I first started enquiring as to progress being made on the Standard Specification of Artists Pastels quite some time ago. The conclusion I reached at the time was that they had been working on it since 2003.
It now appears as if the last standard relating to the major artist pigment based "paints" (ie standards relating to oils, acrylics, watercolour, gouache and coloured pencils have all been published)
will now be published sometime in 2014 - assuming they can resolve current issues under discussion.
I found this out while having a long email conversation with Michael Sikalka who is the Technical Representative on the ASTM International Subcommittee D01.57 on Artist Paints and Related Materials. He was enormously informative and helpful with respect to the particular issues thrown up by pastels in relation to testing.
For example - it's difficult to test pastels on paper if the paper starts to deteriorate from excessive light levels before the pastel does! It tends to throw out the test results!
The conversation was so long I won't even try and reproduce it all here. I've organised it so it makes more sense in a post on my blog - see UPDATE! Standard Specification for Artists Pastels
I hope people find this interesting.
Some highlights are as follows:
the standard will be aimed at
- providing information for manufacturers to make artist grade pastels ie intended to be archival and hence use better grade lightfast pigments
- the standard will relate to pigments not branded pastels
- labelling of branded pastels - of pastels or associated information - will provide the information of interest to pastel artists and address issues relating to how a pastel brand can claim compliance with the ASTM standard or not
- it's currently hoped that the standard will be published next year - if they can resolve current issues at the January meeting of the sub-committee and move on to testing
One of the bits I found most interesting was the fact that when they do some initial testing to get a baseline, they feedback the results to the manufacturers who all then tend to pay attention and upgrade the pigments they use in their pastels so they achieve better lightfastness. Which has got to be counted as good news!