View Full Version : Index pastels?

10-02-2006, 08:51 PM
I just started with soft pastels this year so am still learning, (often by trial and error) some of the practical aspects of the media. I have a question for all of the long time pastel artists on the forum.
One book I read recommended creating an "index pastel". That is, the suggestion was to cut off one end of the pastel leaving the wrapper with the pastel number on it and then taking the wrapper off of the other end and using it for your painting (and storing it back next to its index when you are done with it). The idea is that when you've used up the pastel and need a replacement you still have the small piece with the index number on it for easy re-ordering. This sound reasonable but is it that necessary or common?
I've also seen other books and pictures with trays of unwrapped pastels sorted according to hue and value. This approach appeals to me, but before I toss all of the wrappers, I'd like to know what others recommend.

10-02-2006, 09:18 PM
Well I don't know if it's common or not, but I don't do it! In fact I don't own many pastels that even had a wrapper, and if one did (I have a few unisons that did) I immediately rip it off and toss it!

So far I've found few colors so wonderful I've needed an exact duplicate. If I'm VERY organized I might bring a favorite stub with me when shopping for new stuff - but mostly I go with just a vague idea, like "light blue", in my head of what I want. But I'm not very organized!

10-02-2006, 09:43 PM

What I can advise you, is to make colour swatches of your pastels so that you may find the colour that you need, easier.
Of course it's good to know who made a certain colour, but after a while one usually starts having everything mixed up; at least that's what happens to me.

Kind regards,


K Taylor-Green
10-02-2006, 10:18 PM
I definitly don't do the index thing. So many of my pastels come without labels.
I use Debbie's method! But for replacing favorite got- to- haves, I write down the numbers that are on the stick it's self.

10-02-2006, 11:17 PM
Hi Randy,

I have a full set of Rembrandts and this is what I did.
www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=358305 (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=358305) I have found this very reliable when matching up colours, also I keep all my pastels in their set order in the box so if the wrapper comes off I know which one it is as the cards are also set out in the same order. Hope this is of some help.


nana b
10-02-2006, 11:32 PM
I break pastels to use them, maybe to get a sharp edge or to use it on it's side. So there isn't any use in keeping two or three pieces on my palette to get in my way so I just put all but one piece in another container with wrapper (if it came in a wrapper) or without if not. That way I'll be able to keep track of my colors and brands so you might call it indexing. I don't want to run out of a certain color when I need it and have to order and wait for it to ship. So it seems to work out. I'm fairly new with pastels too so it is a learning process.

nana b:)

10-03-2006, 04:09 PM
mine isn't the best method, but its what i do--i take any wrappers that are paper, (some are waxy) and i take the pastel and make a patch on the inside of the wrapper, which is then 'filed' (tossed in drawer). this is only done to those that i really gotta have THAT stick to replace. i dont' use or plan to replace too many with waxy papers (just found other brands i liked better) so that isn't any troubles. the ones with no wrapper, i use the 'i'll worry about it later' method!

10-03-2006, 10:51 PM
Thanks for the link CJ - what a great idea. I'm not sure I have the patience to do that - at least at my current stage of just exploring the media - but once I settle on a pastel brand or two... Randy

10-03-2006, 10:56 PM
Thanks Chewie. I like that "I'll worry about it later" method. In fact I've used it often in the past for a whole range of things (just not keeping track of pastel colors - yet).

10-04-2006, 12:34 AM

I've been really trying to do better at keeping track of my pastels too. When I get a new set or a few new ones, I take a quick digital snapshot of them and if they have labels, I try to set them up so that the label information will clearly show, so that I will have at least that. I also got a 3ring binder from Dakota a while back, so then I make a little square of color and write in what the manufacturer is and the color indication for possible reordering later. Dakota also sells hand colored color charts, and I think I got printed color charts several years ago from Jerry's Artarama. I haven't used enough of my pastels yet or fallen in love enough with specific colors to be very concerned if I run out of a particular color, since I usually scumble my colors when working anyway. Hope this helps, and good luck in your tracking. :)

10-07-2006, 04:58 PM
Hi Randy:

I'm using a pretty easy method for keeping track of my pastels, and one in which I can remove the wrappers (you really have to do this in order to use them for scumbling, after all), but still know which ones I have, and what the number is of any one I want to replace.

I do small swatches (approximately 1.5"x1.5") and write the number of the pastel and the manufacturer right on the swatch. Then, I place them in clear photographic slide inserts (they're 8 1/2 X 11 clear plastic sheets with little pockets for slides - these are widely available and very inexpensive), and place those in a three-ring binder. I do more than one swatch. I file one under a general tab that includes all the pastels I have (organized more or less according to hue and value); the second I file under the manufacturer.

It only takes a moment to do, and keeps everything organized pretty well. The little pockets get dusty, of course. Still, the color remains on the swatch so you can see it clearly when it's pulled out of the pocket, so that doesn't really matter.