View Full Version : Pastel Dust cleaning.

12-28-2011, 06:28 PM
Hello everyone, my dilemma is dealing with pastel dust and keeping it under control. Aside from wearing a dust mask,,, spreading pastel dust around with a quick puff from the mouth doesnt seem to be the best way to deal with it. Its been suggested to me that vacuum cleaning devices can be used but im not sure as to how it would be used without risking damage to the work. Craft stores and one artist shop did not have anything to offer. I would appreciate some ideas from this forum as to dealing with this problem and does anyone even know if such cleanup items are available... Thankyou......Bill

12-28-2011, 06:52 PM
This will probably be moved to the talk forum Bill. I work on an easel so the dust will fall off the paper for the most part. You could put a damp towel in your easel tray and that will help to contain much of the dust. Instead of blowing on the surface you are working on, you could take it outside and a few raps will shake off much of the loose dust. I assume you are mounting your work surface to a heavier support like masonite or plexi glass? You would probably have to go to one of the bigger art supply companies or any that might specialize in pastels for the vacum devices, others who are familiar with them will lend more advice as I am unfamiliar. As far as cleaning up afterwards, I would be the worst person to use as an example! It is a good idea to have good ventilation in your work area.

12-28-2011, 06:54 PM
If you are interested in removing excess pastel/dust from the painting itself... Here is what a working pastelist shared with me:

"Knock the pastel on its back *side to remove any extra pastel that did not bind with the tooth of the paper."

12-28-2011, 08:13 PM
Here's what I do:

1. Dont ever blow on painting. Gets dust airborn then you breath it in
2. To remove excess pastel from painting tap paper (support) with finger and let pastel fall in catch tray or take outside and knock on backside
3. I make catch tray that catches falling dust out of roofing flashing, which can be bent to any dimensions, then tape below painting. Every so often, take it off and dump pastel dust in another container ( to someday make pastels out of it)
4. Keep damp rag or paper towel handy to clean hands and wipe table and other areas around painting

Hope that helps.

12-28-2011, 08:17 PM
Couple thoughts:

Yes, do not blow on the painting! As mentioned, tap the painting (held vertically) to knock access dust off - preferably into a wastebasket.

Position the painting on an easel so that it actually is tipped slightly forward (so that the cascading dust does not stay on the painting). Having some sort of "removable catch tray" on the bottom to catch the dust is recommended.

Vacuum your area after your painting sessions.

You can buy a HEPA air filter to keep in your studio.


EDIT: It looks like Ron and I were posting at the same time with many of the same thoughts.

12-28-2011, 09:04 PM
thankyou Markus,Mark, Ron and Don. Your advice is so much appreciated and will certainly work all of your ideas into my work. Again thankyou so much.... Bill

12-28-2011, 10:05 PM
For anything smooth like tables, I wipe it down with a damp cloth or damp paper. That tends to be a bit easier than vacuuming depending on what it's fallen on.

12-28-2011, 11:41 PM
If you vacuum, make sure it has a hepa filter or hepa bags.


12-29-2011, 09:50 AM
all good suggestions .

if tapping , the top edge of the surface should be slightly forward of vertical ,
otherwise the dust may fall onto the lower part of the piece .
( hope you haven't found that out already :eek: )

Ed :}

12-29-2011, 03:21 PM
Hi Bill can't really add anything more than what's been told . But if you are like me I have a hard time to work from an easel on portraits, not so bad on landscapes. So I end up working on the flat often so I have a large garbage bucket in the studio,and i am continually tapping the support on the edge of the bucket wich of course is only for dust and save the dust at the end of each session The bucket is lined with a white poly bag.

12-29-2011, 07:01 PM
Thankyou everyone for all the great advice. My working area is actually a drafting table and my work is usually taped to that. After reading all of these wonderful suggestions its evident I need to make some changes. Im going to find another support to place on the drafting table so I can occasionally lift the entire work up and tap the dust into a can. I use a lot of soft pastels and I create a lot of dust. Im liking the idea of tapping the excess dust of the work into a bag, or can or what have you as opposed to trying to find some kind of exotic vacuum device of which im not really comfortable using. Again thankyou you all for the help..... Bill

12-30-2011, 03:11 PM
Is this all there is to say on the subject? Would a hand vacuum not work? I like the idea of wet wiping the area, but wouldn't that just press the dust into the surface of the easel, etc?

12-30-2011, 05:38 PM
I use wide masking tape, or contact paper under my board on which I have my paper taped. I work on a slightly forward tilting Mabef easel, and tap off extra pastel dust. It goes right into the pocket made by the masking tape or contact paper. Hardly any dust gets around at all!

For the floor, use those red and white checkered tableclothes turned upside down. The felt-like surface picks up a lot of dust. You can wash these or toss them if they're really dirty!