2005, 01:37 PM
I think Wendy (sundiver) did it with the oilies a while back...she melted them down with white to create some lighter tints...

I think a coffee grinder would do a great job for grinding them up. The longer you ground, the finer the dust....perhaps I will find a cheaper one at wally world.

Piper Ballou
10-22-2005, 10:58 AM
Well, I have been collecting my dust and saving my small bits of pastels, it will be a while before I have enough ...love this thread, thanks Kat for starting it

10-22-2005, 12:12 PM
I agree - thanks kat. I am going to see if I can't try out terry's method for mixing colours this weekend. We do have a family function tonight, but maybe tomorrow will work out (provided we don't get roped into things like Brunch with the in-laws and so forth). I'll be sure to post my results.

10-28-2005, 11:49 AM
:wave: Pastel dust? What's that. LOL

Good job Kat! I'll have to dig out some of my recyled dusties. I shape mine into little triangles which gives me great edges. Try the triangle shape, I think you'll love it too. :wave:

Kathryn Wilson
11-07-2005, 10:43 AM
I finally found just the right kitchen strainer for sifting out the larger particles. I now have six pastel cupcakes to roll into pastels (or make into triangles like llis suggested). I am really please with how the colors turned out.


11-07-2005, 10:55 AM
Lovely colours Kat. I have been getting mine sorted and crushed too. This weekend is a long weekend here so I am hoping to spend sometime on Friday morning making my new colours. I have decided to buy a coffee grinder for all of this, since my mortar and pestle doesn't seem to do a great job (could be an operator issue). I just figure I can really get a fine powder if I use a grinder.

I should have photos by Friday afternoon! :)

11-11-2005, 02:53 PM
okay - here are mine :D I went for mostly darks...


To give a bit of insight to how i made mine:

1) I had split my colour nubs into 3 different colour groups in jam jars: red/orange (warms), blue/purple (kinda cools) and green/yellow (landscape greens) and then a generic mix from my dust tray was in a coffee can

2) I combined the nubs for the individual colour groups ito a coffee grinder that I picked up for $8 at walmart and ground themin there for a couple of minutes until they were a nice dust

3) created a mound on a piece of glass and made a well in the middle

4) added one melita coffee scoop of distilled watter to the well and mixed with a putty knife

5) if mixture was too dry and crumbly I would eye dropper in water until it was the consistency of cookie dough

6) Wearing gloves, I formed the pastels into these lumps and set on an absorbant paper to dry. After taking the photo - I covered the wet pastels with a plastic bag to slow down the drying time a bit so they will stay consistent and not crumbly from drying too quickly.

And there you have it...now I can start my nub saving all over again :D I still have ALOT of generic dust so will probably make some more in a few months....the generic dust is harder to get a consistent colour if there are larger nubs in it. I try anyway :)

***edited to add - I also added some black pastels into the coffee grinder with some of the colour groups to create darker pastels. I have so many black pastels and hardly ever use them so they worked nicely for the darkening. Might be a no-no but it worked here

11-12-2005, 12:01 AM
Now that they have dried a bit - I shaped them into squares....I'll post another pic when they are finally dry - along with colour swatches...

Laura Shelley
11-12-2005, 04:14 PM
Ooh, one of my favorite pastimes! ;-) I've made pastels from scratch with Kitty's pigment doughs, I've used dry pigments from various sources and I've recycled my collected dust and bits. It all works well, though if you want pure clean colors you will obviously have to go with pure pigments in some form. Recycling is excellent for chromatic grays and darks. If you have some basic white pigment to use in mixes, such as marble dust or precipitated chalk, then you can make ranges of tints as close together as you like.

But the best part is making your own shapes! I discovered that cylindrical sticks aren't really ideal for me. They're easy to make in a factory by extruding a paste, but you don't have to accept that limitation for your own work. I like thickish triangles or oblongs. Triangles are excellent for making both wide and narrow strokes depending on how you hold them, and they fit well into my small hands. I've made them in every size from an inch long to three inches or so depending on how I intended to use them.


K Taylor-Green
11-12-2005, 05:24 PM
I wouldn't have thought of triangles. Maybe I will grind up my hard ones and reshape them for finer lines, since I mostly use them for detail work.

Kat, sorry I'm late. Mine are all recycled, though I'd love to try it from scratch.

11-12-2005, 06:54 PM
I attmpted to shape them into triangles originally (after the suggestion earlier in this tread) but didn't like the shapes I was getting. I could see them being more annoying than anything to me personally. The square shape will serve me much better I think.

11-14-2005, 08:01 PM
and here they are dry. I apologise for the horrid blury photo, but you can see the colours anyway...


11-26-2005, 02:45 PM
loving these so far - they are close to the consistency of a Unison. Just thought I would poke in and tell you all. I think the coffee grinder made all the difference in this batch over the one pastel I made earlier in the year that came out scratchy and multi-coloured....

11-26-2005, 03:28 PM
Ooooh, I love this thread! What an awesome idea to use a cheap coffee grinder. I'd like to try some of those triangle shapes that Laura and other talk about. The squares/rectangles look great, Corii. That deep, dull purple is just the perfect violet...omg...*drooling* Guard it with your life! Heeheehee... Did you use black in that one?


11-26-2005, 03:45 PM
yep - black it was. Next time I think i would try for some really light tints. That will be the next thing I need :)

11-26-2005, 03:57 PM
LOL- I was just thinking of dumping by bits and pieces in the coffee grinder/ spice mixer..... if I can find where we put it... Cori has totally corrupted my thinking- I go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or Home Depot, or where ever, and everthing I see becomes a possible pastel container.... silverware drawers, you name it.... I wonder if ground coffee beans would make good pastels? I just read of someone who puts aroma therepy (essential oils) in her paints.... would smell better than the studio dog - um, tooting....

11-29-2005, 10:07 AM
i did this a long time ago outta desparation!! i HAD to have a greeny/grey/purply color, but of course, didn't. not even close. kept thinking, oh, if this were paint, i'd just mix a bit of this with a dab of that....hey, wait, what if i....? and i ground just a bit with a dab, and viola!! i had THE color i needed!! but rather than toss the dust pile i had made (i just used it like paint, put finger in dustpile, put on painting) i used rub. alcohol to mold my powder into a stick-ish form. every since then, i save my easel dust in a pimento jar (those are perfect sized, and have nice roundy edges that are easy to scrape clean--i buy the jar, then toss the pimentos!! lol!) and get a really neat drab but very useful color. and its diff. each time. fun stuff guys!! aren't we a thrifty lot?!! haha!