View Full Version : combining 2 pastel sticks. Can it be done?

05-31-2007, 11:52 AM
I was wondering if anyone knows anything about combining two commercial pastels, lets say a blue and a white. Can you grind both pastels into powder and re-hydrate them, mix them together, and form into a single pastel. It seems to me that the gum will rehydrate and it could be done. I'll experiment, but first I want to "research the literature" so to speak.

My reason: I want to use endantrone blue pigment but it only comes in one value as a pastel as far as I can see that is too dark in value. I want to use it as a sky color because I think it is the pigment comes closest to the hue of the sky around here. (I use it in oils). To use it as for that purpose I have to have it lighter in value.

I could mix white on the paper, of course, but it occurred to me it might be nice to make sky color pastels for myself.



05-31-2007, 12:48 PM
As a quick answer: I watched Terry Ludwig combine two different sticks that had been crushed. He ground them to powder and then put a couple of drops of distilled water and mixed the paste and formed a pastel. I have since done that with broken (crushed) pastels. Though, I have found that some sticks repel the water and you have to work harder to get it combined with the powder. So . . . that means that some pigments are probably more difficult than others. Not knowing the one you are talking about myself, I can only speak to the fact that I have seen it done, and have done it myself.

K Taylor-Green
05-31-2007, 01:44 PM
Oh yes! I do it all the time.

05-31-2007, 02:08 PM
Thank you very much for the information. By the way, I have found that Winsor Newton carries Indantrone Blue in a variety of values! But I still want to try combining my own.


Donna A
05-31-2007, 09:18 PM
Hi! If you run into a pigment 'resistant' to taking in the water, you might try rubbing alcohol, which some prefer to use all the time for this process. Or a drop or two of wetting agent---or patience! :-) I like to use the back of a spoon to crush pieces of pastel to mix together. An old saucer or larger dish is nice to reserve for this. Amazing how the fine grains of pigment can get stay forever in the tiny 'scars' of plates. Here are several variations on the idea plus a few others--from a Studio Tips I originally wrote for the MidAmerica Pastel Society newsletter some years ago. http://www.aldridgestudios.com/610-StudioTipsPstl.html#adding%20colors

Do be careful when working with crushed pastel. A mask is a good idea since you are pulverizing and creating a lot of dust. Sometimes, if you have a fair amount or several colors to mesh together to get a very certain color you want, mixing in a little plastic bag is nice in several ways, first to keep the dust confined, but then also to keep the pigment 'corraled' into a specific space as you are mixing it. To know what the color is you are going to end up with---mix the different bits dry.

There are so many variations and possiblities with this, as you'll see on the link above. Enjoy! Donna ;-}

05-31-2007, 09:56 PM

Just a small thought.
It's usefull to know the pigments that consist the pastels. Too many pigments make a muddy colour.
I guess I've also read that mixing different values can make mud (I'm not sure); of course that this won't apply to white since it's of course lighter.

Kind regards,


P.S. I'm not sure about all this, though

05-31-2007, 10:36 PM

You can do this, but I would also recommend a dedicated glass plate and a sturdy palette knife or glass grinder (you can find these at art supply stores like Jerry's Artarama - look for the dry pigment supplies or Lukas Glass pestles).

You can also get dry pigments and blend in with existing pastel dust for new colors, but adding too much may decrease the amount of binder and make the dried stick too crumbly. If you do that a lot, you might want to keep good notes in case you create colors you want to recreate.

You can also add liquid pigments like Createx Pure Pigments (one source is Dick Blicks).

Hope this helps, and have fun with this. :)

05-31-2007, 10:53 PM
i also do this plenty--i have need of a color inbetween 2 sticks, and snap off a chunk of each, grind with a spoon and small bowl, add water and then i make sticks into triangles--i get 3 edges, 3 very flat sides, and its an easy shape to form. i also save my dust from my easel tray, and when i have enough, make a pastel from it. i get some 'ugly' but really useful colors, some in fact i cannot do without! love doing this! i leave it to dry on a paper towel, but not in sunshine or it will dry too fast and crack. when its no longer cool to touch, its finished and ready for use.

06-01-2007, 11:05 AM
If you don't mind taking some extra time, you can just add distilled water to the pieces and wait until they soften and then mix them together when they're softened/mushy, avoiding most of the dust hazard altogether. Then I let the mixture air dry until it's the right consistency to form into the shape I want.

06-03-2007, 08:11 PM
Well you can see that there are many who do this, in addition to the above, I use a Pastel Shaper ( from jerrys'sartarma or others) which has a screen to sharpen pastels, and the jar below catches the dust. I use a pencil end or something like that, to grind my stubs up and let them collect below, when I get about 1/4 of the jar full, I open it and carefully add water with a dropper until it just balls up, I scrape it out and let it rest on wax paper until it air dries enough to be like clay, then I roll it in the wax paper and make a snake form, and cut it in smaller pieces...I then put it in my food dehydrator ( like Terry Ludwig) or lay it on my pellet stove top in winter, or just let it air dry a few days anywhere handy. I love these colors which are always different that any you can buy. I also catch all the dust on my easel with my new $4 homemade dust catcher tray.

I took a long narrow drawer organizer from a kitchen store, and cut a piece of gutter guard, $2 at the local hardware it fits perfectly over the top, then made notches where it slides onto screw heads on my easel and Voila! a washable cheap custom tray that also keeps the dust contained...I feel much better now, as I work and I see all the pastel falling off my sanded surface, I know everything is falling into the tray, and I got the most beautiful grey purple last week. I've never made "mud" no matter how many colors I mixed, unlike paints!

Also grind up the Nupastel hard ones right along with the soft, and these sticks which have little hard chunks of color, are the BEST for grass or fur or textures...makes several colors all at once, if you don't want that you just blend the stroke into one color. I love it nothing is ever wasted in pastel


06-03-2007, 09:26 PM
Thanks, everybody. All this is very helpful.