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rsmith.1141
09-06-2008, 01:24 PM
Hi all,

OK, so I've been doing this pastel thing now for 3 or 4 weeks and I'm lovin' it! I'm also noticing that everything (and I mean everything) in this side of the house is covered with a fine, mostly green (I love doing trees) dust.

Now, I know that dust is a normal by-product of this madness but I thought most of it would just settle down into the little foil tray I made to catch the fallout. The fact that I'm wiping it off my window blinds and the top of my computer monitor pretty much tells me that I'm also inhaling quite a bit of this stuff. The general consensus is that this is not a good thing to do. Since I already have my hands full with the normal effects of getting older, it might be nice to avoid any unnecessary "deadly" things to add to the list.

So... What can I do to minimize this? I've been directed to a manufacturer that makes an air filter that deals with this specific problem. Unfortunately, I don't have $1200.00 lying about! Does anyone have any other effective methods to avoid becoming a walking heavy metal repository? I tried a mask and found that it's very uncomfortable and wipes out the creative mood very effectively. Kinda like playing in the Chernobyl String Quartet! I've also tried to make sure that the room is well ventilated but without any direct air currents blowing around my easel.

I'm not sure what else to try. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks.

Cheers,

Colorix
09-06-2008, 01:40 PM
Randy, there are masks and masks. I use a neat light kind of surgical mask made out of some non-woven fiber. It is the kind that comes neatly folded, with rubber-band hoops going around the ears. It is efficient enough, so when I blow my nose, the handkerchief is uncoloured (so to speak, in order to not get too detailed). Oh, and I only use it indoors, and I shut the door to my studio, and I (really should) wipe the work-area off often.

The kind of paper you use also has an effect on how much dust is flying around. I find sanded papers to be the best. And don't blow! You send all the finest particles right up in the air if you blow away dust from your painting.

When all is said, a surgical mask is only 'sexy' on the TV-series "Grey's Anatomy".... But way better to use it and look like a 'monster from outer space', than to get damaged lungs, IMHO.

klord
09-06-2008, 01:40 PM
Are you blowing any of dust around, trying to remove it from the painting? I am sure you are not.... but if you need to remove the build up, grab the painting and take it outside and shake it or tap on the back of the board/paper. Also, you can keep some baby wipes close by to wipe hands and surfaces down.... I know more stuff to think about!

Sorry about the link to artists air machine, but you did ask specifically ;-) Should have warned you about the price.

Another great idea is to put a damp cloth on top of the foil tray at the base of the painting, not soaking..... but this will help to collect and KEEP the dust until you are finished with the session.

I will try to think of other things, and know that there will be many suggestions here!

Peanut Butter
09-06-2008, 01:50 PM
I just bought some pastels to play with and I have decided that mine will be an outside toy for this very reason. I use a mask or a bandanna over my mouth and nose and I also wear thin rubber gloves. It is such fun to really let loose with the pastels, but they really are a mess!

Deborah Secor
09-06-2008, 01:53 PM
Green dust--my nemesis. Don't blow on the paper at all, if you are! That's what sets up clouds that settle on blinds and shelves nearby. I suggest you also use something beneath the easel to trap dust, like a carpet you can take out and vacuum or (wearing a mask) shake outside.

You can get an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to set near your easel that will reduce a lot of the airborne dust, too. Look at this thread where Donna Aldridge mentions the brands she uses: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=469161&highlight=filter

Deborah

rsmith.1141
09-06-2008, 01:53 PM
way better to use it and look like a 'monster from outer space', than to get damaged lungs, IMHO.

I didn't really think about other types of masks. I'll look into this. Thanks!

Continental
09-06-2008, 01:54 PM
The dust is dangerous and you need to either work in an enclosed place to keep the dust from spreading or a place with good ventilation. The pigments of some colors are not good to breathe.

You could look for non-toxic pastels if they exist.

DAK723
09-06-2008, 01:58 PM
Randy,

I've been where you are, as have most of us. The dust made me cough. I tried a dust mask years ago, and didn't like it. So, except for rare occasions (which brought back my cough) I stopped doing pastels for maybe 15 years. At that point I tried the mask again, and realized it wasn't as bad as coughing! Now I don't even notice I am wearing it. Honest, you get used to it.

Many folks use floor model air filters that are a little cheaper than the easel filter system, but obviously not made specifically for artists. Here is one at Dick Blicks:

http://www.dickblick.com/zz528/33/

And as others have mentioned - don't blow on a pastel painting!! Without blowing and without a fan or window blowing a breeze on your work, the majority of the pastel should drop down to your tray. I keep a vacuum cleaner handy to clean up my tray and the area directly around my easel.

Don

P.S. Well, at least 4 other people were replying while I was replying so that is why some of my info is repetitively redundant....

rsmith.1141
09-06-2008, 02:01 PM
Are you blowing any of dust around,

Sorry about the link to artists air machine, but you did ask specifically ;-) Should have warned you about the price.



Hi Kim, No, I did the blowing thing only once and learned that one the hard way!. Hey, it made sense at the time :eek:

The air machine looks great and I do appreciate the link to it. It I stick to this, and right now all of the signs of addiction are there, then this would be a reasonable investment. If this thing catches the dust directly, how quickly do the filters fill up? I see a lot of junk in the little tray I put beneath my paper. It's kinda frightening.

Thanks again...

rsmith.1141
09-06-2008, 02:05 PM
You can get an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to set near your easel that will reduce a lot of the airborne dust, too. Look at this thread where Donna Aldridge mentions the brands she uses: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=469161&highlight=filter

Deborah

Hi Deborah,

Thanks for this link! As I wrote to Kim, I learned the blowing thing the hard way! Don't do that any more!

btw - Happy Birthday!!!!!!

JWebber
09-06-2008, 02:39 PM
I do not have that air filter even though I would like to have it and it would be the icing on the cake!

But here is my 2 cents worth on the dust control!

I do not blow on the work, as Kim said, I go outside and whack the back of the board as it needs it, holding it far out from my face and even holding my breath a bit!

Using a damp catcher cloth as Kim suggested and I read on WC some time ago that you put those coloured pushpins on the bottom of your backing board to give it "feet" so that the damp rag does not wet your board. So when you remove the damp rag the dust does not migrate up as it would from a catcher tray.

As Charlie said, sanded paper seems to create less dust. I only use sanded but once had to use a non sanded in a workshop and there was a lot of dust.

There are hand barrier creams and the pastel just wipes off with wetones and the cream stays intact. But I have been trying to use gloves lately as the pastel gets under my nails even with the barrier cream.

I had noticed that when I was wiping the pastels to remove the other colours that collect on them when working, a lot of dust was travelling up from that process. So I bought the Cherry pastel cleaner and it cleans them better and I am not adding more dust into my room.

Judy

Maggie P
09-06-2008, 02:41 PM
Randy, there are a lot of good suggestions here. I have a couple of thoughts to add.

If you buy a HEPA air filter, look for one that says it removes pollen from the air. It's my understanding that most particles of pastel dust are larger than pollen particles, so it seems likely if it can remove pollen it'll get the pastel dust. On many brands, the filters don't have to be changed very often.

When I run the air filter, I keep it going a couple hours after I'm done painting.

Whenever I need to brush off or remove a lot of pastel, I take the board outside to do so.

Terry Ludwig makes a pastel dust catcher for under his painting that really grabs the dust. He uses a wide piece of masking tape, and attaches a little bit of the long side, sticky side up, to the back of the support board, then pulls the tape forward to make a "tray" to catch the dust. Because it's sticky side up the pastel dust can't escape!

I don't use a vacuum in my studio. I'm concerned the vacuum will just suck up the pastel dust and blow it out the exhaust, distributing it back into the air. I wipe the easel and any other area that might have dust with a damp paper towel, then dispose of it.

Hope all these ideas help. Pastels are just too much fun to give up because of dust!

Tressa
09-06-2008, 02:54 PM
One other thought is the brand of pastels you use. some(especially student grade)generate a ton of dust! One brand in particular is the Gallery brand by Mungyo. So a lighter hand or change in pastels might be worth looking into also.

DAK723
09-06-2008, 05:37 PM
One other thought is the brand of pastels you use. some(especially student grade)generate a ton of dust! One brand in particular is the Gallery brand by Mungyo. So a lighter hand or change in pastels might be worth looking into also.
Other factors that you might consider:

Doing underpaintings in watercolor or pastel washes. This limits the amount of pastel you use and the dust.

The paper you use. One reason I use velour is that there is almost no dust (at least in the way I apply it). Some papers "hold" more pastel, others it just slides off.

Using harder pastels (less dust) for the initial layers and the very soft pastels (more dust, usually) for the final layers.

Don

Bret
09-06-2008, 08:24 PM
I've been doing soft pastels and oils for several years. I quickly realized that both fumes and dust were going to be potential health threats and built and installed what is just a local, adjustable exhaust fan. It's pretty simple to do, but does require putting a four-inch hole in the wall. I mounted a laundry dryer vent fixture to the exterior of the house outside the art room. Inside, I fixed a small, round electric fan designed specifically to boost air flow inside a round air duct (Home Depot, Lowes, etc. in the heating/AC dept). You'll need to get a couple fittings to get it all together. To the other end I attach an appropriate length of white, plastic, flexible dryer vent tubing. I can't remember how many cubic feet per minute the fan is supposed to draw, but it does a fantastic job of keeping negative air pressure around my work area so dust and fumes move outside and not up, down, or into the next room. And because the open end is not mounted permanently (like to a dryer), I can move it down to the base of the easel when working with pastels, or over any solvents when working in other media. I even made a cheap spray booth for fixing and spraying by merely cutting a hole in a large cardboard box for the tube end to fit through. Fumes are sucked right outside. The whole thing cost about $50 US. If you don't want to put a hole in the wall, you could just as easily run the thing out a window. The only drawback is that I know I am increasing air flow through the house and so running either heat or air conditioning more, but that's a choice I decided to make given the alternative.
Stay healthy, be creative. Bret

nvcricket
09-07-2008, 12:04 PM
Hi Randy,

I also don't have the bucks to invest in that filter. It's on my wish list though. When I paint in the morning, I can see the pastel dust motes in the sun streaming in through the window. So even when you aren't painting that dust will be floating around for a few hours.

To combat this I have alternative solutions. (I hate wearing a mask, and my family should also be using a mask while I'm painting which isn't an option with my teenagers) So I have a covered patio that I drag everything out to on nice days. (most days are nice around here). Eventually I would like to set up an area in my garage so I don't have to reset up everything every time I paint. I will take my painting outside several times to tap off the loose pastel while painting. I also have a cheap table cloth that is plastic on one side and has the cotton backing. I place this under the area (cotton backing face up) where I am painting for the heavier dust to fall onto. When finished with the session I take it out and whip off the dust. It serves a dual purpose, in the event that I drop a pastel, it won't break as the table cloth cushions the fall. (I use it plein air too). Another thing I do on bad weather days, is use a spare bedroom to confine it to one area of the house. Another thing I do is use a swiffer duster on all surfaces after I have a session painting, and again the next day. I have three areas in my home I paint...the spare room, the dining room right next to the patio door-when I can, the patio screen door is open and there is a fan blowing out the door while painting. When done- when swiffering, I also swiffer the floor (tile) and even the walls, and/or damp mop the floor in that room. In the spare room I will vaccuum the carpet (which has a hepa filter). Also use the more expensive filters in your heating/air vents.

Carol

rsmith.1141
09-07-2008, 12:47 PM
Hi Another thing I do is use a swiffer duster on all surfaces after I have a session painting, and again the next day.

Carol

Hi Carol, This is another great idea! Fortunately, we got rid of all our carpet last year and put in tile or laminate floors everywhere. So, I don't have to worry about the dust getting into the carpet. That could be tough getting out. With the hard floors now I always have a box of those Swiffer thingies around so it would be easy to grab one to pick up some of the stray dust. Good idea. Thanks!

Cheers,

rsmith.1141
09-07-2008, 12:52 PM
Terry Ludwig makes a pastel dust catcher for under his painting that really grabs the dust. He uses a wide piece of masking tape, and attaches a little bit of the long side, sticky side up, to the back of the support board, then pulls the tape forward to make a "tray" to catch the dust. Because it's sticky side up the pastel dust can't escape!

Hi Maggie,

This intrigues me. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble visualizing this (I'm definitely a visual learner). Is there an example of this anywhere that you know?

Yep, I picked up a portable HEPA air cleaner yesterday to help stem the tide of toxic fog until I can afford a more efficient unit like the one Kim mentioned.

Hey, one step at a time....

Thanks,

rsmith.1141
09-07-2008, 12:57 PM
I mounted a laundry dryer vent fixture to the exterior of the house outside the art room.

Hi Bret,

This is intriguing. I don't know that I'm ready to start punching holes in the side of my house yet but I do remember how efficient this design is from my photo darkroom days. When I finally get moved into a dedicated studio space, someday, I'll consider this.

Thanks...